|Cover of Seven Faces of Dr. Lao|
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.
This is the topic that inspired my theme for the 2013 A to Z Challenge. After all, how many of you look for movies with juggling in them? It's part of my nature I suppose, something I inherited from my father, that I look for jugglers in movies. There are a lot in fact when you really start looking closely. Whenever there is a fair, festival, parade, or other similar fun scene you will typically see a juggler in the background. Start paying attention and you'll see what I mean.
The post was conceived a few months ago when I started thinking about movies with juggling in them and wanted to share some of them with my reading audience. Since it seemed like a pretty off the wall topic I kept shoving it forward in my blogging schedule. When I started thinking about my A to Z theme the 'J' of "Juggling Movies" jumped out at me and the theme came together.
Since there are so many movies that can fit into this category, I will be focusing on those films where the movie is about juggling or jugglers or juggling is a very integral part of the plot.
These are some of my favorites:
The Old-Fashioned Way (1934)-- Before he became a movie star, comic actor W.C. Fields was one of the most famous jugglers in the world. In this film he plays The Great McGonigle, leader of a vaudeville troupe always one step ahead of the bill collectors. Fields performs a portion of his famous juggling act toward the end of the film. Pretty amazing stuff.
Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940)-- Besides his known skills as a dancer, I would consider Fred Astaire to be a bit of a juggler. In many of the dance numbers in his films he incorporated props such as canes and did fancy manipulations with them. In this film he does some outstanding prop manipulations as he performs "I've Got My Eyes on You". Also this film features a clever scene with one of the most famous female jugglers of all time, Trixie Firschke (click the link to see the scene).
Chained for Life (1952)-- This is a bizarre low-budget film featuring the famous vaudeville performing Siamese twins the Hilton Sisters. The interesting dilemma presented in the story is if one conjoined twin commits a murder, is it fair to also punish the innocent one with death or life imprisonment. One of the featured characters in the story is vaudeville juggler Whitey Roberts who performs various routines during the course of the film.
The Juggler (1953) -- In a film of historical and social relevance, Kirk Douglas stars as a psychologically troubled German Jewish juggler who is among those sent to the new state of Israel after the war. The acting and story are very good. I was particularly impressed by how well Douglas was able to juggle as he performs some very credible routines.
7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964) --A fantasy-western with Tony Randall as the enigmatic circus owner Dr. Lao. When the magical circus comes to the small town of Abalone lives are changed as the inhabitants learn who they really are within. Juggling symbolizes confidence and a mastery of life.
Jewel of the Nile (1985)--In this sequel to the film Romancing the Stone, Kathleen Turner as a romance novelist and Michael Douglas as an Indiana Jones style adventurer head to the Middle East and become involved with intrigue concerning a mysterious jewel. Members of the popular juggling act The Flying Karamazov Brothers play key roles in the film and perform a number of juggling stunts.
The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997)-- Bill Murray as a London tourist who thinks he is part of a street theater performance, but is actually mixed up with international terrorists. The juggling scene at the end of the film is an important part of the plot. To me this film is one of Murray's best. It's an absolutely hilarious film about mistaken identity that has me in stitches every time I see it. If you enjoy nutty comedy by all means check this one out.
The Five People You Meet In Heaven (2004)--This is a lovely film with a message. Based on the bestseller by Mitch Albom, the story concerns a man who dies and goes to heaven where he learns about the people who most impacted his life. There is an important juggling scene midway through the film.
Give My Regards to Broadway (1948) --In one of the best films about jugglers ever made, the father of a family of jugglers once successful in vaudeville tries to revive the act, but his wife and most of the kids have other ideas. Vaudeville is dead and most of the family think that perhaps it's time to move on. This movie really touched home for me and reminded me of my own father and our family. There are some interesting juggling routines in the film though not especially skilled from a juggler's standpoint. They were creative to say the least. It's a poignant film that is hard to find. If they ever do an official DVD release I'll be buying this one since it means so much to me.
Have you ever noticed how many films have jugglers in them? Did you ever think about juggling movies as a micro-genre? Which of these have you seen and do you remember seeing the juggling?
I'm making a guest appearance today at Andrew Leon's Strange Pegs. Be sure to stop by and pay a visit. It's all about juggling!