Its titled derived from a circus term describing an inexperienced performer in his first season, director Paul Sirmons film is adapted from author Gail Radley's popular novel of the same name. The story centers on the friendship between an eleven year old foster child named Cory (Dan Byrd) and an elderly nursing home patient named Carlotta (Julie Harris). Cory has been bounced from foster home to foster home, and he's never felt like he's had a real family. Carlotta feels like she's been forgotten by the world, and rails against the strict rules of that the nurses try and enforce on her. Together, Cory and Carlotta run away to join a traveling circus. Now, under the guidance of the energetic circus owner (Mickey Rooney), this old has-been and young spring chicken prepare to dazzle the crowds and start a new life. Charles Nelson Reilly co-stars as a kindly clown who helps mentor Cory, and Joe DiMaggio appears as a mysterious stranger who encourages the young boy to chase his dreams.