The Big Circus (1959) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Big Circus (1959)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Big Circus Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

A disaster-plagued circus struggles to survive in this exciting drama. The owner desperately needs a loan, but before he can get one, a stern banker must inspect the place. Somehow the fellow ends up as a clown and flying around on a trapeze. Disasters such as a fire, an escaped wild animal, heavy storms, and other problems keep things exciting. Though not a major hit, it was well done and represents an early effort from noted producer Irwin Allen who also wrote the screenplay.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure
Directed By: ,
Written By: Charles Bennett, Irving Wallace, Irwin Allen
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 22, 2009
Warner Bros.


Rhonda Fleming
as Helen Harrison
Victor Mature
as Henry Jasper 'Hank' ...
Red Buttons
as Randy Sherman
Kathryn Grant
as Jeannie Whirling
Vincent Price
as Hans Hagenfeld
Gilbert Roland
as Aerialist
Peter Lorre
as Skeeter
David Nelson
as Tommy Gordon
Adele Mara
as Mama Colino
Howard McNear
as Mr. Lomax
Charles Watts
as Jonathan Nelson
Steve Allen
as Guest Star
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Big Circus

Critic Reviews for The Big Circus

All Critics (1)

Backstage at the circus, with colorful acts, a look at the business aspects of a circus, and a pioneering feminist heroine.

Full Review… | August 16, 2012
Classic Film and Television

Audience Reviews for The Big Circus


Everything but the kitchen sink is thrown in to this colorful pageant about the struggle for a circus's survival . It's bright but empty however Peter Lorre playing a clown is genius casting.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer


There's always a first time.

Hank Jasper Whirling is a circus owner who talks a bank into helping financially back his circus. The bank sends a man to oversee the investment. Shortly after he secures the financial backing, rains come, a saboteur emerges, and the circus starts losing money putting the show at risk. Can Hank and the circus folks find the person responsible and bring them to a stop?

"Walk across Niagara Falls."
"You mean on the water?"

Joseph Newman, director of Dangerous Crossing, The Island Earth, A Thunder of Drums, Kiss of Fire, Fort Massacre, The Gunfight at Dodge City, and Red Skies of Montana, delivers The Big Circus. The storyline for this picture is okay and fun to watch unfold. This isn't completely predictable and there is a nice blend of fascinating characters. The cast is pretty amazing and includes Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Victor Mature, Red Buttons, Rhonda Fleming, Kathryn Grant, and Gilbert Roland.

"I'm never going to forget this, mister."
"I've already forgotten you. Now get out of here."

I DVR'd this picture last Halloween season because it starred Peter Lorre and Vincent Price. This was definitely an above average drama because it had wonderful actors and characters; however, the primary plot could have been a lot better. This could have been better but is definitely worth a viewing.

"Everybody has to die."

Grade: B-

Kevin Robbins

Low-budget version of DeMille's "The Greatest Show on Earth." Here, future Master-of-Disaster Irwin Allen stages a couple minor disasters, and has one off camera (a train wreck, like in TGSOE). Is it wrong that I wanted to see the train wreck on camera? C'mon, it's Irwin Allen, creator of "The Poseidon Adventure," etc. Oh, well!

The movie's pretty routine, routinely cast, with the exception of Red Buttons, who is very good. Lots of melodrama, but some good circus sequences. And, it's in CinemaScope, unlike TGSOE, which came out a year before the widescreen process.

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