The Man Who Laughs (1928)

Directed by Paul Leni

Horror | Thriller | Drama

Most recently watched by sleestakk, archstanton43


Gwynplaine, son of Lord Clancharlie, has a permanent smile carved on his face by the King, in revenge for Gwynplaine’s father’s treachery. Gwynplaine is adopted by a travelling showman and becomes a popular idol. He falls in love with the blind Dea. The king dies, and his evil jester tries to destroy or corrupt Gwynplaine.

Length 110 minutes


Olga Baclanova | Conrad Veidt | Mary Philbin | Brandon Hurst | John George | Stuart Holmes | Cesare Gravina

Viewing Notes

Movie 1 of the Box of Horrors. The chamber live accompaniment was outstanding and totally on point for this drama / thriller. Not really a horror movie but Ryan did say in his introduction that they wanted to push the boundaries of what horror is so I’ll go with it. Even in the film Gwywnplaine, the laughing man, is looked at either as amusement or derision. Not as a scary person even tho his appearance is horrifying.

I really like this movie and perhaps more than other German Expressionism films but I need to revisit the others. What I dig is the heart this has and how Gwynplaine just wants to be with his love Dea and remain w/the common people despite being the lost heir to the throne. Also it has one of the best movie dogs, a german shepherd, portraying a circus act Homo the Wolf. That dog got more cheers than anything else in the film.

Not sure why it took so long to see this one of the great German Expressionism horror films but I’m glad I was able to experience it w/the live score at MBT for a first viewing. Definitely an excellent film to kick off the marathon.

Also despite having seen his “look” in images prior to this, it’s really uncanny how much was taken from his look for the comic book look of The Joker. Like Bob Kane straight up lifted this appearance. Of course he had to come up w/the color scheme but wow it’s crazy to see in this movie, which apparently was painful for Conrad Veidt to do.


No comments yet. Log in and be the first!