The Forgotten: It's a Barnum & Bailey World

  • MUBI
Cinema Circus is clearly a product of the great, yet under-reported MGM peyote-poisoning of 1937—how else to explain its baffling, surreal, Technicolor, grotesque yet undeniable existence? It is a chilling documentary record of some things that were performed in front of a camera, once upon a time.

A man in a gruesome Joe E. Brown mask is helped from his leering false-face, revealing another leering false face, that of Lee Tracy, who attempts to justify what we are about to see as the realisation of a long-cherished dream, although the exorcism of a recurring nightmare would be at least as plausible.

Big top performers will trot out their tricks in brief visual bits, watched by earnestly faking-it movie "stars," few now recalled in the contemporary pantheon: Olsen & Johnson, the Ritz Brothers, Leo Carillo...

Meanwhile, more hideous outsized masks are sported, embodying movie stars too authentically famous to be roped into
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