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The Boy Who Stole the Elephant (1970)

TV Movie  |   |  Family, Comedy  |  20 September 1970 (USA)
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A boy working in a struggling circus troupe develops a great rapport with an elephant on loan from a more successful circus. When he learns that his boss has just bet the elephant in a card... See full summary »



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Title: The Boy Who Stole the Elephant (TV Movie 1970)

The Boy Who Stole the Elephant (TV Movie 1970) on IMDb 6.8/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Colonel Rufus Ryder
Molly Jeffrys
Mayor Hancock
Whitney Blake ...
Helen Owens
James Westerfield ...
Sheriff Berry
Robert Emhardt ...
Cy Brown
Tom Drake ...
Mr. Corbert
Lottie Ladare
Lizzie Ladare
Christopher Shea ...
Billy Owens
Lucy Owens
Ernestine Clark ...
Nana (as Ernestine Clarke)


A boy working in a struggling circus troupe develops a great rapport with an elephant on loan from a more successful circus. When he learns that his boss has just bet the elephant in a card game and lost, he decides to leave as quickly and quietly as possible with the huge animal and return it to its rightful owner several hundred miles away in the southern U.S. Based on the novel of the same title by Julilly Kohler. Written by Paul Emmons <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Family | Comedy





Release Date:

20 September 1970 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Delightful variant on the book
29 October 2001 | by (Philadelphia) – See all my reviews

I'm not sure why Mark Lester is listed in the cast as though he had a bit part, because he is the star. The IMDB information does not list the studio, but I think if it's not Disney it is an adaptation that he could have made-- considerably prettified and sugar-coated compared to Julilly Kohler's novel. But I won't complain, because it works.

A modification is required right off to explain how a clearly English boy comes to be a runaway waif in the middle of the late 19th-century U.S. Further, in the novel Catfish Williams, his boss, is a brutal drunkard, an incompetent circus manager, and an all-around S.O.B. In the film, he is a lovable avuncular sort with one Achilles heel: a weakness for gambling. The film casts the owner of the circus that owns the elephant as a dashing woman with a long-standing soft place in her heart, maybe even a romantic interest, in old Catfish.

Kohler, a member of the family of plumbing-appliance magnates in Wisconsin, whose company underwent a famous worker's strike around the 1950s, is not particularly famous as a children's author, but I think that my father once met her at a writer's conference and brought this book of hers home to me as a small child. I've always liked it, and so have other children to whom I have introduced it. The film is a nice honor to her work, even if it was changed in some respects. If you enjoy the film, try to read it.

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