Clown, The (1953): Robert Z. Leonard’s Father-Son Melodrama, Starring Red Skelton, Jane Greer, Tim Considine

From the Vaults

Robert Z. Leonard directed The Clown, a melodrama with comic overtones, starring Red Skelton, Jane Greer and Tim Considine.

Grade: B-

The Clown
The Clown poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster

The story is derived from the Wallace Berry 1931 sentimental boxing father-son melodrama, The Champ.

Dodo the Clown is a funny man, burdened with serious drinking problem. His son Dink is amused by Dodo’s act, but not so the circus owner who dismisses Dodo for having insulted customers. Dodo also ruins a job audition by turning up drunk.

Dink asks if Goldie Goldenson, Dodo’s old agent, can help. Goldie recalls the clown’s great days from the Ziegfeld Follies so he promises to try.

An enthusiastic Dodo goes to a pawn shop to retrieve his tuxedo plus a watch that Flo Ziegfeld gave him, which he presents to Dink as a gift. At the hotel, Goldie doesn’t want Dodo performing because the part is that of a stooge, but Dodo goes through with the humiliation.

In the audience are ex-wife Paula Henderson and her new husband Ralph, a businessman. Ralph goes backstage, where he says Paula would like to spend some time with her son, whom she had abandoned after the divorce.

Dodo is given $200 by Ralph and loses it in a dice game, as well as the watch, which he took while Dink was asleep. To get the watch back, Dodo takes a job in a strip club. When the club is raided by the police, Goldie must bail him out. The disgrace makes Dodo realize that Dink would be better off with Paula and Ralph, so he makes the boy go live with them. The part of the gambler who Dodo loses the watch to was played by Charles Bronson in an uncredited role.

Goldie comes up with a great opportunity for a television show. Dink, unhappy with the Hendersons, is thrilled with Dodo’s chance for comeback. However, while performing, Dodo gets dizzy and collapses on stage. When he dies, Dink goes home with his mother.

A commercial hit, the film earned $1,539,000 in the US and $560,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit of $437,000.


Red Skelton as Dodo Delwyn
Tim Considine as Dink
Jane Greer as Paula Henderson
Philip Ober as Ralph Z. Henderson
Loring Smith as Goldie
Lou Lubin as Little Julie
Fay Roope as Doctor Strauss
Walter Reed as Joe Hoagley
Eddie Marr as television director
Jonathan Cott as floor director
Don Beddoe as Gallagher
Steve Forrest as young man
Frank Nelson as Charlie (uncredited)
Shirley Mitchell as Mrs. Blotto (uncredited)


Directed by Robert Z. Leonard
Written by Frances Marion (story), Leonard Praskins (adaptation), Martin Rackin (screenplay)
Produced by William H. Wright
Cinematography Paul Vogel
Edited by Gene Ruggiero
Music by David Rose
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Release date: January 16, 1953

Running time: 91 minutes
Budget $887,000
Box office $2,099,000


TCM showed the movie on July 15, 2022.