Back in 1972, actor/director Jerry Lewis made a film entitled The Day the Clown Cried, where he starred as a clown captured by Nazis in World War II and forced to perform for his fellow prison camp members. The film ends with the clown leading a group of children to their death in a gas chamber. Jerry Lewis has held onto the finished film, determined never to release it, mostly likely because of how grossly inappropriate it is said to be.
While it is unclear if the full movie will ever see the light of day, the first footage has now been released more than forty years later, through a Dutch TV special that also goes behind-the-scenes with the actor for a look at the use of music in this buried movie. This may be your only chance to ever see footage from this lost film.
Helmut Doork, a once great and famous clown, is fired from the circus. Getting drunk at a local bar, he pokes fun at Hitler in front of some Gestapo agents, who arrest and send him to a prison camp. Helmut angers his fellow prisoners by refusing to perform for them, wanting to preserve his legend. As times passes, Jews are brought into the camp, with fraternizing between them and the other prisoners strictly prohibited. Eventually, Helmut is forced by the others to perform or be beaten. His act bombs and he leaves the barracks depressed, trying the routine out again alone in the prison yard. He hears laughter and sees a group of Jewish children watching him through a fence. Happy to be appreciated again, he makes a makeshift clown suit and begins to regularly perform. His audience grows, but a new prison Commandant orders Helmut to stop. When he refuses and continues to perform, he's beaten and thrown in solitary confinement. But the Nazis soon come up with a use for Helmut, keeping the children quiet as they are loaded into a boxcar to be sent to another camp. Helmut complies, but is accidentally locked in with the children and arrives the next day at Auschwitz.