A year and a half ago, now-removed footage from Jerry Lewis’s The Day the Clown Cried surfaced online for the first time. For those unacquainted with the legend, The Day the Clown Cried was a Holocaust melodrama about a clown sent to a concentration camp. The film was never released and has acquired an apocalyptically poor reputation, described as “beyond normal computation” and “so drastically wrong” by those who have seen it. Lewis refuses to discuss the film at-length and vowed to block its release.
But thanks to the Library of Congress, we might finally get to witness this disastrous movie. According to the Los Angeles Times‘s report on the Library of Congress’s annual Mostly Lost film festival, the institution’s film wing recently acquired a copy of The Day the Clown Cried on the ground that it not be shown for ten years. Jerry Lewis will likely be dead by then, and we can only assume he wanted to spare himself the public attention (and probably ridicule) that would result.
We want nothing more than to see this film finally released, both for its historical and possible kitsch value. Based on the interviews linked above, it sounds like an aesthetic marvel too, with major production design errors and filmmaking faux pas. We’ll check back in 2025 to see if that print ever sees the light of day.