Acclaimed entertainer and director Jerry Lewis has seen footage of a film he helped make 41 years ago surface online after he swore it would never see the light of day. The movie, entitled The Day The Clown Cried, was completed in 1972, but was withdrawn by Lewis.

The Nutty Professor actor directed and starred in the unreleased movie that was plagued with production and funding problems, which required Lewis to use his own funds to get the film finished. Despite having never been released, probably due to controversy over its subject matter, the movie has gained infamousness amongst film buffs and historians.

Jerry Lewis
Jerry Lewis' Infamous Clown Film Has Mde Its Way To YouTube.

The movie is set in Nazi Germany with Lewis playing Helmut Doork: a clown who is sent to entertain children in the death camps of World War II after he is arrested by Nazis for badmouthing Hitler. His entertaining skills are used to lead children Pied Piper-style on to the trains bound for the death camps and then to their deaths into the gas chambers.

Watch The YouTube Footage Of The Day The Clown Cried:

Years after the film was made, Lewis is the first to admit that the disturbing narrative and dark subject matter didn't emerge as he'd have liked it to. Speaking at this year's Cannes Film Festival, where he showed Max Rose - the first time he's shown a film for in twenty years - the 87 year-old discussed The Day The Clown Cried, saying "No one will ever see it, because I'm embarrassed. I believed in the work and the way it should have been, and it wasn't," reports BBC News.

Jerry Lewis
The Day The Clown Cried
Handled A Tough Subject...And Not In The Way Lewis Wanted It To.

Having apparently first surfaced on a Flemish website last year, the behind-the-scenes footage in which Lewis is shown giving directions, can now be found on YouTube. The movie has surfaced before with The Simpsons voice actor Harry Shearer describing his experiences of the movie after having viewed it in 1979: "This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is."

Jerry Lewis
Comedian Lewis Initially Had Reservations Over Such A Dark Subject Matter.

Lewis signed up to the project in 1971 after having initial reservations regarding portraying the holocaust through such a strange character. The actor, who has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, eventually agreed to be involved after deciding he'd be doing something worthwhile in portraying the horrors of the holocaust and began to lose weight for a more accurate realisation of the death camp clown.

Lewis' jazz drama Max Rose will be on limited release this year in the USA after been shown at Cannes.