The tongues of film-nerds were a waggin’ and flappin’ Sunday when footage of Jerry Lewis’ lost unmasterpiece “The Day the Clown Cried” was quietly leaked on
For those unfamiliar with the tortured history behind Lewis’ magnum opus, “The Day the Clown Cried” was co-written, directed and starred Lewis as Helmut Doork, an insufferable, self-pitying clown who is sent to a Nazi concentration camp where he entertains children before they’re eventually led to their deaths. It was a “family film” as Lewis noted on the cover page of the film’s script.
“The Day the Clown Cried” is also the film Lewis shot through a haze of Percodan so thick that while editing the film he lost his mind and started screaming “There are no Shirley Temples in Auschwitz” when he noticed that a child extra looked directly at the camera. Not surprisingly, ”The Day the Clown Cried” turned out to be so atrocious that its rightsholders have refused to allow the film to ever be released. Even Lewis has disowned the film in recent years.
At any rate, the footage should only appeal to the hardest of hardcore “Clown” fans being that it’s taken from some kind of Flemish documentary and mostly consists of odd disconnected scenes (that seem to take place in an eerie void) of a severely Brylcreemed Lewis performing his hoariest comedy routines as he pompously barks orders to unseen underlings. There’s also tight close-ups of oily, upsetting clown faces and footage of a delighted Serge Gainsbourg visiting the set. It’s all very strange.
Now that we’ve discovered snippets of “The Day the Clown Cried” can we work on uncovering a clip of “Smokey is the Bandit”? You know, that “Smokey and the Bandit” sequel where Jackie Gleason plays Buford T. Justice and The Bandit? We need that movie now more than ever before.