The Day the Clown Cried script
Synopsis: The Day the Clown Cried is an unreleased 1972 American drama film directed by and starring Jerry Lewis. It is based on a script of the same name by Joan O'Brien, who had co-written the original script with Charles Denton ten years previously. The film was met with controversy regarding its premise and content, which features a circus clown who is imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. Lewis has repeatedly insisted that The Day the Clown Cried would never be released because it is an embarrassingly "bad work" that he is ashamed of.

EXT. PARIS CIRCUS - NIGHT

The normal activity and excitement of showtime around the

circus is in evidence where we see the half dark street and

alley directly adjacent to the circus tent which (in Paris

is an enclosure) ... the animals, the midgets, the people

and the roustabouts moving with a fixed speed and getting

faster as we now know showtime is momentarily due.

We MOVE TOWARD the action, slowly but definitely picking up

SOUNDS and actions of the busy people as we go.

STRAIGHT CUT TO:

EXT. CIRCUS - FRONT OF CIRCUS - PEOPLE ENTERING - NIGHT

We see barkers, children, people, pushing ... buying

tickets, hats, candy ... SOUNDS of children laughing, MUSIC

playing from o.s. within the tent area ... and we ...

CUT TO:

EXT. BACK OF CIRCUS - NIGHT

A continuation of the animals, trainers, clowns INTERCUT

with the action of the circus customers jamming the

entranceway to get in ... (complimented CUTS from backstage

to out front ... building to the final crescendo ... as we

see the alley empty and clear out vs. the front area

clearing and also becoming empty.)

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. CIRCUS PROPER - NIGHT

The fully dressed orchestra playing the oncoming people to

their respective seats as we PAN ALONG the happy faces and

excited children ... DOWN and BACK within the circus

backstage and SLOWLY COME TO A STOP OUTSIDE: "CLOWN ALLEY".

CLOWN ALLEY - NIGHT

The heartbeat of any circus ... The long row of unkempt, yet

beautifully neat trunks where the clowns make up, with many

of the clowns just coming in and setting their clothers and

things around their own little areas ... midgets running and

playing, like the little children they are about to

entertain ... MUSIC is in the deep background ... as we COME

TO A STOP at the large trunk with the letters clearly

printed ... 'GUSTAV - EUROPE'S PREMIER CLOWN."

We PULL BACK and AWAY from the lettering on the trunk and

REVEAL the face of a gentle but drawn man, a man whose body

and movements indicate he has been at this for a long time.

As he sits, the little midgets run close to see what they

can do to help; one pulls the chair for him to sit on;

another brings a hot cup of coffee; another takes his coat

and hangs in on the haltree, adjacent to his trunk ... as we

PUSH PAST HIM to introduce the other clowns ... some half

made up, others finishing their make-up ... and some just

sitting and rapping together, smoking, drinking coffee,

waiting for showtime ... and in the very distant b.g.,

almost against the wall of clown alley, we see the trunk and

the body of a "CLOWN" in silhouette ... we CRAWL TOWARDS the

body and the trunk ... and COME TO A STOP ... HOLDING FULL

FRAME. The clown, already made-up and dressed in his tramp

outfit, has his head in his hands, leaning down on the trunk

table top, a depressed and sad looking hulk of a man ... an

o.s. voice:

MIDGET:

Coffee? It's nice and hot.

The MIDGET slides the cup in front of the clown's face ...

as he picks up his head and smiles and nods yes ... he sips

the coffee and we see the clown is HELMUT DORQUE (pronounced

Doork).

He is a depressed and very unhappy clown ... the frown on

his face shows years of knocking around ... plus fear that

those years are now over. From o.s. we HEAR the SOUND of a

small air horn being blown and carried by one of the

midgets. He is yelling through an old megaphone.

MIDGET:

15 Minutes to circus ...

15 minutes to circus.

Upon hearing this, "Clown Alley" really gets busy ... all

the clowns get up and put their last minute touches together

... touching up their make-ups ... getting their coats and

props together ... and as they get themselves up and ready,

they exit the clown alley area and start for the arena. The

last one to go is Helmut, lingering behind intentionally as

we:

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Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis AM (born Joseph Levitch; March 16, 1926) is an American actor, comedian, singer, film producer, film director, screenwriter, humanitarian and innovator. He is known for his slapstick humor in film, television, stage and radio. He and Dean Martin were partners as the hit popular comedy duo of Martin and Lewis. Following that success, he was a solo star in film, nightclubs, television, concert stages and musicals. Lewis served as national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association and host of the live Labor Day broadcast of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon for 40 years. more…

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