Laugh, Clown, Laugh


1h 13m 1928
Laugh, Clown, Laugh

Brief Synopsis

In this silent film, a circus clown falls for a young innocent in love with another.

Photos & Videos

Laugh, Clown, Laugh - Publicity Stills
Laugh, Clown, Laugh - Lobby Cards
Laugh, Clown, Laugh - Scene Stills

Film Details

Genre
Silent
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Drama
Release Date
Apr 14, 1928
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Laugh, Clown, Laugh by David Belasco, Tom Cushing (New York, 28 Nov 1923).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 13m
Sound
Silent
Color
Black and White
Film Length
7,045ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

Tito, a clown, adopts a girl whom he names Simonetta. The girl matures into an attractive woman, desired by Luigi, a wealthy nobleman. On the eve of her marriage, Simonetta learns that Tito loves her, and she responds, presumably, to avoid hurting him, by declaring that she returns his love. That night, disbelieving her, Tito falls while practicing a familiar trick--sliding down a tightwire--thus freeing Simonetta to marry the count. In an alternative (happy) ending, Tito survives his fall, Simonetta marries Luigi, and they all remain close friends.

Photo Collections

Laugh, Clown, Laugh - Publicity Stills
Here are a few stills taken to help publicize MGM's Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928), starring Lon Chaney and Loretta Young. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Laugh, Clown, Laugh - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from MGM's Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928), starring Lon Chaney and Loretta Young. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Laugh, Clown, Laugh - Scene Stills
Here are several scene stills from MGM's Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928), starring Lon Chaney and Loretta Young.
Laugh, Clown, Laugh - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928), starring Lon Chaney and directed by Herbert Brenon.

Film Details

Genre
Silent
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Drama
Release Date
Apr 14, 1928
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Laugh, Clown, Laugh by David Belasco, Tom Cushing (New York, 28 Nov 1923).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 13m
Sound
Silent
Color
Black and White
Film Length
7,045ft (8 reels)

Articles

Laugh, Clown, Laugh


Itinerant showmen, Tito (Lon Chaney) and Simon (Bernard Siegel) travel from town to town entertaining Italian peasants with their brilliant clowning. But that carefree existence is soon at an end when Tito rescues an abandoned child he finds by the riverside. He names her Simonetta (Loretta Young) and she grows into a young women as beautiful as she is sweet. But Tito finds that, as Simon predicted, women bring fresh complications to life. When Simonetta makes the acquaintance of a cocky young Count Luigi Ravelli (Nils Asther), aging circus clown Tito finds himself torn between his newly discovered romantic love for the girl he has raised as his own, and his desire for her happiness.

The bittersweet romantic triangle Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928) was directed by notable silent film auteur Herbert Brenon (Ivanhoe, 1913, The Two Orphans, 1915), who was by all accounts, a despotic, often cruel director, especially when it came to berating Young. "He criticized me in front of everyone" Young remembered, "told me I was stupid and useless." Young recounted that a considerate Chaney, who was spared Brenon's assaults, intervened on her behalf. "I shall be beholden to that sensitive, sweet man until I die," Young later said.

Set against the showmanship of whimsical Italian circus life, Laugh, Clown, Laugh works principally from Chaney's moving performance and the captivating chemistry between the graceful, innocent Young and Chaney as a typically tragic, morally conflicted but essentially goodhearted clown.

Young was only 14 when she appeared in Laugh after a string of early film roles as a child extra since the age of 4. Chaney, however, was a 45-year-old veteran and the contrast in their ages makes the film an even more melancholy expression of impossible love as Simonetta's devoted child tries desperately to make her guardian Tito happy. Nearly as captivating was the believable love affair between Young and the handsome Asther, dubbed the "male Greta Garbo" for his Swedish origins and good looks. He later appeared with Garbo in The Single Standard (1929) and Wild Orchids (1929).

Like so many of Chaney's film roles, Flik the Clown in Laugh, Clown, Laugh was underlined with a sense of tragedy with origins in Chaney's own life. The child of deaf parents, Chaney developed his gift for pantomime early on in order to communicate with his parents. The actor, dubbed "The Man of a Thousand Faces" seemed attracted to playing the crippled, the criminal or the heartbroken in films like The Penalty (1920), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and a 10-picture string of atmospheric collaborations with sublime director Tod Browning like The Unknown (1927) and The Unholy Three (1925). As writer Joe Franklin has noted "Without benefit of the spoken word, he would create characters who repelled with physical ugliness, yet attracted by the suffering or humanity of their souls."

Though Chaney was initially fearful about what effect the coming of sound would have on his film career, his first talkie, a 1930 Jack Conway remake of Browning's The Unholy Three proved a confidence-boosting success. But as it so often did in his film plots, cruel fate soon intervened, and bronchial cancer would cut both Chaney's talkie career and his life short. As he did in the beginning of his life, Chaney in his final days was forced to return to sign language and pantomime to communicate.

As for Laugh, Clown, Laugh, the film was popular with audiences and even received an Academy Award nomination for Best Title Writing, the first and last year for that category. Portions of the film were shot on location in Elysian Park, a suburb of Los Angeles, and it was said that MGM shot an alternative, happy ending to Laugh, Clown, Laugh but it has yet to turn up in any surviving prints. TCM will be showing Laugh, Clown, Laugh with a new music score composed by H. Scott Salinas, winner of the 2002 Young Film Composers Competition.

Director: Herbert Brenon
Producer: Irving G. Thalberg
Screenplay: Elizabeth Meehan from a play by David Belasco and Tom Cushing based on the Italian play Ridi Pagliacci by Gausto Martino.
Cinematography: James Wong Howe
Production Design: Cedric Gibbons
Music: H. Scott Salinas
Cast: Lon Chaney (Tito Beppi), Bernard Siegel (Simon), Loretta Young (Simonetta), Cissy Fitzgerald (Giancinta), Nils Asther (Count Luigi Ravelli), Gwen Lee (Lucretia).
BW-74m.

by Felicia Feaster
Laugh, Clown, Laugh

Laugh, Clown, Laugh

Itinerant showmen, Tito (Lon Chaney) and Simon (Bernard Siegel) travel from town to town entertaining Italian peasants with their brilliant clowning. But that carefree existence is soon at an end when Tito rescues an abandoned child he finds by the riverside. He names her Simonetta (Loretta Young) and she grows into a young women as beautiful as she is sweet. But Tito finds that, as Simon predicted, women bring fresh complications to life. When Simonetta makes the acquaintance of a cocky young Count Luigi Ravelli (Nils Asther), aging circus clown Tito finds himself torn between his newly discovered romantic love for the girl he has raised as his own, and his desire for her happiness. The bittersweet romantic triangle Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928) was directed by notable silent film auteur Herbert Brenon (Ivanhoe, 1913, The Two Orphans, 1915), who was by all accounts, a despotic, often cruel director, especially when it came to berating Young. "He criticized me in front of everyone" Young remembered, "told me I was stupid and useless." Young recounted that a considerate Chaney, who was spared Brenon's assaults, intervened on her behalf. "I shall be beholden to that sensitive, sweet man until I die," Young later said. Set against the showmanship of whimsical Italian circus life, Laugh, Clown, Laugh works principally from Chaney's moving performance and the captivating chemistry between the graceful, innocent Young and Chaney as a typically tragic, morally conflicted but essentially goodhearted clown. Young was only 14 when she appeared in Laugh after a string of early film roles as a child extra since the age of 4. Chaney, however, was a 45-year-old veteran and the contrast in their ages makes the film an even more melancholy expression of impossible love as Simonetta's devoted child tries desperately to make her guardian Tito happy. Nearly as captivating was the believable love affair between Young and the handsome Asther, dubbed the "male Greta Garbo" for his Swedish origins and good looks. He later appeared with Garbo in The Single Standard (1929) and Wild Orchids (1929). Like so many of Chaney's film roles, Flik the Clown in Laugh, Clown, Laugh was underlined with a sense of tragedy with origins in Chaney's own life. The child of deaf parents, Chaney developed his gift for pantomime early on in order to communicate with his parents. The actor, dubbed "The Man of a Thousand Faces" seemed attracted to playing the crippled, the criminal or the heartbroken in films like The Penalty (1920), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and a 10-picture string of atmospheric collaborations with sublime director Tod Browning like The Unknown (1927) and The Unholy Three (1925). As writer Joe Franklin has noted "Without benefit of the spoken word, he would create characters who repelled with physical ugliness, yet attracted by the suffering or humanity of their souls." Though Chaney was initially fearful about what effect the coming of sound would have on his film career, his first talkie, a 1930 Jack Conway remake of Browning's The Unholy Three proved a confidence-boosting success. But as it so often did in his film plots, cruel fate soon intervened, and bronchial cancer would cut both Chaney's talkie career and his life short. As he did in the beginning of his life, Chaney in his final days was forced to return to sign language and pantomime to communicate. As for Laugh, Clown, Laugh, the film was popular with audiences and even received an Academy Award nomination for Best Title Writing, the first and last year for that category. Portions of the film were shot on location in Elysian Park, a suburb of Los Angeles, and it was said that MGM shot an alternative, happy ending to Laugh, Clown, Laugh but it has yet to turn up in any surviving prints. TCM will be showing Laugh, Clown, Laugh with a new music score composed by H. Scott Salinas, winner of the 2002 Young Film Composers Competition. Director: Herbert Brenon Producer: Irving G. Thalberg Screenplay: Elizabeth Meehan from a play by David Belasco and Tom Cushing based on the Italian play Ridi Pagliacci by Gausto Martino. Cinematography: James Wong Howe Production Design: Cedric Gibbons Music: H. Scott Salinas Cast: Lon Chaney (Tito Beppi), Bernard Siegel (Simon), Loretta Young (Simonetta), Cissy Fitzgerald (Giancinta), Nils Asther (Count Luigi Ravelli), Gwen Lee (Lucretia). BW-74m. by Felicia Feaster

The Lon Chaney Collection on DVD


* To purchase The Lon Chaney Collection, visit TCM Shopping.

The Lon Chaney Collection marks the beginning of a new marketing initiative from WHV and TCM dedicated to bringing rare gems from Warner Bros. Pictures library of classic films to DVD. "This is the first of what we hope will be many unique releases that will carry the 'TCM ARCHIVES' branding," said George Feltenstein, WHV Senior VP, Classic Catalog. "This collaboration with TCM, distinguished as the classic film-lover's primary television destination, will further cultivate the awareness of these highly- collectible classics and expand the demand for these cinematic rarities."

Tom Karsch, EVP and GM of Turner Classic Movies added, "Working with WHV to bring such great silent films to DVD, as well as our continuous efforts to create new orchestral scores for them, is a reflection of our mutual ongoing commitment to the preservation of Warner Bros. Pictures great film library."

In conjunction with the Lon Chaney Collection's release, TCM will air the films as part of a salute to Lon Chaney along with The Hunchback of Note Dame and The Phantom of the Opera on October 30 with Robert Osborne introducing the films and promoting the collection. The TCM schedule for October 30 begins with The Unknown at 8:00 PM EST and continues with Laugh, Clown, Laugh, 9:00 PM; The Ace of Hearts, 10:30 PM; He Who Gets Slapped, 12:00 AM; The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1:15 AM and The Phantom of the Opera, 3:00 AM. TCM will also continue to promote the DVD release both on-air and online at their website, turnerclassicmovies.com, through November.

Like Charlie Chaplin, Lon Chaney was one of the last of the silent screen stars to hold out against the movie's switch to talking pictures. His stock and trade, as he professed," was in makeup and the art of pantomime." Long before teams of moviemakers depended on computers and other techniques to bring monsters and superheroes to life, Chaney -- equipped with little more than a makeup kit and a remarkable acting talent -- dazzled moviegoers by completely transforming himself on screen. He is most remembered for his ghoulish and eccentric performances as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1923). Though his career spanned only two decades, he made more than 150 films; and even after 65 years the phrase "Man of a Thousand Faces" still brings to mind only one name: Lon Chaney.

Lon Chaney Films Debuting on DVD:
THE ACE OF HEARTS (1921) - When a secret group decides to murder a citizen, the assassin chosen will be the member of the group who draws the ace of hearts. Things don't go as planned in this morality tale of intrigue, love and the sacrifice of one man.

LAUGH, CLOWN, LAUGH (1928) - In one of his signature roles, Chaney is the circus clown who delights crowds with his performances, all the while coping with the heartache of a love that cannot be. Teenaged Loretta Young co-stars.

THE UNKNOWN (1927) - Chaney plays Alonzo the Armless, who makes his living in the circus by throwing knives with his feet, because allegedly has no arms. His assistant Nanon Zanzi (Joan Crawford in an early role), fearful of the touch of any man's hand, falls in love with him. Chaney actually strapped back his arms and learned to use only his feet for this role. Some of the tricks are done by a double but his performance as a contortionist is remarkable in this, possibly most bizarre performance. Tod (Freaks) Browning directed.

LON CHANEY: A THOUSAND FACES (2000) - This definitive screen biography, which explores Chaney's diverse career and very private personal life, includes rare footage, archival photos and insightful commentary from co-stars, historians and others.

LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT (1927) - In this 2002 photo reconstruction by Rick Schmidlin, a presumed suicide could be a case of murder or maybe the supposed victim is alive! Chaney plays the dual roles of a Scotland Yard sleuth and a saw-toothed vampire in this offbeat mix of horror and whodunit.

The two-disc DVD features include:
Disc One:
Introduction by Robert Osborne
The Ace of Hearts
- Commentary by Chaney biographer, Michael F. Blake
- Image gallery
- TCM Young Film Composers Competition winner profile: The Ace of Hearts featurette

- Laugh, Clown, Laugh
- Commentary by Chaney biographer, Michael F. Blake
- Image gallery
- TCM Young Film Composers Competition winner profile: Laugh, Clown, Laugh featurette

Disc Two:
The Unknown
- Commentary by Chaney biographer, Michael F. Blake
- Image gallery
- New music score by the Alloy Orchestra
- Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces; Feature length documentary by award-winning film maker, Kevin Brownlow (The Tramp & The Dictator). Narrated by Kenneth Branagh.
- London After Midnight (reconstruction) - Photo reconstruction to replicate the famous lost footage from the legendary 1927 film.

In addition, the DVD will be presented in a format preserving the aspect ratio of the original theatrical exhibitions. The discs will also include an English language track for the documentary and subtitles in French and Spanish.

The Lon Chaney Collection on DVD

* To purchase The Lon Chaney Collection, visit TCM Shopping. The Lon Chaney Collection marks the beginning of a new marketing initiative from WHV and TCM dedicated to bringing rare gems from Warner Bros. Pictures library of classic films to DVD. "This is the first of what we hope will be many unique releases that will carry the 'TCM ARCHIVES' branding," said George Feltenstein, WHV Senior VP, Classic Catalog. "This collaboration with TCM, distinguished as the classic film-lover's primary television destination, will further cultivate the awareness of these highly- collectible classics and expand the demand for these cinematic rarities." Tom Karsch, EVP and GM of Turner Classic Movies added, "Working with WHV to bring such great silent films to DVD, as well as our continuous efforts to create new orchestral scores for them, is a reflection of our mutual ongoing commitment to the preservation of Warner Bros. Pictures great film library." In conjunction with the Lon Chaney Collection's release, TCM will air the films as part of a salute to Lon Chaney along with The Hunchback of Note Dame and The Phantom of the Opera on October 30 with Robert Osborne introducing the films and promoting the collection. The TCM schedule for October 30 begins with The Unknown at 8:00 PM EST and continues with Laugh, Clown, Laugh, 9:00 PM; The Ace of Hearts, 10:30 PM; He Who Gets Slapped, 12:00 AM; The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1:15 AM and The Phantom of the Opera, 3:00 AM. TCM will also continue to promote the DVD release both on-air and online at their website, turnerclassicmovies.com, through November. Like Charlie Chaplin, Lon Chaney was one of the last of the silent screen stars to hold out against the movie's switch to talking pictures. His stock and trade, as he professed," was in makeup and the art of pantomime." Long before teams of moviemakers depended on computers and other techniques to bring monsters and superheroes to life, Chaney -- equipped with little more than a makeup kit and a remarkable acting talent -- dazzled moviegoers by completely transforming himself on screen. He is most remembered for his ghoulish and eccentric performances as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1923). Though his career spanned only two decades, he made more than 150 films; and even after 65 years the phrase "Man of a Thousand Faces" still brings to mind only one name: Lon Chaney. Lon Chaney Films Debuting on DVD: THE ACE OF HEARTS (1921) - When a secret group decides to murder a citizen, the assassin chosen will be the member of the group who draws the ace of hearts. Things don't go as planned in this morality tale of intrigue, love and the sacrifice of one man. LAUGH, CLOWN, LAUGH (1928) - In one of his signature roles, Chaney is the circus clown who delights crowds with his performances, all the while coping with the heartache of a love that cannot be. Teenaged Loretta Young co-stars. THE UNKNOWN (1927) - Chaney plays Alonzo the Armless, who makes his living in the circus by throwing knives with his feet, because allegedly has no arms. His assistant Nanon Zanzi (Joan Crawford in an early role), fearful of the touch of any man's hand, falls in love with him. Chaney actually strapped back his arms and learned to use only his feet for this role. Some of the tricks are done by a double but his performance as a contortionist is remarkable in this, possibly most bizarre performance. Tod (Freaks) Browning directed. LON CHANEY: A THOUSAND FACES (2000) - This definitive screen biography, which explores Chaney's diverse career and very private personal life, includes rare footage, archival photos and insightful commentary from co-stars, historians and others. LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT (1927) - In this 2002 photo reconstruction by Rick Schmidlin, a presumed suicide could be a case of murder or maybe the supposed victim is alive! Chaney plays the dual roles of a Scotland Yard sleuth and a saw-toothed vampire in this offbeat mix of horror and whodunit. The two-disc DVD features include: Disc One: Introduction by Robert Osborne The Ace of Hearts - Commentary by Chaney biographer, Michael F. Blake - Image gallery - TCM Young Film Composers Competition winner profile: The Ace of Hearts featurette - Laugh, Clown, Laugh - Commentary by Chaney biographer, Michael F. Blake - Image gallery - TCM Young Film Composers Competition winner profile: Laugh, Clown, Laugh featurette Disc Two: The Unknown - Commentary by Chaney biographer, Michael F. Blake - Image gallery - New music score by the Alloy Orchestra - Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces; Feature length documentary by award-winning film maker, Kevin Brownlow (The Tramp & The Dictator). Narrated by Kenneth Branagh. - London After Midnight (reconstruction) - Photo reconstruction to replicate the famous lost footage from the legendary 1927 film. In addition, the DVD will be presented in a format preserving the aspect ratio of the original theatrical exhibitions. The discs will also include an English language track for the documentary and subtitles in French and Spanish.

Quotes

Laugh, Clown, Laugh, even though your heart is breaking.
- Simon

Trivia

Originally named as one of three films nominated for "Title Writing" in the first year of the Academy's nominations, then exposed as a mere selection amongst over fifty films - the writers were nominated and not for any film title - the nominating was for their year's work, not their work on any particular film. This was supposedly Lon Chaney's favorite film role.

Notes

Indication in copyright records that the film has sound has not been verified.

Miscellaneous Notes

b&w

7045 feet