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The Big Circus (1959)

 |  Drama  |  5 July 1959 (USA)
6.3
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 418 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 4 critic

Hank Whirling tries to keep his financially troubled circus on the road despite the efforts of a saboteur who has determined that the show must not go on.

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

Cast overview:
...
Henry Jasper 'Hank' Whirling
...
Randy Sherman
...
Helen Harrison
...
Jeannie Whirling
...
Hans Hagenfeld
...
Zach Colino - the aerialist
...
Skeeter
...
Tommy Gordon
Adele Mara ...
Maria 'Mama' Colino
...
Mr. Lomax
Charles Watts ...
Jonathan T. Nelson - Banker
...
Himself - Cameo appearance
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

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 »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 July 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gran circo  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

The human cannonball is shown climbing up the cannon, kneeling at the top, then swinging around and sliding into its mouth. In the next shot, showing the net in the foreground and the cannon behind, he's seen at the top of the cannon, swinging around and sliding into its mouth a second time. See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

THE BIG CIRCUS
By Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster
See more »

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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).


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