“We’ve had Life is Beautiful and Jakob the Liar,” a 7.12 Guardian item reads, “and now the list of movies mixing clowning with the Holocaust is to grow with Adam Resurrected, a Paul Schrader film that will adapt a book by Israeli novelist Yoram Kaniuk.” The item says “the story [is about] on a Jewish circus clown” — to be played by Jeff Goldblum — “who is kept alive by the Nazis to entertain his fellow Jews as they march to the gas chambers.”
Jerry Lewis (l.) in a faked photo (I think) suggesting it was taken on the set of the unreleased The Day The Clown Cried (1972); (r.) Paul Schrader, who is reportedly looking to direct Adam Resurrected, which sounds very similar to Lewis’ film.
“Obviously-no-shit-Sherlock, this calls to mind that early ’70s Jerry Lewis fiasco called The Day the Clown Cried, an unseen, never-distributed film that Lewis starred in and directed. The dark drama is described by a Jerry Lewis website as being “about a German clown who was arrested by the Gestapo, interred in a concentration camp, and used to march Jewish children into the ovens.”
But maybe they’re not quite so similar. An Amazon.com description of the Kaniuk book says it’s about “a former circus clown named Adam Stein who was spared the gas chamber so that he might entertain thousands of other Jews as they marched to their deaths,” but it takes place after World War II and is about how Stein “is now the ringleader at an asylum in the Negev desert populated solely by Holocaust survivors…alternately more brilliant than the doctors and more insane than any of the patients, Stein struggles wildly to make sense of a world in which the line between sanity and madness has been irreversibly blurred.”
Lewis’s Clown flick has long been regarded as on the worst all-time debacles and pratfalls ever suffered by a major “name” director, which Lewis definitely was in the late ’50s and ’60s.
“In 1971, producer Nate Waschberger asked Lewis to direct and star in The Day the Clown Cried, based on Joan O’Brien’s book by the same name, about a German clown who was arrested by the Gestapo, interred in a concentration camp, and used to march Jewish children into the ovens,” tjhe site’s description reads.
“Jerry lost close to 40 pounds to play the role. The shooting began in Stockholm, but Wachsberger not only ran out of money to complete the film, but he failed to pay Joan O’Brien the money she was owed for the rights to the story. Jerry was forced to finish the picture with his own money.
“The film has been tied up in litigation ever since, and all of the parties involved have never been able to reach an agreeable settlement. Jerry hopes to someday complete the film, which remains to this day, a significant expression of cinematic art, suspended in the abyss of international litigation.”
According to Film Buff Online, Harry Shearer, one of the very small handful of people who has actually seen Clown in rough-cut form, described it thusly in an interview on “The Howard Stern Show”: “If you say `Jerry Lewis is a clown in a concentration camp’ and you make that movie up in your head, it’s so much better than that. And by better I mean worse. You’re stunned.”