This past August, footage from Jerry Lewis’ notorious, little-seen, Holocaust-themed film, The Day the Clown Cried, surfaced on YouTube. The video, uploaded by YouTuber Uncle Sporkums, was taken from a 1972 Danish TV documentary and featured more than seven minutes of behind-the-scenes takes from the production. It was a film buff’s dream: The Day the Clown Cried is little-seen because Lewis, who co-wrote, directed, and starred in the movie, has insisted that it will never get a proper release. (He says that only one copy remains, locked in a safe.)
Most of us will probably never get to see the full movie, which features Lewis as a German circus clown imprisoned at a concentration camp during World War II. But there is at least a bit more behind-the-scenes footage to peruse, provided again by Uncle Sporkums. According to him, the two videos uploaded yesterday are the last of the footage from the documentary; one features more from the circus ring scene, while the other is an interview with Lewis, who talks about pre-production material from the film.
The reasons for Lewis’ refusal to release the film are still, to some extent, unclear—his own opinion of its quality has vacillated over the years—but the latter video may offer a small clue. When asked by the interviewer how he came across the original script by Joan O’Brien and Charles Denton, Lewis explains:
“Ten years ago, I fell in love with this idea, and 10 years ago, I was not ready to make such a thing … I don’t think I could have handled it 10 years ago. It was the wrong time. I only do what I do when I believe it is time.”
(Via Cinephilia and Beyond.)