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 »
JUMBO might be silly (actually very deliberately silly, therein much of the enjoyment) but it is genuinely beautiful to look at and easy to enjoy. I saw it on DVD in widescreen and with a superb 5.1 sound system. The orchestral score by MGM arranger Roger Edens with Rodgers and Hart songs is truly sensational and as such adds a jumbo sized level of thorough professional musical lushness. Clearly made on the MGM back-lot with some obvious budget constraints, JUMBO is still delivered with the MGM polish for screen spectacle and a hankering to 'really entertain the audience'. There is some very unkind animal scenes (especially the muzzled bear dressed in a bonnet which looks like Hannibal Lecter in a fur coat and Grandma Duck hat) which only emphasizes how public acceptance of entertainment has changed. The special effects in some high-wire scenes are very clever and the tightrope act supposedly with Jummy Durante is perfectly achieved. As big as it could be JUMBO is solid family entertainment. Other comments will rave about Doris Day and moan about Stephen Boyd and they are all very right. Since this was Boyd's next film after BEN HUR do you realize that an advertisement could actually say "Stephen Boyd star of BEN HUR now in his biggest film: JUMBO" and it would actually make sense that JUMBO was indeed bigger than BEN HUR.............!! Yes, I know......I just wanted to say that. (but it IS true!)
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