Day the Clown Cried, The (1972): Jerry Lewis’ Unreleased Holocaust Movie

The Day the Clown Cried is a Holocaust film that Jerry Lewis had directed and starred in, but has never been shown in theaters.

The tale’s fictional protagonist is a German clown named Helmut Doork, who is sent to a Nazi concentration camp as a political prisoner and ends up entertaining Jewish children at an adjoining death camp.

In the climax, Helmut distracts the children with jokes and pratfalls as he leads them to the gas chambers, ultimately joining them inside..

Lewis shot the film in Sweden, but due to financial and personal problems, The Day the Clown Cried was never completed. There’s only a rough-cut version that has never been publicly screened.

The picture’s strange subject matter, and the fact that it was directed by a comedian like Lewis has made The Day the Clown Cried arguably the most notorious “lost” film in history.

Actors and comedians have produced staged readings of the film’s screenplay.

In 2015, Lewis had donated his print of the film, along with the rest of his filmography, to the Library of Congress, contingent that The Day the Clown Cried will not be screened until 2024,