"The Day the Clown Cried," a 1972 film its star Jerry Lewis has described as embarrassing is back in the news after rarely seen footage of the flick surfaced online recently.
The movie was never released and if Lewis has his way it never will be. But on Saturday, YouTube user Unclesporkums uploaded a 7-minute "Making of Footage" collection of clips - some of the first to surface of the film in the past 41 years. A 1-minute behind-the-scenes clip is also available for those who can't get enough of the now vintage movie many have placed in the pantheon of big screen disasters that includes “Ishtar,” "Gigli" and "Hudson Hawk."
Definitely not a comedy, the movie stars Lewis as a circus performer who is arrested by the Gestapo and thrown into a concentration camp where he starts performing for Jewish children, and reportedly travels with some of them to Auschwitz. The last scene involves Lewis' clown (Helmut Doork) and the children laughing while the gas surrounds them.
It was one of Lewis' first serious roles and during the Cannes Film Festival in May the 87-year-old comedian said that if he has his way the film will never see the light of day.
"It was all bad and it was bad because I lost the magic," Lewis said. "You will never see it. No one will ever see it, because I am embarrassed at the poor work."
"The Day the Clown Cried" has been seen by so few people that little is known of the completed project. Comedian and "The Simpsons" star Harry Shearer has viewed the movie and told Spy Magazine in 1992 that the closest he could come to describing the effect of sitting through it "is if you flew down to Tijuana and suddenly saw a painting on black velvet of Auschwitz."
Many fans took to the comments section under the newly posted footage to express gratitude to Unclesporkums for bringing it to light. "As a lifelong rare movie fan, I've been waiting many decades for something like this to surface on this film," wrote Steven Fallon. "'The Day The Clown Cried' is one of the true holy grails of movies, and I can only hope that someday we will actually get a chance to see this movie."