Baes on Victor Hugo's 1869 novel, "The Man Who Laughs" is the morbid tale of Gwynplaine, an English clown doomed to a life adorned with a perpetual grin. His surgical smile was implanted on him by devilish gypsies. Gwynplaine is raised beside lovely Dea, whom we rescued as a baby. Dea is blind and can see only the beauty of his soul. As a complication, the sexy Duchess Josiana is attracted to, and repelled by Gwynplaine, all at the same time. A sensual, robust epic, "The Man Who Laughs" involves court intrigue, secret scandals, and a simple boy's enduring true love. Conrad Veidt played the lead in 1919's "Cabinet of Dr. Caligari". Lured to America in 1926 by actor John Barrymore, Veidt co-starred with him in the classic "Beloved Rogue". Then Universal's Carl Laemmle tapped him for the lead in "The Man Who Laughs". Years later, in 1941, Veidt played Major Strasser in "Casablanca". Just 6 months after it's release, Conrad Veidt died of a heart attack playing golf(8th hole) in Los Angeles, Calif.. The director of "The Man Who Laughs" was also a German import. Paul Leni's production of "Cat and the Canary" installed him as Universal's reigning terror-director. In Leni's "The Man Who Laughs", light is not so important as shadow. Backgrounds unveil misty fog and swirling smoke. Paul Leni finished one more film before an infected, ulcerated tooth caused his early death from blood poisoning. Kino's exceptional DVD of "The Man Who Laughs" represents the successful American-Italian joint restoration of the 75-year-old movie. Slowed by a creaky second-half, "The Man Who Laughs" bogs down in a final melodramatic chase. But don't misunderstand. Silent horror-film fans will relish Leni's macabre art design and relentless animal passion. Just 3 years later, Universal once again photographed a tall, mysterious black-caped stranger; strolling European streets through a dark, swirling fog. This time they called it "Dracula".