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The Circus Clown (1934)

Passed | | Comedy | 30 June 1934 (USA)
Trying to follow in his father's footsteps, the son of an ex-acrobat runs off and joins a circus, getting a job cleaning up after the animals.



(story), (story) | 2 more credits »


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Complete credited cast:
Happy Howard
Don Dillaway ...
Gordon Westcott ...
Sheldon (as Charles Wilson)
Ronnie Cosby ...
John Sheehan ...
Spencer Charters ...
Mac (scenes deleted)
Circus Barker
Gordon Evans ...
Undetermined Role


Trying to follow in his father's footsteps, the son of an ex-acrobat runs off and joins a circus, getting a job cleaning up after the animals.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

30 June 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sawdust  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According to a review summary in the New York Times, Joe E. Brown was affectionately pawed by a lion during one take, requiring 6 stitches in his arm. The article also points out that Brown did his own "spectacular acrobatics" - no doubles were used. See more »


Referenced in American Experience: The Battle Over Citizen Kane (1996) See more »


Hostrauser's March
Music by William Paris Chambers
Played when Happy sits down next to Miss Latour
Also played when Sheldon offers Happy a contract
See more »

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User Reviews

Standard Boy meets Girl set against spectacular 'Sawdust' background.
20 December 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

NIT HAQVING BEEN even thought of during the period of Joe E. Brown's salad days in Hollywood, we really didn't know just what he meant to audiences of the Depression ridden 1930s or the World War II period in the 1940s. Pf course we knew who he was, mainly from Television guest starring shots on the many variety shows and on WHAT'S MY LINE? His old films were shown occasionally; but at late hours when good little Baby Boomer Generation kids were up in slumberland.

IN MORE RECENT years ('recent' extending back to those 1970s), we started to have the good fortune to screen his comedies from the 1930s, 1940s. Titles such as: EARTHWORN TRACTORS, ALIBI IKE and THE GLADIATOR were the order of the day. We found ourselves to be very fortunate to have access to some film revival venues such as the Clark Theatre, the Film Center of the Art Institute of Chicago and Northwest Federal Savings Saturday evenings' screenings.

ADDED TO THE mix was a sudden explosion in interest books and various periodicals which were devoted to film history. We were all familiar with the plethora of "movie magazine" that were available down at the corner newsstand at the Damen Drug Store, but we also knew that these were really "tabloid type" gossip trash, with little historical material in them.

SO THAT BRINGS us right up to this recent viewing of THE CIRCUS CLOWN (First National/Vitaphone, 1934) via the good facilities of our cable TV provider and Turner Classic Movies. This was one Joe E. Brown outing that we had not even herd of, let alone having seen it. We find that Mr. Brown's screen persona had remained very much the same, even when his characters' names, locales and stations in life did. Be sure, he always managed to give his audience at least some snippets of his famous abilities in yelling.

AS FOR OUR story, we find Joe in a double role of Happy Howard and his father. His life is one o e farm, but he longs to join the circus and become the star that his father hadn't. He does get his chance and, being a rather naive, generously helpful albeit somewhat inept sort of fellow. He get's himself in the crossfire of some "bad girl" type and even a female impersonator(!!), before he finally finds his way to his true love. THE END

ONE OF THE most interesting attributes of this picture is the manner in which the production team manages to display Joe E. Brown's amazing abilities as an acrobat. Mr. Brown was truly a gifted athlete, who also spent a great part of his early life in circus and vaudeville troops performing tumbling, trapeze and trampoline routines & stunts. He also was a professional baseball player in the minor leagues; who turned down a contract with the NY Yankees (Babe Ruth. Lou Gehrig & Murderers Row).

THAT THIS MAN maintained such a high degree of physical fitness was a tribute to his dogged determination and devotion to exercise. And he did so in spite of a problem with alcoholism.

BUT. WE ONCE again digress. Just see it, at least once, honest Schultz!

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