20 user 4 critic

The Big Circus (1959)

A circus owner tries to keep his financially troubled circus on the road, despite the efforts of a murderous saboteur who has decided that the show must not go on.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

On Disc

at Amazon

1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

In 19th century San Francisco's Chinatown, American adventurer Gilbert De Quincey is saving slave girls owned by the Chinese Tong factions.

Director: Albert Zugsmith
Stars: Vincent Price, Linda Ho, Richard Loo
Drama | Fantasy | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  

The devil and the spirit of mankind argue as to whether or not humanity is ultimately good or evil.

Director: Irwin Allen
Stars: Ronald Colman, Hedy Lamarr, Groucho Marx
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

A sword and sandal epic.

Director: Fernando Cerchio
Stars: Jeanne Crain, Vincent Price, Edmund Purdom
Horror | Thriller | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A master magician murders his greedy employer, who legally owns every trick he can invent, and finds himself having to kill again.

Director: John Brahm
Stars: Vincent Price, Mary Murphy, Eva Gabor
Serenade (1956)
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Damon Vincenti, a young vineyard worker, has a beautiful tenor voice and dreams of becoming a great opera singer. He debuts at Lardelli's Italian restaurant in San Francisco, where he is ... See full summary »

Director: Anthony Mann
Stars: Mario Lanza, Joan Fontaine, Sara Montiel
Drama | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  
Director: Mario Costa
Stars: Ricardo Montalban, Vincent Price, Giulia Rubini
Der Verlorene (1951)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

German scientist murders his fiancée during World War II when he learns that she has been selling the results of his secret research to the enemy.

Director: Peter Lorre
Stars: Peter Lorre, Karl John, Helmuth Rudolph
The Bat (1959)
Horror | Thriller | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A crazed killer known as "The Bat" is on the loose in a mansion full of people.

Director: Crane Wilbur
Stars: Vincent Price, Agnes Moorehead, Gavin Gordon
Action | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

A policeman tries to protect a young woman against a hit man, when she flees New York after witnessing a mob killing.

Director: Louis King
Stars: Victor Mature, Piper Laurie, William Bendix
Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  

An inaccurate retelling of the life of silent filmmaker and comedian Buster Keaton.

Director: Sidney Sheldon
Stars: Donald O'Connor, Ann Blyth, Rhonda Fleming
Sci-Fi | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

In 1868, an American scientist and his team become hostages of fanatical pacifist Robur who uses his airship Albatross to destroy military targets on Earth.

Director: William Witney
Stars: Vincent Price, Charles Bronson, Henry Hull
Drama | History | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The twisted Richard III is haunted by the ghosts of those he has murdered in his attempt to become the King of England.

Director: Roger Corman
Stars: Vincent Price, Michael Pate, Joan Freeman


Cast overview:
Henry Jasper 'Hank' Whirling
Randy Sherman
Helen Harrison
Jeannie Whirling
Hans Hagenfeld
Zach Colino
Tommy Gordon
Maria 'Mama' Colino
Mr. Lomax
Charles Watts ...
Jonathan T. Nelson


After splitting with his longtime business partner, Hank Whirling is about to take his big top circus on tour. He manages to get a loan and some investment money but has to take on one of their employees, Randy Sherman, to keep an eye on the finances. Sherman immediately hires a new press agent, Helen Harrison, over Hank's objections. After a series of accidents, they soon realize that they have a saboteur in the company. With financial problems increasing, Whirling looks to take the the show to New York City before his former partner Jules Borman can get his circus there. He realizes that he'll need a lot of publicity and trapeze and high wire artist Zach Colino agrees to walk the wire across Niagara Falls. After the circus train is sabotaged - killing Zach's wife and several others - they race to Niagara Falls to complete the high wire act but Zach may not be up it. The saboteur working for Borman bides his time and is planning another death. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


YOU are part of THE BIGGEST SHOW IN THE WORLD! The most exciting behind-the-scenes drama of the Big Top ever told! YOU catapult through the air on a flying trapeze! YOU face the snarling fangs of the King of Beasts! YOU...walk a swaying tight-rope across thundering Niagara! YOU are a human bullet...blasted out of a mighty canon! See more »




See all certifications »




Release Date:

5 July 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gran circo  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Final film of veteran character actor Dick Rich--he worked exclusively on television until his retirement in 1961. See more »


While Red Buttons flirts around the shooting range, a small boy in a checked shirt behind him disappears and reappears between shots. See more »


Referenced in You Bet Your Life: Episode #9.34 (1959) See more »


Nearer To Heaven
Music by Sammy Fain, Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter, Lyrics by Paul Francis Webster
Performed by Gus Levene Orchestra And Chorus
Sung by Rhonda Fleming
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Guilty Pleasure of the Fabulous '50's - Indulge!
24 January 2003 | by (Glendale, CA) – See all my reviews

C'mon, where else are you going to find a cast like this - at these prices, at least? It may not have the benefit of a DeMille budget, but this little gem succeeds where that director's "The Greatest Show On Earth" fails.

In place of DeMille's overblown hokum (which took itself too seriously to the point of campiness), THE BIG CIRCUS is earnest, lean and tightly paced, with no illusions that it's anything other than what it is: a collection of all the admittedly cliché elements that belong in a big-top thriller: sabotage by a rival, a lion on the loose, a killer in their midst, a fire, a train wreck and even a walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope!

Seasoned pros Victor Mature, Gilbert Roland, Red Buttons and Rhonda Fleming give it their all without going overboard, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre appear appropriately suspicious for those wondering if type-casting will reveal one of them as the villain, David Nelson is on hand doing some of his own trapeze work and even Steve Allen gets into the act!

Don't look for import, just sit back and enjoy the ride (and forgive the cheesy matte work on the Niagara sequence; at least they sprang for CinemaScope).

6 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
DVD now sold on Warner's webpage simonhowson
Looking to buy ewinche
The Big Circus on DVD harrypomm
Dancer 'Rowena'? bzb-1
Discuss The Big Circus (1959) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: