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Rain or Shine (1930)

Passed | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 15 August 1930 (USA)
Woman inherits a traveling circus which brings financial difficulties.


(as Frank R. Capra)


(dialogue and continuity), (dialogue and continuity) | 2 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Mary Rainey
Bud Conway
Tom Howard ...
Dave Chasen ...
Dalton - the Ringmaster
Adolph Milar ...
Foltz - the Lion Tamer
Mrs. Conway
Mr. Conway (as Edward Martindale)
Grace Conway
Lord Hugo Gwynne (as Tyrrell Davis)


After her father's death, Mary Rainey takes over the Rainey Circus (which operates twice daily, rain or shine) but runs into financial troubles. In one bit reminiscent of the Marx Brothers, the circus performers are up to some ridiculous antics at a dinner party with the family of Bud Conway, Mary's beau. As times become worse and the performers go on strike, Mary must try to save the circus from rioting patrons. Written by Paul Donahue

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Laugh Sensation of the Season! (original one-sheet poster)


Comedy | Drama | Romance






Release Date:

15 August 1930 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Luci del circo  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


(1928). Stage Play: Rain or Shine. Musical. Music by Milton Ager and Owen Murphy. Book by James Gleason and Maurice Marks. Lyrics by Jack Yellen. Music orchestrated by William Still and Arthur Schutt. Orchestra under the direction of Don Voorhees. Dances directed by Russell Markert. Dances Directed by Tom Nip. Scenic Design by Clark Robinson. Costume Design by Charles Le Maire. George M. Cohan's Theatre: 9 Feb 1928- 15 Dec 1928 (356 performances). Cast: Paul Brack, Walter Bremer, Dave Chasen (as "Simley's Protege/The Head Waiter"), Joe Cook (as "Smiley Johnson"), Ben Cutler, Vance Elliott, Rita Garcia, Edgar Gardner, James Gregory, Marion Herson, Tom Howard, Warren Hull, Vernon Jacobson, Ernest Lambart, Helen Lynd, Joe Lyons, Alex McKee, Rosie Moran, Ethel Norris, Walter Pharr, William V. Powers, Dimples Riede, Janet Velie, Nancy Welford, Devah Worrell. Produced by A.L. Jones and Morris Green. Note: Produced by Columbia Pictures as Rain or Shine (1930), directed by Frank Capra and starring Joe Cook. Although the stage version was a musical comedy, the musical numbers were deleted from the film version due to the public's distaste of the genre from 1930- early 1933 (until successfully revived by Warner Bros). The film is one of the least seen Capra films and is generally regarded as giving us a mere approximation of the extent of Joe Cook's talent which was far more effectively conveyed on stage (a situation somewhat comparable to Al Jolson's film career). Dave Chasen, later a world-renown restaurateur, and Tom Howard reprised their stage roles for the film. None of the songs in the original musical were used in the film except as background music. See more »


Amos K. Shrewsberry: Just a minute. I want to see you. I've got a feed bill here I want to talk to you about.
Smiley Johnson: Say, brother, you certainly were a big help to me. Now, I know what you're gonna say, you're modest and you want to make me believe you don't have it all. I want all these good folks to know what a great guy you are. You're not the mayor here, are you? You know the minute I laid eyes on you, I says to myself, now there's a man who looks just like Jimmy Walker and he should ought to be mayor of this cute ...
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It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'
(1923) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Wendell Hall
Sung a cappella by Joe Cook often
See more »

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User Reviews

Joe Cook is hilarious!
6 March 2002 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

In the 1930s, Joe Cook was one of the biggest stars on Broadway, headlining in several hit musical comedies. He co-starred with Ethel Merman in the Broadway show "Fine and Dandy", getting billing equal to Merman's. Joe Cook's talents were amazing: he was a juggler, an acrobat, a song-and-dance man and a comedian who did weird monologues while wiggling his thumbs. Tragically, he succumbed to Parkinson's disease after making only two feature films and a few shorts. "Rain or Shine" is the film version of one of his Broadway musical hits, with all the songs left out ... and it's the best surviving evidence of Cook's astonishing talents. "Rain or Shine" is also an excellent example of Frank Capra's early directorial skill.

In this movie, Cook plays the utility man in the Rainey Circus, which gives performances "Rain or Shine" ... except that it's always raining. When most of the circus performers can't go on, Cook becomes virtually a one-man circus, with just a couple of helpers for his acrobatic routines. Joe Cook's chief stooge in this film (and on Broadway) was Dave Chasen, a Harpo-ish comedian who later became famous as the founder of Chasen's Restaurant in Los Angeles. Chasen's schtick was a distinctive hand-waving gesture which many comedians today are still copying.

Joe Cook is brilliant in this film. In one scene, he does an astonishing juggling trick with a cigar and a kitchen match that will make you want to rewind several times so you can watch it again ... and again, and again! It looks so simple, yet Cook must have spent hundreds of hours practising this one trick.

"Rain or Shine" has a lot of broad slapstick humour, most of it hilarious. One scene at a dinner party doesn't work, involving a huge pile of spaghetti. We can clearly see that the "spaghetti" is really twine, which kills the joke. Unfunny comedian Tom Howard plays a grouch named A.K. Shrewsbury, and there's an obscure joke about what an "A.K." he is. (A.K. = "alter kocker", a Yiddish insult.)

Among the circus acts in this movie is Ethel Greer, a fat lady who weighed well over 25 stone. I was astonished by the scene in which this huge woman falls out of her circus caravan into a rain puddle. Ethel Greer actually did this stunt herself, because no stuntwoman was large enough to double for her. Kenneth Anger's book "Hollywood Babylon 2" contains a photograph of an immensely fat woman whom Anger unkindly claims is Elizabeth Taylor. She's not, you know: she's Ethel Greer, and the photo in Anger's book is a scene from "Rain or Shine". Also in this movie is a snake charmer, played by silent-film comedienne Louise Fazenda in a rare sound-film appearance. (Fazenda married producer Hal Wallis and retired.)

Some bad news: the dignified African-American actor Clarence Muse appears in this film, playing one of the "Yassah, boss" roles that Frank Capra kept lumbering him with. In Capra's autobiography, he refers to Muse as his "pet actor". No comment. SPOILER WARNING: At this film's climax, the circus tent catches fire. There's an exciting sequence as Cook and all the circus hands try to put out the flames. Ironically, the only time it STOPS raining on the circus in "Rain or Shine" is when the tent is on fire and the rain would have done some good. As soon as the fire is out, the rain starts pouring down again. "Rain or Shine" is must-see viewing! My rating: 10 out of 10, since Joe Cook's brilliant talents more than compensate for any of this film's flaws.

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