The Clown ★★★★

A theatrical producer sees Gosta Ekman, a clown with a small circus, and signs him to perform in Paris. Ekman marries Karina Bell, his sweetheart, and, with her parents, they go to Paris. Ekman is a sensation and soon becomes a major star. Bell is courted by a philandering couturier and runs off with him. Ekman is devastated and soon turns to drink. Unknown to Ekman, Bell was pregnant when she ran off. She has a daughter. After the couturier drops her for another woman, Bell commits suicide. Now an alcoholic, Ekman looses his position in the Paris theater and ends up in a small circus. One night he sees the couturier in the audience and threatens to shoot him. The fright causes the couturier to have a heart attack. On his body is a letter about a Daisy who has been placed in a sanitarium. Ekman goes to see Daisy and discovers that the girl is his child, about whom he was unaware. Love for his child overwhelms all other emotions, and Ekman embraces her joyfully.

Gosta Ekman (1890-1938) was a legendary Swedish stage star. He had a notable career in Swedish silent films, although few are known to American audiences. Ekman’s best known silent film is Faust (1926), made in Germany and directed by F.W. Murnau.

Ekman specialized in emotional roles for which he could effectively use his mobile face and body. The Golden Clown provides the material for a dramatic performance.

Seen at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, 2013.