Even if I didn’t know that Samuel Bronston and Henry Hathaway‘s Circus World (’64) was a financial calamity (North American gross of $1.6 million vs. production costs of $9 million) that ended Bronson’s high-rolling career…even if I didn’t know this I could still smell a misconceived effort from the trailer.
That awful narration, the flatness of tone and lighting, the obviousness…God!
The idea was to somehow recreate the box-office appeal of Cecil B. DeMille‘s The Greatest Show on Earth (’52). It didn’t happen, in large part due to lead actors who didn’t blend.
56 during filming in ’63, John Wayne had become too bulky and too past-his-prime** to play Rita Hayworth‘s circus impresario lover, and Hayworth wasn’t doing too well herself with her alcohol problem and (alleged) early-onset Alzheimers.
No, I’ve never seen Circus World. I might give it a shot if I could see it gratis, but otherwise I’m cool with reading the bad reviews and imagining the shortcomings.
** Duke was also too old to play Angie Dickinson‘s boyfriend in Rio Bravo (’59), which was shot in ’58 when he was 51. Ditto Capucine‘s lover in North To Alaska (’60), which rolled film when he was 52 or thereabouts.