Battle Circus (1953)

Genres - War, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - War Drama, War Romance  |   Release Date - Mar 6, 1953 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 89 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Those who watch Battle Circus anticipating another M*A*S*H – whether the film or the TV series – will be disappointed. Circus shares its setting with the latter cultural touchstone, but that's about it. Circus is lacking in wit, bite and insight – not just compared to M*A*S*H (a comparison that, while unfair, is also inevitable) but to other films in general. Instead of taking advantage of its unique setting and the potentially rich story and characters that could be developed therein, Circus settles for being a fairly routine war story/romance. Indeed, it's the romance part of the film which comes to dominate and accounts for much of its weaknesses. There's simply nothing original at the center of this tale of two opposites learning to attract. It doesn't help matters that half of the central duo – June Allyson- is miscast and in over her head here, or that the other half Humphrey Bogart is only half trying. It also doesn't help that the chemistry between the two is completely absent. Modern audiences may also be disturbed by the harassing manner in which Bogart treats Allyson. Circus isn't a total loss; Richard Brooks brings appropriate tension to a number of scenes and even manages to make the "grenade in the operating room" sequence bristle with life. But overall, Circus is rather tedious.