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Rain or Shine (1930)

Passed | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 15 August 1930 (USA)
Woman inherits a traveling circus which brings financial difficulties.


Frank Capra (as Frank R. Capra)


Jo Swerling (dialogue and continuity), Dorothy Howell (dialogue and continuity) | 2 more credits »


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Complete credited cast:
Joe Cook ... Smiley Johnson
Louise Fazenda ... Frankie
Joan Peers ... Mary Rainey
William Collier Jr. ... Bud Conway
Tom Howard Tom Howard ... Amos K. Shrewsberry
Dave Chasen Dave Chasen ... Dave (as Dave Chason)
Alan Roscoe ... Dalton - the Ringmaster
Adolph Milar Adolph Milar ... Foltz - the Lion Tamer
Clarence Muse ... Nero
Nella Walker ... Mrs. Conway
Edward Martindel ... Mr. Conway (as Edward Martindale)
Nora Lane ... Grace Conway
Tyrell Davis ... Lord Hugo Gwynne (as Tyrrell Davis)


After her father's death, Mary Rainey takes over the Rainey Circus (which operates twice daily, rain or shine) but runs into financial troubles. In one bit reminiscent of the Marx Brothers, the circus performers are up to some ridiculous antics at a dinner party with the family of Bud Conway, Mary's beau. As times become worse and the performers go on strike, Mary must try to save the circus from rioting patrons. Written by Paul Donahue

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


So Packed With Comedy That There Was No Room for Theme Songs, Dances, Revue Numbers and Other "Boopa Doop" Monkeyshines! (Print Ad- Albany Evening News, ((Albany NY)) 16 August 1930) See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance








Release Date:

15 August 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Luci del circo See more »

Filming Locations:

Burbank, California, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The circus tent was set up in Burbank California, on the ranch of former heavyweight boxing champion James J. Jeffries, who also appeared as an extra. See more »


Smiley Johnson: See, you eat too fast. Don't chew your food, masticate your food.
See more »

Alternate Versions

When this film was produced, not all theaters had converted to the "sound on film" system. Also, some of the dialogue was too lengthy to include on inter-titles or referenced things unfamiliar to foreign audiences. To address these issues, Columbia and other studios filmed foreign and domestic versions simultaneously with the same cast. (They would soon switch to filming separate versions, utilizing the same sets but different casts as was the case with the Spanish version of Universal's "Dracula.") The 68 minute "silent" international version is included on the Turner "Frank Capra: the Early Collection" set. (Some spoken dialogue remains without any title cards, mainly in the climatic fire sequence.) Most of the banter is eliminated but additional tricks and stunts have been added. Although both versions were directed by Capra (usually there were separate crews), the international version has additional scenes fleshing out the Ringmaster's machinations. It also features an alternate ending to the domestic version. See more »


Day at the Fair
Music by M.L. Lake
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User Reviews

Joe Cook is hilarious!

In the 1930s, Joe Cook was one of the biggest stars on Broadway, headlining in several hit musical comedies. He co-starred with Ethel Merman in the Broadway show "Fine and Dandy", getting billing equal to Merman's. Joe Cook's talents were amazing: he was a juggler, an acrobat, a song-and-dance man and a comedian who did weird monologues while wiggling his thumbs. Tragically, he succumbed to Parkinson's disease after making only two feature films and a few shorts. "Rain or Shine" is the film version of one of his Broadway musical hits, with all the songs left out ... and it's the best surviving evidence of Cook's astonishing talents. "Rain or Shine" is also an excellent example of Frank Capra's early directorial skill.

In this movie, Cook plays the utility man in the Rainey Circus, which gives performances "Rain or Shine" ... except that it's always raining. When most of the circus performers can't go on, Cook becomes virtually a one-man circus, with just a couple of helpers for his acrobatic routines. Joe Cook's chief stooge in this film (and on Broadway) was Dave Chasen, a Harpo-ish comedian who later became famous as the founder of Chasen's Restaurant in Los Angeles. Chasen's schtick was a distinctive hand-waving gesture which many comedians today are still copying.

Joe Cook is brilliant in this film. In one scene, he does an astonishing juggling trick with a cigar and a kitchen match that will make you want to rewind several times so you can watch it again ... and again, and again! It looks so simple, yet Cook must have spent hundreds of hours practising this one trick.

"Rain or Shine" has a lot of broad slapstick humour, most of it hilarious. One scene at a dinner party doesn't work, involving a huge pile of spaghetti. We can clearly see that the "spaghetti" is really twine, which kills the joke. Unfunny comedian Tom Howard plays a grouch named A.K. Shrewsbury, and there's an obscure joke about what an "A.K." he is. (A.K. = "alter kocker", a Yiddish insult.)

Among the circus acts in this movie is Ethel Greer, a fat lady who weighed well over 25 stone. I was astonished by the scene in which this huge woman falls out of her circus caravan into a rain puddle. Ethel Greer actually did this stunt herself, because no stuntwoman was large enough to double for her. Kenneth Anger's book "Hollywood Babylon 2" contains a photograph of an immensely fat woman whom Anger unkindly claims is Elizabeth Taylor. She's not, you know: she's Ethel Greer, and the photo in Anger's book is a scene from "Rain or Shine". Also in this movie is a snake charmer, played by silent-film comedienne Louise Fazenda in a rare sound-film appearance. (Fazenda married producer Hal Wallis and retired.)

Some bad news: the dignified African-American actor Clarence Muse appears in this film, playing one of the "Yassah, boss" roles that Frank Capra kept lumbering him with. In Capra's autobiography, he refers to Muse as his "pet actor". No comment. SPOILER WARNING: At this film's climax, the circus tent catches fire. There's an exciting sequence as Cook and all the circus hands try to put out the flames. Ironically, the only time it STOPS raining on the circus in "Rain or Shine" is when the tent is on fire and the rain would have done some good. As soon as the fire is out, the rain starts pouring down again. "Rain or Shine" is must-see viewing! My rating: 10 out of 10, since Joe Cook's brilliant talents more than compensate for any of this film's flaws.

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