aka Samuel Bronston’s Circus World
Drama / Western
Directed by Henry Hathaway
John Wayne as Matt Masters
Claudia Cardinale as Toni Alfredo
Rita Hayworth as Lili Alfredo
Lloyd Nolan as Cap Carson
Richard Conte as Aldo Alfredo
John Smith as Steve McCabe
Katharyna as Giovana
Katherine Kath as Hilda
Wanda Rotha as Mrs. Schuman
Margaret MacGrath as Anna
Miles Malleson as Billy Hennigan
José María Caffarel as Barcelona's Mayor
Kay Walsh as Flo Hunt
Francois Calepides as Ringmaster
Robert Cunningham as Ringmaster
In the early 1900’s Matt Masters decides to take his moderately successful wild west circus show on a European tour. His real motivation is to find his long lost love, Lili Alfredo, who abandoned Matt and her daughter, Toni Alfredo, when her husband died in a trapeze act. Some in the circus speculate that her husband fell on purpose, committing suicide because of her romantic involvement with Matt Masters. However, the circus is lost in a storm on the way to Europe, and Masters is forced to take a job working for a European circus, instead of managing his own. Can Masters manage to get back on his feet and find his lost love? Even in Europe, the Duke can deliver the goods!
Notes: Although Circus World received some attention from the Golden Globe awards (Dimitri Tiomkin won for best song, and Rita Hayworth was nominated for Best Actress), the film failed to attract Academy Awards attention. It didn’t help that Circus World opened against a re-release of Cecil B. DeMille’s acclaimed circus picture, The Greatest Show on Earth, starring Charlton Heston.
The cast was also undergoing some stresses during shooting. Frank Capra, who was slated to direct, quit because he disagreed with writer James Edward Grant, who was favored by John Wayne.
After shooting Circus World, John Wayne underwent surgery for lung cancer.
Rita Hayworth was criticized for having problems with alcohol, and it was reported that she often showed up late and couldn’t remember lines. Actually, Hayworth was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Although she was not officially diagnosed until 1980, her family acknowledged that the symptoms were present much earlier. In an article in the LA Times, Hayworth’s daughter, Yasmin Khan, was quoted saying, “She wasn't diagnosed as having Alzheimer's until 1980. There were two decades of hell before that."
Henry Hathaway also directed John Wayne in a number of his more well-remembered films such as How the West was Won, North to Alaska, The Sons of Katie Elder , and True Grit.
Circus World - Trailer