Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962) Poster

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The most beautiful circus in the world.
movibuf19625 September 2003
For all its merits, "Jumbo" was not a perfect entity as it was released upon the last rung of film musicals, and by the 60's only adaptations of Broadway shows like "West Side Story" and "The Sound Of Music" were being released. As a result a lot of folks have dismissed this one, but I find it to be one of the best exhibitions of a specialized art form- namely, the circus. Populated with many real circus headliners, its musical portions are quite stylish and joyful- especially "Circus On Parade," the equestrian-flavored "This Can't Be Love," and the gorgeous opening number "Over and Over Again-" which shows off 2nd unit man Busby Berkely's visual flourish. (Note, in particular, the final pullback shot which shows all of the acts rehearsing en masse at the same time.) Ms. Day, already a top box office star due to her romantic comedies with Rock Hudson, is gorgeous in the film and her voice can only be described as velvety. Listen especially to her solos "My Romance," "Little Girl Blue," and most impressive, a nighttime duet between Day and Martha Raye in a wagon caravan entitled "Why Can't I?" Portions of the film are directed too slowly and leading man Stephen Boyd is wooden (I would have preferred Harve Presnell or even Howard Keel), but circus owner Jimmy Durante is marvelous in every scene he's in- especially where he's trying to hide an elephant!! The finale, with the cast dressed for a double wedding and dancing to "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World" is truly lovely. If you've never seen a circus you could watch this and be satisfied that you spent an evening under the big top.
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MGM's Last Big Musical
Ralph McKnight30 November 1998
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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Doris and Martha's Big Moment
gregorybnyc6 May 2004
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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Great songs employed to only modest effect in an otherwise forgettable musical
movieman-20015 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962) is one of the last musicals to emerge from MGM's illustrious stable. It stars Doris Day as Kitty Wonder, a performer in her father's circus. Pop Wonder (the irrepressible Jimmy Durante) is the proprietor of one of the greatest acts in circus history – Jumbo; a gargantuan elephant. He's also engaged to the sad -eyed spinster and fortune teller, Lulu (Martha Raye). Together, they front line a troupe of jolly nomads who pitch the idea of circus life as the greatest of all traveling trades. But a fly in this cotton candy surfaces with the arrival of Sam Rawlins (Stephen Boyd).

Unbeknownst to Kitty and company, Sam is a spy for a rival traveling show owned by the unscrupulous John Noble (Dean Jagger). Sam sets himself up as a rigger in Pop's show and observes the inner workings of his operation, all the while with one eye firmly zeroed in on Kitty for himself. Perhaps sensing his less than honorable intentions, Kitty's initial reception to John is cool and aloof. However, after he rescues her from a near fatal accident, she falls into his arms quite willingly, and thereafter is bitterly disillusioned when Sam lays the ground work for Noble Enterprises to steal Pop's circus out from underneath him.

Based on the rollicking Broadway smash, director Charles Walters opens the play up with great panache, adding depth, scope and heart to what was in essence a flashy spectacle minus substance on the stage. The numbers, particularly "This Can't Be Love", "Little Girl Blue" and "Why Can't I?" are engaging diversions unto themselves, seamlessly blended into the dramatic milieu. Although Stephen Boyd does look a tad uncomfortable in the role of Sam, he proves to be in very good voice with the charming, "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World." Yes, the film is hopelessly hokey by today's standards – but that's primarily its charm. The final musical number too is a bit flat when compared to the rest of the score – but staged by veteran choreographer, Busby Berkeley in a way that almost distracts one from the absence of magic.

Warner's DVD is a treat. The anamorphic picture sparkles with renewed vigor. Colors are rich, bold and vibrant. Blacks are deep, rich and solid. Whites are very clean. Contrast and shadow levels are bang on. There are only trace elements of age related artifacts for an image that is quite smooth and engaging throughout. The audio has been remixed to 5.1 but lacks in bass tonality, often sounding thin and just a tad strident. The musical sequences fair much better sonically than the dialogue. Extras include a few shorts, including a Tom and Jerry oddity.

Final thoughts: it may not be "The Greatest Show on Earth" but "Billy Rose's Jumbo is a respectable sideshow of glamorous big top entertainment. The acting is solid; the score, supreme. If only the box office receipts of its day had managed to match the considerable effort put forth by the studio, there might have been more good-natured entertainment from MGM in the years that followed.
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Musical Eden
ptb-813 June 2005
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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About 10 Years Too Late in Adaptation
maughancannes-214 December 2002
The MGM musical circus had left Culver City a few years earlier by the time the studio decided to film this 1930s stage extravaganza. The result is bright and competent enough (and it retains most of the wonderful Rodgers & Hart songs), but ten years earlier the Arthur Freed Unit would have sharpened up the book, included a lot more dancing and had a superior leading man (Stephen Boyd is a disaster in this movie). Doris Day sings the standards very well, and - stealing the film - Jimmy Durante (who gives a glorious rendition of "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World") and Martha Raye are memorable in support.
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joandaniels24 October 2002
This is a wonderfully entertaining film. Day and Durante never disappoint and turn in their usual fine performances. Martha Raye is a delight! Stephen Boyd is magnificent! Who knew he could sing and dance so well?! He was a wonderfully versatile actor who could switch from Messala to Sam Rawlins in a heartbeat. One of my favorites - completely wonderful!
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The Circus Is On Parade
bkoganbing9 February 2009
Doris Day's final musical role was in Jumbo which finally came to the screen almost 30 years after it played at the legendary Hippodrome Theater for 233 performances in 1935. Henceforth all of Doris's films would be screen comedies in which she may have sung a ditty or two in the film or over the title credits. But Jumbo was her last true musical.

Jumbo was directed by Charles Walters an old hand at musicals, his best known probably being High Society. But Walters had an even older hand working with him in Busby Berkeley. His touch is obvious as the second unit director in some of the musical numbers. Jumbo marked Berkeley farewell screen credit.

The plot is little changed from the 1935 show. Jimmy Durante who was repeating his role from the original Broadway cast is Pop Wonder a kindly circus owner who owes everyone in a 20 mile radius because of his gambling problem. He's the despair of his daughter Doris Day and Martha Raye who does a crystal ball act on the sideshow who Durante's been carrying a long term courtship of.

His show is in desperate straights with acts quitting him left and right, Doris is fulfilling several acts and jobs on the show, from high wire work to clown. One day handsome and muscular Stephen Boyd comes looking for a job. He seems like the answer to a prayer, but it turns out he's the son of rival circus owner Dean Jagger and doing a little espionage for the old man.

Durante's show has one real asset, the legendary circus elephant Jumbo whom as we know was the real life main attraction of Barnum&Bailey's real life circus in the 19th century. It's that which Jagger means to have.

Of course the boy/girl thing as usual gets in the way with Day and Boyd. Their romance is played out under the big top to the strains of one of Rodgers&Hart's best scores. Made even better by the addition of This Can't Be Love from The Boys From Syracuse.

So many good songs by Rodgers and Hart you hardly know where to begin. Doris gets to sing My Romance, This Can't Be Love, and one of the most plaintive ballads of heartbreak ever written, Little Girl Blue. Stephen Boyd if he wasn't dubbed, had a nice singing voice and does a good job on The Most Beautiful Girl In The World, with an obbligato done by Jimmy Durante.

I've seen stills of the technically off Broadway production of the original cast in 1935. With all the circus acts, no conventional Broadway Theater could have possibly housed this show. The Hippodrome which was located on Sixth Avenue and 43rd Street has been gone since before World War II, Jumbo was the last show of any kind done there. I wish I could have seen it live.

My guess is that producer Billy Rose drove a hard bargain in getting just compensation for the screen rights. It's why Jumbo took so long to come to the screen. Fortunately it made it there just as musicals were being phased out. I'm sure Rose's name in the title was another bit of vanity for him to get the show to the screen.

Despite what I consider an almost surreal ending, Jumbo still delights musical and circus fans of all ages and will continue to do so. You can never go wrong with a musical by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.
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Doris Day is deceived in the romance department once again!
moonspinner5523 October 2005
The usual circus fun: a determinedly old-fashioned big-top opus with animals, parades, high-wire attractions, songs by Rodgers & Hart. Doris Day manages a struggling traveling circus in the early 1900s, while pop Jimmy Durante gambles away their earnings and show-performer Martha Raye halfheartedly attempts to get Durante down the aisle. Ever-earnest Stephen Boyd shows up in need of a job, and quickly gets Day's heart racing, before it's revealed he's the son of their chief rival--and what he's really after is star-attraction Jumbo the Elephant! Good-looking hokum, if your tastes run to squeaky-clean backlot romps. Too bad the scenarists skimp on any colorful glimpses of the eccentric carny lifestyle (what drives these people so hard anyway?). In the 1960s, Doris Day mainly concentrated on her series of popular bedroom comedies; this effort (her last musical) broke up her routine and she's delightful as always. The piqued direction is by Charles Walters, who has his work bolstered a bit by Busby Berkeley, overseeing the circus sequences. **1/2 from ****
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Forgettable and Cute Musical
claudio_carvalho1 June 2013
In the beginning of the Twentieth Century, the traveling The Wonder Circus has the greatest attraction the elephant Jumbo and is full of debts. The owner, Anthony 'Pop' Wonder (Jimmy Durante), works as a clown but is a gambler addicted in dice games and usually loses the box office gambling. He has been deceiving the clairvoyant Lulu (Martha Raye) for many years promising to marry her. His daughter, Kitty Wonder (Doris Day), is the trick rider and tries to negotiate with creditors and the circus performers to keep the business going on. John Noble (Dean Jagger), who owns a famous Noble Circus, wants to buy Jumbo and The Wonder Circus, but Pop refuses his offers.

When the mysterious Sam Rawlins (Stephen Boyd) asks for a job in the Wonder Circus, Kitty refuses and tells that they do not want adventurer working in their circus. But he proves to be an excellent aerialist and handy man and Pop hires him since they lost many performers due to the lack of payment. Soon Kitty falls in love with Sam, but he has a secret agenda and she does not know.

"Billy Rose's Jumbo" is a forgettable and cute musical based on a 1935 Broadway show. The silly plot is a predictable romance entwined with many songs and performances by circus performers and entertains. The work of the stunts and the edition is wonderful. Unfortunately the songs in the DVD released by Warner in Brazil do not have subtitles in a absolute lack of respect from Warner to the Brazilian costumers. Shame on you Warner! My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "A Mais Querida do Mundo" ("The Dearest in the World")
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Durante's Great Love Song Moment
theowinthrop28 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
JUMBO is a very curious musical film to me for several reasons. It was one of the first musical films I ever saw. I watched it in the auditorium of my public school in Queens in the 1963 - not in a movie house. I suppose it was shown because it deals with a circus theme. Secondly, it is based on a musical by Rogers and Hart that was made in the middle of the 1930s, starring Jimmy Durante. In fact, the movie kept one of Durante's classic moments of stage comedy. He is trying to lure the elephant off the circus grounds, and is moving very quietly followed by Jumbo, and is being nonchalant while doing this. Then a guard stops them, yelling, "Where are you going with that elephant?!" Looking haughty and insulted, Durante stretches to his full height, and asks, " ELEPHANT? WHAT ELEPHANT?!"

The original Broadway show was a real extravaganza, due to it's circus setting - produced by the legendary showman Billy Rose. If you are not old enough to recall Rose, you may remember that James Caan played him in the movie FUNNY LADY (the sequel to FUNNY GIRL, that starred Barbara Streisand as Rose's wife Fanny Brice).

The real Jumbo was the elephant who is associated with P.T. Barnum's circus in the 19th Century. That Jumbo was originally a star of the London Zoo, very popular with children in England who were allowed to ride his back. Barnum bought him in 1882, and he was the last great star in the impresario's career. Unfortunately Jumbo got killed in Canada in 1885 in a tragic railroad yard collision.

Here Jumbo is the star attraction at a circus that is run by Durante, Martha Raye, and Doris Day. But the circus has attracted the attention of Dean Jagger (in one of his villainous roles). Jagger wants to get control of the small circus and Jumbo, and slowly does just that. To confuse the matter, Stephen Boyd plays a trapeze walker who romances Day. Boyd turns out to be Jagger's son, and something of a spy on the competition. The romance between Boyd and Day adds to the tension of the film.

The music is first rate, particularly the introductory "Over and Over Again", and the number which is the sweetest moment in Durante's movie career - when he is marrying Martha Raye, he sings "The Most Beautiful Girl In the World" to her. It is an adorable moment, as these two plain people glow with affection for each other. Well worth catching the film for that reason alone.
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totally stunning
didi-526 June 2000
From the circus scenes to those wonderful musical numbers (My Romance, The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, This Can't Be Love) this just shines. Day and Boyd may be a little old to play girl and boy falling in love but somehow it works. She is terrific as always, he's a damn good singer, and of course with Jimmy Durante, Martha Raye and an elephant how could it fail? One or two sections drag a bit but in the main this is exceptionally good stuff. Nice syrupy stuff if you're in the mood with some laughs along the way.
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Sawdust, Spangles and Dreams.
hitchcockthelegend16 May 2011
Billy Rose's Jumbo is based on a play of the same name produced by Billy Rose. The play was adapted from the book written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, the screenplay here is written by Sidney Sheldon. Music is scored by George Stoll, with songs written by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart. It's directed by Charles Walters, with Busby Berkeley on second unit duties, and stars Doris Day, Jimmy Durante, Stephen Boyd, Martha Raye and Dean Jagger. William H. Daniels photographs and it's a Panavision/Metrocolor production out of MGM.

The Pop Wonder Circus is suffering desperate financial problems, with rival Noble Circus circling like a vulture ready to strip it of its greatest assets. Then one day a stranger walks in and joins them as a wire walker and things start to pick up. But as romance blossoms and problems begin to ease, shocking news brings great disruption to the equilibrium.

It's the sort of musical production that can be picked apart to reveal many problems. Problems in length, quality of song execution and certain casting issues, they are there and undeniably stop the film being great. However, if one is just after a breezy piece of fluff, in the company of a delightful leading lady, then it's a film that does its job. Structured as a series of songs and circus routines, there is little room for an intelligent plot, it's a basic boy/girl romance played out whilst some bad guy lurks in the background threatening to drive a wedge between the lovers. Still, the foot tappers keep it charming, the production value is top notch and the Metrocolor used is very pleasing. While the actual circus performers are truly great at their art (wire walkers a favourite over here).

So, as shallow as a puddle in terms of story and character depth, but even tho it should have had better care and attention afforded it, it remains above average and of appeal to musical fans. 6.5/10
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Still good, Doris Day, so cute there
Jumbo is a mighty talented elephant. It's also the ideal word to describe this big-time big-top extravaganza bursting with laughter and love song and dance circus stunts and star power.Radiant Doris Day sings beloved Rodgers and Hart tunes and does her own horseback riding tricks in a dazzle-dazzle musical based on Billy Rose's stage spectacular and featuring circus sequences directed by Busby Berkeley. The story revolves around a circus owner (Jimmy Durante star of the 1935 Broadway original) with only two real attractions: his daughter (day) and popular pachyderm Jumbo. Three-ring pandemonium breaks out when a handsome rival (Stephen Boyd) infiltrates the circus and father daughter and Dad's wisecracking fiancé e (Martha Raye) are suddenly at risk of losing the greatest show on earth
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If you love Doris and you love the 1950's musicals, you will love JUMBO
cougarblue-696-8061289 December 2018
Warning: Spoilers
From 1962 comes another circus picture, with its share of bad dudes, amazing costuming, and a disaster of two. This film seems to fit in with the musicals of the 40's and 50's, after the war America was euphoric to have our boys home but by the 1960's we began to see message musicals like West Side Story dealing with problems below the surface. You bought or viewed this film because you love musicals the story isn't important. There is the ner' do well Jimmy Durante who blows the circus revenues on crooked crap games causing Day to pull out the storms to keep the motley assembly together, with bill collectors in chase. Stephan Boyd is oddly the pick to be her love interest. He vocals aren't his but dubbed. It all works out in the end, lovers marry, scoundrels fess up and get second chances. But then again you didn't watch this film for the story.
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1962 at 12 years old
tlw-479499 October 2018
As a 12 year old in 1962, I loved this movies. I walked home humming the tunes and loving Doris Day. Those were the days you could spend the day in the movie theater for 50cents. Loved it.
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Colorful, Entertaining, Good Songs, Wonderful Cast
getreel-5473211 September 2017
Doris Day never ceases to amaze me. Wonderful actress with a great voice. And I LOVE Stephen Boyd. Was there ever a more handsome, sexy actor who could really act and had such a wide range?? And Martha Ray surprised me... I didn't know she could sing.

This is a feel-good film, a feast for the eyes, with wonderful songs, and great circus acts to boot. And there is actually a plot here too.

I would like to watch this film again, and recommend it to any fan of musicals, or anyone who loves the circus.
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Misguided....and BIG!
MartinHafer22 March 2016
While it's hard to imagine, spectacular Circus films are often some of the dullest pictures. I would say that about "The Greatest Show on Earth" (despite its Oscar) and "Circus World"...and I would certainly say that about "Billy Rose's Jumbo". Now I am not saying any of these films are bad, they aren't, but they are awfully colorful but empty...sort of like giant balls of cotton candy!

"Billy Rose's Jumbo" is about a circus that is constantly one step away from insolvency. Trying to keep it afloat are Kitty Wonder (Doris Day) and her father 'Pop' Wonder. In between running from creditors and solving little problems as they come up, Kitty also takes time for romance with a handsome rogue, Sam (Stephen Boyd). All of which is set to music...lots and lots of music. The music is actually one of the biggest problem with the picture as there are just too many songs and the plot takes a back seat to a lot of mostly pleasant but VERY forgettable songs. "The Most Beautiful Girl" is one's more timeless and enjoyable than most but still not enough. So what you end up with, apart from MANY songs is a giant confection of colors and pageantry...but not a whole lot else. It's not a bad film by any stretch but it's also rather tedious and forgettable as well. I say tedious because the film just never seems to know when to end...and ending it sooner would have made for a better film.

If you do want to see a circus film, you might do better with a comedy such as Chaplin's "The Circus", Martin & Lewis' "3 Ring Circus" or Joe E. Brown's "The Circus Clown". It seems that humor somehow works better than music and pageantry.
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2 hours of sheer pleasure
TheLittleSongbird18 October 2013
Billy Rose's Jumbo may have a few slow parts and Stephen Boyd's wooden performance as said already. The energy and colour as well as the songs and performances make up for that in a huge way though. The story may be silly and not the most focused, but it is very charming and warm-hearted as well that you don't care so much when the film makes a big and successful effort to entertain regardless. Throughout the film looks beautiful with lots of colour. The songs, especially The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, Over and Over Again and My Romance are wonderful, while the script is full of snappy lines("what elephant" is a classic and it is very easy to see why), the choreography has a lot of energy and charisma and the stunts although difficult are made to look easy, a tell-tale sign of the commitment and professionalism of those involved. For favourite scenes, the rousing opening and the hilarious scene where Jimmy Durante tries to hide the elephant are personal picks. Aside from Boyd the performances are very good. Doris Day shows a wisdom, warmth, sassy comic timing and an ability also to be dramatically heartfelt, and in terms of her singing she can't be faulted. My Romance is just sublime. Jimmy Durante is hilarious and has a lot of effortless charm, and Martha Raye matches him every step of the way. Jumbo steals all the scenes he appears in too. Billy Rose's Jumbo is solidly directed with a relatively light touch. In conclusion, a pleasure to watch and recommended for Rodgers/Hart and Doris Day fans. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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Doris Finds Adventure in the Big Top
JLRMovieReviews10 April 2009
Doris Day, Jimmy Durante, Martha Raye, and Great Songs. That's what makes this film so good. Other than that, this tale about life in the circus may seem predictable with a paper-thin plot. But, the stars boost it to a fun, non-stop rollick with elephants, high-wire acts, and clowns. There is also Stephen Boyd. But while he may seem fairly nice to look at, he doesn't quite have the star power to carry the viewer's interest his character should have, even if he really was singing "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" and didn't need to be dubbed. With Doris Day singing "Little Girl Blue" and "My Romance" as highlights, this pleasing musical should keep the viewer out of trouble for well over two hours and in the world of the greatest show on earth.
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Why not enjoy movies instead of knit-picking them!
joe-m-milner24 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I think we are all aware of the difficulty in making a movie that would please everyone. That is why you can watch a given movie or not watch it. Jumbo may not be the greatest movie ever made, but it does have a lot of bright and entertaining moments. And I will settle for a 38 year old Doris Day over many of todays stars. Movies are made to entertain. I never watch Citizen Kane or It's a Wonderful life. I do not like them and not for any particular reason. It must be sad to be a person that watches a movie to find it's mistakes. One of the few mistakes I noticed in a good movie was in Jesse James (1939). When Jesse climbs aboard the train he is wearing high leather boots. The next scene shows a silhouette running on top of the train with pants flapping and wearing sneakers. But I still enjoy Jesse James and the goof is an added hi lite. Loosen up all you would be critics. Could you do better?? Joe Milner. London Ontario Ca.
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Fair musical
HenryHextonEsq24 June 2000
"Billy Rose's Jumbo" was a late entry in the Musical genre. The music from Rodgers and Hart was generally excellent, but much of the rest of the film left a lot to be desired. Indeed the song, "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World" is sublime, but would you get the feeling it would befit a better movie. Most of the other songs aren't as memorable, but they are still above average. It was pretty enjoyable, but with a certain lack of depth or character. Jimmy Durante and Martha Raye though, are very good in comic roles, especially the veteran Durante. There are good comic parts in the film, but sadly not enough. Stephen Boyd was reasonable as was Doris Day, but she was miscast it seems, as she was nearing forty. Her portrayal just didn't ring true. As a warm, lightweight entertainment it works, but has little more to offer. Rating:- *** (out of *****)
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The Greatest Show on Earth set to Music
weezeralfalfa4 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
It's unfortunate that this circus musical comedy tends to live in the shadow of Cecil DeMille's non-musical "The Greatest Show on Earth", made nearly a decade earlier. I find the present film more enjoyable, with its intertwining of music, comedy, drama and romance. It certainly didn't lack star power. Doris Day may have been nearing 40, but could have passed for 25 and was perfect for the lead role. Of course, Jimmy Durante and Martha Raye were veteran entertainers of the vaudeville style. Perhaps, as some reviewers have suggested, their comedic talents were underutilized. Jumbo is self-explanatory. The casting of Stephen Boyd as the male lead is more questionable. He was a good looking hunk, but no singer and had no special charisma to match that of Doris. Perhaps we would have to look to Elvis or Robert Goulet for an ideal male singer on a par with Doris at this time. On the other hand, Boyd did come across as a believable lead circus performer. His singing and acting were sometimes understated, but I didn't find this annoying in most scenes. James Joyce, as Boyd's dubber, did a fine job with the introductory tune in the first scene, a perfect number for Robert Goulet. The preceding overture should have been deleted, as it was not memorable and was overlong.

In the romance department, we have an implied double wedding in the finale, one the culmination of a stale 14 year engagement between Durante and Martha, the other a whirlwind affair between Doris and Boyd. Prior to this, Boyd found himself in the increasingly uncomfortable position of being a spy for his father, who plans to take over this circus, yet is falling in love with Doris, who is the owner's daughter. Meanwhile, Doris is trying to hold off multiple creditors, due to the irresponsible gambling of Durante. Boyd helps her satisfy the creditors for a while by giving her loaded dice to win big in a crap shoot.

The score consists of a variety of moderately memorable Rogers and Hart songs from the original 1935 play or other sources. This was the final film choreographed by the famous Busby Berkeley, after having been virtually inactive since the early '50s. Doris's first number is the fun "Over and Over Again". After she begins to strike up a romance with Boyd, she sings the upbeat "This Can't be Love" and "My Romance". After the announcement that their circus had been taken over by Boyd's father, she sings the somber haunting "Little Girl Blue". Both Boyd and later Durante sing "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" to their respective sweethearts. Of the several choreographed circus routines, the multiple flying butterflies was perhaps the most striking spectacle. Unfortunately, it was cut short by the failure of the tent roof in a violent rain storm.

After Boyd joins the other stars with their traveling medicine show, things turn fanciful, as we see them again inside a big circus tent, eventually dawning clown suits. The guy's boxing match is dull, but the girl's routine is more comical. The fanciful finale follows.
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Doris Day's musical curtain call.
gregcouture22 April 2003
Turner Classic Movies showed this recently, letterboxed, as it deserves to be seen, and, hosanna!, sans endless commercial interruptions. As Doris Day's final foray as a singing star of the cinema, I find it somewhat of a disappointment, as I did when I saw it during its first-run release. Charles Walters was never a very visually inventive director and the backlot origins of most of the outdoor settings are painfully apparent. Busby Berkeley, who usually fills the screen with frenetic (if not frantic) activity, seems to have been told, "No, we can't afford any more extras, dancers and singers to make your sequences look like this is a big-budget A-list movie!" So, in my estimation, the finale, with most of the songs reprised, seems underpopulated and doesn't rise to a thrilling crescendo. One highpoint for me, though, was Doris's tender rendition of "My Romance." When it comes to properly singing such a lovely old standard, she gives it her best, and that puts Celine Dion and others of today's belters and screechers in the proverbial shade. Other comments herein seem to say that Stephen Boyd did his own singing. At least some of his songs sound dubbed to my ears, though I might be mistaken.
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Well crafted romantic-comedy. Impressive.
chamanwayne7 October 2012
This is a great piece of professional entertainment.

A good romantic-comedy story well told and well-acted. Wonderful cast,all at their very best and well directed. Martha Raye and Jimmy Durante amaze with physical comedy and warmth. In fact, the strong personal warmth of all the actors shines through in their performances creating a believable truth in a script, while, though good for its genre and time,could be a pitfall for actors bent on delivering truthful performances. Masterful, professional and touching. Steven Boyd and Doris Day impress with truth of emotion and give each other the strength of their specialties; Boyd with his digging for truth in a character and a deep connection to his fellow actors and Day with her dazzling professionalism and respect for the musical comedy genre. Impressive work. The generous budget allows creative designers and musicians to bloom with joyful creativity. Countless surprises for the eye and ear. The clown sequence finale for the 4 leads is priceless! Enjoy. I sure did!
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