In the pantheon of legends and myths, the list goes something like this:
– “The Legend of Odysseus and the Trojan Horse”
– “Walt Disney had his body cryogenically frozen”
– “ Paul McCartney died and was secretly replaced by a body double in 1966”
– Jerry Lewis’s The Day the Clown Cried
In case you’re unfamiliar: “King of Comedy” Jerry Lewis, known for his partnership with Dean Martin and the various movies he directed and starred in, directed (but never released) what is still considered one of the most hard-to-find films ever made, called The Day the Clown Cried. The film, which Lewis directed and starred in, followed the story of a clown in Nazi Germany who wound up in a concentration camp after denouncing Hitler. The clown, named Helmut Doork, becomes beloved by the children at the camp, so much so that the Nazi guards use him to coax kids into the gas chambers.
The movie supposedly is as dark as it sounds. I say “supposedly” because very few people on Earth have had the honor (if you want to call it that) of seeing the film. The screenplay has been circulated online for years, but the film itself was locked away in Lewis’ vault shortly after it was finished. Lewis had originally blamed behind-the-scenes problems for the film’s lack of widespread release, but he eventually owned up to the fact that he just wasn’t proud of the film and didn’t want it to see the light of day. “You will never see it. No one will ever see it, because I am embarrassed at the poor work,” he once said to Entertainment Weekly.
Other than a select few people (including The Simpsons’ Harry Shearer,) the film has never been seen by the public; that is, until now. The video, which is being hosted on Vimeo, was apparently uploaded two months ago, but various media outlets only picked up on it today. The video in question is a rough cut of the film, coming in at 31:41, that is made up mostly of clips from a German documentary on the film.
This movie — the concept, the legend behind it, and the film itself — is almost beyond description. This is a piece of history brought to light before our very eyes, so do yourself a favor and at least skim through the clip, if only to say “I’ve seen it!”
Check it out below: