The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Juggling Movies (#atozchallenge 2013)

Cover of "Seven Faces of Dr. Lao"
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.

And finally...

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!




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35 comments:

  1. You got me on the juggling movies! Without a list, I wouldn't be able to name any.
    Ironic you're at Andrew's today - he's my surprise featured blogger buddy!

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  2. Good instructions at Andrew's blog. For me, it's all about rhythm. If I practiced more often, I could probably juggle more than just tennis ball sized objects.

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  3. A great selection of films, some I have seen others not, Enjoyed your J POST.

    Yvonne.

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  4. i can think of many of the The Marx Bros films...

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  5. Are you sure that you are in none of the movies. You seem to love to juggle.LOL

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  6. Juggling is very popular in my town, as is the whole circus/vaudeville scene. One of my son's friends started a juggling club at the High School. I am definitely going to check out that Bill Murray movie. I have to admit, I haven't noticed juggling in movies, but now I will :)

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  7. I cannot juggle. I've tried. The Engineer can juggle just about anything, and has tried to explain the algorithm to me, but the woman who stabbed HERSELF with a pitchfork just isn't coordinated enough...
    The only one of those I've seen is Jewel of the Nile. I love those two movies.

    Tina @ Life is Good
    Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
    @TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

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  8. I guess actors (back in the day) had to know how to do everything - even juggle

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  9. I've seen two of the films you list here today. I didn't remember the juggling from Jewel of the Nile. Hmm. Short term going?

    I liked your visit at Andrew Leon's today.

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  10. 'The 7 Faces Of Dr. Lao' is a movie I would recommend to ANYONE. And I have always been a huge fan of W.C. Fields - what a mind and talent that man had - a genuine comedic genius! Too bad he's been largely forgotten in our postmodern era.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  11. Thanks for the comments so far.

    C.Lee -- Actually some of the juggling was so well incorporated into the action sequences it was easy to miss that juggling was happening. It's been many years since I've seen this, but I seem to remember one market scene or something where they where juggling large scimitars or some such weapons.

    StMc -- Agreed about W.C. I think some of his humor was so subtle and refined that modern audiences miss it. Have you seen the film I've mentioned and the amazing juggling act he does? I thought it was very good especially considering his physical condition at the time--pretty good stuff for an older overweight drunk.

    Lee

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  12. I am impressed by the number of movies involving jugglers!

    Lyre at Lyre's Musings

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  13. I didn't realize there were so many!
    I've only seen Jewel and The Man Who Knew Too Little.

    Have you ever seen that juggling act with the blind Hispanic guy? He and his partner also do Abbott and Costello stuff. I'm gonna have to see if I can find some clips of their act.

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  14. I know how much you love juggling Lee but I was shocked so many juggling related films came out, this is so interesting. Great post buddy.

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  15. HI, Lee,

    Some great choices here. I have seen a few of these films ... and yes, I do remember the juggling. I find this a fascinating sub genre. It takes a lot of talent to make it look as easy as the experts do.

    Last year when I was visiting Key West, Fl. They had some INCREDIBLE Juggler street entertainers.

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  16. I have not paid attention to the jugglers bu I will next time I see a scene. I watched "The Man Who Knew Too Little" but I think I may have been a little too young (I was 13 when I watched it). I will have to rewatch it.
    Elliot
    We Are Adventure

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  17. Who knew there were so many movies which featured juggling? Not I, and I've seen a couple of the movies on the list. I'm going to be watching a bunch more of them, though. I found your comments very interesting about the significance of the juggling in several of the films. Thanks for this great post.

    SiouxsiesMusings

    #AtoZChallenge

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  18. I've never thought of 'juggling' as a sub-genre, but why not?

    The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao is one of my favorites. I remember finding it on DVD and being thrilled that I could see it again.

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  19. It's amazing how many movies there are with juggling in them, but when you think of it juggling is a visual art and perfect for movie action. It's almost a cliche in circus movies or anything that involves a festive scene.

    Andrew -- Have not seen the Hispanic blind guy. Is he juggling? That would be a feat.

    By the way there is a website that has a very comprehensive listing of juggling in movies. It's pretty amazing to see how many movies there are.

    Lee

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  20. He is juggling! It's pretty amazing. I used to see clips of him and his partner's acts back in the 90's on the Comedy Channel.

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  21. I can remember juggling scenes but sadly not which films they were in. I have seen a couple of the movies you listed but in those cases I don't remember the juggling.

    JO ON FOOD, MY TRAVELS AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE

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  22. Great job over at Andrew's! I'm sure that it was difficult for you to remember step by step, as you're experienced enough to juggle in your sleep. This was one of my favorite posts in your movie series thus far. Now I want to try to find some of the classics on your list.

    Julie

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  23. Lovely post about juggling Arlee thank you! A few have written on this - such an essential aspect of our lives and as you say in one of the films it was barely noticeable. It has to be an art!
    Susan Scott's Soul Stuff

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  24. Hilarious that you came up with so many. I saw the category and drew a total blank. What is even funnier is that I have seen some of these movies. hahahahaha.

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  25. To tell you the truth, I never paid any attention to how many movies had jugglers in them. No, can't say I have ever thought of juggling movies as a micro-genre. I have not seen any one of the movies you listed.

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  26. There are some excellent films on this list and I recommend viewing a few at least. Keep your eyes open for the juggling sequences. Actually they are so obvious I don't know how anyone can miss them.

    Thanks for the additional comments. Haven't been getting additional recommendations for this topic. Come on think! Surely you can recall a memorable juggling movie sequence.

    Lee

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  27. I might need to have a movie marathon this weekend! Thanks for hosting the challenge!

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  28. Hi. Just had to pop over after hearing from Alex C. that you were a juggler for real! Be sure to see the juggler at my blog for a good laugh. None of your movies are familiar except for Jewel of the Nile (really like this movie). Also wanted to add my thanks for hosting and starting the A-Z. My first time, and it's been such a pleasant surprise. So glad a friend talked me into it!

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  29. This is your first list that is totally leaving me out. I haven't seen any of these movies. My husband is a pretty good juggler.

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  30. I was introduced to The Juggler through the History Channel's Movies in Time. I wish they still showed historical movies, instead of ridiculous programs like "How Aliens Built the Pyramids" and "In Search of Zombies."

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  31. Haha! I never could have thought of any juggling movies on my own. Great subject!

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: kristenhead.blogspot.com

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  32. Yeah, you kind of have to have a juggling mind frame to think of juggling movies. My father was always on the lookout for a juggler in a movie and he instilled it in me.

    Movie marathon sounds fun!

    Thanks all for stopping in on this post.

    Lee

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  33. I've never seen any of the movies listed on this post, and I never considered juggling movies as a micro-genre. Chained for Life sounds like an interesting movie!

    Chontali Kirk
    chontalikirk.blogspot.com

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  34. After reading this post, I'll definitely be on the lookout for any juggling in any movies I watch in the future! Interesting topic! :)
    Amelia

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  35. You're making me nostalgic for college when I actually had time to juggle! It's always funny to me when they show someone doing an easy trick in a movie and the crowd is enthralled.. And I'm all 'I can do that! I learned that in a week!'

    Pretty much anytime there is a fair going on, there's a juggler in there somewhere. :)

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