Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Inasmuch as the spectacular Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart Broadway musical Jumbo was written in 1935, this 1962 film version can't help but seem a little quaint. Still, the film features the original production's star Jimmy Durante, energetically recreating his stage role as circus owner Pop Wonder; it is Durante's bravura performance that saves the film from dullness. Threatened with foreclosure, Pop Wonder and his pretty daughter Kitty (Doris Day) put their fates in the hands of go-getter Sam Rawlins (Stephen Boyd). What they don't know is that Sam is the son of Pop's biggest rival (Dean Jagger), and he's been sent to undermine the Wonder Circus. It goes without saying that Sam turns the tables on his dad, thereby saving the day and winning Kitty's hand. Martha Raye shows up as Lulu, a fortune teller who can't figure out what's going to happen next (funny, we can). And of course there's Jumbo the elephant, who figures into the film's funniest scene (as well as one of Jimmy Durante's most celebrated punchlines). Old MGM musical hands Charles Walters and Busby Berkeley share directing chores, but somehow the film hasn't the panache of their earlier work. Happily, most of the Rodgers-Hart songs are retained, including "My Romance" and "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World"-not to mention a few Rodgers-Hart tunes borrowed from other show, e.g. "This Can't Be Love".
circus, circus-performer, business, carnival, espionage, love, rival, romance