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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

On TV

Airs Tue. Jul. 23, 3:30 PM on TCM

ON DISC
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:

Hear the New Song Hit! "THE BIG CIRCUS" 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

While Red Buttons flirts around the shooting range, a small boy in a checked shirt behind him disappears and reappears between shots. See more »

Connections

Referenced in What's My Line?: Ruby Goldstein & Red Buttons (1959) See more »

Soundtracks

Nearer To Heaven
Music by Sammy Fain, Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter, Lyrics by Paul Francis Webster
Performed by Gus Levene Orchestra And Chorus
Sung by Rhonda Fleming
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Hindered by budget, but a worthy attempt
16 November 2009 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

The Big Circus I found a decent movie. It is a worthy attempt, but it isn't quite the masterpiece it yearned to be. No matter how many flaws there are, it is an entertaining and undervalued movie. While it is hindered by the fact that it is rather low budget, so the sets and technical aspects(ie. sound) weren't as up to scratch as they could have been, however, the costumes and photography are very nice and extraordinarily colourful. The plot, like a whodunit at a circus, while slow to start with, is clever and reaches to a tense ending where I admit I was surprised at the identity of the culprit. The trapeze scenes were very well choreographed, and the highlight was the tightrope walking scene with Zach, I really felt the desperation and anguish in his face. The music is wonderful too,the script is acceptable and the performances are above decent. Victor Mature, who I think can act, is a little world-weary and is disappointingly one note at times but wonderfully over the top in other parts of the film. Rhonda Fleming is lovely as the female lead. However they are both overshadowed by a brilliant supporting cast including Red Buttons, Gilbert Roland, Kathryn Grant, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. All in all, not a masterpiece, but I do think despite its flaws that the Big Circus is undervalued. 8/10 Bethany Cox


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