At the Circus

At the Circus (also called The Marx Brothers at the Circus) is a 1939 Marx Brothers comedy film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in which they help save a circus from bankruptcy. The movie contains Groucho Marx's rendition of "Lydia the Tattooed Lady". The supporting cast includes Florence Rice, Kenny Baker, Margaret Dumont, and Eve Arden.

At the Circus
Directed byEdward Buzzell
Produced byMervyn LeRoy
Written byIrving Brecher
Buster Keaton (uncredited)
Laurence Stallings (uncredited)
StarringGroucho Marx
Chico Marx
Harpo Marx
Florence Rice
Kenny Baker
Margaret Dumont
Eve Arden
Music byFranz Waxman
CinematographyLeonard M. Smith
Edited byWilliam H. Terhune
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • October 20, 1939
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited States


Goliath, the circus strongman (Nat Pendleton) and the midget, Little Professor Atom (Jerry Maren), are accomplices of bad guy John Carter (James Burke) who is trying to take over the Wilson Wonder Circus. Julie Randall (Florence Rice) performs a horse act in the circus. In the animal car on the circus train, Goliath and Atom knock out Julie's boyfriend, Jeff Wilson (Kenny Baker), and steal $10,000, which Jeff owes Carter.

Jeff's friend and circus employee, Tony (Chico), summons attorney J. Cheever Loophole (Groucho) to handle the situation. Loophole caves in when he sees the muscular Goliath, and gets nowhere with Little Professor Atom. In order to help Wilson, he first tries to get the hidden money from Carter's moll, Peerless Pauline (Eve Arden), but fails. Tony and Punchy (Harpo) search Goliath's stateroom on the circus train for the money, but are unsuccessful.

Loophole calls upon Jeff's wealthy aunt, Mrs. Dukesbury (Margaret Dumont), and tricks her into paying $10,000 for the Wilson Wonder Circus to entertain the Newport 400, instead of a performance by French conductor Jardinet (Fritz Feld), and his symphony orchestra. The audience is delighted with the circus; when Jardinet arrives, Loophole, who also delayed the Frenchman by implicating him in a dope ring, disposes of the conductor and his orchestra by having them play on a floating bandstand down at the water's edge.

Tony and Punchy cut the mooring rope while the orchestra plays the Prelude to Act Three of Wagner's Lohengrin, Meanwhile, Carter and his henchmen try to burn down the circus, but are thwarted by Loophole, Tony, and Punchy, along with the only witness to the robbery: Gibraltar the gorilla (Charles Gemora), who also retrieves Wilson's money.


Production notes

Groucho Marx-Eve Arden in At the Circus trailer
Groucho Marx and Eve Arden in a scene from At the Circus

Buster Keaton worked on the film as a gag man. His career was on the downside and he was forced to work for scale. His complex and sometimes belabored gags did not work well with the Marx Brothers' brand of humor, and was a source of friction between the comedian and the group.[1] When Groucho called Keaton on the inappropriateness of his gags for the Marx Brothers, Keaton responded, "I'm only doing what Mr. Mayer asked me to do. You guys don't need help."[2]

Hundreds of girls applied for the film, with eighteen finally chosen after "rigid tests". They had to be expert ballet dancers, have good singing voices, and they had to be able to prove all this by doing a toe-dance on a cantering bareback horse, while singing in key. Four of the girls were former circus riders. Several of the other girls had ridden in rodeos, either professionally or as amateurs, and the rest had been riding most of their lives.[3]

The name of Groucho's character in this film, J. Cheever Loophole, recalls that of real-life financier J. Cheever Cowdin, who had ties to the film industry. In 1936, Cowdin led a group of investors who had loaned $750,000 to Carl Laemmle and his son Carl Laemmle, Jr., to finance the film Show Boat. Before the release of the film, the investors demanded repayment, but the Laemmles did not have the funds to pay it back. Because of this, Cowdin was able to take control of the Laemmle's Universal Pictures studio and served as the company's president until 1946. Show Boat proved to be a financial success and, had the loan not been called for repayment until after the film's release, the Laemmles would have been able to repay the loan and retain ownership of their film production company.

Groucho was aged 48 during the filming of At the Circus, and his hairline had begun receding. As such, he took to wearing a toupee in the film and would do the same for the following film, Go West.

One of Groucho's oft-repeated stories about the film concerned the gorilla skin that an actor wore. On The Dick Cavett Show taped June 13, 1969, he said that the actor was too hot inside the skin under the bright lights, and it was summer, and during lunch he went to the cafeteria and poked several holes in it with an icepick. The manager of the gorilla skin became angry about this and took the skin away. MGM scoured southern California for a replacement and finally located an orangutan skin in San Diego. An orangutan is only half the size of a gorilla, and they had to hire a midget to fit inside it. Groucho said he got hundreds of letters about this, and some viewers he happened to meet asked him how come the gorilla got smaller in the second half.

Musical numbers


Reviews from critics were generally not as positive as those for earlier Marx Brothers films. Frank S. Nugent of The New York Times wrote that "in all charity and with a very real twinge of regret we must report that their new frolic is not exactly frolicsome; that it is, in cruel fact, a rather dispirited imitation of former Marx successes, a matter more of perspiration that inspiration and not at all up to the standards (foot-high though they may be) of daffy comedy."[4] Variety called the film "broad, ribald fun in familiar pattern to early pictures of the Marx Bros."[5] Film Daily wrote, "The mad Marxmen have never been funnier, nor have they had a better story in which to cavort than 'At the Circus'."[6] Harrison's Reports called it "about the worst Marx picture seen in years ... Children should enjoy it, but hardly any adults."[7] John Mosher of The New Yorker wrote that the Marxes seemed to be trying harder in this picture than they were in Room Service, "but the achievement of novelty or surprise, the true Marx note, is never apparent."[8] The November 11, 1939 Ottawa Citizen described the film as "a veritable riot of hilarity" and "possibly the nuttiest of the films that Groucho, Chico and Harpo have perpetuated."[9]


  1. ^ Groucho, Harpo, Chico and sometimes Zeppo.
  2. ^ Mitchell, Glenn (2006). The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia. London, UK: Reynolds & Hearn. p. 164. ISBN 1-905287-11-9.
  3. ^ "Versatility Required In Marx Bros. Film". The Montreal Gazette. Montreal. Jan 2, 1940. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  4. ^ The New York Times Reviews, Volume 3: 1939-1948. New York: The New York Times & Arno Press. 1970. p. 1653.
  5. ^ "Film Reviews". Variety. New York: Variety, Inc. October 18, 1939. p. 14.
  6. ^ "Reviews of the New Films". Film Daily. New York: Wid's Films and Film Folk, Inc.: 7 November 17, 1939.
  7. ^ "At the Circus". Harrison's Reports. New York: Harrison's Reports, Inc.: 167 October 21, 1939.
  8. ^ Mosher, John (November 25, 1939). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker. New York: F-R Publishing Corp. p. 83.
  9. ^ "Picture Theaters At the Motion". Ottawa Citizen. Ottawa. November 11, 1939. Retrieved May 19, 2013.

External links

2003 PDC World Darts Championship

The 2003 World Darts Championship was the tenth World Championship organised by the Professional Darts Corporation since it split from the British Darts Organisation in 1993. The tournament took place between 27 December 2002 and 4 January 2003 at the Circus Tavern, Purfleet, England. Ladbrokes (who sponsored the 1996 event with their Vernon's brand) took over sponsorship of the event from Skol.

The field at the televised stages expanded for the first time since 1999. An extra qualifying round was introduced increasing the total number of players from 32 to 40. John Part defeated the defending champion and number one seed, Phil Taylor, in the final to end two incredible runs by Taylor – eight successive World titles, and 44 successive victories at the Circus Tavern.

This was Part's second world championship having also won the 1994 BDO Championship (the first tournament after the split).

Angela Carter

Angela Olive Carter-Pearce (née Stalker; 7 May 1940 – 16 February 1992), who published under the pen name Angela Carter, was an English novelist, short story writer and journalist, known for her feminist, magical realism, and picaresque works. She is best known for her book The Bloody Chamber, which was published in 1979. In 2008, The Times ranked Carter tenth in their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". In 2012, Nights at the Circus was selected as the best ever winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

Backtracks (AC/DC album)

Backtracks is a box set by Australian hard rock band AC/DC. It was announced on 29 September 2009 and was released on 10 November 2009 (the Deluxe Edition was shipped out early (before the schedule release date) due to overwhelming fan reaction and anticipation). This is a collection of the band's studio and live rarities together in one boxset. There are two editions; a Deluxe Edition and a Standard Edition. All tracks have been remastered to match the sound of the 2003 album remasters and many songs appear on CD for the first time. It is the band's second box set of rarities, following the Bonfire release in 1997.

The Deluxe Edition (available only through includes three CDs, two DVDs, one LP, a 164-page hard-back coffee table book and collectible merchandise reproductions all housed in an operating 1 watt guitar amplifier. One CD includes rare studio tracks including A-sides (such as the "Who Made Who" 12" A-side and "Big Gun"), B-sides, and UK and Australian-only releases, while the other two CDs document live tracks which have appeared on singles, EPs and promo or soundtrack albums over the years. Part three of the Family Jewels DVD series is included and also the entire 2003 Circus Krone, Munich, Germany, gig on DVD.The Standard Edition (released as a smaller "budget" version for those who could not afford the steep price of the Deluxe Edition) includes two CDs and one DVD. CD One contains highlights of Studio Rarities, while CD two contains highlights of Live Rarities. The DVD is Family Jewels Disc Three.

Beat the Boots! II

Beat the Boots II is a box set by Frank Zappa. It compiles bootleg recordings which were previously available illegally, and was released through Rhino Entertainment in 1992 as part of Zappa's campaign to dissuade his fans from buying illegal recordings of his concerts. The set contains material from between 1968 and 1978, including Swiss Cheese/Fire! which documents a famous 1971 concert at a casino in Montreux where the venue burned down, inspiring the lyrics of Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water".

Bozo the Clown

Bozo the Clown is a fictional clown character, created and introduced in the United States in 1946, and to television in 1949, whose broad popularity peaked locally in the 1960s as a result of widespread franchising in early television.

Charlie Chan at the Circus

Charlie Chan at the Circus is the 11th film produced by Fox starring Warner Oland as Charlie Chan. A seemingly harmless family outing drags a vacationing Chan into a murder investigation. The film's sets were designed by the art director Duncan Cramer.

Circus Maximus

The Circus Maximus (Latin for greatest or largest circus; Italian: Circo Massimo) is an ancient Roman chariot-racing stadium and mass entertainment venue located in Rome, Italy. Situated in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine Hills, it was the first and largest stadium in ancient Rome and its later Empire. It measured 621 m (2,037 ft) in length and 118 m (387 ft) in width and could accommodate over 150,000 spectators. In its fully developed form, it became the model for circuses throughout the Roman Empire. The site is now a public park.

Circus Tavern

The Circus Tavern is an entertainment venue in Purfleet, Essex, England which hosts functions, cabaret acts and is also a nightclub venue. However, it is most famous as having been a long-time venue of the PDC World Darts Championship.

Edward Buzzell

Edward Buzzell (November 13, 1895 – January 11, 1985) was an American film director whose credits include Child of Manhattan (1933) for Columbia Pictures, and for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Honolulu (1939), the Marx Brothers films At the Circus (1939) and Go West (1940), the musicals Best Foot Forward (1943) with Lucille Ball, Song of the Thin Man (1947) with Myrna Loy, and Neptune's Daughter (1949) with Esther Williams, and Easy to Wed, starring Van Johnson, Williams, and Ball.

Buzzell was born in Brooklyn. He appeared in vaudeville and on Broadway, and was hired to star in the 1929 film version of George M. Cohan's Little Johnny Jones with Alice Day. Buzzell appeared in a few Vitaphone shorts, and the two-strip Technicolor short The Devil's Cabaret (1930) as Satan's assistant. He wrote screenplays in the early 1930s and later produced the popular The Milton Berle Show which premiered on television in 1948.

In 1926, Buzzell married actress Ona Munson, who later played Belle Watling in Gone with the Wind. They divorced in 1931. He married socialite Sara Clark on August 11, 1934 but the marriage only lasted 5 weeks and she left him. He married actress Lorraine Miller on December 10, 1949. He died in Los Angeles in 1985 at the age of 89.

Eve Arden

Eve Arden (born Eunice Mary Quedens, April 30, 1908 – November 12, 1990) was an American film, radio, stage, and television actress, and comedienne. She performed in leading and supporting roles for nearly six decades.

Beginning her film career in 1929 and on Broadway in the early 1930s, Arden's first major role was in the RKO Radio Pictures drama Stage Door (1937) opposite Katharine Hepburn, followed by roles in the comedies Having Wonderful Time (1938) and the Marx Brothers' At the Circus (1939). Arden would go on to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Mildred Pierce (1945).

In the latter part of her career, she played the sardonic but engaging title character of a high school teacher in Our Miss Brooks, winning the first Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, and as the school principal in the musicals Grease (1978) and Grease 2 (1982).

Krazy Kat filmography

After George Herriman conceived the Krazy Kat comic strip in 1913, the title character began appearing in animated shorts three years later. From 1916 to 1940, Krazy Kat was featured in 231 films. The following is a list of the cartoons released theatrically, separated by studio.

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List of The Monkees episodes

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The first songs listed are from the original NBC broadcasts. Over the summer of 1967, NBC reran multiple episodes with revised soundtracks to promote the Monkees' then-current album, Headquarters, and the singles released during that summer. Then, between 1969 and 1973, CBS (and later ABC) reran the episodes on Saturday morning, revising the soundtracks once again to promote the albums The Monkees Present and Changes. All alternate songs are listed where applicable.

Tracks with different mixes or versions as compared to the album versions are indicated.

Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies filmography (1940–49)

This is a listing of all the animated shorts released by Warner Bros. under the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies banners between 1940 and 1949.

A total of 307 shorts were released during the 1940s.

Nights at the Circus

Nights at the Circus is a novel by British writer Angela Carter, first published in 1984 and that year's winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. The novel focuses on the life and exploits of Sophie Fevvers, a woman who is – or so she would have people believe – a Cockney virgin, hatched from an egg laid by unknown parents and ready to develop fully fledged wings. At the time of the story, she has become a celebrated aerialiste, and she captivates the young journalist Jack Walser, who runs away with the circus and falls into a world that his journalistic exploits had not prepared him to encounter.

Nights at the Circus incorporates multiple categories of fiction, including postmodernism, magical realism, and postfeminism. As in her previous works, Carter plays with many literary aspects and dissects the traditional fairy tale structure.

In 2006, the novel was adapted for the stage by Tom Morris and Emma Rice for Kneehigh Theatre Company. It was performed at the Lyric Hammersmith, London, Bristol Old Vic, Bristol and then toured.

Players Championship Finals

The Players Championship Finals is a darts tournament organised by the Professional Darts Corporation. The tournament originally featured the top 32 players from the Players Championship Order of Merit, a separate ranking system that only takes into account the non-televised Players Championship events on the PDC Pro Tour. In 2016, the field increased to 64 players.The tournament was first announced at the PDC Awards Dinner in January 2008 by PDC chairman Barry Hearn. It was initially held from late January to February, and originally took place at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet, the venue for the first 14 PDC World Championships. For the third edition, the event moved to the Doncaster Dome. The 2012 Edition took place in December at Butlins in Minehead and has remained at that venue for all subsequent tournaments.

Salto Mortale (1931 German film)

Salto Mortale is a 1931 German drama film directed by Ewald André Dupont and starring Anna Sten, Anton Walbrook and Reinhold Bernt. A circus film, it has been described as being "in all but name a sound film remake of Variety" and was a box office success.The film's sets were designed by the art directors Alfred Junge and Fritz Maurischat. Location filming took place at the Circus Busch in Berlin. A separate French-language version was also made by Dupont.

Where's Waldo at the Circus

Designed for "children ages 4 through 8", Where's Waldo at the Circus is a computer video game that immerses the player in a rich interactive environment complete with music, sound, and animation. A team of educators assisted with the game design, and the exercises within it conform to the guidelines of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the California Department of Education.

The game is introduced by Waldo himself asking the player to type in his or her name. Once that is done, the player is off to the Big Top to meet Wizard Whitebeard, who gives options of hearing the story behind the game or jumping right in.

William Comes to Town

William Comes to Town is a 1948 British comedy film directed by Val Guest and starring William Graham and Garry Marsh. It was based on the Just William series of novels by Richmal Crompton. It served as a loose sequel to 1947 film Just William's Luck. It is also known by its U.S. alternative title William Goes to the Circus.

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