Perhaps in the throes of a Percodan addiction it sounded like a good idea to direct a film about a clown working in a concentration camp leading children to their death in a gas chamber, performing tricks along the way to distract them from their fear. I’ve read that people tried to talk him out of it but the notoriously egomaniacal Jerry Lewis wasn’t willing to walk away from his vanity project. THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED happened. It was filmed in 1972. It was buried without release. It is now a Hollywood legend, surrounded by conspiracy theories and assumption.
Harry Shearer is one of seven people to have seen it. Seven. Shearer saw the film through someone who was involved in the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. It was a taped copy and his source had it over a weekend. “This movie is so drastically wrong,” Shearer told Spy Magazine, “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. “Oh My God!” – that’s all you can say.”
This morning on Facebook, screenwriter Larry Karaszewski (Ed Wood) posted a link to a Youtube account that had actual production footage from the film. The first time it has ever been seen. I don’t know the guy that owns the account, but this is a monumental find. Have a look then hit the other videos on here to learn more about the project from Shearer.