The Circus Queen Murder (1933)

63 or 65 mins | Mystery | 10 April 1933

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HISTORY

Copyright registration notes that the Anthony Abbott novel first appeared as a serial in Liberty magazine prior to book publication. This was the second and last of three anticipated "Thatcher Colt" mysteries made by Columbia. The first film was The Night Club Lady (see below), the previous year.
       The Circus Queen Murder incorporated footage from Frank Capra's 1930 Columbia production of Rain or Shine (See Entry). The parade sequence, in which the Greater John T. Rainey Circus [also the name of the circus in Rain or Shine ] enters the town, was taken from the earlier film, as was some footage of the circus as it travels through a rainstorm. Some shots of the big top opening parade also were from Rain or Shine , including a long-shot of actress Joan Peers, who portrayed bareback rider "Mary Rainey" in the Capra film. African-American actor Clarence Muse, who portrayed "Nero" in Rain or Shine , is seen briefly as one of the circus roustabouts pounding in one of the large tent ... More Less

Copyright registration notes that the Anthony Abbott novel first appeared as a serial in Liberty magazine prior to book publication. This was the second and last of three anticipated "Thatcher Colt" mysteries made by Columbia. The first film was The Night Club Lady (see below), the previous year.
       The Circus Queen Murder incorporated footage from Frank Capra's 1930 Columbia production of Rain or Shine (See Entry). The parade sequence, in which the Greater John T. Rainey Circus [also the name of the circus in Rain or Shine ] enters the town, was taken from the earlier film, as was some footage of the circus as it travels through a rainstorm. Some shots of the big top opening parade also were from Rain or Shine , including a long-shot of actress Joan Peers, who portrayed bareback rider "Mary Rainey" in the Capra film. African-American actor Clarence Muse, who portrayed "Nero" in Rain or Shine , is seen briefly as one of the circus roustabouts pounding in one of the large tent stakes. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
6 May 1933
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
20 May 1933.
---
Motion Picture Daily
6 May 1933
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald
13 May 1933
p. 23.
New York Times
8 May 1933
p. 10.
Variety
9 May 1933
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Asst cam
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SOUND
Sd eng
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel About the Murder of the Circus Queen, a Thatcher Colt Detective Mystery by Anthony Abbot (New York, 1932).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
10 April 1933
Production Date:
6 February--24 February 1933
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
3 April 1933
Copyright Number:
LP3773
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
63 or 65
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
4833R
SYNOPSIS

The John T. Rainey Traveling Circus boasts the talents of Josie La Tour, a beautiful, famed aerialist, her crazed husband and fellow trapeze artist Flandrin, and her lover, performer The Great Sebastian. While the circus is staying in upstate New York, it is visited by smooth New York City police commissioner Thatcher Colt, who is on a long-overdue vacation with his devoted secretary, Miss Kelly. While Colt and Kelly practice their latest fad, lip-reading, they view the sideshows, which include a man repelling bullets with the aid of a hidden steel mesh jacket, and a group of thirteen cannibals who play musical instruments that resemble blow pipes. No one can explain why the number of cannibals suddenly has decreased from fourteen to thirteen, and Rainey jokes that the fourteenth man must have been eaten. Colt senses that the circus performers are anxious about something and learns that they dread the next day, Friday the Thirteenth. That night, Flandrin's bloody clothes are found in a wagon, but despite the blood and a bullet hole in the window, no body is found. Rather than thinking that Flandrin is the victim of murder or suicide, Colt believes that he is still alive and planning revenge on his wife and her lover. He is even more convinced when it is discovered that Josie’s beloved dog, which was hated by Flandrin, has been killed. When the circus reaches the small town of Gilian the next day, there curiously are fourteen cannibal sideshow artists again, but no one can ask the cannibals why because the only person who could speak their language was Flandrin. Although Josie had received ... +


The John T. Rainey Traveling Circus boasts the talents of Josie La Tour, a beautiful, famed aerialist, her crazed husband and fellow trapeze artist Flandrin, and her lover, performer The Great Sebastian. While the circus is staying in upstate New York, it is visited by smooth New York City police commissioner Thatcher Colt, who is on a long-overdue vacation with his devoted secretary, Miss Kelly. While Colt and Kelly practice their latest fad, lip-reading, they view the sideshows, which include a man repelling bullets with the aid of a hidden steel mesh jacket, and a group of thirteen cannibals who play musical instruments that resemble blow pipes. No one can explain why the number of cannibals suddenly has decreased from fourteen to thirteen, and Rainey jokes that the fourteenth man must have been eaten. Colt senses that the circus performers are anxious about something and learns that they dread the next day, Friday the Thirteenth. That night, Flandrin's bloody clothes are found in a wagon, but despite the blood and a bullet hole in the window, no body is found. Rather than thinking that Flandrin is the victim of murder or suicide, Colt believes that he is still alive and planning revenge on his wife and her lover. He is even more convinced when it is discovered that Josie’s beloved dog, which was hated by Flandrin, has been killed. When the circus reaches the small town of Gilian the next day, there curiously are fourteen cannibal sideshow artists again, but no one can ask the cannibals why because the only person who could speak their language was Flandrin. Although Josie had received a note warning her not to go to Gilian, she bravely continues with the scheduled evening performance. While Sebastian performs on the trapeze, Flandrin peers down from the top of the tent and cuts one of the ropes, but Sebastian is able to save himself on the remaining rope. Part of Flandrin's murder plan finally is carried out when, during Josie's act, he blows a poison dart at her, causing her to fall to her death. Seeing a movement at the top of the tent, Kelly goes outside and is caught by the insane Flandrin, who is disguised as one of the cannibals. Armed with a gun, Flandrin holds Kelly hostage and orders Colt to have Sebastian go to Josie's body. Kelly communicates a message to Colt via their silent lip-reading, after which he leaves to follow Flandrin's instructions. When Flandrin enters the ten in which Josie's body has been taken, he shoots at a figure he assumes is Sebastian, but the figure rises again because it actually is Colt in Sebastian's costume. Having been given the idea by Kelly through lip-reading, Colt donned the steel mesh jacket that he and Kelly previously had seen as part of a sideshow stunt. Flandrin, realizing that he is finished, then goes into the big tent and climbs onto the high wire trapeze, where he gives a magnificent performance before deliberately letting go and falling to his death. +

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

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