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At the Circus (1939)

Passed  |   |  Comedy, Musical  |  20 October 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 4,170 users  
Reviews: 46 user | 23 critic

The Marx Brothers try to help the owner of a circus recover some stolen funds before he finds himself out of a job.



(screen play)
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Complete credited cast:
Florence Rice ...
Mrs. Suzanna Dukesbury
Fritz Feld ...
James Burke ...
Jerry Maren ...
Little Professor Atom (as Jerry Marenghi)
Barnett Parker ...


Jeff Wilson, the owner of a small circus, owes his partner Carter $10000. Before Jeff can pay, Carter lets his accomplices steal the money, so he can take over the circus. Antonio Pirelli and Punchy, who work at the circus, together with lawyer Loophole try to find the thief and get the money back. Written by Michael Zolk <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

circus | money | strongman | lawyer | aunt | See All (71) »


Keep the world laughing! See more »


Comedy | Musical


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

20 October 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Day at the Circus  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


For Groucho Marx's performance of "'Lydia, the Tattooed Lady", additional lyrics were written by lyricist E.Y. Harburg exclusively for screenings of the film for Allied servicemen in European war zones. The special lyrics included the line "When she stands the world grows littler; When she sits, she sits on Hitler.' The version of the song featuring the special lyrics was filmed, and included in prints of the film distributed in Great Britain and France. The version of the song containing the special lyrics was greeted with marked enthusiasm during screenings in those countries. See more »


When the little boy is "playing" his trumpet solo (and Harpo is using the bulb of his bicycle horn as a wah-wah mute), not only are the boy's fingerings incorrect, they are out of synch with the sequence of notes. Harpo's use of the "mute" is likewise out of synch. See more »


Little Professor Atom: What do you want?
Antonio Pirelli: Oh, sure, we come in if you insist.
Little Professor Atom: Is this a friend of yours?
Antonio Pirelli: I should say not, he's a lawyer.
See more »


Referenced in M*A*S*H: Images (1977) See more »


La Marseillaise
(1792) (uncredited)
Written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Briefly played in the score when Jardinet enters
See more »

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User Reviews

AT THE CIRCUS (1939) ***
10 October 2004 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

This was my third time watching AT THE CIRCUS and, the characteristically anaemic leads (who somehow always seem to be able to carry a tune) notwithstanding, I've always been kind of partial to this one (even if the end result is, decidedly, a notch or two below their finest work). Plot and setting provide several opportunities for the Marxes to shine, both as a team and individually: Groucho (as always) is the film's trump card, however, especially in his rendition of 'Lydia, the Tattooed Lady' and the separate scenes he shares with befuddled aristocrat Margaret Dumont and scheming circus performer Eve Arden; other highlights include Groucho and Chico's interrogation of the suspicious-looking dwarf, Chico and Harpo's frenzied search for stolen money in the strong-man's room (while the latter is asleep!), and the typically busy climax in which Dumont receives the ultimate humiliation.

AT THE CIRCUS is the Marxes' third best MGM picture (demonstrating a steady decline for them from picture to picture) but it's still inferior to the later A NIGHT IN CASABLANCA (1946), in my opinion – or any of their early Paramount films, for that matter.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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