Samuel Bronston’s Circus World is his swan song to roadshows. (Though he had one more in mind—Isabella of Spain, with Elizabeth Taylor.) Bankrupted by The Fall of the Roman Empire, the impresario’s scrounging for funds over a pedestrian milieu after 11th century Spain, Boxer China and ancient Rome flashes not only a desperation but also a neon epitaph. He was the movies’ real version of the Broadway shyters in Mel Brooks’s The Producers. Still, there are some pleasures we’ve come to expect from his propensity for deluxe twaddle: production designer John DeCuir has come up with a few eye-popping sets and he dresses up existing arenas and other locales—in Madrid and Barcelona, for example—with his customary flair; Renie does the costumes; Jack Hildyard and Claude Renoir photograph nicely. It’s in the basic story and casting that everything goes to hell. Who can believe John Wayne as a circus promoter? The same boobs who bought him as a big game hunter for zoos in Hatari!? How did Claudia Cardinale manage to be the daughter to former star aerialist Rita Hayworth? (European financing.) Understand Philip Yordan retrograding but what explains Nicholas Ray and Ben Hecht getting this hoodwinked? (Hecht’s last writing job.) 125 horses used in Fall of Roman Empire go for double duty here. In Britain, Bronston’s bore was self-aggrandizingly entitled The Magnificent Showman. Directed by Henry Hathaway. Presented in Cinerama, shot in SUPER TECHNIRAMA-70.
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Text COPYRIGHT © 2002 RALPH BENNER All Rights Reserved.