Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' The 10 Best Films Of 2004 The 10 Best Films Of 2004 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck The 10 Best Films Of 2003 The 10 Best Films Of 2003 First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

Watch: 13 Minutes Of Behind-The-Scenes Footage From Jerry Lewis' Unreleased 'The Day The Clown Cried'

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist January 3, 2014 at 4:43PM

"It’s either better than 'Citizen Kane' or the worst piece of shit that anyone ever loaded on the projector…," Jerry Lewis joked last year about his now legendary, unreleased film, "The Day the Clown Cried." And while the movie remains locked up in a vault somewhere, likely never to be seen, more morsels from the movie have found their way online.
2
The Day the Clown Cried

"It’s either better than 'Citizen Kane' or the worst piece of shit that anyone ever loaded on the projector…," Jerry Lewis joked last year about his now legendary, unreleased film, "The Day the Clown Cried." And while the movie remains locked up in a vault somewhere, likely never to be seen, more morsels from the movie have found their way online.

You might remember that in August, seven minutes from a vintage Flemish documentary about the movie landed online. Now, there's even more. 13 minutes total from the doc (unsubtitled, unfortunately) provide an even greater window into the movie that ambitiously saw Lewis playing a circus clown who is arrested by the Gestapo after mocking Hitler and given the gruesome task of helping the Nazis lead Jewish children to concentration camp gas chambers. 

By most accounts from the very few people who have seen the movie, it's a train wreck, but Lewis went above and beyond in trying to do the concept right. And this anecdote in particular that he shared with EW, is pretty remarkable.

I traveled for 18 months from Stuttgart to Belsen to Auschwitz. I was putting together my crew and they brought me a man named Rolf, who was the guy who pulled the f—ing lever on the gas chamber. And I said the only way I ever allow him near me, no less interview him, would be if he understood that I am concerned about the accuracy of the film and it would be because I need some information. But I said to my production manager, “I’m not sure I can handle it.” After about six weeks of pretty good meditation, I talked to the guy. The question nobody could answer, that the victims couldn’t answer, was: Where were they [when they] were waiting for the ones ahead of them in the gas chambers? How long were they waiting? Where were they standing? Was there an adjacent room? Did they sit? What kind of time was involved? The torture here was waiting! And they couldn’t dull the sound effects, the screaming. Could I get that information from this man? I wanted to wear a mask so he wouldn’t know it was me. When he came into the office and sat down, I thought, This poor human being. I’m sitting there and it was five after nine at night by the time we were done talking and I was…undone. But he gave me the bottom of his f—ing soul! He wanted penance. I kept looking at his right hand. I was going to ask him which hand did you do it with? I couldn’t do it.

Intense indeed, but as always, don't hold your breath that "The Day the Clown Cried" will ever see the light of day, as Lewis says in the same interview: "Nobody can touch it. After I’m gone, who knows what’s going to happen? I think I have the legalese necessary to keep it where it is. So I’m pretty sure that it won’t be seen."

So for now, this material will have to suffice. Watch below.

This article is related to: Jerry Lewis


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates