The Day the Clown Cried (1972)

| Drama
A circus clown is imprisoned by the Nazis and goes with Jewish children to their deaths.

Director:

Jerry Lewis

Writers:

Jerry Lewis (screenplay), Joan O'Brien (story) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Jerry Lewis ... Helmut Doork
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Peter Ahlm Peter Ahlm ... 1st New Prisoner
Lars Amble ... Guard
Harriet Andersson ... Ada Doork
Jonas Bergström ... Franz
Carl Billquist ... Gestapo Officer #2
Claude Bolling ... Circus Band Conductor
Tomas Bolme ... Adolf
Curt Broberg Curt Broberg ... Galt
Bo Brundin ... Ludwig
Johnny Cacao Johnny Cacao
Anton Diffring ... Captain Curt Runkel
Nils Eklund ... Bartender
Victor Fratellini Victor Fratellini
Serge Gainsbourg
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Storyline

Helmut Doork, a once great and famous clown, is fired from the circus. Getting drunk at a local bar, he pokes fun at Hitler in front of some Gestapo agents, who arrest and send him to a prison camp. Helmut angers his fellow prisoners by refusing to perform for them, wanting to preserve his legend. As times passes, Jews are brought into the camp, with fraternizing between them and the other prisoners strictly prohibited. Eventually, Helmut is forced by the others to perform or be beaten. His act bombs and he leaves the barracks depressed, trying the routine out again alone in the prison yard. He hears laughter and sees a group of Jewish children watching him through a fence. Happy to be appreciated again, he makes a makeshift clown suit and begins to regularly perform. His audience grows, but a new prison Commandant orders Helmut to stop. When he refuses and continues to perform, he's beaten and thrown in solitary confinement. But the Nazis soon come up with a use for Helmut, keeping ... Written by Jonathan D. H. Parshall <parshall@citcom.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Filming Locations:

Sweden See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jerry Lewis had the only copy locked in a private vault where he previously vowed to keep it from ever being viewed again. However according to an edition of the L.A. Times on August 6, 2015 he allowed this film along with some of his other movies to be preserved at the Library of Congress, but part of the deal is that the film would not be screened there until 2024 (as it turned out, this would make its first showing several years after Lewis' death in 2017). The Library of Congress also released a statement that they hadn't decided their specific screening plans, but they would neither share the film for viewing with other government facilities or release it for any kind of home media. See more »

Connections

Referenced in DVD-R Hell: The Day the Clown Cried (2014) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

"Open the vault, Jerry"
16 November 2005 | by haridam0See all my reviews

No, I haven't seen "The Day the Clown Cried." For years, though, I've heard about it. There have been many articles and evaluations made in terms of its quality--judgments sometimes from others who haven't seen the film either.

I tend to agree with registered IMDb member "dvdtrkr," in stating that all these opinions don't mean much, and are irrelevant next to the opportunity for at least a portion of the public to judge for themselves. He suggests a festival or special engagement occasion as an appropriate venue.

As for controversy, if they could release "Birth of a Nation" and "Triumph of the Will," it seems that this little effort by Jerry could be seen without "demoralizing" its viewers.

Besides, look who heads the cast: the fine, accomplished Harriet Anderson, one of Ingmar Bergman's protégés, for whom he especially wrote "Sommared me Monika' ('53) and later starred her in some his best works: "Gycklaras afton" ('53) "Sasom i en spegel" ('61) and "Fanny och Alexander" ('83).

Lewis managed to amass a considerable audience, both in the U. S. and abroad, with his cinematic efforts. The French took him very seriously as a comedic craftsman, and here's a chance to view a different side of him--significant if only for research/historical purposes . . . completing the portrait of an artist.

So, it's time to open up that vault where the film lies dormant, for a special festival viewing of a work that Lewis not only considered making--but actually took the time, energy and money to bring it to near-final fruition.


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