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HISTORY

The U.S. Library of Congress catalog gives the following description: “A circus performer, ill from overexertion, collapses during a performance. The circus manager fires her, but a farmer who had seen her collapse offers her help. She marries him and regains her health, and is happy as his wife. Then the circus returns to town, and she decides to join it and take up her life as a circus performer again. But confronted with the easy living and the untidiness of the circus, and her life as the farmer's wife, she chooses to go back to her husband, and gets home before he discovers the note she had left for him.”
       The 5 Feb 1910 Moving Picture World ran the following review: “Certain professions and certain business enterprises exert a peculiar fascination upon their votaries, and once engaged in them it seems almost impossible to sever the connection. The circus is perhaps as strongly magnetic as any of them, and this fascination is strongly represented in this film which is really a reproduction of life under the white top, as it is known. Even though the heroine is happily married and undoubtedly realizes the abuse from which she escaped, the fascination is too strong and she succumbs. But, fortunately for her, the artificial character of the life appalls her and she returns to her home in time to prevent her letter announcing her return to the old life falling into the hands of her husband. The film is a brilliant study in the influence of an occupation upon character, and the effect it may have upon the individual, even after years have passed. The film may be ... More Less

The U.S. Library of Congress catalog gives the following description: “A circus performer, ill from overexertion, collapses during a performance. The circus manager fires her, but a farmer who had seen her collapse offers her help. She marries him and regains her health, and is happy as his wife. Then the circus returns to town, and she decides to join it and take up her life as a circus performer again. But confronted with the easy living and the untidiness of the circus, and her life as the farmer's wife, she chooses to go back to her husband, and gets home before he discovers the note she had left for him.”
       The 5 Feb 1910 Moving Picture World ran the following review: “Certain professions and certain business enterprises exert a peculiar fascination upon their votaries, and once engaged in them it seems almost impossible to sever the connection. The circus is perhaps as strongly magnetic as any of them, and this fascination is strongly represented in this film which is really a reproduction of life under the white top, as it is known. Even though the heroine is happily married and undoubtedly realizes the abuse from which she escaped, the fascination is too strong and she succumbs. But, fortunately for her, the artificial character of the life appalls her and she returns to her home in time to prevent her letter announcing her return to the old life falling into the hands of her husband. The film is a brilliant study in the influence of an occupation upon character, and the effect it may have upon the individual, even after years have passed. The film may be considered unique in two respects: First, it presents very strongly the peculiar enchantment of circus life; and, second, it is a remarkably accurate representation of circus life. Probably no better was ever produced in motion pictures. The picture will appeal to some because of its psychological suggestiveness and to other because it illustrates a circus. Note all films please such widely divergent tastes.”
       Interiors were filmed at the Biograph studio at 11 East 14th Street in New York City. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
BIOB2
p. 161.
BPL
pp. 122-123.
EMP
p. 44.
LCMP
p. 9, column 3.
LCPP
p. 172.
Moving Picture News
12 Feb 1910
p. 15tl.
Moving Picture World
22 Jan 1910
p. 100ta, 101ts, 109tl, 110tl.
Moving Picture World
5 Feb 1910
p. 168tr.
The Daily Worker
p. 71.
Variety
29 Jan 1910
tr.
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 January 1910
Copyright Claimant:
Biograph Co.
Copyright Date:
22 January 1910
Copyright Number:
J137557
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in feet):
989
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

“A story of life under the ‘white top’... Edith Lawson is engaged as the star dancer of a traveling tent show. Her circus name is Fatima. Billy Harvey, one of the performers, and a part owner of the show, is, or rather pretends to be, in love with Fatima, and she loves him in return. The arduous duties have made the poor girl ill but her managers cruelly insist that she must appear, as she is a feature. During her dance, however, she faints from weakness, and the audience is dismissed. Amos Holden, a young merchant in the village, who is in the audience, is deeply moved by the poor girl's predicament, and determines to help her. He writes her a letter which she receives after her second attempt and failure to go through her dance. She is discharged and cast adrift by her managers, and as a resort seeks out Amos. He has fallen in love with her and she never having been accorded such tender treatment feels for the first time the power of pure honest love. Shortly afterwards they were married, and Edith seems happy and has grown strong in her new life. She feels that the circus fever has left her forever, but one day during the following year she finds a handbill advertising the return engagement of ‘Harvey's mammoth aggregation of celebrities,’ and the fancied smell of the sawdust reaches her nostrils. The inclination is almost overpowering, and a surreptitious visit from Harvey decides her. Leaving a note for her husband, she goes back to the circus, but it is not many moments before she realizes the error of her way, and how loathsome ... +


“A story of life under the ‘white top’... Edith Lawson is engaged as the star dancer of a traveling tent show. Her circus name is Fatima. Billy Harvey, one of the performers, and a part owner of the show, is, or rather pretends to be, in love with Fatima, and she loves him in return. The arduous duties have made the poor girl ill but her managers cruelly insist that she must appear, as she is a feature. During her dance, however, she faints from weakness, and the audience is dismissed. Amos Holden, a young merchant in the village, who is in the audience, is deeply moved by the poor girl's predicament, and determines to help her. He writes her a letter which she receives after her second attempt and failure to go through her dance. She is discharged and cast adrift by her managers, and as a resort seeks out Amos. He has fallen in love with her and she never having been accorded such tender treatment feels for the first time the power of pure honest love. Shortly afterwards they were married, and Edith seems happy and has grown strong in her new life. She feels that the circus fever has left her forever, but one day during the following year she finds a handbill advertising the return engagement of ‘Harvey's mammoth aggregation of celebrities,’ and the fancied smell of the sawdust reaches her nostrils. The inclination is almost overpowering, and a surreptitious visit from Harvey decides her. Leaving a note for her husband, she goes back to the circus, but it is not many moments before she realizes the error of her way, and how loathsome are the surroundings. Hence she rushes from the tent to her home to find her letter has not yet fallen into the hands of Amos. Edith is now thoroughly cured of the circus fever.” -- 22 Jan 1910 Moving Picture World +

GENRE
Genre:
Sub-genre:
Carnival/Circus


Subject
Subject (Major):

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.