It's the early 1900's. The Wonder Circus is a traveling circus owned and operated by Anthony Wonder - who performs as a clown - and his daughter Kitty Wonder - who performs as an aerialist and trick rider. Although Kitty loves her Pop as she and all the other circus performers call her father, she hates his gambling addiction which is placing the circus deep in debt. They and their employees treat the circus like one big family, especially Lulu the fortune teller who wants to be Mrs. Wonder, but the employees may only be so loyal if they aren't getting paid. As such, many of the performers leave or threaten to leave to join the Wonder Circus' main competitor, the Noble Circus owned by the power and money hungry John Noble. Although Pop and Kitty don't want anyone to leave their employ, the only act that they will never let go is Jumbo, their trained elephant, who Noble had tried to buy in the past. As many performers leave, into their midst comes circus Jack-of-all-trades Sam Rawlins.... Written by
Historical records show that many of the character names and songs of Billy Rose's "Jumbo" in the 1935 stage production were entirely different. Jimmy Durante appeared in the original New York stage production, but not as the owner of the circus. He is listed as "Claudius B. Bowers", a character name not in the film. See more »
Jumbo is alternately using his front feet/back feet between shots when he is dancing on the circus pedestal. See more »
Doris Day is deceived in the romance department once again!
The usual circus fun: a determinedly old-fashioned big-top opus with animals, parades, high-wire attractions, songs by Rodgers & Hart. Doris Day manages a struggling traveling circus in the early 1900s, while pop Jimmy Durante gambles away their earnings and show-performer Martha Raye halfheartedly attempts to get Durante down the aisle. Ever-earnest Stephen Boyd shows up in need of a job, and quickly gets Day's heart racing, before it's revealed he's the son of their chief rival--and what he's really after is star-attraction Jumbo the Elephant! Good-looking hokum, if your tastes run to squeaky-clean backlot romps. Too bad the scenarists skimp on any colorful glimpses of the eccentric carny lifestyle (what drives these people so hard anyway?). In the 1960s, Doris Day mainly concentrated on her series of popular bedroom comedies; this effort (her last musical) broke up her routine and she's delightful as always. The piqued direction is by Charles Walters, who has his work bolstered a bit by Busby Berkeley, overseeing the circus sequences. **1/2 from ****
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