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
The 1935 musical play of Billy Rose's "Jumbo", on which this film was based, was the final stage presentation at New York City's venerable Hippodrome Theatre, which was torn down to make room for a parking lot. The show opened on November 16, 1935 and ran for 233 performances. See more »
Jumbo is alternately using his front feet/back feet between shots when he is dancing on the circus pedestal. See more »
I saw this as a teenager, and fell in love. Doris Day was one of the most popular and yet one of the most underrated movie stars of her generation. Her reputation hasn't survived into our modern era as other film icons of the time, including Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Shirley MacLaine and Elizabeth Taylor.
She was an excellent singer, actress, film personality, and she shines in this less-than-perfect screen adaptation of Billy Rose's Broadway extravaganza. Doris was 38 when she made this film, and she looks a tad too old. But she had one of Hollywood's greatest bodies and looks sensational in the many period costumes. She sings this glorious Rodgers and Hart score magnificently, particularly "My Romance," and "Little Girl Blue." The highlight in the movie is the "Why Can't I" duet between Doris and Martha Raye. Raye, a wonderful singer in her own right, and Doris simply shine in this small scene, harmonizing beautifully.
Jimmy Durante is also superb as her charming scamp of a father and head of the family circus. His asides to Jumbo, the elephant are wonderfully comic. Stephen Boyd has been criticized, but I think he's the classic leading man here and doesn't spoil any scene he's in.
This JUMBO was the end of the classic movie musical era, and you can hear it wheezing a bit. But anachronistic as it is, you have Busby Berkeley overseeing the musical numbers, and you would be hard-pressed to find two hours as heart-warmingly delightful as this movie is. Brava to Doris Day--long may she be remembered for the class act she was.
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