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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Australian actor Chips Rafferty was offered a role in the film, but died of a heart attack just hours after receiving the news. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Cannibal Holocaust (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

Harry Shearer's Credibility
10 March 2012 | by ScoShradSee all my reviews

In May 1992, Spy magazine spoke to comedian and actor Harry Shearer, who claimed that Lewis had shown him a rough cut of the film in 1979. Shearer claims he told Lewis the film was "terrible", which reportedly made Lewis furious.

More recently, on the Howard Stern Show (clip available at YouTube), Shearer changed his story and said that he had seen the film without Lewis's permission, raising questions as to whether Lewis's "fury" at Shearer was due to his calling the film terrible or to his having seen it against its maker's wishes. Shearer has yet to explain how an unnamed acquaintance of his acquired a copy of the film from Lewis's private vault.

Production stills and footage of the making of the film reveal that Lewis does not wear his hair jet black and oily as the clown (as he does in THE JAZZ SINGER, a TV broadcast whose stills are often mistaken for stills from the film), nor does he wear a pinky ring or shiny Florsheim shoes while imprisoned in the Nazi camp - two myths perpetuated by Shearer and Joshua White, an MDA telethon director (Shawn Levy, KING OF COMEDY, p. 381).

The script for the film is available online and well worth reading. There is little reason to believe that Shearer ever saw the film, and much reason to accept that he did not: he made the story up to boost his reputation.


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