Forget anyone seeing Jerry Lewis‘s The Day The Clown Cried (’72) later this year, which some seem to believe is in the cards. Just forget it.

On 1.13.24 or two and a half months ago, the belief that The Day The Clown Cried would be screened in June 2024 at the Library of Congress archive in Culpeper, Virginia (or at least sometime this year) was seemingly put to bed by Indiewire‘s Christian Zilko.

Zilko (rhymes with Sgt. Bilko) reported that an LoC representative had “confirmed to IndieWire that no public screenings are planned, as the archive does not possess a complete cut of the film.”

Oh, yeah? Then why did L.A. Times reporter Noah Bierman, after visiting the Culpeper campus nine years ago, quote the LoC’s head archivist Rob Stone saying “the library [has] agreed to not show the film for at least 10 years”? If the full version can’t be shown for lack of material why talk about screening it at all?

Two months later I inquired about also visiting the Library of Congress campus, and particularly about the possibility of viewing the metal cans containing The Day The Clown Cried.

On 10.14.15 I received an emailed reply from Mike Mashon, head of the LoC’s Moving Image section.

He said that the LoC’s agreement with Jerry Lewis places an embargo on The Day The Clown Cried “for ten years, including screenings and making any element associated with it to the public and researchers.” In other words, no can photos until 2025, and perhaps not even then.

Again: If a screening of the completed film is out of the question due to insufficient material, why mention showing it in 2025?

Even if only sections of the film are shown someday, it seems clear that the embargo will be in place until 2025 and not 2024, as some are assuming.

Yes, I’m guilty of having previously posted about a presumed June 2024 unveiling date, but I was lazy or distracted or I had bees in my head.

Just to be extra double sure, early this morning I asked Mashon to confirm the embargo date. He’s no longer on the job — retired. Let’s just presume that Clown Revelation Day, if it happens at all, won’t be until the summer of ’25.

Clown Cried In A Cosmic Blink Of An Eyelash,” posted on 4.2.23:

Although the LoC apparently intends to eventually screen some kind of celluloid representation of The Day The Clown Cried at its Audio Visual Conservation campus in Culpeper, Virginia, curator Rob Stone has stated the LoC does not have a complete print of the film.

Posted on 6.15.16: I’m hardly an authority when it comes to Jerry Lewis‘s never-seen The Day The Clown Cried (’72), but…

I’ve read all the articles, I’ve read the script, I’ve seen that BBC documentary that popped last January, and I’d love to view it when the embargo is lifted ten years hence (i.e., in 2025). But I’ve never watched actual scenes.

This morning a friend passed along a 31-minute Vimeo file (posted two months ago but yanked on Thursday morning…sorry) that provides the first real taste of Clown, or at least the first I’ve ever sat through.

It’s basically a compressed, German-dubbed version of Lewis’s film that’s intercut with acted-out portions of the script by a troupe of 70somethings. It’s taken from Eric Friedler‘s 2016 documentary called Der Clown.

And you know what? I don’t see what’s so godawful about it.

Okay, the scheme is manipulative bordering on the grotesque — Lewis as a German-Jewish clown in a Nazi concentration camp who’s ordered in the final act to amuse a group of children being sent to the “showers” — but that elephant aside it didn’t strike me as all that agonizing or offensive. Really. Lewis’s performance seems more or less restrained as far as the writing allows, and the story unfolds in a series of steps that seem reasonably logical. The supporting perfs and period milieu seem decent enough.

When everyone finally sees The Day The Clown Cried in 2024 (or ’25) the verdict may be that it’s not a mediocre, miscalculated effort (or that it is…who knows?), but I didn’t smell a catastrophe as I watched this whatever-you-want-to-call-it. Plus it costars HE’s own Harriet Andersson.