3 Ring Circus (1955)

103-104 or 110 mins | Comedy-drama | January 1955

Director:

Joseph Pevney

Writer:

Don McGuire

Cinematographer:

Loyal Griggs

Editor:

Warren Low

Production Designers:

Hal Pereira, Tambi Larsen
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Big Top . According to HR production charts, location shooting took place in Phoenix, AZ. A Jan 1954 HR news item notes that producer Hal B. Wallis was to film the arrival of the popular Clyde Beatty Circus into Phoenix. In the film, the circus is called the “Clyde Brent Circus.” According to an Aug 1955 HR news item, writers George Beck and Samuel Locke filed a $65,000 infringement lawsuit against Paramount and Wallis, claiming that Wallis had hired them to write a circus story for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, entitled Big Top , which Wallis later rejected. The disposition of the suit is not known. Modern sources note that the film made approximately four million dollars in domestic rentals. The picture was re-released in 1976 under the title Jerrico the Wonder Clown ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Big Top . According to HR production charts, location shooting took place in Phoenix, AZ. A Jan 1954 HR news item notes that producer Hal B. Wallis was to film the arrival of the popular Clyde Beatty Circus into Phoenix. In the film, the circus is called the “Clyde Brent Circus.” According to an Aug 1955 HR news item, writers George Beck and Samuel Locke filed a $65,000 infringement lawsuit against Paramount and Wallis, claiming that Wallis had hired them to write a circus story for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, entitled Big Top , which Wallis later rejected. The disposition of the suit is not known. Modern sources note that the film made approximately four million dollars in domestic rentals. The picture was re-released in 1976 under the title Jerrico the Wonder Clown .
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
23 Oct 1954.
---
Box Office
26 Jan 1976.
---
Daily Variety
21 Oct 54
p. 3.
Film Daily
26 Oct 54
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jan 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 1954
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Feb 1954
pp. 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Apr 1954
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Apr 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Oct 1954
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 1955.
---
Los Angeles Times
23 Dec 1954.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
30 Oct 54
p. 193.
New York Times
25 Dec 54
p. 7.
Newsweek
3 Jan 1955.
---
Variety
27 Oct 54
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Hal Wallis' Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial coach
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
Story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Ed supv
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus score
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Casting
Casting
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
SONGS
"Hey, Punchinello," words and music by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
"Big Wide Wonderful World," words and music by John Rox.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Big Top
Release Date:
January 1955
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 22 December 1954
New York opening: week of 24 December 1954
Production Date:
mid February--early April 1954
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corp., Hal B. Wallis & Joseph H. Hazen
Copyright Date:
25 December 1954
Copyright Number:
LP4367
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
VistaVision
Duration(in mins):
103-104 or 110
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16996
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After they are discharged from the Army, smooth-talking Pete Nelson accompanies his friend, the bumbling Jerome X. Hotchkiss, to the Clyde Brent Circus, where Jerry has just gotten a G.I. Bill job as an apprentice lion-tamer. Upon arriving at the financially strapped circus, Pete and Jerry, whose true ambition is to be a clown, meet manager Sam Morley and Jill Brent, the owner and ringmaster. Jill agrees to hire Pete along with Jerry, on condition that they both help out wherever needed. Jerry dutifully reports to lion tamer Col. Schlitz and is terrified when Schlitz forces him into the lions’ cage with only a whip and chair for protection. Although Schlitz screams at him to act tough and show no fear, Jerry nervously tries to befriend the beasts until Schlitz finally yanks him out. Later, while Jerry and Pete are washing the circus’ elephants, Jill stops by to chat and finds Pete’s flirtations both attractive and annoying. Jerry then sneaks into Puffo the Wonder Clown’s tent and tries on his hats until Sam catches him in the act. During one night’s show, Jerry and Pete man a custard stand but are soon overwhelmed by the crowd and lose control of the custard machine. Ever patient, Sam sends Jerry to help Puffo dress for his performance, and Jerry is dismayed when the inebriated clown angrily rejects him. Jerry’s next assignment is to hand Nero, the tightrope walker, a unicycle, and the audience roars with laughter at Jerry’s fumbling attempts to climb a rope ladder while holding the bike. When Jerry accidentally ends up riding the unicycle on the tightrope, the ... +


After they are discharged from the Army, smooth-talking Pete Nelson accompanies his friend, the bumbling Jerome X. Hotchkiss, to the Clyde Brent Circus, where Jerry has just gotten a G.I. Bill job as an apprentice lion-tamer. Upon arriving at the financially strapped circus, Pete and Jerry, whose true ambition is to be a clown, meet manager Sam Morley and Jill Brent, the owner and ringmaster. Jill agrees to hire Pete along with Jerry, on condition that they both help out wherever needed. Jerry dutifully reports to lion tamer Col. Schlitz and is terrified when Schlitz forces him into the lions’ cage with only a whip and chair for protection. Although Schlitz screams at him to act tough and show no fear, Jerry nervously tries to befriend the beasts until Schlitz finally yanks him out. Later, while Jerry and Pete are washing the circus’ elephants, Jill stops by to chat and finds Pete’s flirtations both attractive and annoying. Jerry then sneaks into Puffo the Wonder Clown’s tent and tries on his hats until Sam catches him in the act. During one night’s show, Jerry and Pete man a custard stand but are soon overwhelmed by the crowd and lose control of the custard machine. Ever patient, Sam sends Jerry to help Puffo dress for his performance, and Jerry is dismayed when the inebriated clown angrily rejects him. Jerry’s next assignment is to hand Nero, the tightrope walker, a unicycle, and the audience roars with laughter at Jerry’s fumbling attempts to climb a rope ladder while holding the bike. When Jerry accidentally ends up riding the unicycle on the tightrope, the crowd hushes, and Pete and the clowns rush in with a net and catch him when he falls. Saadia, the “Queen of the Trapeze,” then goes on and stuns Pete with her beauty. Jill, however, dislikes the egotistical, greedy Saadia, but later agrees with Sam that the circus would go bankrupt without her. To Jill’s disgust, Pete agrees to become Saadia’s personal assistant, and after Sam talks Jerry into becoming a human cannonball, a bare-chested Pete gives Saadia a private demonstration of his skills on the parallel bars. Saadia and Pete kiss but are interrupted by Jill, who informs Saadia that, for financial reasons, there will be an extra show on Saturday. Although she knows the circus depends on her, Saadia refuses to participate, and later, while watching her perform to a capacity crowd, Pete gets an idea. Sam then allows Jerry to go on in place of a sick clown, and Jerry is ecstatic. Puffo, however, resents the laughs that Jerry gets and bullies him onstage. After the audience boos Puffo, Jerry assures Puffo he is not angry with him and exits. Later, Pete flirts with a receptive Jill, but when he suddenly asks her about the circus’ profits, she slaps him, furious. Soon after, in Saadia’s tent, Pete tells Jill his plan to increase the circus’ profits with gambling. Although Jill, who inherited the circus from her father, finds the idea reprehensible, she allows Pete to set up some gaming tables on the midway. The circus tours through the West, and one evening, Pete and Jerry throw Jill a big party on her birthday. Drunk, Puffo interrupts the festivities to declare he is quitting unless Jerry and Pete are fired. After Pete punches him in frustration, Jill dismisses Puffo and replaces him with Jerry. Performing under the name Jericho, Jerry is an instant hit, and Saadia bristles with envy. When she, too, threatens to quit unless Pete gets rid of Jerry, Pete sends her on her way. Jill’s relief at Saadia’s departure is shortlived, however, when she witnesses a fight between Pete’s shell game operator and a customer and demands that Pete stop the gambling. Pete refuses, complaining that Jill is interfering, and announces he is leaving the circus. Sure that the loyal Jerry will go with him, Jill insists on leaving instead, preferring to turn the circus over to Pete than lose it completely. Later, Jerry criticizes Pete for canceling a benefit performance for disadvantaged children and, after telling him he “ain’t nice” anymore, quits. Jerry and the other clowns decide to perform the show anyway, and Jill meets them at the outdoor arena. While Pete ponders Jerry’s words at the big top, Jerry delights the children with his clowning. After Jerry goes to great lengths to get a sad-faced handicapped girl to laugh, he and Jill are delighted when a contrite Pete drives up in a clown car and costume and joins in the fun.

+

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

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