in about 100 words or less
US 110m, B&W, Silent
Director: Paul Leni; Cast: Conrad Veidt, Mary Philbin, Brandon Hurst, Olga V. Baklanova, Cesare Gravina, Stuart Holmes, Samuel de Grasse, George Siegmann, Josephine Crowell
The Man Who Laughs was the third film adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1869 novel of the same name. Though remade again in 2012, Paul Leni’s original production may best be remembered for Conrad Veidt’s remarkably disturbing character which also inspired The Joker in the Batman comics. Considered part of the horror genre, largely because of Veidt’s ever-smiling face and the background story of how his character became permanently disfigured, this is very much a melodramatic love story wrapped in the politics of the 17th aristocracy (Klaus Ming March 2017).