I am reviewing the Day the Clown Cried after watching the recently aired German documentary that premiered in 2016. About thirty minutes of footage has been available to the pubic online. Although over an hour of the movie has still never been seen, or premiered to an audience, millions of interested fans remain eager to witness. Along with countless articles and interviews on the subject, a believe a review is justified. With that said, this review is focused on the many "hats" that Jerry Lewis wore in the making of The Day the Clown Cried. More than 40 years later, the reason behind him not making the entire movie public is more clear.
As the Producer, Jerry had to work with other financial people in order to make this movie happen. With multiple speculations along with recent interviews, it has been confirmed that Jerry had an uphill battle in order to make the movie happen. This alone can ruin a movie, let alone guarantee it to flop. In several scenes we see wonderful production value. Costumes, locations, props are historically accurate. In others, we see a lack of this. Some of the scenes lack substance due to lack of budget. Filmed in Sweden, you could tell that they did the best with what they had to work with. Many of the Actors work well while others are do not. This is a perfect example of some of the children in the prison scenes. Many are well cast while others appear like obvious local extras.
As Director, Jerry had successfully directed may Paramount comedies throughout the 1960's. His quality as a Director would have made him a well seasoned professional for the 1972 production. However, although the premise of the movie is about a Clown, The Day the Clown Cried is far from a typical Jerry Lewis comedy. Having been able to direct himself many times before was never a problem. Yet for a drama, this may have added to the pressure of producing a better performance for a drama.
As an Artist, one's pride can get the best of oneself. Whether you are from France or not, there is evidence to conclude that Jerry Lewis is a comedic genius. For decades, Jerry Lewis has made people laugh. As a professional, Jerry Lewis has pushed himself to get the very best from his performance and budget. Speculations have convinced fans that Lewis was taking drugs (pain killers) during the production of the Day the Clown Cried due to a physical ailment. I believe this made his performance both good and bad. In many scenes of the movie, we see this. Some scenes are emotionally driven with a real dramatic overtone of acting. I believe the emotional pressure of the film can been seen on Lewis's face during his performance. At times, you can see his character overwhelmed and losing hope. These moments are overpowering. Other scenes lack this quality for the same reason. Some scenes are quickly shot and are void of the same quality as before. This falls on the shoulders of the Director.
Finally, and most importantly, as a Jew, Jerry Lewis is quoted in the documentary about what that means to him and to what he was aiming to do with the movie's overall message. This Hat alone can overwhelm anyone making a movie involving the Holocaust. Steven Spielberg refused to take any payment for his work on Schindler's List because he felt it would have been blood money. The fear of a negative audience reaction to the movie is one thing to handle. It is something completely different if you are excommunicated and labeled for benefiting from the murder of millions. Jerry Lewis had the fear of not only ruining himself professionally but personally as well.
Each of these roles that Jerry Lewis held in the making of The Day the Clown Cried effected his decision to not release the movie. I believe it was a collection of these duties that made himself hesitant to be judged. With what is available to view, the movie has great merit along with great doubt. The fear of this movie being a disaster for 1972 is well defended. Then again, the idea of this movie being a masterpiece and one of Jerry Lewis's best, is also a realistic possibility.
The vision that Jerry Lewis wanted and got I feel were two different products. His Identity during the production and forty years later plays evident to just that.