You may remember that a couple years ago we reported on the first footage from Jerry Lewis’ legendary/notorious Holocaust film The Day the Clown Cried. Briefly, the 1972 film was directed and re-written by Lewis, and stars the actor/comedian as a failed clown who’s is thrown into a concentration camp for ridiculing Hitler and forced to entertain children. If you’re wondering why the film is so dubious, a leaked script tells us that there’s a scene where Lewis’ character, Helmut Doork, leads a group of laughing children into the gas chambers. Morbid curiosity demands that this movie be seen.
Unfortunately, Lewis has held on to the film and refused to show it to almost anyone. Harry Shearer claims to have seen it and said [via BMD]:
“With most of these kinds of things, you find that the anticipation, or the concept, is better than the thing itself. But seeing this film was really awe-inspiring, in that you are rarely in the presence of a perfect object. This was a perfect object. This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is. ‘Oh My God!’ – that’s all you can say.”
That’s so tantalizing, and the film’s rarity makes it all the more enticing. We previously thought that this would be a lost gem, but it looks like we could actually see the film some day.
The LA Times reports that Lewis sent the Library of Congress a collection of his work, including “The Day the Clown Cried”, but there’s a catch: the Library won’t screen the movie for ten years. That’s certainly better than never, and Lewis will likely be dead by then anyway, so he won’t have to deal with any potential blowback, assuming the film really is the mind-blowingly misguided work of art that Shearer claims it is.