Skip to comments.More of Jerry Lewis’ Holocaust Comedy Surfaces
Posted on 01/06/2014 12:15:19 PM PST by nickcarraway
These 25 minutes of footage and interviews are the last of it, were promised
Remember Jerry Lewis never-released Holocaust film? The one about the German-Jewish clown sent to Auschwitz (!) to entertain children as theyre sent to the gas chamber (!)? The grotesque comedic rendering of concentration camp life in whichspoiler alertLewis clown decides to voluntarily enter the gas chambers himself could have been the stuff of cinematic urban legendLewis told the New Yorker the film would never see the light of daybut thanks to the Internet its very, very real.
The 1972 film, The Day the Clown Cried, which Spy magazine called the most notorious cinematic miscue in history, began seeping out to the masses this summer, thanks to a YouTube user who posted from a clip of the film which aired as part of a Flemish documentary in 1972. Now, Slate reports, two more clips have surfaced on YouTubeanother clip from the film (from the same documentary), and footage of Lewis discussing the film in an interview.
The good news is that Slate assures us the two clips are the last remaining footage from the film. So youll never have to watch itor think about it, evenagain. For now, though, here they are:
Well, you can always watch the remake, “Life is Beautiful”
Some topics are so horrible and beyond comprehension that there is no ‘good way’ to talk about them that will leave all listeners feeling comfortable. Some of these topics still do need to be examined and acknowledged for contemplation. Jerry Lewis is/was first of all, an entertainer, later a director and producer. The motion picture was his mode of presenting his ideas. I have no doubt the movie is tasteless and caustically absurd, but, I don’t think he made it to be hurtful. Jerry knows this will always be a difficult point of history to admit we lived through. AT his age, he doesn’t want the backlash from people who don’t appreciate his technique of telling the story. Similar events of reluctant musicians playing Wagner for the Nazis did happen.
***I have no doubt the movie is tasteless and caustically absurd,***
Remember the audience reaction to the Springtime For Hitler song and dance in THE PRODUCERS with Zero Mostel?
IMO this film would have slipped silently into the ether, had Michael Medved (the one and the same) not written about it in The Golden Turkey Awards way back in 1980.
He fled to Holland, but eventually wound up in Theresienstadt, where the Nazis forced him to direct a movie about how "wonderful" life was there. Once filming was finished, he was sent to Auschwitz and gassed.
remember: “Lewis clown decides to voluntarily enter the gas chambers himself “
It would be horrible beyond belief to have to entertain children before they are killed. I dont think Lewis meant this to be a light-hearted look at concentration camps.
If I was that clown I would have to do that same thing.
Second one says, "I feel like I wanna gag!"
Yes, I do remember the reactions. To this day, I am stunned that Zero Mostel got away with it. Perhaps only because he was Jewish, Zero was allowed to say these things.
That's what Korczak did. He demanded to go to the gas chambers with his orphans, even though he had offers to be smuggled out of the Warsaw Ghetto. He didn't want to leave them.
Only because Mel Brooks was the director.
Small wonder the french love Jerry Lewis...
The reactions I encountered were split between knee jerk condemnation by those who didn’t watch the whole film, wry acknowledgement of the inherent mockey of Nazism within both the lyrics and the somewhat effete rendering of the Nazis, and a thinly veiled exasperation from leftists who wish the spotlight on what Germany was and who Hitler really was to fade into history.
What you saw the most of depended on what circles you ran in.
This may be the closest Jerry Lewis ever got to using the methods of certain European Film Noir makers of that time, like Ingmar Bergman. Bergman was well known to be a director who would embrace the existential void and sadness of life, as in The Seventh Seal, or later films with Liv Ullman.
Jerry Lewis is Jewish.
Jerry Lee Lewis tackled Shakespeare, why not.
Let A Soldier Drink
Lust of the Blood
December 11, 2008
Whole Lotta Shakespeare Goin’ On
Bob Dylan has recently been championing a pair Jerry Lee Lewis tracks on his Theme Time Radio Hour with infectious enthusiasm, ending one recent spin with the comment, “You know, if anybody ever asks me why I do this radio show, I could just play them that - Jerry Lee Lewis singing Shakespeare. That’s what this show is all about.”
...In 1968 the inimitable producer/actor Jack Good (whose own life story is positively mind-blowing) embarked on one of his greatest passion projects, a musical version of Othello. He snagged one of the play’s lines for the title “Catch My Soul”: Perdition catch my soul, But I do love thee! and when I love thee not, Chaos is come again. He then wrote his own version of the play, penned a slew of songs that cleverly played on the dialogue and themes, and gathered his musician friends (being the former producer of Shindig! helped) for hopes of a Broadway production. That didn’t work out, so he moved the show to a more rock-friendly environment - Los Angeles.
Rumor has it that Good was actually inspired to start working on Catch My Soul after seeing Lewis perform live in the late 50s. While casting for the play changed often during pre-production (at one point Othello was to be played by Rosey Greir) there was one role that was rock solid from the very beginning: Jerry Lee Lewis would be playing Othello’s treacherous friend Iago.
“This Shakespeare was really somethin’. I wonder what he woulda thought about my records” - Jerry Lee Lewis
Reviewers and fans were generally impressed with Lewis’ interpretation of the role - because he was basically playing himself. The writers at Moistworks summed up Jerry’s presence in the show nicely in a post last year, saying that
Jerry Lee stole the show. He prowled the stage, speaking Shakespeare’s poetry in perfect meter, but with no concern to conceal or even to temper his own Louisiana accent. The bright green-and-gold grand piano stood onstage throughout the play, and Jerry Lee not only sat at it to pump the songs that Ray Pohlman had written for him and for the seventeen-piece orchestra in the pit, but also to rake and hammer and tinkle in punctuation of his spoken lines, the most evil of Shakespeare’s imaginings. (He fooled with the lines occasionally, as on two evenings, coming upon the corpse of Roderigo in Act V, he howled “Great balls of fire! My friend, Roderigo!”)
...In 1974, Good brought the production to the big screen, with The Prisoner’s Patrick McGoohan directing. Released in some markets as “Santa Fe Satan”, the film was pretty much considered to be a holy mess. The movie did feature Richie Havens, Delaney & Bonnie, and Billy Joe Royal singing the Bard’s words, and in the only nod to Jerry Lee’s original breakthrough performance, the great Tony Joe White played Cassio as “a wino from Baton Rouge, Louisiana”, performing a new version of Jerry Lee/Iago’s drinking song.
Mel Brooks is Jewish.
He needs to start an annual Telethon over Memorial Day weekend to make up for this.
So is Jerry Lewis.
You are right. Lewis intended this to be a serious movie, the one that would finally get him the critical acclaim and awards he thought he deserved.
Lewis deserved more acclaim for “The King of Comedy.”
This past year I lost a friend, Johann ‘John’ Bos. He was 88 and the sole survivor of his family and his wife, Julia, had survived internment at Theresienstadt.
John had an outstanding sense of dark humor and treated me to some of the funniest Holocaust humor. Coming from anyone else it would seem insensitive but coming from him you could see it was cathartic and I would not have denied it to him.
Lewis was brilliant in that movie.
I think you are absolutely correct. I obviously haven't seen the film, but the criticism of it sounds suspiciously politically-correct. One just doesn't mention the Holocaust, does one.
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