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This review was published by me at http://www.conradveidtforever.wordpress.com

The Man Who Laughs (1928), Conrad Veidt, Mary Philbin

“The Man Who Laughs” is one of Conrad’s most popular and best known films in his entire career. I would say that this is the motion picture in which he has the most expressive eyes. His performance is brilliant, and it is one of the few films in which Connie will make you smile and cry from one scene to another. This mix of feelings is very profound and not thoroughly enjoyable, but it is a lively film, and Conrad’s Gwynplaine is a lively character, despite the fact that he was tortured and disfigured, and so he is obliged to earn a living by working at a circus. He is also a man who loves a blind woman, played by the beautiful and delicate Mary Philbin, and the sexy Olga Baklanova (who resembles Madonna a lot) keeps his interest alive, too. Conrad’s laughing face was a source of inspiration for the Joker from the Batman series, but, despite his appearance, Gwynplaine was not a happy, nor an evil person – he was a man who had frustrations, fears and disillusions, a man who had suffered ever since he was a child, a man who was punished by destiny and who was separated prematurely from his parents (something similar to Connie’s own personal life) and was adopted by a stranger. So, Victor Hugo’s “The Man Who Laughs” is, in fact, the story of “The Man Who Cries”, and it conveys the strong message that one should never judge, nor appreciate the other only through the physical appearance. It is worthy to mention that this is another film in which Connie has a double role, because he plays both the father and son. “The Man Who Laughs” was directed by Paul Leni, known for his Expressionist style and for being one of Conrad Veidt’s mentors.

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