The Day The Clown Cried (1972) Could Finally Be Seen in 2025

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“It is the story of a clown, who was once the premier clown, who is no more

the top clown and who is having a difficult time handling being just a small part of the circus.”

Jerry Lewis

In the fall of 2013, I posted an article talking about how footage of the “lost” Jerry Lewis film, The Day the Clown Cried (1972), had surfaced. At the time, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope that the film might one day be seen. Now, recent developments have made that light at the end of the tunnel a little brighter.

Day Clown Cried 1The Day the Clown Cried told the story of clown Helmut Doork and dealt with the controversial idea of how he played a role in entertaining the Jewish children prior to leading them into the gas chambers during World War II. As previously discussed, this film was never released. In fact, it appears that it was never completely finished. Lewis would avoid talking about the film for many years but he just recently began answering questions. In a press conference from August 2013, he had this answer for Jan Humboldt, Swedish film critic, who asked if we would ever see the film.

“No. Nope. You want to know why? Simply because it’s very easy to sit in front of an audience and expound on your feelings. It’s another thing to have to deal with those feelings. And in terms of that film, I was embarrassed. I was ashamed of the work and I was grateful that I had the power to contain it all and never let anybody see it. It was bad, bad, bad. It could have been wonderful but I slipped up. I didn’t quite get it. And I didn’t quite have enough sense to find out why I’m doing it and maybe there would be an answer. Uh uh, it’ll never be seen. Sorry.”

Jan Humboldt was interviewed for a BBC documentary, The Story of Day the Clown Cried, which includes interviews with some involved with the project. Countless photographic stills have been discovered in the archives of the Swedish Film Institute. There are insights as to how Jerry Lewis’ working relationship with the cast was strained at times, possibly due to medication and back problems he was suffering at the time. Good friends at the beginning of filming would become nothing more than a co-worker by the end.Day Clown Cried 2

The possible increasing glimmer of a chance that we may see the film in our lifetime comes from the fact that Jerry Lewis recently donated his entire filmography to the Library of Congress. Amongst the films is something called Le Jour Ou’Le Clown Pleura, which is French for The Day the Clown Cried. The caveat with the donation of the film being that it could not be screened for another ten years. By 2025, Jerry Lewis will turn 99 years old. While it is certainly possible that Lewis could still be alive, it is honestly doubtful, considering his various health problems over the years.

Day Clown Cried 3How the film would be seen, assuming the Library of Congress chooses to show it, is debatable. I wouldn’t count on a Blu-ray release due to the still outstanding rights issues, not to mention how some of the crew still claim to be owed for their work. But there could certainly be an opportunity for a special screening, perhaps even a charity event in his name. Interest in the film continues to grow and with this news, the mystique of this “lost” piece of cinematic history will likely increase.

Watch the fascinating BBC documentary, featuring host and Jewish comedian David Schneider, for more information on the intriguing history of this film that continues to be fleshed out in pieces over time. It’s a story that fascinates me and one I will continue to follow, sharing with you any news that becomes available.

Dread Media – Moon of the Wolf (1972)

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Moon of the Wolf 1972As Feral February continues on the Dread Media podcast, episode 441 rolls along and I take a look at Moon of the Wolf (1972). This made-for-TV flick features David Janssen and is well worth your time. Sure, it moves along at a slower pace and the werewolf doesn’t necessarily blow you away, but at only 75-minutes long it’s worth checking out for the nostalgia alone. It’s in the public domain, so check your Mill Creek sets or watch it on YouTube.

Next week, I’ll be revisiting The Undying Monster (1942)!

Mr. Holmes (2015) is a Bittersweet Look at the Final Days of Sherlock

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Mr Holmes posterI have been an avid fan of all things Sherlock Holmes since the 1970s. I remember discovering a Basil Rathbone film late on a Saturday night and was hooked. I watched the Frank Langella play on HBO countless times. I was there when Jeremy Brett was first telecast on PBS in the 80s. And I fondly remember buying a hardbound edition of the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories in the 80s as well. Over the years, my love for the great detective has reached highs and lows. For every Brett and Rathbone, there has been a few less than stellar offerings. However, Ian McKellen’s version of an older Sherlock Holmes will now rank amongst my personal favorites.

When I first saw the trailer for Mr. Holmes last year, I knew this was a movie I needed to see. Sadly, the theatrical run came and went too quickly. But a nice Blu-ray copy was waiting under the Christmas tree and I recently had a chance to sit down and see if it would live up to the good reviews. I’ve often been slow to accepting new takes on Sherlock Holmes. It took me a couple of years before I sat down to discover Benedict Cumberbatch. I love his interpretation, despite the fact it is not truly loyal to the original source material. That may be why I was a little worried that Mr. Holmes might not be what I wanted it to be since it was an original story. Fear not, my worries were soon laid to rest.Mr Holmes 1

Mr. Holmes is set in the final years of Sherlock’s life. The year is 1947 and Sherlock has retired to his bee farm in Sussex. His current but reluctant housekeeper is Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney, Love Actually), who is accompanied by her brilliant and inquisitive young son Roger (Milo Parker, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children). Sherlock has returned from a trip to Hiroshima with a jelly made from prickly ash in hopes it will help his failing memory. Sherlock is hoping to right the wrongs that Dr. Watson did by publishing a more accurate account of his last case, “The Adventure of the Dove Grey Glove”, but he needs help remembering the events of long ago.

Mr Holmes 2Sherlock’s adventures in Japan and his last case are told through flashbacks. Sherlock’s failing memory and early senility in the present are taking their toll. It was this element of the film that hit me quite personally. Seeing Sherlock become frail and weak, falling and unable to get up, was quite heartbreaking at times. Sherlock is timeless but it seemed like watching a childhood hero become old and die right before my eyes. As I near 50, many of the great actors and musicians I still watch and listen to are dying. Each time, it’s like another part of my youth is stolen from me. I also saw my father in the guise of Ian McKellen. At the age of 84 and suffering from Lewey Body Dementia, I’ve been losing him slowly over the course of the last year, knowing that my time with him is now limited.

Ian McKellen’s performance in Mr. Holmes was amazing and I wish it would have received more recognition. His relationship with young Roger through their bonding over the bees and detective stories was heartwarming, something we need to see more of in films today. My only and very minor complaint came from the fact that supposedly 30 years had passed since Sherlock’s last case. Through makeup and acting, he did appear older than the flashbacks but not 30 years. Again, minor but something that might have been addressed differently in the script. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Holmes.

Mr Holmes 3Mr. Holmes is based on the novel, A Slight Trick of the Mind, written by Mitch Cullin. It is currently available on Amazon. Mr. Holmes the film is readily available on Blu-ray. Check out the trailer on YouTube, as you add both the book and film to your personal collections today. I am anxious to read the novel and highly recommend the movie to any fan of Sherlock Holmes. I would love to see more of Ian McKellen in the role of Sherlock. He might not be the most accurate according to the original stories but far superior to many others who have attempted the role over the years. Check it out as I know you won’t be disappointed.

Dread Media – The Werewolf (1956)

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The Werewolf 1956Feral February begins at the Dread Media podcast, so it will be all things werewolf every Monday here at Monster Movie Kid. This week on episode 440, I start things off with a look at The Werewolf (1956) from producer Sam Katzman. This great flick, which is a unique scientific take on the traditional lore, is available as part of the Icons of Horror Sam Katzman Collection and well worth adding to your collection. Check out the trailer on YouTube and let the full moon madness begin!

Tribute to David Bowie – Labyrinth (1986)

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Labyrinth 1Three years after taking on the vampire genre, David Bowie entered the world of fantasy with Labyrinth (1986). It had several key names, such as Jim Henson and George Lucas, to help it receive mainstream press and media, but ultimately, it would become a box office failure. Now, 30 years later, how does the movie stand the test of time?

A musical fantasy film is always going to be a leap of faith. Throw in the puppetry work of Jim Henson and the risk becomes even greater. But, in the decade of the 80s and just four years after The Dark Crystal (1982), it seemed to have a chance on becoming a box office wonder. Add in the musical star power of David Bowie and the might of Lucasfilm, all of the key elements were there. However, with a budget of $25 million, the margin for error was slim.

The initial storyline ideas came from Jim Henson and designer Brian Froud before being turned over to Terry Jones of Monty Python fame. However, a team of other scriptwriters would ultimately rewrite much of it, despite the fact that Terry Jones maintained sole screen-writing credit. The basic story seems to be ripped from the pages of a fairytale as 15 year-old Sarah (Jennifer Connelly, The Rocketeer) innocently wishes her brother Toby off into the hands of Jareth, the Goblin King (David Bowie). Sarah begs Jareth to return her brother but is given thirteen hours to make it through his labyrinth and find Toby in the castle…or Toby will become a goblin.Labyrinth 2

While the story is simple enough, it is actually symbolic of Sarah’s journey to womanhood and the need to leave her childhood behind. This becomes more obvious in the final scene where Sarah is seen frolicking with the residents of the fantasy world. And those creatures are the strongest point of this movie. Jim Henson did simply magical work, long before the days of CGI. From Hoggle, the dwarf who befriends Sarah, to Ludo and the legion of goblins, you can’t help but be entranced by the magical world around you.

Labyrinth 3Where the movie suffers is in the human cast. Jennifer Connelly was a few years away from becoming stunningly beautiful in The Rocketeer but her acting delivery is often very flat, which is painfully obvious in this film. David Bowie gave a good performance but I’ll admit, I cringed a little at the musical numbers. In my opinion, not his best work but his music video for the film was one of the better promotional pieces. His acting here is quite limited as he appears more for visual effect. A striking image but not necessarily one of the most animated characters when surrounded by the work of Jim Henson.

Henson and George Lucas worked closely together during the editing process of the movie. Overall production lasted primarily five months prior to the lengthy series of edits. By the time Labyrinth was released in June 1986 in the United States, anticipation was high but short lived. It spent only one week in the top ten. Despite a more appropriate Christmas season premiere in the UK and Europe, it failed to capture an audience.

Labyrinth 4Labyrinth has survived the initial failures to become a cult favorite over the years. Jim Henson lived long enough to see the early start of the growing appreciation for his work prior to his death in 1990. In recent years, there has been talk of another Labyrinth film but it appears now the movie will be in the style rather than a sequel or remake. And let’s be honest, if they go with CGI effects, there really won’t be any comparison.

I enjoyed this revisit as I hadn’t seen Labyrinth since 1987. It did seem dated and not as engaging as I had hoped it would be. Nonetheless, I do recommend any fan of Jim Henson or David Bowie to check it out and be your own judge. Watch the trailer on YouTube and start shopping as it is readily available on a beautiful Blu-ray edition. There is also an interesting documentary that gives a fascinating look behind-the-scenes and that you may find more enjoyable than the film itself.

Dread Media – Jennifer (1978)

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Jennifer 1978This week on episode 439 of the Dread Media podcast, I take a look at the never mentioned and seldom seen Jennifer (1978). It’s essentially a ripoff on the superior Carrie (1976) but worth watching for a different take on a familiar tale. The movie is currently available on Blu-ray, so check out the trailer on YouTube for yourself to help determine if this is one for your collection.

Tribute to David Bowie – The Hunger (1983)

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The Hunger posterOn January 10, the world lost a musical legend as David Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69. He left behind a legacy of music and film that will continue to entertain for generations to come. His music speaks for itself and has wide appeal. However, his acting credits are a little more sporadic and, perhaps, a more acquired taste. Within the sci-fi, horror and fantasy genre, he left his mark several times.

In 1976, David Bowie would bring to life a most unique character as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth, based on the novel by Walter Tevis. It was not a commercial success but would grow in cult status over the years. It was an overly ambitious film, somewhat incomplete with its lack of continuity. But it has stood the test of time, due in large part to David Bowie’s performance. He would take on various roles in the years that followed before entering the world of horror with The Hunger (1983).

Hunger 1The film is a very loose adaptation of the novel by Whitley Strieber. It is a unique take on the vampire lore without ever mentioning the word. Our film opens at a New York night club as we see Miriam Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve, Repulsion) with her companion John (David Bowie). From the very beginning, this a stylish film that many would consider an art house effort. We see Miriam and John stalking their prey while Bauhaus is playing “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”. They eventually take a couple back to their home where they are seduced and killed. However, there are no vampire fangs here. Their throats are slashed using an Ankh pendant, hinting at an Egyptian past for Miriam.

Miriam and John are a wealthy couple who teach music. But there is a darkness behind their comfort. John begins to realize that Miriam’s promise of ever-lasting life only applied to her. After hundreds of years, John begins to age rapidly. He seeks out the help of Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon, Rocky Horror Picture Show), a gerontologist who is studying rapid aging in primates. John flees the clinic before she can find out more. Once back at home, he tries to stop the aging by feeding on a music student but it fails to help. Miriam returns home to find John near death. Despite his pleas to end his life, she places him in a coffin in the attic, alongside others, saying there is no release.Hunger 2

The rest of the movie really centers on Miriam courting Sarah to become her next companion. Yet, when Sarah is turned, she repels at the thought of living forever, feeling more like an addict in search of the next hit to keep her alive. Unfortunately, this is where the movie eventually suffers. Despite establishing a lore that Miriam is eternal and cannot die while her companions must suffer, all of that is changed in the final act. This was due to the studio requesting that the ending be rewritten to an open ending and leaving the possibility for sequels. Susan Sarandon has expressed regret at this decision and I agree. It changes too much and, ultimately, leaves the filmgoer confused as to what really happened.

Hunger 4Bowie’s performance was somewhat limited but stellar all the same. The makeup work done to age him was amazing. Bowie would actually learn how to play the cello for the movie. He was proud of the finished film but was concerned that it was too bloody at times. For a vampire film, it really isn’t excessively horrific, especially considering that it never features vampire fangs. Director Tony Scott presented us with a very stylized look at the world of vampires, one that would reach cult status amongst the Goth crowd in future years. I believe it has to be an inspiration of some sort for Only Lovers Left Alive (2013), a film I actually enjoyed just a little bit more.

The Hunger is currently available on Blu-ray. Check out the trailer on YouTube and I think you’ll get a good idea of what this movie has to offer. I recommend it and appreciate it for offering something a little different on a sub-genre that could occasionally use some fresh blood. Be sure to listen to episode 438 of the Dead Media podcast for Desmond and Chris’ review of the film, then tune in to the upcoming episode 361 of the B Movie Cast to hear what Vince and the gang think about it. Hunger 3

Bowie would never really do another horror film. He would appear in several episodes of the short-lived television series version of The Hunger, a non-related effort to capitalize on the name. But he would give the world of fantasy a go in 1986. Next time, I’ll take a look at the often much-maligned Labyrinth.