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The Big Circus (1959)

 -  Drama  -  5 July 1959 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 391 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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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:

No one seated during the last 10 minutes so you will completely enjoy the surprise ending! P.S. And please do not reveal the identity of the villain! 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

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 »

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

 
THE BIG CIRCUS (Joseph M. Newman, 1959) **1/2
16 September 2008 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

This was all-too-obviously modeled by producer Irwin Allen on Cecil B. De Mille’s prestigious (and surprising) Oscar triumph THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH (1952); consequently, the script is cliché-ridden, contrived and corny – but the end result is still professionally assembled and definitely not unentertaining for undiscriminating film buffs.

The stars (Victor Mature, Red Buttons and Rhonda Fleming) are easily overshadowed by the character actors (Gilbert Roland, Peter Lorre and Vincent Price); the latter two’s casting may be construed as a red herring given the presence of a saboteur – a rival’s lackey – amidst the troupe. Incidentally, Lorre has the old James Stewart clown role and Gilbert Roland ably steps into Cornel Wilde’s aerialist shoes; his all-important “crossing the Niagara” stunt is a (back-projection) highlight. Similarly, the initial animosity between Mature and ‘interlopers’ Fleming and Buttons predictably blossoms into, respectively, romance and familiarity (due to Buttons becoming engaged to Kathryn Grant, Mature’s younger would-be trapeze artist sister).

Along the way, the circus is hit by potential bank foreclosure, a lion set loose during a press conference, haystacks set ablaze, a fatal train-wreck, a trapeze artist losing his nerve during a performance, etc. The circus is also seen to move with the times – so that beleaguered owner Mature manages to bring his show to the people (rather than the other way around), via the nascent medium of television, when bouts of thunderstorms hit their scheduled stops!


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