AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Big Show
Director: James B. Clark (Dir)
Release Date:   1961
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 10 May 1961
Duration (in mins):   113
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Cast:   Esther Williams (Hillary Allen)  
    Cliff Robertson (Josef Everard)  
    Nehemiah Persoff (Bruno Everard)  
    Robert Vaughn (Klaus Everard)  
    Margia Dean (Carlotta Martinez)  
    David Nelson (Eric Solden)  
    Carol Christensen (Garda Everard)  
    Kurt Pecher (Hans Everard)  
    Renata Mannhardt (Teresa Vizzini)  
    Franco Andrei (Fredrik Everard)  
    Peter Capell (Vizzini)  
    Stefan Schnabel (Lawyer)  
    Carleton Young (Judge Richter)  
    Philo Hauser (Ringmaster)  
    Mariza Tomic (Frau Stein)  
    Gerd Vespermann (Prosecutor)  
    Pierre Alizée    
    Jacques Nicolet    
    Marlies Tanz    
    Gerhard Stapper    
    Rudolph Stey High Wire Troupe (Trapezists)  
    Doris Arndt and the Ice Bears    
    The Wandruschka Family    

Summary: Bruno Everard, the mercenary, power-mad owner of a traveling German circus, exploits everyone, including his family of four sons and a daughter, all of whom are trained performers. His oldest son, Klaus, who has always resented his father's obvious preference for the younger and more talented Josef, tries to endear himself to Bruno by marrying Teresa Vizzini, the daughter of a menagerie owner with whom Bruno has long wished to merge. In so doing Klaus infuriates young Carlotta Martinez, an aerialist whom he had promised to marry. Meanwhile, Josef has fallen in love with a wealthy American, Hillary Allen, but when she asks him to abandon the circus and return to the United States as her business manager, Josef breaks off the romance. At the same time, Bruno's daughter, Garda, defies her father by marrying an American soldier, Eric Solden. Eventually Teresa realizes that Klaus married her only to gain control of her father's menagerie. Overcome by despair, she commits suicide by allowing herself to be mauled in a polar bear act. Shortly thereafter, Carlotta is seriously injured in a high wire accident. When she charges Bruno with negligence, Josef assumes full responsibility for the faulty equipment and is sentenced to a prison term. While he is away the other children renounce their father and take the circus away from him. The old man tries to make a comeback but suffers a fatal heart attack while performing on an outdoor trapeze. When Josef is released from prison, he turns on his brothers, blaming them for their father's death. Klaus tries to knife Josef but is himself killed by the same polar bear that took Teresa's life. The tragedy has a sobering effect upon the remaining members of the family, and they decide to reorganize the family circus. At last, Hillary agrees to marry Josef on his terms. 

Production Company: Associated Producers, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.  
Director: James B. Clark (Dir)
  Herman Goebel (Asst dir)
Producer: Ted Sherdeman (Prod)
  James B. Clark (Prod)
  Robert L. Lippert (Exec prod)
Writer: Ted Sherdeman (Wrt)
Photography: Otto Heller (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Ludwig Reiber (Art dir)
Film Editor: Benjamin Laird (Film ed)
Costumes: Teddy Turai-Rossi (Cost des)
Music: Paul Sawtell (Mus)
  Bert Shefter (Mus)
Sound: Walter Rühland (Sd rec)
  Don McKay (Sd rec)
Make Up: Josef Coesfeld (Makeup)
  Klara Kraft (Makeup)
Production Misc: Clarence Eurist (Prod mgr)
  Circus Krone (Munich) (Coöp)
  Carl Sembach (Coöp)
  Erhardt Plath (Coöp)
  Christol Sembach (Coöp)
Country: United States
Language: English

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Associated Producers, Inc. 4/5/1961 dd/mm/yyyy LP19488

Physical Properties: col: De Luxe
  Sd: Westrex
  Widescreen/ratio: CinemaScope

Genre: Melodrama
Sub-Genre: Carnival/Circus
Subjects (Major): Aerialists
  Americans in foreign countries
  Breach of promise
  Family life
  Family relationships
  Heart disease

Note: Filmed in part in Munich. One source suggests that the film is based on Jerome Weidman's novel ... I'll Never Go There Any More (New York, 1941). 

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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