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P.T. Barnum (1999)

The story of the great American showman and promoter.

Director:

Simon Wincer

Writer:

Lionel Chetwynd
Reviews
Nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Beau Bridges ... P.T. Barnum
Jordan Bridges ... Young P.T. Barnum
Cynthia Dale ... Charity
Natalie Radford Natalie Radford ... Young Charity
George Hamilton ... Francis Olmsted
Henry Czerny ... Greenwood
Charles Martin Smith ... Beach
Josh Ryan Evans ... (General) Tom Thumb
R.H. Thomson ... James Anthony Bailey
Art Kitching ... Samuel Hurd
Stephanie Morgenstern ... Nancy (Fish)
Serge Houde ... John Genin
Isabelle Cyr ... Caroline (Barnum)
Bruce Dinsmore ... David Thompson
Victoria Sanchez ... Helen (Barnum)
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Storyline

This series illustrates the life and career of P.T. Barnum, America's greatest showman and promoter. Starting as a young man who managed an old woman who was supposedly George Washington's nursemaid, we see his career as he finds success promoting curiosities and attractions with panache and a judicious mix of truth and creativity, whether it be promoting his museum or characters like the midget General Tom Thumb. Yet because the demands of his businesses, his family life is troubled and marred by tragedy. All the while, events lead to his greatest creation, the Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

TV-PG
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Details

Country:

Canada | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 September 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Barnum Cirkusz See more »

Filming Locations:

Brockville, Ontario, Canada See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Goofs

This movie shows P.T. Barnum naming Jumbo. In fact, when Barnum bought Jumbo that was already his name. Keepers at the London Zoo (Jumbo's owners before Barnum) named him Jumbo, a derivation of an African word for elephant. The publicity Barnum brought to Jumbo eventually coined the word "jumbo" as meaning large. See more »

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User Reviews

 
History and Drama Brought to Life!
20 December 2006 | by mlebarondethenardSee all my reviews

I knew nothing about P.T. Barnum before this movie. Since I have seen it on A&E I have since bought the VHS and later the DVD of the show. I loved it! Since my first viewing I have read up on my Barnum history and found only the smallest details changed, more to enhance the drama then an attempt to re-write history. The history of the man is fascinating and seeing how the great showman juggled his family and his career was expertly done! Most all of the Barnum historians agree that his wife Charity was someone of great importance to Barnum despite his touring with one act or another. This film does credit to the connection between husband and wife. Further more we get to see how the Civil War impacted everyone's lives and showcased the struggles families felt between the north and the south. The language of the script is excellent and the speeches given to Barnum are the stuff actors dream of getting. Seeing Barnum describe his dreams of touring with Joyce Heth shows not only his style and panache in the art of the humbug but also gave a wonder in being able to believe things that we know can not be true! Beau Bridges does a tour-de-force job with Barnum. Bridges has the huckster style down perfect and shows just how charismatic the real man must have been to pull off all his dreams and schemes. There is not one weak spot in the cast and it was a masterful stroke to have Beau's son, Jordan, play the young PT. The transformation between actors is enjoyable and believable! Others have pointed out the lack of time the sideshow people receive in this film. The movie is about the life of P T Barnum, not Cheng and Eng or the Bearded Lady. To tell their stories would take a movie all their own. Also the site has listed as goofs the fact Barnum never said "there's a sucker born every minute." That is very true but not a goof. What is a goof is the fact that phrase is never once mentioned in the film so while this fact might fit in trivia it is not a goof in the film. The script is faithful to Barnum's life, brings humanity to the man, and draws on first person source material in the form of Barnum's own biographies! This is a first as almost every other film/musical version goes off in totally random directions and ignores what is right in front of them. Why other writes feel the need to add made up facts when the real ones are more then interesting is beyond me. I take my top hat off to the screen writer and thank him for an excellent piece on the man who often hid behind his own myth, Phineas Taylor Barnum!


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