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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
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 »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

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

This is actually Irwin Allen's second time working with Vincent Price and Peter Lorre, both of whom played in the 1957 movie The Story of Mankind. See more »

Goofs

In the climactic trapeze act near the end, Zach and Jeannie are repeatedly shown standing on the opposite side of the stationary platform in long shots from where they're standing in close-ups. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Rubberface (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

The Big Circus
Music by Sammy Fain, Lyrics by Paul Francis Webster
Performed by Gus Levene Orchestra And Chorus
Sung by Rhonda Fleming
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Big-Top melodrama that's rich with easy on the eye formula.
7 April 2011 | by hitchcockthelegendSee all my reviews

The Big Circus is directed by Joseph M. Newman and jointly written by Irwin Allen (who also produces) and Charles Bennett. It stars Victor Mature, Red Buttons, Rhonda Fleming, Kathryn Grant, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. Plot sees Mature as Hank Whirling, the owner of The Whirling Circus, where, having seen his partner break away to form his own show, he finds he has to beg a loan off the bank to keep the Whirling show going. The bank agree to the loan but on condition that their financial whizz Randolph Sherman (Buttons) travels along with the show to keep an eye on the finances. He in turn hires publicity agent Helen Harrison (Fleming) to professionally sell the product, but both of them are not wanted by Whirling. However, there are more pressing concerns for the show, there is a saboteur at large and it seems whoever it is will stop at nothing to finish off the Circus.

Looking for a Sunday afternoon time filler full of colour, vibrancy and delightful circus sequences? Then look no further than Irwin Allen's The Big Circus, an entertaining and tidy picture that seems to have been forgotten in the wake (fall out) of The Greatest Show On Earth. Making no bones about it, Allen follows the formula of the Cecil B. DeMille behemoth pretty much all the way, only the budget is considerably smaller so it obviously isn't as gargantuan as the 1952 Best Picture Winner. Fair to say there's some overacting, notably from Mature, but the mystery element is played close to the chest, with pretty much everyone under suspicion, and the high wire/trapeze antics are joyous. Nice cast, nice film and easy to recommend to the undemanding crowd. 6.5/10


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