Under the Top (1919)

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Celebrated musical comedy star Fred Stone was permitted to show off his astonishing physical dexterity in the homey comedy-drama Under the Top. A brief prologue establishes the fact that hero Jimmie Jones (played as a child by Gordon Griffith, and as an adult by Stone) ran away in his youth to join the circus. Now an adult, Jimmie endeavors to help heroine Pansy O'Neill (Ella Hall), who after the death of her circus-manager father is forced to single-handedly take over the show. Hoping to take over the circus themselves, a gang of crooks conspire to marry Pansy off to the wastrelly son of the chief conspirator. But Jimmie uses his Big Top know-how to confound the criminals and rescue the girl. The slimy would-be bridegroom was played by James Cruze, who would soon abandon acting to become a full-time producer. Elevating Under the Top from the usual run of circus romances was the consistently witty screenplay by Anita Loos and John Emerson).