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Arts and Entertainment

Jerry Lewis' Infamous Holocaust Movie Might Finally See The Light Of Day

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Jerry Lewis' infamous drama about a clown caught in the Holocaust might finally see the light of day... about a decade from now.The Library of Congress, who preserves films through the National Film Registry, recently acquired a collection of Jerry Lewis' film works, including the original negative of The Day The Clown Cried. Filmed in 1972 and directed by Lewis himself, the film is about a clown who winds up in a concentration camp and winds up leading children into the gas chamber. Actor Harry Shearer, who says he saw a rough cut of the film in 1979, once said of it, "This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is."

It was never released, and Lewis himself said at a Cinefamily Q&A in 2013, "I was ashamed of the work," and that it was "bad, bad, bad." However, seven months later, he told EW that he's "proud" of the film. According to his official website, the film is tied up in legal limbo and Lewis hopes to actually complete the film, which it calls "a significant expression of cinematic art."

Buried in an L.A. Times story about identifying lost silent films is the news of the Library of Congress' acquisition of Clown, which came with the stipulation that the library not screen the film for the next ten years. Does this mean we may finally get to see The Day The Clown Cried by 2025? Probably not. The aforementioned legal hurdles would probably get in the way.

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For now, the legend of the unreleased film has only grown now that there’s a glimmer of hope that people may actually get to see it someday. There is some behind-the-scenes footage that was put together for a Dutch TV program on the film, partially subtitled on YouTube:

There are also other Jerry Lewis films worth watching while you wait for the The Day The Clown Cried screenings to begin in 2025. We recommend The Nutty Professor, The Ladies' Man, and Artists And Models.