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21 user 5 critic

The Big Circus (1959)

TV-PG | | Drama | 5 July 1959 (USA)
A circus owner tries to keep his financially troubled circus on the road, despite the efforts of a murderous saboteur who has decided that the show must not go on.

Director:

Joseph M. Newman

Writers:

Irwin Allen (screenplay), Charles Bennett (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Victor Mature ... Henry Jasper 'Hank' Whirling
Red Buttons ... Randy Sherman
Rhonda Fleming ... Helen Harrison
Kathryn Grant ... Jeannie Whirling
Vincent Price ... Hans Hagenfeld
Gilbert Roland ... Zach Colino
Peter Lorre ... Skeeter
David Nelson ... Tommy Gordon
Adele Mara ... Maria 'Mama' Colino
Howard McNear ... Mr. Lomax
Charles Watts Charles Watts ... Jonathan T. Nelson
Steve Allen ... Steve Allen
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Storyline

After splitting with his longtime business partner, Hank Whirling is about to take his big top circus on tour. He manages to get a loan and some investment money but has to take on one of their employees, Randy Sherman, to keep an eye on the finances. Sherman immediately hires a new press agent, Helen Harrison, over Hank's objections. After a series of accidents, they soon realize that they have a saboteur in the company. With financial problems increasing, Whirling looks to take the the show to New York City before his former partner Jules Borman can get his circus there. He realizes that he'll need a lot of publicity and trapeze and high wire artist Zach Colino agrees to walk the wire across Niagara Falls. After the circus train is sabotaged - killing Zach's wife and several others - they race to Niagara Falls to complete the high wire act but Zach may not be up it. The saboteur working for Borman bides his time and is planning another death. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

YOU are part of THE BIGGEST SHOW IN THE WORLD! The most exciting behind-the-scenes drama of the Big Top ever told! YOU catapult through the air on a flying trapeze! YOU face the snarling fangs of the King of Beasts! YOU...walk a swaying tight-rope across thundering Niagara! YOU are a human bullet...blasted out of a mighty canon! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 July 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El gran circo See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Originally Columbia was going to have Irwin Allen produce and direct Big Circus. Allied Artists ended up picking up the movie instead. See more »

Goofs

In the climactic trapeze act near the end, Zach and Jeannie are repeatedly shown standing on the opposite side of the stationary platform in long shots from where they're standing in close-ups. See more »

Connections

Referenced in You Bet Your Life: Episode #9.34 (1959) See more »

Soundtracks

The Big Circus
Music by Sammy Fain, Lyrics by Paul Francis Webster
Performed by Gus Levene Orchestra And Chorus
Sung by Rhonda Fleming
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Better than I expected.
22 March 2016 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

"The Big Circus" is going to be a hard film for me to like. After all, the other three big circus spectaculars I've seen ("The Greatest Show on Earth", "Billy Rose's Jumbo" and "Circus World") were incredibly dull films. The only circus-themed films I can recall enjoying were comedies and so I am questioning now why I bothered to watch "The Big Circus"...perhaps I am just a glutton for punishment.

When the film begins, Hank Whirling (Victor Mature) is trying to arrange for a loan to keep his circus afloat. However, the bank is hesitant to make the loan and come up with an idea. Instead of just loaning the money, they'll send one of their people, Randy (Red Buttons), to go hang out with the circus for a few weeks to see if it really is worth the money. In addition, they assign a press agent, Helen (Rhonda Fleming) to go along as well and see if she can do anything to increase business and make the circus more profitable. Not surprisingly, Whirling is not the least bit thrilled by this but since he really has no other choice he accepts the proposition. Through the course of the film, lots of problems pop up but as the saying goes "The Show Must Go On!". But some of these problems might not be accidents...someone might just be deliberately sabotaging the circus!

"The Big Circus" is a bit different from the other three circus films I already mentioned. It seems a tiny bit smaller in scope and the actors tend to be more second-tier in stature. This is NOT necessarily a bad thing as the film seems to rest less on big names and concentrates a little more on entertaining the audience with a script that is at least modesty interesting and entertaining. I didn't love the film but found it kept my interest much more than the other circus epics and is actually worth seeing. I especially liked learning the identity of the saboteur...a really, really interesting choice!


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