Two months ago Kay Brown, a Tempe-based editor, used portions of Eric Friedler‘s Der Clown, a documentary about Jerry Lewis‘s never-seen The Day The Clown Cried (’72) that aired last February on German television, to create a condensed version of Lewis’s film, albeit German-dubbed with English subtitles.
Brown posted her 31-minute video on Vimeo for limited viewing last April.
A friend sent me a link to Brown’s video yesterday morning, and I strongly felt that it was too important to keep private.
I didn’t initially know it had been seen by tens of thousands on German TV earlier this year, but that, I felt, made it even more okay to post a link.
Brown wrote me this morning to say she’d yanked the video out of concern that Lewis’s attorneys might make trouble for her. After donating TDTCC to the Library of Congress Lewis stipulated he didn’t want the film seen until 2025. Apparently German broadcasting laws enabled the TV station, Das Erste (ARD), to air it without fear of legal consequences.
My response to Brown: “The Der Clown footage in question was broadcast to tens of thousands last February on Das Erste, and was therefore available to every Tom, Dick & Abdul who happened to watch it in their chalets and rent-controlled apartments from Hamburg to Dresden to Munich and a thousand places in-between, but if an edited-down version is seen over here via a single Vimeo file you could ‘get in a lot of trouble’, as you put it? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
“TDTCC is a kind of ghost cult film, one that has been written about and discussed (as well as mocked and derided in absentia) by film sophistos for at least two or three decades.
Last year I nearly drove all the way down from Washington, D.C. to the Library of Congress film archives in rural Virginia with a vague hope that I might persuade the archivist to let me see stills from TDTCC, and then out of the blue actual scenes in some kind of narrative sequence turn up on Vimeo? What a trove!