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Clowning Around: Cinema’s Unforgettable Harlequins

After a spotty summer at the movies, It has become a monster hit, rejuvenating the stagnant box office, giving the citizenry something better to talk about, and maybe even stirring some fright among the clown industry.

Still going strong after three weekends, the film recently surpassed 1973’s The Exorcist as the highest grossing horror movie of all time. It will assuredly exceed the $300 million mark domestically, and its final global gross will be well over half a billion dollars—not bad for a movie produced for a mere $35 million.

Movie-lovers and movie-makers alike are justifiably celebrating the film’s success, but to keep things in perspective, the numbers do not account for inflation or for the staggering difference in actual tickets sold in 1973 for The Exorcist—if the grosses are adjusted, It will need to earn over $900,000 to surpass The Exorcist’s ticket sales.

No matter; though there were a handful of deserved hits last summer, overall the season was so disappointing the moviegoing world was eager to embrace any film with a lack of capes and tights, anything without a numeral or colon in its title.

A sequel to It is officially a “go” at the studio and is scheduled for September, 2019. It’s really just an adaptation of the latter “adulthood” part of Stephen King’s massive novel, so if there were any truth in advertising or consistency in Hollywood, the official title of the current movie would be It – Part 1.

In the spirit of It and its human monster Pennywise the Dancing Clown, here’s a brief gallery of other memorable movie clowns—a cinematic insane clown posse, if you will.


Shakes in Shakes the Clown

Bobcat Goldthwait wrote and directed this serio-comic tale of a drunkard clown who finds himself going undercover to solve a murder mystery in which he’s implicated.


Grimm in Quick Change

Bill Murray is at his wriest as a fed-up Manhattanite who gets dressed up as a clown to rob a bank and skip town forever. The protracted getaway takes up the bulk of the movie, and makes for one of the most merciless “I Hate New York” comedies ever filmed.


Captain Spaulding in House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects

Rob Zombie + Sid Haig = Scary Nightmares.


James Bond in Octopussy

You didn’t think I’d forget about the time Roger Moore got gussied up as a circus clown, wreaked a lot of havoc, kicked some poor schmo in the crotch with a silly oversized clown foot, and then saved the world by defusing an atomic bomb—did you?


The Joker in anything Batman

Take your pick of actors—Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill, Heath Ledger, Jared Leto, or Zach Galifianakis—but no matter the incarnation, the pasty-faced, Crayola-coiffed clown prince of Gotham deserves some props as the most psychotic nut inside or outside Arkham Asylum.



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