The Day the Clown Cried is possibly the best film combining human tragedy and comedy you'll never get to see.
Filmed in 1972, The Day the Clown Cried was directed by and starred Jerry Lewis as a German circus clown named Helmut Doork who is sent to a Nazi prison and then a concentration camp, where he performers for wide-eyed Jewish children leading them to the gas chambers. Still unreleased, the one existing copy lays locked in a secret vault by Lewis and safeguarded by legal bindings, the mystery surrounding the film has deepened and grown more tantalising with each passing decade.
During production, the producer not only ran out of money before completing the film, but his rights to produce the film expired before filming began. He had paid the writer an initial fee (of $5,000), but failed to send her the remaining settlement (of $50,000) prior to production. Lewis eventually ended up paying production costs with his own money to finish shooting the film, but the parties involved in its production were never able to come to terms allowing the film to be released. Additionally the writers of the original script were unhappy with changes made by Lewis, which made the clown more sympathetic than the original arrogant, self-centred character. 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 suspending the film in the abyss of international litigation.
As research for the film, Lewis visited the remains of Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps and even managed an interview with one of the men who actually pulled the lever on the gas chamber. In the early 1970's The Day The Clown Cried met criticism because of its premise and content, however, the film does not actually make light of tragic events. With contemporary films such as Life Is Beautiful in 1997, the remake of Jakob the Liar in 1999, and Adam Resurrected in 2009, It becomes clear Lewis was genuinely decades ahead of his time. Jerry openly dislikes being asked about the film although, in a rare interview in last month on 19 Augusts 2013, Lewis did speak about the film. The interview can be found at Entertainment Weekly website.
Every decade or so rumours of a remake surface, often with high profile writers and producers entering into talks with both Robin Williams (no surprise there) and William Hurt (slight surprise there) being proposed lead actors at one stage or another. Though so far the idea has always been dropped before it officially gets the green light for pre-production. A copy of the script can be found at The Daily Script.