TV Cream

Films: D is for...

Day the Clown Cried, The

Infamous in its never-completedness is this uber-ill-advised Euro-funded amplification of the maudlin, borderline-morbid aspects of Jerry Lewis’s slapschtick to their logical conclusion. Lewis plays Herman Doork, a clown charged with entertaining the children and leading them to their deaths in a concentration camp. By all accounts (though admittedly there aren’t very many), it’s a chilling film for all the wrong reasons. The script, once you adapt to the revolting conceit, is cliche-ridden schmaltz, none more so than the final scene where a shattered Lewis leads the kids in a circus parade to the ovens, followed by a solemn FADE OUT, as if that justifies everything. The film itself was directed, by Lewis, as a slice of low-budget desperation with the odd tyroesque shoestring visual conceit, eg shooting some scenes in front of a black cloth, merely adding to the wrongness. The Swedish fundraisers impounded the negative, but Lewis apparently still keeps a VHS copy in a briefcase, still firmly believing this particular story Must Be Told.

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  1. Lee James Turnock

    May 21, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    A few clips have leaked out and something I couldn’t help noticing was the Jerry Lewis character’s immaculate shiny shoes, even though he’s supposed to have been a concentration camp inmate for several years. Memorably described by Spinal Tap’s Harry Shearer as “trying too hard in completely the wrong direction”.

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