The Man Who Laughs
In an effort to top the critical and financial success of The Hunchback
of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera, studio head Carl Laemmle
recruited two influential artists of the German Expressionist school:
actor Conrad Veidt (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) and director Paul Leni
(Waxworks). The shadowy exteriors, the carnival setting, the demonically
misshapen "hero" made The Man Who Laughs something
entirely new to American cinema -- the foundation upon which the classic
Universal horror films would be built.
Veidt stars as Gwynplaine, a nobleman's son who is kidnapped by a political
enemy, and then is mutilated by a gypsy "surgeon" who carves
a monstrous smile upon his face. Finding shelter in a traveling freakshow,
he falls in love with a blind girl (The Phantom of the Opera's Mary
Philbin), the one person who cannot be repulsed by his appearance. As
years pass, the hand of fate draws Gwynplaine back into the world of
politcal intrigue. He becomes the plaything of a jaded duchess (Freaks
Olga Baclanova), and his enemies renew their efforts to control him.
*This Kino on Video edition was restored by the Cineteca del Comune
di Bologna at the laboratories of L'Immagine Ritrovata. The original
Movietone soundtrack has been newly restored by Universal Studios.
- An original 20-minute documentary on the making of the film.
- Candid home movie footage of Conrad Veidt and fellow European emigrés
Greta Garbo, Emil Jannings, and Camilla Horn
- Extensive gallery of rare photographs and art.
- Booklet essay by John Soister, author of Conrad Veidt On Screen.
- Excerpt of the Italian release version, with unique hand-painted
- Excerpt from Victor Hugo's original novel.
Roger Ebert's essay on this DVD Classic.
Director: Paul Leni
Black & White
Language: silent with English intertitles