The prestigious Criterion Collection announced today that they will be releasing Jerry Lewis’ long lost 1972 holocaust clown drama THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED on June 10th. In a New York Times profile of Lewis last Sunday, Lewis declared that he had “a change of heart” about the project that he’s said repeatedly over the years he’d never release. The film will make its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
“It finally dawned on me that the movie is my crowning achievement, a real piece of f***-in’ art, and people should be allowed to see it,” Lewis told critic A.O. Scott, going on to say that “It was a bitch to settle up all the international litigation, but it was worth it as everyone can see at Cannes.” The 88-year old Lewis is planning to appear at the event, and do the late night talk show rounds, including an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on June 9th, to promote the Blu ray/DVD release.
Filmed in Sweden in 1972, the controversial, much speculated about film concerned Lewis as a clown named Helmut Doork (that’s right) who is sent to a Nazi prison and then a concentration camp, where he’s ordered to perform for Jewish children while they’re being led to the gas chambers. It was Lewis’ last film as a director for eight years before his acclaimed comedy comeback in 1980’s HARDLY WORKING.
The news that the infamous film is finally seeing the light of day will certainly excite many movie buffs who have long believed the never-seen work was one of cinema’s holy grails, along with the missing final reel of Orson Welles’ THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, and the alternate version of BACK TO THE FUTURE with Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly.
The Criterion Collection’s deluxe edition of THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED will include two separate audio commentaries – one with Lewis, the other with comedian/actor Harry Shearer, one of the few people who has actually seen the film before. Other Special Features will include extended scenes, a 45-minute making of documentary, picture gallery, a half hour video interview with Lewis, plus a few Nazi propaganda films for good measure.
You can pre-order Lewis’ magnum opus at Amazon, and from the film’s new official website.