The Golden Clown

Denmark | 1926 | 128min | STC

Silent Revue’s season-long focus on the carnivalesque under the big top continues with THE GOLDEN CLOWN—Denmark’s incredible, breathtaking, utterly bizarre expressionist clown melodrama that predates the horrors of IT by nearly a century.


Based on real-life clown Jean-Gaspard Deburau—the originator of Pierrot (the white-faced tearful clown) whose trial for murder was a 19th media sensation—THE GOLDEN CLOWN tells of the tragic consequences of unrequited love and the dangers of perverse jealousy. Incidentally, it also firmly entrenches any phobia of clowns (as the climax’s human pyramid of wrathful jokers will attest).

Itinerant clown Joe Higgins (Gösta Ekman) performs throughout small towns in the French countryside, only to be discovered by big city entertainment scouts who bring him, and his betrothed (Karina Bell) to Paris to perform as a featured attraction. Small-town happiness soon melts away to the vices and temptation of Paris’s Jazz Age, with Higgins’ wife betraying him. Sorrow, despair and a macabre quest for vengeance consume the modern-day Pierrot and his performances take on tragic consequences.

Produced by Nordisk, Scandinavia’s most prestigious studio, and filmed in both Copenhagen and Paris, THE GOLDEN CLOWN is a modernist horror story that stands as an immense European contribution to the art of silent film. Its director A.W. Sandberg (a contemporary of fellow Danes Dreyer and Cristensen) was a master, one critically underappreciated today—THE GOLDEN CLOWN is his finest work, as is it Ekman’s, whose role as the tortured clown made his career legendary in Scandinavia and with clown enthusiasts around the world.


Director: A. W. Sandberg
Cast: Gösta Ekman, Maurice de Féraudy, Kate Fabian


Established as Silent Sundays by founding programmer Eric Veillette in 2009, Silent Revue is Toronto’s only year-round film series dedicated to silent cinema. Monthly screenings (more…)


Live accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis.
Sponsored by Hollywood Suite and Bill Mohan Real Estate.


General Admission: $15
Bronze Members, Students & Seniors: $12
Silver Members: $11
Gold Members: FREE

Prices include taxes. Membership free event is not applicable.