The Big Show (1961)

113 mins | Melodrama | 10 May 1961

Director:

James B. Clark

Writer:

Ted Sherdeman

Cinematographer:

Otto Heller

Editor:

Benjamin Laird

Production Designer:

Ludwig Reiber

Production Company:

Associated Producers, Inc.
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HISTORY

The Big Show may have been based on Jerome Weidman's novel I'll Never Go There Any More (New York, 1941).
       On 19 Jan 1960, LAT announced James B. Clark would direct the picture for executive producer Robert L. Lippert, with filming set to begin in Europe around 1 Apr 1960. Although an article in the 2 Feb 1960 DV stated that production would take place in either Copenhagen, Denmark, or Vienna, Austria, filming was delayed several months and the 17 Aug 1960 DV reported that shooting would now be split between Copenhagen and Munich, West Germany. By that time, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. had come on board to distribute as part of its new contract with Lippert’s Associated Producers, Inc., which was set to make twenty low-budget films for Fox in the next year. With a production cost set at $1 million, The Big Show was planned as the most expensive picture on Associated Producers’ slate, and the costliest film Lippert had ever produced, as indicated in a 3 Mar 1961 DV item. A lower budget of $820,000 was later cited in the 12 Apr 1961 Var.
       According to a 4 Oct 1960 DV item, Dicker Fernandel was in negotiations to play a key role. Later that month, the casting of Esther Williams was announced in a 28 Oct 1960 DV brief. Williams’s co-star, Cliff Robertson, briefly withdrew from the role of “Josef Everard” before recommitting to it closer to the start of filming, as noted in the 18 Nov 1960 DV.
       A 25 Nov ... More Less

The Big Show may have been based on Jerome Weidman's novel I'll Never Go There Any More (New York, 1941).
       On 19 Jan 1960, LAT announced James B. Clark would direct the picture for executive producer Robert L. Lippert, with filming set to begin in Europe around 1 Apr 1960. Although an article in the 2 Feb 1960 DV stated that production would take place in either Copenhagen, Denmark, or Vienna, Austria, filming was delayed several months and the 17 Aug 1960 DV reported that shooting would now be split between Copenhagen and Munich, West Germany. By that time, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. had come on board to distribute as part of its new contract with Lippert’s Associated Producers, Inc., which was set to make twenty low-budget films for Fox in the next year. With a production cost set at $1 million, The Big Show was planned as the most expensive picture on Associated Producers’ slate, and the costliest film Lippert had ever produced, as indicated in a 3 Mar 1961 DV item. A lower budget of $820,000 was later cited in the 12 Apr 1961 Var.
       According to a 4 Oct 1960 DV item, Dicker Fernandel was in negotiations to play a key role. Later that month, the casting of Esther Williams was announced in a 28 Oct 1960 DV brief. Williams’s co-star, Cliff Robertson, briefly withdrew from the role of “Josef Everard” before recommitting to it closer to the start of filming, as noted in the 18 Nov 1960 DV.
       A 25 Nov 1960 DV production chart stated that principal photography had begun four days earlier, on 21 Nov 1960, in Munich. There, locations included “Munich’s famous Gothic town hall,” as stated in the 2 Dec 1960 LAT, as well as the Victory Gate and former royal palace, Munich Residenz. On 27 Dec 1960, DV reported that initial plans to shoot entirely in Munich had been scrapped, due to an agreement Lippert had made with Cliff Robertson, who needed to return to Los Angeles, CA, by 1 Jan 1961 for “a date in a domestic court matter.” The remainder of shooting was done at Fox’s studio lot on Western Avenue, where sets previously built in Munich had to be replicated. In the meantime, rumors had circulated that James B. Clark and Esther Williams were having onset spats. When asked about the conflict, Lippert had refused to comment.
       After production was completed in Los Angeles, Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter’s score was recorded in Rome, Italy, according to a 6 Apr 1961 DV brief.
       The film was reviewed in the 8 May 1961 DV, which noted that $500,000 had been spent on advertising and lamented that any box-office success would be “a triumph of salesmanship over product.” Following other lackluster reviews in NYT and LAT, an item in the 7 Jun 1961 Var stated that ticket sales had been “highly disappointing.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Feb 1960
p. 6.
Daily Variety
6 Apr 1960
p. 3.
Daily Variety
26 May 1960
p. 3.
Daily Variety
17 Aug 1960
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
18 Aug 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
4 Oct 1960
p. 3.
Daily Variety
20 Oct 1960
p. 8.
Daily Variety
28 Oct 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
18 Nov 1960
p. 7.
Daily Variety
25 Nov 1960
p. 6.
Daily Variety
27 Dec 1960
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
3 Mar 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
6 Apr 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
8 May 1961
pp. 3-4.
Los Angeles Times
19 Jan 1960
Section C, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
2 Dec 1960
Section C, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
18 May 1961
Section C, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
25 May 1961
Section B, p. 13.
New York Times
11 May 1961
p. 42.
Variety
12 Apr 1961
p. 4.
Variety
10 May 1961
p. 9.
Variety
7 Jun 1961
p. 23.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Coöp
DETAILS
Release Date:
10 May 1961
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 10 May 1961
Los Angeles opening: 18 May 1961
Production Date:
began 21 November 1960
Copyright Claimant:
Associated Producers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
4 May 1961
Copyright Number:
LP19488
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
113
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Bruno Everard, the mercenary, power-mad owner of a traveling German circus, exploits everyone, including his family of four sons and a daughter, all of whom are trained performers. His oldest son, Klaus, who has always resented his father's obvious preference for the younger and more talented Josef, tries to endear himself to Bruno by marrying Teresa Vizzini, the daughter of a menagerie owner with whom Bruno has long wished to merge. In so doing Klaus infuriates young Carlotta Martinez, an aerialist whom he had promised to marry. Meanwhile, Josef has fallen in love with a wealthy American, Hillary Allen, but when she asks him to abandon the circus and return to the United States as her business manager, Josef breaks off the romance. At the same time, Bruno's daughter, Garda, defies her father by marrying an American soldier, Eric Solden. Eventually Teresa realizes that Klaus married her only to gain control of her father's menagerie. Overcome by despair, she commits suicide by allowing herself to be mauled in a polar bear act. Shortly thereafter, Carlotta is seriously injured in a high wire accident. When she charges Bruno with negligence, Josef assumes full responsibility for the faulty equipment and is sentenced to a prison term. While he is away, the other children renounce their father and take the circus away from him. The old man tries to make a comeback but suffers a fatal heart attack while performing on an outdoor trapeze. When Josef is released from prison, he turns on his brothers, blaming them for their father's death. Klaus tries to knife Josef but is himself killed by the same polar bear that took Teresa's life. The tragedy has ... +


Bruno Everard, the mercenary, power-mad owner of a traveling German circus, exploits everyone, including his family of four sons and a daughter, all of whom are trained performers. His oldest son, Klaus, who has always resented his father's obvious preference for the younger and more talented Josef, tries to endear himself to Bruno by marrying Teresa Vizzini, the daughter of a menagerie owner with whom Bruno has long wished to merge. In so doing Klaus infuriates young Carlotta Martinez, an aerialist whom he had promised to marry. Meanwhile, Josef has fallen in love with a wealthy American, Hillary Allen, but when she asks him to abandon the circus and return to the United States as her business manager, Josef breaks off the romance. At the same time, Bruno's daughter, Garda, defies her father by marrying an American soldier, Eric Solden. Eventually Teresa realizes that Klaus married her only to gain control of her father's menagerie. Overcome by despair, she commits suicide by allowing herself to be mauled in a polar bear act. Shortly thereafter, Carlotta is seriously injured in a high wire accident. When she charges Bruno with negligence, Josef assumes full responsibility for the faulty equipment and is sentenced to a prison term. While he is away, the other children renounce their father and take the circus away from him. The old man tries to make a comeback but suffers a fatal heart attack while performing on an outdoor trapeze. When Josef is released from prison, he turns on his brothers, blaming them for their father's death. Klaus tries to knife Josef but is himself killed by the same polar bear that took Teresa's life. The tragedy has a sobering effect upon the remaining members of the family, and they decide to reorganize the family circus. At last, Hillary agrees to marry Josef on his terms. +

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

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