Billy Rose's Jumbo
|Billy Rose's Jumbo|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Charles Walters|
|Produced by||Martin Melcher
|Written by||Ben Hecht
|Music by||Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart|
|Cinematography||William H. Daniels|
|Edited by||Richard W. Farrell|
|December 6, 1962|
|Box office||$ 4 million|
Billy Rose's Jumbo is a 1962 American musical film produced by MGM and starring Jimmy Durante, Doris Day, Martha Raye, and Stephen Boyd. An adaptation of the stage musical Jumbo produced by by Billy Rose, the film was directed by Charles Walters, written by Sidney Sheldon, and featured Busby Berkeley's choreography. It was nominated for an Academy Award for the adaptation of its Rodgers and Hart score.
The Broadway show Jumbo opened on November 16, 1935, and was the last musical produced at the New York Hippodrome before it was torn down in 1939. Original producer Billy Rose stipulated that if a film version was ever made, he must be credited in the title, even if he were not personally involved. Both play and film feature songs by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, although the film borrows two songs from Rodgers and Hart shows other than Jumbo (including "This Can't Be Love", from "The Boys from Syracuse"). Despite featuring such Rodgers and Hart standards as "My Romance" and "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World", neither the original play nor the film was especially successful. The film was Doris Day's last screen musical.
Stephen Boyd's singing voice was dubbed by James Joyce. On April 2, 2007, Robert Osborne of TCM, introducing the MGM film Fearless Fagan (1952) directed by Stanley Donen, said that Donen was due to direct Jumbo right after Singin' in the Rain in 1952. However, MGM decided the script was not ready, so Jumbo was not filmed until 1962 with a different director and stars. Both play and film feature Durante leading a live elephant and being stopped by a police officer, who asks him, "What are you doing with that elephant?" Durante's reply, "What elephant?", was a show-stopper in 1935. This comedy bit was reprised in his role in Billy Rose's Jumbo and is likely to have contributed to the popularity of the idiom, the "elephant in the room".
The Wonder Circus comes to a town in the Midwest with its featured attraction, Jumbo the elephant. Pop Wonder owns the circus, but his continued gambling losses in crap games leaves him (and the circus) with an ever-growing number of IOUs.
His daughter, Kitty Wonder, hires a newcomer, Sam Rawlins, as both a performer and tent hand. She is unaware that Sam is the son of circus mogul John Noble, whose ambition is to buy the Wonder Circus for himself. Noble has been quietly buying up the IOUs with Sam's help and abruptly takes control of the family's business, leaving the Wonders without a show.
Kitty, Pop and his longtime fiancee Lulu go off on their own, forming a traveling carnival, but it isn't quite the same. Sam, however, has fallen in love with Kitty and has a guilty conscience about what he has done. Sam splits from his father and rejoins the Wonders, bringing with him an old friend of theirs, Jumbo.
- Doris Day as Kitty Wonder
- Stephen Boyd as Sam Rawlins
- Jimmy Durante as 'Pop' Wonder
- Martha Raye as Lulu
- Dean Jagger as John Noble
- Joseph Waring as Harry
- Lynn Wood as Tina
- Charles Watts as Ellis
- James Chandler as Parsons
- Robert Burton as Madison
- Wilson Wood as Hank
- Norman Leavitt as Eddie
- Grady Sutton as Driver
MGM bought the rights to the musical soon after it reached the stage. In 1947 Charles Waters requested he make the film of the musical as his first assignment; the studio agreed but production was held up due to litigation. Years later MGM made the movie.
According to MGM accounts, the film earned $2.5 million in the US and Canada and $1.5 million overseas, but because of its high cost recorded a loss of $3,956,000. It was the last film producer Joe Pasternak made at MGM.
Billy Rose's Jumbo was released to DVD in a Region 1 DVD by Warner Bros. on April 26th 2005, and also as part of Volumes 1 and 2 of The Doris Day Collection on April 10th, 2007.
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- Conquest of Mars Told by Bradbury: MGM Will Picturize Novel; Walters Explains 'Jumbo' Yen Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 15 Feb 1960: C9.