Herman owes a lot of gambling debts. To pay them off, he promises the mob he'll fix a horse, so that it does not run. He intends to trick his animal-loving cousin, Virgil, an apprentice ... See full summary »
3 Ring Circus was not a film Dean Martin cared to remember. Apparently this was a film that Jerry Lewis wanted to make because he got to play a circus clown. Dean had very little to do here, he only got one solo song though it's a good one.
Nick Tosches fine biography of Dean Martin says that Jerry ran the film, including picking the director Joseph Pevney. It was the first time that real tension was rather public between the team.
Dino and Jerry play a pair of newly discharged veterans who pick up jobs in a circus. Jerry is placed as a lion tamer's assistant and he has a marvelous scene with Sig Ruman as a rather inpatient lion tamer. Trying to teach Jerry the trade would be enough to drive anyone crazy. But Jerry is actually correct in his reasoning that if he just hires on with the circus, sooner or later his talents as a clown will shine through. Though he drives owners Wallace Ford and Joanne Dru wacky with his antics, he becomes a marvelous clown. That's a profession you are born to, either your funny or you're not. My favorite scene with him is Jerry trying to hand the aerial cyclist his unicycle and then getting caught on the high wire with it.
On the other hand Dino is caught between Joanne Dru and the star attraction of the show, trapeze artist Zsa Zsa Gabor. Gabor is also jealous when Lewis gets to be the real star of the show. I think you can figure out how all this ends.
Dean and Jerry do a song written for the film Hey Punchinello by Paramount contract songwriters Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. But Dean's one and only solo was the interpolated classic, It's A Big Wide Wonderful World. For reasons I don't understand he made no record of this so the only place you'll hear him is in 3 Ring Circus. The song was introduced by Buddy Clark in the Forties and it fits Dean's style perfectly.
Other than that song, this film was strictly Jerry's show with Dean only in support. No wonder tension flared.
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