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HISTORY

During production of 55 Days at Peking (1963, see entry), an article in the 3 Oct 1962 Var announced that Madrid, Spain-based producer Samuel Bronston had secured a limited partnership with a previous associate, Pierre S. du Pont III, to provide initial funds for his next project, The Circus Story, which was budgeted at $5—$6 million. On 22 Oct 1962, DV stated that John Wayne had signed on to star, with Paramount Pictures guaranteeing Bronston approximately $2.5 million in exchange for North and South American distribution rights. A few weeks later, the 14 Nov 1962 Var named Frank Capra as director. The 8 Jan 1963 DV indicated that Joseph Sistrom was originally hired to serve as Capra’s assistant before the 23 May 1963 edition announced his replacement by the director’s son, Frank Capra, Jr.
       While production dates were repeatedly being pushed back, items in the 13 Nov 1962, 9 Apr 1963, and 20 Jun 1963 DV listed Stanley Goldsmith as unit manager, Robert Krasker as cameraman, and David Niven as Wayne’s co-star. The latter was reported to receive $1 million salary to appear in three of Bronston’s upcoming pictures following his appearance in 55 Days at Peking. 18 Jun 1963 and 5 Jul 1963 DV briefs also suggested that Burt Lancaster and Robert Wagner were in talks for roles. During this time, sources alternately referred the picture by the shortened titles Circus and The Circus.
       According to the 12 Jun 1963 Var, filming was originally expected to take place at the Cinecitta Studios ... More Less

During production of 55 Days at Peking (1963, see entry), an article in the 3 Oct 1962 Var announced that Madrid, Spain-based producer Samuel Bronston had secured a limited partnership with a previous associate, Pierre S. du Pont III, to provide initial funds for his next project, The Circus Story, which was budgeted at $5—$6 million. On 22 Oct 1962, DV stated that John Wayne had signed on to star, with Paramount Pictures guaranteeing Bronston approximately $2.5 million in exchange for North and South American distribution rights. A few weeks later, the 14 Nov 1962 Var named Frank Capra as director. The 8 Jan 1963 DV indicated that Joseph Sistrom was originally hired to serve as Capra’s assistant before the 23 May 1963 edition announced his replacement by the director’s son, Frank Capra, Jr.
       While production dates were repeatedly being pushed back, items in the 13 Nov 1962, 9 Apr 1963, and 20 Jun 1963 DV listed Stanley Goldsmith as unit manager, Robert Krasker as cameraman, and David Niven as Wayne’s co-star. The latter was reported to receive $1 million salary to appear in three of Bronston’s upcoming pictures following his appearance in 55 Days at Peking. 18 Jun 1963 and 5 Jul 1963 DV briefs also suggested that Burt Lancaster and Robert Wagner were in talks for roles. During this time, sources alternately referred the picture by the shortened titles Circus and The Circus.
       According to the 12 Jun 1963 Var, filming was originally expected to take place at the Cinecitta Studios in Rome, Italy, due to potential overlap with Bronston’s current production of The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964, see entry) at his primary facility in Madrid. However, script changes precipitated delays that enabled Circus to be shot in Spain, and all scenes necessitating the use of Cinecitta water tanks had been removed. Amid these developments, however, Frank Capra decided to leave, and Henry Hathaway assumed directorial duties. A 20 Aug 1963 DV news item claimed that Frank Capra, Jr. intended to retain his position assisting Hathaway, but other sources referred to him as the “Coordinator of circus operations.” The 11 Sep 1963 Var and 17 Sep 1963 DV also claimed that watercolor artist Dong Kingman and Frank Beetson, Jr. had both joined Bronston in Spain to develop main title art and costumes, respectively, during pre-production.
       While earlier sources attributed the script to Philip Yordan and James Edward Grant, the 18 Sep 1963 Var reported that Ben Hecht had been assigned to make last-minute revisions just days before production was set to begin. Although Julian Halevy was given co-credit for the screenplay and Philip Yordan was given co-credit for the story when the film was initially released, according to official Writers Guild of America (WGA) records, Halevy was a pseudonym for writer Julian Zimet and Yordan was a front for blacklisted writer Bernard Gordon. The WGA later changed the screenplay credit to read: “Screenplay credit by Ben Hecht, Julian Zimet, and James Edward Grant; Story by Bernard Gordon and Nicholas Ray.”
       According to a 25 Sep 1963 Var article, preliminary work began 16 Sep 1963 with the departure of Franz Althoff’s circus from Spittal an der Drau, Austria, on its way to the film’s first location in Barcelona, Spain. The trip, taken by fifty-five-car freight train through Germany, Switzerland, and France, was documented by still photographer Kenneth Danvers, while Bronston consulted with Bob Dover, performance director of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus; Umberto Bedini, Ringling’s chief booker; and Perezoff, organizer of Spain’s Circo Trebol and the International Circus Festival in Barcelona. An LAT brief published that same day stated that film editor Alma Macrorie had joined the unit in Spain to prepare a behind-the-scenes short film about the making of the picture. Meanwhile, the 27 Dec 1963 LAT claimed that before scoring the soundtrack, composer Dimitri Tiomkin researched the Ringling Bros. circus at their winter headquarters in Sarasota, FL.
       Principal photography commenced on 23 Sep 1963 in Barcelona under the new title, Circus World. Four days later, DV announced that actor Rod Taylor had left the role of “Steve McCabe” and been replaced by John Smith. After approximately two weeks in Barcelona, the unit relocated to Samuel Bronston Studios in Madrid. According to the 2 Dec 1963 DV, the set was temporarily shut down on 25 Nov 1963 out of respect for the recent death of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. News items in the 27 Dec 1963 LAT and DV referred to additional delays caused by “torrential” rainfall, unexpected snow, and an on-set fire, which collapsed the circus tent used during the filming of the climactic fire scene in Aranjuez. Work in Spain continued until late Jan 1964, at which point select cast and crewmembers moved to Pinewood Studios in London, England, for special effects sequences. The 13 Feb 1964 DV announced the recent completion of photography after eighteen days on the backlot.
       Casting announcements in the 27 Nov 1963 and 18 Dec 1963 Var noted the involvement of “Clown Max” and Robert Cunningham, while the 6 Jan 1965 Var stated that Ringling’s aerial performer, La Toria, executed stunts for the picture. The 21 Jan 1964 DV also indicated that George Tyne worked as a dialogue coach.
       According to the 15 Apr 1964 DV, Circus World was intended as the closing night entry at the Spain’s San Sebastian Film Festival, where it would play out of competition. However, the 10 Jun 1964 Var reported that its submission had since been withdrawn at the insistence of European release company, Rank Film Distributors, which hoped to maintain the distinction between “specialized fest pix and popular box office product.”
       Around this same time, various reports revealed that financier Pierre S. du Pont III had since signed a trustee to oversee relations with Samuel Bronston Productions, which had declared significant debts tied to the negative costs of The Fall of the Roman Empire and Circus World. Although the company eventually filed for bankruptcy in the summer of 1964, the 5 Mar 1964 DV and 15 Apr 1964 Var confirmed that Paramount’s investment remained protected, and the studio planned to move ahead with distribution plans as scheduled. According to an article in the 27 Oct 1964 DV, the closure was considered such a great loss to the Spanish film industry that the Spanish government offered Bronston creditor support in the form of $3 million in crude oil import licenses to assist with his debts; however, Circus World marked Samuel Bronston Productions’ final theatrical feature, as all business affairs were officially suspended shortly thereafter.
       The film’s fifteen-city roadshow engagement began with “premiere” screenings in Dallas and Houston, TX, on 24 Jun 1964. Regular showings began the next day in New York City; Philadelphia, PA; Cleveland, OH; Atlanta, GA; and Boston, MA, with additional regional dates added throughout the month of Jul. A 17 Oct 1964 LAT brief listed a Los Angeles, CA, opening date of 18 Dec 1964 at the Warner Cinerama Theater in Hollywood. Although shot in Super Technirama 70, advertisements declared that roadshow engagements would utilize the Cinerama process at sixty appropriately outfitted theaters across the U.S., Canada, and South America. General release was projected in 35mm Technirama. The film struggled to prove its commercial potential, as the 22 May 1965 LAT and 10 Nov 1965 Var reported Cinerama’s sizeable losses for the fiscal year.
       Dimitri Tiomkin and lyricist Ned Washington’s title theme, “Circus World,” received a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song – Motion Picture. Rita Hayworth was also nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
22 Oct 1962
p. 1.
Daily Variety
13 Nov 1962
p. 14.
Daily Variety
8 Jan 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 Apr 1963
p. 11.
Daily Variety
23 May 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
18 Jun 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
20 Jun 1963
p. 3.
Daily Variety
5 Jul 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
20 Aug 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
17 Sep 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
25 Sep 1963
Section D, p. 11.
Daily Variety
27 Sep 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
4 Oct 1963
p. 8.
Daily Variety
2 Dec 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
27 Dec 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Jan 1964
p. 4.
Daily Variety
13 Feb 1964
p. 4.
Daily Variety
18 Feb 1964
p. 1.
Daily Variety
3 Mar 1964
p. 1.
Daily Variety
5 Mar 1964
p. 1.
Daily Variety
15 Apr 1964
p. 6.
Daily Variety
24 Apr 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
27 May 1964
p. 4.
Daily Variety
29 May 1964
p. 3.
Daily Variety
26 Jun 1964
p. 3.
Daily Variety
27 Oct 1964
p. 146, 148.
Daily Variety
9 Aug 1965
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
25 Sep 1963
Section D, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
27 Dec 1963
Section C, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
17 Oct 1964
Section B, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
21 Dec 1964
Section B, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
22 May 1965
Section A, p. 8.
New York Times
27 Dec 1963
p. 14.
New York Times
6 Mar 1964
p. 40.
New York Times
6 Jun 1964
p. 15.
New York Times
26 Jun 1964
p. 34.
Variety
3 Oct 1962
p. 3.
Variety
14 Nov 1962
p. 4.
Variety
14 Nov 1962
p. 16.
Variety
8 May 1963
p. 80.
Variety
12 Jun 1963
p. 14.
Variety
11 Sep 1963
p. 7.
Variety
18 Sep 1963
p. 20.
Variety
25 Sep 1963
p. 4.
Variety
27 Nov 1963
p. 7.
Variety
18 Dec 1963
p. 15.
Variety
22 Jan 1964
p. 26.
Variety
4 Mar 1964
p. 1.
Variety
15 Apr 1964
p. 3.
Variety
10 Jun 1964
p. 5.
Variety
6 Jan 1965
p. 210.
Variety
10 Nov 1965
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2nd unit dir
1st & 2nd unit asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2nd unit photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Coord of circus operations
Circus adv
Main titles
SOURCES
SONGS
"Circus World," written by Dimitri Tiomkin, lyrics by Ned Washington.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Circus Story
The Circus
Circus
Release Date:
24 June 1964
Premiere Information:
Dallas and Houston openings: 24 June 1964
New York opening: 25 June 1964
Los Angeles opening: 18 December 1964
Production Date:
23 September 1963--early February 1964
Copyright Claimant:
Bronston--Midway Productions
Copyright Date:
25 June 1964
Copyright Number:
LP30326
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
gauge
35 & 70
Widescreen/ratio
Super Technirama 70
Duration(in mins):
135
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Matt Masters, an American circus impresario in the early 1900's, decides to take his circus and Wild West Show to Europe, with the ulterior motive of finding Lili Alfredo, mother of Toni, the young circus performer whom Matt has protected since Lili's disappearance 14 years earlier. Lili had been married to an aerialist though in love with Matt; and when her husband fell to his death, it was rumored that he committed suicide because of Lili's unfaithfulness. The troupe puts on a show aboard the circus boat in Barcelona; when a performer falls overboard, the huge audience surges to the railing, causing the ship to capsize. No lives are lost, but the circus is destroyed. Matt, Toni, and Steve McCabe, Toni's boyfriend, join a touring Wild West Show and are a great success. Matt plans to put together another show and rehearse it in Spain during the winter before touring. In Madrid, Lili turns up in the audience and later tells Matt that Toni is better off not knowing about her mother. Later, Lili asks for a job in the circus, but she is still determined to keep her identity a secret, until Tojo, a clown, tells Toni about Lili and about her father's suicide. Toni becomes hysterical and is about to confront Lili in hatred when Matt stops her and tells her that her mother was refused a divorce by her father. A fire breaks out, and Toni and Lili, scaling a rope to the top of the tent, save the major part of the big top from burning. When the fire is extinguished, Lili and Toni embrace; and at the opening of the circus the next night, ... +


Matt Masters, an American circus impresario in the early 1900's, decides to take his circus and Wild West Show to Europe, with the ulterior motive of finding Lili Alfredo, mother of Toni, the young circus performer whom Matt has protected since Lili's disappearance 14 years earlier. Lili had been married to an aerialist though in love with Matt; and when her husband fell to his death, it was rumored that he committed suicide because of Lili's unfaithfulness. The troupe puts on a show aboard the circus boat in Barcelona; when a performer falls overboard, the huge audience surges to the railing, causing the ship to capsize. No lives are lost, but the circus is destroyed. Matt, Toni, and Steve McCabe, Toni's boyfriend, join a touring Wild West Show and are a great success. Matt plans to put together another show and rehearse it in Spain during the winter before touring. In Madrid, Lili turns up in the audience and later tells Matt that Toni is better off not knowing about her mother. Later, Lili asks for a job in the circus, but she is still determined to keep her identity a secret, until Tojo, a clown, tells Toni about Lili and about her father's suicide. Toni becomes hysterical and is about to confront Lili in hatred when Matt stops her and tells her that her mother was refused a divorce by her father. A fire breaks out, and Toni and Lili, scaling a rope to the top of the tent, save the major part of the big top from burning. When the fire is extinguished, Lili and Toni embrace; and at the opening of the circus the next night, the two perform an aerial act. At the end, Matt and Lili marry, and Toni and Steve also marry. +

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

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