For years, Jerry Lewis’ infamous clown-in-a-concentration-camp film The Day The Clown Cried was something we were never going to see. Due to some rights issues, the film has been sitting in a safe with Lewis decreeing that it would never be released. Last year, those of us who were curious, if not morbidly fascinated, with the film got a glimmer of hope that we will eventually get to see it when it was announced that all of Lewis’s film holdings would become a part of the Library of Congress. But even then, there was a stipulation that ten years had to pass before there could be any public screening of the Day The Clown Cried assemblage.
Now, we don’t have to wait a decade to have our curiosity about the film satiated.
Vimeo user Kay Brown has silently released an edit of approximately 30 minutes of footage from the film. The footage seems sourced from various places. Some of the circus scenes have appeared online before, while others look as if they are part of a documentary about Lewis and the film. Brown links the footage together with excerpts from the script as title cards and subtitles to give us our first semi-cohesive look at the film. It may not be perfect, but it beats waiting until the Library of Congress is finally allowed to screen the complete film in 2025.
Since embedding has been disabled for this clip, head over to Vimeo to check it out. But we recommend that you do not hesitate, as these things tend to disappear fairly quickly.
UPDATE: And disappear it did. Off of Vimeo, at least. But it has resurfaced at YouTube.
And our first real good look at the film also means that we can start to appraise it on its own merits and not just based on the long available screenplay, a few photos and a whole lot of rumors. Will the film be found to be better that the complete trainwreck we have all long assumed it is? It should be fun discussing that.
After you’ve watched the footage, here’s a short documentary on the film that the BBC released back at the beginning of the year.