The Big Circus

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The Big Circus
Poster of the movie The Big Circus.jpg
Directed by Joseph M. Newman
Produced by Irwin Allen
Screenplay by Irwin Allen
Charles Bennett
Irving Wallace
Story by Irwin Allen
Starring Victor Mature
Red Buttons
Rhonda Fleming
Music by Paul Sawtell
Bert Shefter
Cinematography Winton Hoch
Edited by Adrienne Fazan
Distributed by Allied Artists Pictures
Release date(s)
  • July 5, 1959 (1959-07-05)
Running time 108–109 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2.7 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)[1]

The Big Circus is a 1959 film starring Victor Mature as a circus owner struggling with financial trouble and a murderous unknown saboteur.


Hank Whirling needs a bank's help to keep his Whirling Circus going. He gets a loan on the condition he take along accountant Randy Sherman and publicist Helen Harrison to help the circus turn a profit.

Hank's top act is the Colino trapeze troupe, featuring family patriarch Zach and newcomer Tommy Gordon. Unknown to Hank, his little sister Jeannie has held a lifelong ambition to fly on the trapeze.

An unknown saboteur sets a lion loose, terrifying an audience until Hank manages to tame it. Helen accuses him of staging the incident for publicity. She and Randy are infuriated by Hank's refusal to accept their help. Randy's attempt to save money by firing workers and replacing them with a machine that raises the big-top tent is also sabotaged, leading to a death and many suspicions and accusations.

With the bank about to foreclose, Hank goes to television star Steve Allen to seek needed publicity for the circus. A wire walk across Niagara Falls by Zach is also held, amidst fear of additional sabotage. By the time Jeannie finally gets a shot at flying on the trapeze, Hank realizes that Tommy is the culprit, having a history of mental illness and a grudge against the circus. Jeannie's life and the future of the circus is left hanging by a thread.



Famed circus performer Barbette served on the film as a consultant.[2]


  1. ^ "1959: Probable Domestic Take", Variety, 6 January 1960 p 34
  2. ^ "'Big Circus' Coming to Airport Drive-In". The Paris (Texas) News. 1959-11-22. 

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