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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
This was Doris Day's last appearance in a full-on musical - and one of the last of the lavishly-budgeted MGM musicals as well. Despite Day being ranked the #1 box office star at the time of its release, it was widely considered a box office failure. See more »
Lulu somehow manages to come out of the cannon backwards - the opposite way to how she entered. See more »
In 1962, Doris Day was the top box office star (male or female) in the world. "Billy Rose's Jumbo" opened in New York at Radio City Music Hall during a newspaper strike and a snow storm which made the film suffer at the box office.
It is a wonderful film with great music, good acting and some exciting circus acts. Steven Boyd was the latest actor/wanna-be star to utilize Miss Day as a stepping stone to fame. He was handsome and a good choice to play opposite Doris Day.
The story is secondary to the rest of the film. Simply, Doris' father, Jimmy Durante, owner of the Wonder Circus, was in deep financial trouble and about to lose his business. Boyd played the son of the owner of a rival circus who wants to take over the Durante organization including the main attraction, Jumbo, the wonder elephant.
Day, of course, falls in love with Boyd and the rest is music. Doris Day had some wonderful moments. She showed her mettle as a comedienne in a scene where she takes over a crap game from her father to win back the money he has lost.
Her singing of "My Romance" was very beautiful and I loved the part when she turns, with Boyd, and starts to walk as she sings. Her rendition of "Little Girl Blue" was dramatic and poinant.
Martha Raye, was, well, Martha Raye and Jimmy Durante was, err, Jimmy Durante!
The picture looks like they spent a lot of money on it, the color was sharp and the camera work superb. I also enjoyed the final, "Sawdust, Spangles and Dreams". Day and Raye were very funny as clowns.
This picture is often dismissed as being a flop, the only film which failed during Miss Day's run of box office bonanza. That's unfair because the New York Critics' reviews were not available to inform the public. Their words set the tone for the success or failure of a film. That was especially true in 1962.
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