Footage surfaces from Jerry Lewis’s disaster-piece The Day the Clown Cried

Perhaps the most notorious film in Hollywood lore is The Day the Clown Cried, the unreleased magnum opus of comedian-director Jerry Lewis. Intended as a moving drama about a clown living during the Holocaust, The Day the Clown Cried is by eyewitness accounts an unmitigated disaster. Harry Shearer, one of the few to see the final cut, described it as “drastically wrong.” Lewis and the screenwriters were reportedly embarrassed by the film and barred its release; to this day, the 87-year-old Lewis refuses to discuss it in interviews.

Despite this, clips of the film have emerged on the Internet. A few months ago, footage from a television documentary about The Day the Clown Cried hit YouTube, containing at least several minutes of a rough cut from the movie. This week, even more footage hit the web, though this latest 15-minute batch consists primarily of behind-the-scenes segments. Still, it’s fascinating that this footage somehow saw the light of the day considering Jerry Lewis’s insistence that the film remains buried.

Perhaps one day we’ll see the final product, but for now, we’ll have to settle for this.

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