Jerry Lewis 'Clown' footage surfaces
August 11, 2013 12:31 PM   Subscribe

Some making-of footage from Jerry Lewis's infamous film The Day The Clown Cried has turned up on YouTube. (previously)
posted by mintcake! (30 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
EW article from earlier today.
posted by mintcake! at 12:34 PM on August 11, 2013


wtf is Serge Gainsbourg doing on set?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:34 PM on August 11, 2013


Looking for fine ladiez to woo?



Cause the ladiez cannot resist Jerry Lewis and awkward sadness.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:44 PM on August 11, 2013


The French love Jerry Lewis... and that is why we must hate the French
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:17 PM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


For some reason, I always imagined The Day The Clown Cried was a black and white film, possibly due to my becoming aware of the film around the same time Schindler's List came out. (and so many of the production photos being b&w)

I suppose this film doesn't really settle the issue one way or another, but does anyone know whether or not the actual film is in color?
posted by ShutterBun at 1:43 PM on August 11, 2013


I think it's a pretty sure bet that it's fully in color: it's been just a few rare examples that haven't been in color for the last sixty or more years --- certainly by 1972, color was the norm. The only exceptions in the last few decades, like Elephant Man (1980) and most of Schindler's List (1993), were purposely made in B&W as part of their artistic statements.
posted by easily confused at 2:00 PM on August 11, 2013


Are his nails filed to a too-long-for-a-man rounded point?

If you need more high-as-a-kite self-important hepster Jarry and can sit through an ad, you may enjoy this talk show appearance.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 2:21 PM on August 11, 2013


Some making-of footage from Jerry Lewis's infamous film The Day The Clown Cried has turned up on YouTube.

Of course it did. Roberto Benigni won an Oscar for recycling it in Life Is Beautiful.
posted by jonp72 at 2:30 PM on August 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


does anyone speak Dutch? i'd love to know what the voice over is saying.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 2:34 PM on August 11, 2013


wtf is Serge Gainsbourg doing on set?

Serge Gainsbourg: Did He Really Act in Jerry Lewis' Infamous Holocaust Film The Day the Clown Cried? (2011)

"While the generally reliable IMDB (above) mentions that he appeared in the movie, neither Gainsbourg's main English biography (Sylvie Simmons' excellent A Fistful of Gitanes) nor the rest of the Internet mention it at all, oddly enough."

FYI, there's a link to another minute of (soundless) footage in that article, including Lewis in prisoner garb and an SS officer or two.
Same footage as linked in the new EW article.
posted by dhartung at 2:59 PM on August 11, 2013


Wikipedia quotes Harry Shearer, who saw the film, in a Spy magazine article:

"With most of these kinds of things, you find that the anticipation, or the concept, is better than the thing itself. But seeing this film was really awe-inspiring, in that you are rarely in the presence of a perfect object. This was a perfect object. 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. "Oh My God!" – that's all you can say."

That makes me want to see it even more.
posted by MoxieProxy at 3:10 PM on August 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Howard Stern interviewed Harry Shearer about the film a couple years ago ... it doesn't reveal anything all that new about the film, I suppose, but quite interesting to hear him talk about the experience of actually seeing it.

Oh, and here's the 1992 Spy magazine article about the film (link courtesy of the folks over at Fake Criterions, who have a very nice mockup of the eventual DVD cover for this film).
posted by orthicon halo at 3:22 PM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here are some quick and dirty translations of the voice over.

1m00s Of course Jerry makes a powerful clown with his mobile face. But in the act of the actor we at once feel the director. The gag with the paper plane is circus, yes, but it is primarely film. He relies on a sound effect that could never work as well in a circus hall.

1m50s The best improvisations are those that were prepared. That view is shared by Jerry Lewis. His script is an exemplar of the genre. It contains really everything.

2m07s Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg watch over his shoulder. Yes, that book is amazingly neat. But they haven't seen anything yet. After Jerry as clown and actor, as conductor, as producer, he now takes the role of sound technician. You know how he loves that kind of equipment.

2m37s He can't learn anything from us anymore. Instead, he needs to help the French engineer of his film crew. Incidentally, Jerry only looks aged because of the grime paint.

4m45s Look, on the mirror another photograph: Jerry himself as a clown with precise instructions for his make-up. Similarly, he made a series of pictures of each character and in the film they must comply with that image.

5m30s A funny moment can take effort. In a moment it will go wrong and one can hear that Jerry is not happy.
posted by reynaert at 3:55 PM on August 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


The French love Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis’ popularity in France is overrated. The thing is, at the time he was making films, he was the only person in Hollywood who was writing, directing, and starring in his own pictures. As such, he is recognized in France as an auteur, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into popular support.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 3:56 PM on August 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


From Cecil:
French affection for Jerry Lewis has always mystified Americans. Highbrow critics (the only kind France has) wrote appreciatively about his work beginning in the 1950s, but things didn't really get rocking until Jerry's visit to France in 1965. Though past his peak in America by then, he was mobbed at the airport by fans and the press and was the toast of Paris for a week. French critics, who had voted The Nutty Professor the best film of the year, gave him an award, an art cinema put on a three-week Jerry Lewis festival, and the French film library held a retrospective with seminars on Jerry's art. Rosenbaum recalls Lewis hosting a two-hour prime-time show on French television in the 70s, with "guests like Louis Malle literally at his feet."

The reaction in the States was and remains: Jerry Lewis?


I think this whole the-French-love-Jerry-Lewis thing has become a self-sustaining urban legend, much like the French supposedly surrendering right and left or "the Royale with cheese". People believe it because they've heard it a hundred times, and that's all they know about it.
posted by dhartung at 4:09 PM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is Jerry Lewis sporting "busted asshole" makeup?

Maybe that's why it was never released.
posted by The Deej at 4:09 PM on August 11, 2013


Harry Shearer, in the Spy article:
The guy plays Muscular Dystrophy. It's a staged reading: (scary voice) "I am Muscular Dystrophy, and I hate people, especially children. I love to make their limbs shrivel up!" They showed this for several years before cooler heads prevailed.
Has this shown up on YouTube yet?
posted by pxe2000 at 4:21 PM on August 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Bellboy is a brilliant comic work, right up there with the best of Tati and Chaplin. It's no wonder the French, a country of cinephiles, love Lewis.
posted by cazoo at 4:31 PM on August 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


The guy plays Muscular Dystrophy. It's a staged reading: (scary voice) "I am Muscular Dystrophy, and I hate people, especially children.
Couldn't find it on YouTube, but it's on Vimeo.
posted by aw_yiss at 4:37 PM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hereby publicly admit,in writing, my personal fondness for Lewis' "Cinderfella".

There, I said it.
posted by easily confused at 5:09 PM on August 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I still like Jerry Lewis. More than I like clowns.
posted by Splunge at 5:31 PM on August 11, 2013


Wikipedia quotes Harry Shearer, who saw the film, in a Spy magazine article

That quote is fantastic, but my favorite line is the next bit, where Shearer says that watching the movie is akin to "if you flew down to Tijuana and suddenly saw a painting on black velvet of Auschwitz."

That's...amazingly brutal.
posted by ZaphodB at 6:39 PM on August 11, 2013


Reynaert, that's super cool. Thanks!
posted by mintcake! at 7:16 PM on August 11, 2013


During that long interview segment in the middle, he looks like Al Pacino in his "Godfather Part II" makeup. Freaky.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 5:11 AM on August 12, 2013


That quote is fantastic, but my favorite line is the next bit, where Shearer says that watching the movie is akin to "if you flew down to Tijuana and suddenly saw a painting on black velvet of Auschwitz."

I... well, I'm just not that far for where this is a reality.

Asia loves The Hitler. (This is probably the article that pinged me to the theme, but I chucked in the wider search.)
posted by Mezentian at 5:13 AM on August 12, 2013


I think this whole the-French-love-Jerry-Lewis thing has become a self-sustaining urban legend, much like the French supposedly surrendering right and left or "the Royale with cheese".

Errm, the Royale Cheese is a real thing (though I suppose its name may not have to do with the metric system; it's the same as a quarter pounder with cheese, though).

And yes, they have beer.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:17 AM on August 12, 2013


Yes, Asia loves Hitler (in a way)

Long-time fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 became confusedly aware of this during Invasion of the Neptune Men, when They blew up the Hitler Building!
posted by ShutterBun at 5:21 AM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh, I followed the rabbit trail and stumbled onto the "Lost Media Wiki" somehow, seems like an interesting site in itself.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:18 PM on August 12, 2013


Richard Brody writes on The New Yorker blog about his impression of the new footage. Excerpt:
I haven’t seen the movie; but now I’ve seen these brief clips and I find them profoundly moving. When O’Brien came up with the idea for the film, the discussion of the extermination of much of European Jewry by Nazi Germany wasn’t as frequent and the historical documentation was far less copious than it is now. Elie Wiesel’s memoir “Night” was published in 1960. Raul Hilberg’s crucial work of history “The Destruction of the European Jews” was published in 1961. The term “Holocaust” hadn’t yet come into frequent usage. And, even in the early seventies, when Lewis worked on the film, his attempt to confront the practical details of daily life in an extermination camp was, at the very least, unusual and original. (I can recall a visit by Wiesel to our synagogue on Long Island around 1973; what he told his audience seemed to hit them with shocking force.)
posted by Kattullus at 1:27 AM on August 14, 2013


Jerry Lewis is asked about The Day the Clown Cried in a recent appearance and explains why he doesn't want it released (short answer: He thinks it's bad).
posted by Kattullus at 1:31 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


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