The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Circus in the Cinema



First Wed of Every Month     Before the show begins I want to remind you that today is also Insecure Writers Support Group hosted by A to Z co-host Alex J. Cavanaugh.  I'm not feeling too insecure this month due to the great success of the 2013 A to Z Challenge.  I guess my biggest insecurity is that I won't finish all of my April posts for all of my blogs, but so far so good.   For more #IWSG action click here.


Circus in the Cinema

Circus World (film)
Circus World (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


 The films that I'll be listing in my April postings will not necessarily be films that I'd call my favorite films, but they will be favorites in the genres I'll be naming.   The A to Z genres are very specific micro genres as opposed to the broader genres like action, romance, or comedy.

Movies about the Circus:


       Something you don't see on film as much as you used to are circus movies.  Prior to the late 1960's the circus was a common setting for many films.  Audiences of those times were still flocking to traveling tent shows and the lifestyle was romanticized in many ways.  The idea of running away with the circus was a fantasy shared by many a dreamer of those times.

         After all, circus was a true American expression of entertainment.  P.T. Barnum brought the circus to life in a big way in the 1800's.  Soon tent shows were traveling across the North American continent and the art form was very popular in Europe as well.

          Circus was glitz, glamour, and excitement.   Exotic animals and unique thrills from an array of performers wowed audiences.  The visual nature of the circus made it a natural setting for film.  Since the circus was a traveling community it was a microcosm of the world with stories that everyone could relate to.

          Since my family was a part time show biz family, we had a love for circus and the movies that depicted circus life.   My father would take us to every circus movie that came to the theaters.  I still have a love for circus movies, but since few are made these days my favorites go back into the past.

Circus World (1964) --Interesting turn with John Wayne as the owner of a early 20th century circus.  The film has many of the typical circus movie cliches such as the big tent fire, but there are a few interesting turns such as the Wild West Show, the American circus touring Europe, and a pretty cool shipwreck sequence.

The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) --Nominated for several Oscars, this film won Best Picture at the 1953 Academy Awards ceremony.  Big stars, big cast, big story--a fitting tribute to a big circus.

Circus of Horrors (1960) -- One of the best of many horror and crime films with the circus as an integral part of the story.

The Clowns (1970) --One of my favorite directors takes on one of my favorite genres.  What else need I say?  It's weird, weird, weird.  But it's also very good with a unique and interesting message.

        There are many, many more--far too many for me to include here.

         What circus movies would you include?  Which of these have you seen?   Do you like going to the circus? 




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73 comments:

  1. 2.00 a.m.??? Did you schedule to post at this time, or were you actually up at this time? Just gone 11.15 a.m. here in South Africa.
    Great post thank you ...
    Wilkie's and Boswell's circus are the ones that I remember from my childhood ...

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  2. It's pretty interesting to see that all of the notable examples you have here were before the 1980s perhaps showing that the concept of circus films has became an outdated one. Great post Lee.

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  3. Didn't know all of these. I would also nominate Dumbo as a good circus movie. Water for Elephants is a recent one and The Night Circus is a pretty successful book so that might get adapted.

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  4. My son would be very upset to see that Madagascar 3 isn't featured here :) Its out of context, but there is this great Indian movie featuring Raj Kapoor called "Mera Naam Joker" about the life of a boy who joins the circus and his love failures. It has a cult song called "Jeena Yahaan Marna Yahaan" talking about living and dying in the circus, and being a clown and clownign about, even when your heart is breaking. The show must go on.

    My own post this time was going to be about a circus I saw in the US! But now, its moved to the state of CA!

    Cheers
    Meera

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  5. I would have to say Water for Elephants.

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  6. I'm sure you'll finish all of your posts.
    The only other circus film I can think of is even older than those you listed - Freaks.
    I have seen Ringling Brothers.
    And I must compliment you on the add on your blog today - it's for Alice in Chains!!

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  7. I remember seeing a film called Trapeze with Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster, when I was young.
    I'm sure all will be well for the A to Z.
    Yvonne.

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  8. Water for Elephants is a recent circus movie that I enjoyed and an even better book.
    I am loving the A to Z challenge.

    Came by from Tales of the Reborn Crafter

    http://talesofthereborncrafter.blogspot.com/

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  9. Circus films have always kind of freaked me out. I think it's the clowns. Nothing good ever comes from having clowns around in the movies, I've found.

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  10. I haven't seen any of these but I do like Water for Elephant -- it's circus-y.
    Dani @ Entertaining Interests
    #warriorminion

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  11. What comes to mind is an episode of Criminal Minds or the likes, where a murder took place at a circus. I also think of Pinocchio.

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  12. Dont kno any of these but would love to watch !
    I only know an Indian movie Mera naam joker :)
    Thanks Arlee bird for this cool A to Z challenge

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  13. I'm terrible with titles but I can think of several black and white movies where the circus was set in the backround.

    Glad it's going well and we all have confidence you will finish you Zsss with panache

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  14. Madagascar III!! Afro circus, afro circus, polka dot, polka dot, polka dot...

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  15. My dad worked for the circus in Sarasota part time. Great post!

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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  16. I love the circus, probably because my life is one.

    A recent movie about the circus is 'Water for Elephants' a mediocre movie from a very good book.

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  17. Can't think of any circus movies that I have seen. Don't care much for the circus. Now, Rodeos, that is a horse of a different color. Always love a good rodeo, but a circus?

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  18. good post.. I find circuses very weird places indeed..

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  19. I've never seen a circus movie but I have been to the circus (many years ago). I don't care for them much any more because I don't like to see animals used for entertainment in that fashion but the high wire act can be amazing and heart stopping. I remember closing my eyes, afraid someone would fall.

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  20. You SHOULD feel happy about the success of the A-Z. Congrats.

    I'm worried too about finishing my posts. I've run out of ideas.

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  21. Thanks for the comments so far and the movie recommendations.

    I knew some of you would come up with Water for Elephants. Since I haven't seen it yet I have no opinion, but I've heard bad reviews about it.

    I'm not sure where so much aversion to the circus comes from, but I guess it has a lot to do with changing tastes in entertainment preferences and that spectacle in film, TV, and other entertainment forms outdoes what the circus has to offer.

    The traditional circus has become someone of an artifact of history and replaced by the modern versions like Cirque d' Soleil.

    Lee

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  22. I haven't seen the Greatest Show on Earth in years, but I remember loving it. I guess maybe Water for Elephants would be a modern day circus story. I read the book, but didn't see the film so I don't know how it rates as far as movies go. The book was fabulous.

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  23. I love the circus! Great picks~
    Yes, most recent for me was
    Water for Elephants :D

    I'm craving popcorn now! lol

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  24. Hi Lee, Interesting that your family was in show biz. I love the circus too and appreciate your list of movies. I think I will skip the horror selection, but the others look like I might just have to check them out. Thanks. God bless, Maria at Delight Directed Living

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  25. Something Wicked This Way Comes... is still to this day one of my favorite Disney films.. one other is Bronco Billy... though I think they are my sideshow than circus?

    great post... always have a special place for "The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)"

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  26. The Circus! I really love that one. It's funny and it's in black and white. :)

    It's really good to be a part of A-Z Challenge. It's my first time to join and so far so good. It's nice to meet a lot people and I'm really thankful to you Mr. Arlee!


    Sincerely,Miss Uncertain---sidetracked

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  27. BOIDMAN ~
    I've seen a few circus-themed movies - not many. 'The Greatest Show On Earth' I started once but couldn't get through the entire thing. Knowing how much you like "weird" movies I'm a little surprised you didn't mention 'Freaks'. I actually got to the end of that (weird) one.

    My Number One choice (if you count animation) is Disney's 'DUMBO'. Love that movie, love the message. That's the one circus movie I own on DVD.



    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  28. StMc -- I did consider Freaks but decided to go with circus films with more glitz and glamour of the big top. That's why I stuck with color films as well. I didn't go with La Strada by Fellini because the circus was too small and the film was B&W.

    Didn't even think of animated films! But I guess I was thinking like my father and considering films that might have had a juggler in them.

    Thank you all for you comments.

    Lee

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  29. Hi Lee,
    Thanks for investing your time to bringing people together. I'm enjoying my AtoZ experience immensely.
    Great post. A lot of thought gone into it. Thanks again.

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  30. I love your choice for C, and how you linked it to movies rather than just talking about the circus.

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  31. It seems that movies about circuses are out of fashion these days. I don't even hear about circuses anymore, except for the cirque du soleil.

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  32. Mr. Arakadin is one of my favorite movies, and it features a flea circus. That counts, right? The music to The Stunt Man makes me think of circuses, although it's not exactly a circus movie.

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  33. I"m sure this has been said already, but I really liked Water for Elephants and yes, Pee Wee's big Adventure!!

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  34. Hi, Arlee! I haven't been to the circus since I was a kid. I can't think of any circus movies, but books featuring circuses that I like are Water for Elephants (which was an okay movie adaptation) and The Night Circus.

    Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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  35. Great post, Arlee! I've always loved the circus. One of my favourite movies is Water for Elephants

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  36. Given my dinosaur taste in film, I'd add Charlie Chaplin's The Circus (1928) and the Lon Chaney, Sr. films He Who Gets Slapped (1924) and Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928).

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  37. I am sure that you will finish your posts:)

    I realize that the only circus movie that I can think of that was made recently I haven't even seen: Water For Elephants. So there. I am no help with circus movies.

    And I haven't been to the circus since I was a child. I only vaguely recall the experience.

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  38. Water for Elephants (a popular choice) came to mind and actually breaks the rules by being even better than the book!

    By the way, I'm crazy about your theme. I may steal it next year. ;)

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  39. Jimmy Stewart is the only clown I like, as clowns are creepy to me. But I love circus movies. Is "Jumbo" with Doris Day a circus movie?

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  40. I think that Jumbo was my favourite circus movie. Love the A to Z Challenge. It's going to be an interesting month of blogging for us all!

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  41. I was going to mention The Greatest Show on Earth, I remember seeing it many years ago. I was also thrilled with the movie Trapeze in 1956 with Tony Curtis who was my heartthrob at the time.

    JO ON FOOD, MY TRAVELS AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE

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  42. The Greatest Show on Earth! I'm fairly sure I would have watched it on TV sometime around 1960 after being to my once a yearly visit to the Circus at Christmas time. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, visiting the Circus and Sideshows in an indoor arena at Christmas time was a treat for many of 'us' city kids back then.
    Thanks for the blog hop! :-)(BTW I am still living in Scotland - no 762)

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  43. My kids have never been to a circus, which I think is unfortunate. The circus still came to town when I was a kid, but, by the time I was in high school, it was a thing of the past.

    How's that juggling coming along, by the way?

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  44. Water for Elephants is a pretty good circus movie. The Greatest Show on Earth though, is still tops - so many stars in it!

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  45. I enjoyed both the book and the movie adaptation of Water for Elephants. I just got the book The Night Circus and can hardly wait to dive into it!

    Happy day 3 of the A to Z challenge to ya!

    ~Tui Snider
    @mentalmosaic
    www.mentalmosaic.com/blog

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  46. Like most of the commenters, the last book/movie for me was Water for Elephants. Waited for it to come to PayPerView...thought it was entertaining with a somewhat happy ending.

    Thanks for the memories of the Circus Films you listed. I've seen most of them. Favorite was Circus World...saw it at Drive Inn...carload night...my Cowboy Dad was a John Wayne fan. Five kids in a 57' pink Caddy...that's a carload. Thanks for the memories!!
    Sue~CollectInTexasGal
    AtoZ LoneStar Quilting Bee

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  47. What about Toby Tyler? I remember liking this one as a kid. A more recent Circus movie: Cirque du Freak: Teenager, Darren Shan, meets a mysterious man at a freak show who turns out to be a Vampire. After a series of events Darren must leave his normal life and go on the road with the Cirque Du Freak and become a Vampire. Loved the books, too!

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  48. I have seen all of these movies and they all terrified me and still do.
    I enjoy the main circus events but I get so creeped out by clowns and the weird side show stuff!
    Madagascar was more my speed but even that was a bit scary:)

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  49. I've only seen The Greatest Show on Earth on a black and white TV when I was very young.
    I loved the circus when I was little but now I find the animals sad.

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  50. Dumbo. And did Elephant Man have a circus component? I think it did--that was an AMAZING movie. I like circuses, but mostly the skillzy stuff--trapeze, tight rope... I've gotten pretty skittish about the animal stuff, as it seems so much abuse went on, though my best circus memory was being licked by the giraffe.

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  51. Big Fish. I've never been a fan of the circus but I did enjoy the circus in that movie.

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  52. I haven't seen any of these movies. I'm looking forward to trying to find some of them. Passion Play is a really good circus movie. It's a bit strange but it has a sort of spiritual message to it.

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  53. Hi Lee,

    Apologies for not being able to visit before now. I've been very busy commenting on your um alternative alphabet challenge to mine :)

    No, I'm not going to clown around. I promise. I'm a big fan of Circus of Horrors. I remember watching it at a Saturday matinee in Vancouver as a really young child. Scared the heck out of me.

    Try and take it easy during April. And all the best with the A to Z.

    Gary

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  54. Two of my favorite books are about circuses: The Night Circus and Water for Elephants (which I thought was being made into a movie).
    Hey, I'm enjoying the A to Z Challenge though I'm not getting much else done besides my day job. The weeds they are a growing.

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  55. Who doesn't love the circus? Maybe people afraid of clowns and zoo animals.

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  56. Thanks for the blog! I had no idea there were this many movies about the circus.
    And double-thaanks for the A to Z challenge and all the work and time you put into it!!
    Trisha Faye
    www.calicoconnections.wordpress.com

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  57. I'm not familiar with any circus films but Circus of Horrors sounds interesting. I've gone to a Cirque du Soleil show once.

    Chontali Kirk
    chontalikirk.blogspot.com

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  58. This isn't a circus movie but it is a circus book that is phenomenal: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It depicts the cirucs so beautifully that I pretty much ache to go to a circus like the one in it. You should definitely put that book on your to read list.

    Oddly enough, I don't quite fancy going to the circus.

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  59. just checking in to say hi, Lee. I haven't been to the circus in maybe 25 years.

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  60. I typically don't watch circus-based movies. That could have to do with the fact that a lot of clowns freak me out. Not all of them, of course, but enough that I would rather just avoid them together. I only liked going to the circus because of the animals, especially the tigers, but I haven't been since before I was eleven.

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  61. Some more great recommendations. Thank you for that! For those who are freaked out by clowns you should check out the Fellini film Clowns--some of the freakiest creepiest more surrealistic clowns ever.

    Today's generation doesn't have the some enjoyment of circus that my generation did. I think it's kind of too bad, but I can also understand.

    Thanks all!

    Lee

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  62. Hello, Lee

    Thanks for this post.

    I think circuses, like so many outdoor shows and activities, have been replaced by an addiction to the 'idiot box'. Sad really...

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  63. I remember watching a movie recently about the circus but for the life of me, I can't remember the title.

    Nice post Arlee,

    Keep Calm and A-Z
    An A-Z of learning English
    Round the world from A to Z

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  64. Hello, Lee

    I didn't mention that I'm a new follower of yours. Thank you for setting up this special refuge. I'm a writer (certainly insecure) and a new Blogger. A-Z is an almighty challenge for me - not only because it's so different from writing a story. It's such a personal interaction if one chooses to make it one and I've chosen...

    Best regards, Felicity (http://felicityburnett.blog.com/)

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  65. I've got a favourite book that's set in a circus - Dean Koontz's "Twilight Eyes" - but not sure of any movies :)

    I also wanted to stop by & say I totally missed the "A is for Arlee" surprise on day #1, but I am here to say thank you to you in person for starting the A to Z and begin such a great driving (in a very caring way :D) force in this community!

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  66. Of course you will finish with flying colors! Great list of circus movies. I would also recommend Water For Elephants which is based on the best selling novel.

    Julie

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  67. Hi. I'm passing through from IWSG. I've never seen any of these movies. The only movie that comes to mind with a circus is Water for Elephants. I loved the book and really enjoyed the movie.

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  68. With circus, can only think of The Elephant Man.

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  69. I think I saw The Greatest Show on Earth because I used to be a Zsa Zsa fan. I actually met her and her Prince once.

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  70. I haven't seen any of the circus movies you listed. As I look through the comments, there are lots mentioned I haven't seen as well. I did see Water for Elephants and many of the Disney movies with some circus settings.

    Great theme for the challenge, Lee! And you are posting on your other blogs??? Amazing!!

    Ana

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  71. I haven't seen any of the circus movies you listed. As I look through the comments, there are lots mentioned I haven't seen as well. I did see Water for Elephants and many of the Disney movies with some circus settings.

    Great theme for the challenge, Lee! And you are posting on your other blogs??? Amazing!!

    Ana

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  72. I think the creepiest one I ever saw was "Freaks" from the 1930s. Can't remember if it was a circus or just a side show but they had circus animals.

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  73. I'm a moderate John Wayne fan, but I had no idea he was ever in a circus film. How did I miss that?

    http://www.livinglearninglovinglife.com/a-to-z-challenge

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Lee