The Man Who Laughs (1928)

USA, 1928
110m, 3107.44 metres, 10 reels [sound version]
35mm film, black and white, 1.20:1
silent, also available in mono sound version

An American borderline horror film directed by Paul Leni.

Plot Summary

Gwynplaine, the son of Lord Clancharlie, has his face disfigured into a permanent smile by the vengeful King, in return for a betrayal by Gwynplaine’s father. Gwynplaine is taken in by a travelling showman and becomes a popular performer in his show, eventually falling in love with the blind Dea. After the king dies, his evil jester tries to track down and kill Gwynplaine.


Director: Paul Leni
Universal Pictures
Presenter: Carl Laemmle
Supervising Producer/Production Supervisor: Paul Kohner
Adaptation: J. Grubb Alexander
Novel: L’homme qui rit by Victor Hugo
Story: Bela Sekeley
Scenario Assistants: Bela Sekeley, Charles E. Whittaker, Marion Ward, Ray McLean
Assistant Directors: Lew Landers, Jay Marchant, John M. Voshell
Continuity: J. Grubb Alexander
Director of Photography: Gilbert Warrenton
Editorial Supervisor: Maurice Pivar
Editor: Edward Cahn
Western Electric Sound System
Costume Designers: David Cox, Vera West
Titles: Walter Anthony
Art Directors: Charles D. Hall, Thomas O’Neil, Joseph Wright
Production Staff: Louis Friedlander, Jay Marchant, John M. Voshell
Technical Directors: Joseph Wright, Charles D. Hall, Thomas F. O’Neill
Technical Researcher: Professor R.H. Newlands

Mary Philbin (Dea, the blind girl)
Conrad Veidt (Gwynplaine, the man who laughs)
Olga Baclanova (Duchess Josiana)
Sam De Grasse (King James II)
Brandon Hurst (Barkilphedro, the jester)
George Siegmann (Dr Hardquanonne)
Josephine Crowell (Queen Anne)
Stuart Holmes (Lord Dirry-Moir)
Cesare Gravina (Ursus, the philosopher)
Nick De Ruiz (Wapentake)
Edgar Norton (chancellor)
Torben Meyer (the spy)
Julius Molnar Jr (Gwynplaine as a child)
Charles Puffy (innkeeper)
Frank Puglia, Jay Goodrich (clowns)
Carmen Costello (Dea’s mother)
Lon Poff
Zimbo (Homo the wolf)

Alternative Titles

El hombre que ríe – Spain
O Homem Que Ri – Brazil
L’homme qui rit – France
Der Mann, der lacht – German
Nauruihminen – Finland
L’uomo che ride – Italy

See also
Das Grinsende Gesicht (1921)
L’uomo che ride (1966)



  • The Bioscope vol.75 no.1127 (10 May 1928) pp.56, 347 – review
  • Classic Images no.343 (January 2004) p.24 – review (Video views by John Nangle)
  • Classic Images no.344 (February 2004) p.37 – review (Sam Rubin’s classic clinic by Sam Rubin)
  • The Film Spectator vol.5 no.3 (31 March 1928) pp.6-8 – review
  • Kine Weekly no.1099 (10 May 1928) – review
  • Picture-Play Magazine vol.28 no.6 (August 1928) pp.68-69 – review


  • Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror (2nd edition) by Phil Hardy (ed) p.40 – credits, review