Circus World (1964)

Circus World (1964) Front Cover DVD

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Circus World (1964) Back Cover DVD

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"Circus World", generally known in Britain as "The Magnificent Showman" was one of a number of films on a circus theme made during the fifties and sixties as filmmakers sought to cash in on the spectacle and drama of the Big Top. DeMille's "The Greatest Show on Earth" is possibly the best-known, but "The Big Circus" is another well-known example. All three films are large-scale spectaculars and all three have for their central character the figure of the circus owner or manager, played in "The Greatest Show..." by Charlton Heston, in "The Big Circus" by Victor Mature and here by John Wayne. In each case this individual is played as tough but fair, with a deep love of the circus and its traditions.

Although the film was made in 1964, the action takes place at some unspecified date in the earlier part of the twentieth century. Most circus dramas involve the company touring America by train, but here Wayne's character, Matt Masters, decides to take his circus on a tour of Europe. Part of the reason is that he hopes to be reunited with his former lover, Lili Alfredo. This plot is perhaps a measure of the way in which the cinema was becoming more permissive in the sixties; it turns out that Lili was the wife of another man, one of the circus acrobats, who was killed in a fall which (it is hinted) may really have been suicide prompted by his wife's infidelity. At one time it would have been unthinkable for the clean-cut John Wayne to have been cast as a man involved in an adulterous affair, let alone an adulterous affair which led to the death of the cuckolded husband. Another important character is Toni, Lili's daughter whom she abandoned after her husband's death and whom Masters has raised as his own daughter.

The European setting means that a shipwreck can replace the more traditional train crash as the disaster which threatens the business, and we also get the fall from the high wire or trapeze, the glamorous female acrobat whose love-life forms a mainspring of the plot, the dangerous wild beasts on the loose, a fire and the clown whose make-up hides some unexpected secret. (In this case that he is the brother of the dead acrobat.

Wayne was very much that of the strong man of physical action; he normally would play the cavalry officer leading his troops into action rather than the general back at the base, or the cowboy on the trail rather than the rancher back at the ranch. "The Magnificent Showman" is therefore a departure from his normal style, as Masters is the man on the ground giving the orders rather than the performer in the air entertaining the crowds. Rita Hayworth as Lili was still strikingly attractive for a woman in her mid-forties. . Claudia Cardinale looks gorgeous as Toni. Overall, "Circus World" has some entertaining and exciting passages.

While filming a scene where the main tent catches fire, John Wayne was almost killed when the set collapsed. As he was "fighting" the fire, Wayne was to be cued by the assistant director when to leave before the set was to collapse in flames. Either Wayne didn't hear the assistant director, or the a.d. mistimed it (it was never determined which), but the flaming set began to collapse before Wayne got out. He escaped with just seconds to spare before the entire set fell down.


John Wayne as Matt Masters
Rita Hayworth as Lili Alfredo
Claudia Cardinale as Toni Alfredo
Lloyd Nolan as Cap Carson
Richard Conte as Aldo Alfredo
John Smith as Steve McCabe
Katharyna as Giovana
Katherine Kath as Hilda
Wanda Rotha as Mrs. Schuman
Kay Walsh as Flo Hunt
Francois Calepides as Ringmaster
Margaret MacGrath as Anna
Miles Malleson as Billy Hennigan
Jos? Mar?a Caffarel as Barcelona's Mayor
Robert Cunningham as Ringmaster
Hans Dantes as Emile Schuman
Katherine Ellison as Molly
Margaret Fuller as Woman with Binoculars
Moustache as Bartender
George Tyne as Madrid Bartender

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The cost of this item is $12.99. This is good quality picture and sound. This is a two DVD set that comes with artwork, labels and case. See provided images above, these images are of the actual items.

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