If you’re curious about the fascinating history behind Jerry Lewis‘ notorious, hidden film The Day the Clown Cried, I recommend reading the recollections by Devin Faraci, Drew McWeeny, and Mr. Beaks. Briefly, the 1972 film was directed and re-written by Lewis, and stars the actor/comedian as a failed clown who’s forced to entertain children during the Holocaust. To give an idea of how bad the film is, there’s a scene where Lewis’ character, Helmut Doork, leads a group of laughing children into the gas chambers. We only know of these scenes because of the leaked script; the finished film remains in Lewis’ hands, and he’s determined never to release it because even he realizes his picture’s atrociousness. This kind of notoriety makes the film even more enticing to cinephiles who have heard how shockingly misguided the movie is.
Hit the jump for more.
It’s unlikely we’ll ever see the movie until Lewis’ death, and even then it wouldn’t surprised me if his will demanded that the print be destroyed (perhaps it’s been destroyed already, and movie fans are just assuming the holy grail still exists). However, a brief snippet has found its way online via a Dutch TV special that goes behind the scenes and sees Lewis in his clownface make-up and describing how he’s using music in the film. Check out the footage, and hold on tight. It may be the most we ever see from The Day the Clown Cried: