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
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 »
In the climactic trapeze act near the end, Zach and Jeannie are repeatedly shown standing on the opposite side of the stationary platform in long shots from where they're standing in close-ups. See more »
Big-Top melodrama that's rich with easy on the eye formula.
The Big Circus is directed by Joseph M. Newman and jointly written by Irwin Allen (who also produces) and Charles Bennett. It stars Victor Mature, Red Buttons, Rhonda Fleming, Kathryn Grant, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. Plot sees Mature as Hank Whirling, the owner of The Whirling Circus, where, having seen his partner break away to form his own show, he finds he has to beg a loan off the bank to keep the Whirling show going. The bank agree to the loan but on condition that their financial whizz Randolph Sherman (Buttons) travels along with the show to keep an eye on the finances. He in turn hires publicity agent Helen Harrison (Fleming) to professionally sell the product, but both of them are not wanted by Whirling. However, there are more pressing concerns for the show, there is a saboteur at large and it seems whoever it is will stop at nothing to finish off the Circus.
Looking for a Sunday afternoon time filler full of colour, vibrancy and delightful circus sequences? Then look no further than Irwin Allen's The Big Circus, an entertaining and tidy picture that seems to have been forgotten in the wake (fall out) of The Greatest Show On Earth. Making no bones about it, Allen follows the formula of the Cecil B. DeMille behemoth pretty much all the way, only the budget is considerably smaller so it obviously isn't as gargantuan as the 1952 Best Picture Winner. Fair to say there's some overacting, notably from Mature, but the mystery element is played close to the chest, with pretty much everyone under suspicion, and the high wire/trapeze antics are joyous. Nice cast, nice film and easy to recommend to the undemanding crowd. 6.5/10
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