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Polly of the Circus (1917)

When circus aerialist Polly Fisher is injured, she is taken to the nearby home of minister John Hartley. The two fall in love and marry secretly. But when the news leaks out, the minister ... See full summary »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Mae Marsh ... Polly
Vernon Steele ... John Douglas the Minister
Harry La Pearl ... Toby the Clown
Wellington A. Playter Wellington A. Playter ... Big Jim, Boss Canvasman
George S. Trimble ... Barker and Owner of the Show
Lucille La Verne ... Mandy
Dick Lee ... Hasty, Her Lesser Half
Charles Riegel ... Deacon Strong
Lucille Southerwaite Lucille Southerwaite ... The Deacon's Daughter (as Lucille Satterthwaite)
Jack B. Hollis Jack B. Hollis ... Deacon Elverson
Helen Sallinger Helen Sallinger ... Mrs. Elverson
Isabel Vernon Isabel Vernon ... Sallie
Viola Compton Viola Compton ... Jane, the Widow
John Carr John Carr ... Jim
Stephen Carr ... John


When circus aerialist Polly Fisher is injured, she is taken to the nearby home of minister John Hartley. The two fall in love and marry secretly. But when the news leaks out, the minister loses his pastorate over disdain by the parishioners for Polly's background as a performer. Polly must decide whether to stay with the man she loves or leave him for the good of his calling. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

circus | horse | based on play | See All (3) »









Release Date:

9 September 1917 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Polly fra Cirkus Barnum See more »

Filming Locations:

Englewood, New Jersey, USA See more »


Box Office


$250,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This Goldwyn Pictures Corporation film was the first to feature as its logo Leo the Lion's roar, which would later pass to MGM when Goldwyn merged with two other companies. The logo was designed by Howard Dietz. See more »


Version of Polly of the Circus (1932) See more »

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User Reviews

Charming Mae Marsh
31 May 2013 | by drednmSee all my reviews

Mae Marsh stars as Polly, a traveling circus performer raised by Toby the Clown (Harry La Pearl) after her mother Nanette (Lilian Ward) takes a dive off the high wire. Polly is injured (in the same town)and taken into the home of the handsome minister (Vernon Steele) to recuperate, against the wishes of narrow-minded old deacon (Charles Riegel) and his jealous daughter (Lucille Southerwaite).

The townspeople can't stand the idea of a circus girl in the minister's house, where's she tended by servants (Lucille La Verne and Richard Lee in blackface). But the minister is stalwart and Polly gets revenge by winning the big $500 dollar horse race on her white horse Bingo.

Marsh is very charming and nicely photographed at the height of her stardom. Steele is quite good as the minister. La Pearl is interesting (and only 33 years old) as the old clown. Also good is Wellington Playter as the circus boss.

Standout scenes include the big horse race (at a race track bigger than the muddy little town) and a funny scene in which the singing church ladies try to drown out the circus jazz band.

As noted, there is a Mark Twain kind of nostalgia thing about boys running away to join the circus and even in 1917, a nostalgia about traveling circuses.

Lilian Ward as Nanette (Polly's mother) is oddly missing from the credits on IMDb and on the DVD packaging.

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