Circus World

Synopsis: In the early years of the 20th century, Matt Masters takes his rambling Wild West Show to Europe. His decision is prompted by his desire to find Lili Alfredo, who disappeared fourteen years earlier following the death of her husband, The Flying Alfredo. At the time it was believed that Alfredo dived to his death deliberately when he realized his wife loved Matt and not him. Toni, a beautiful trapeze performer, raised by Matt is actually Lili's daughter, and she is in love with Steve McCabe, one of the stars on Matt's show. Doing their first show in Barcelona, aboard a ship, the ship keels over and Matt loses his show. Now broke, he leaves for Paris with Toni, Steve and his long-time friend, Cap Carson, to seek a job with Colonel Purdy's Wild West Show. But a year later, Matt has rebuilt his own show. First to be signed is a remarkable 12-year-old wire-walker named Giovana, and her guardian, Tojo the Clown, whose real named is Aldo Alfredo, formerly of the Flying Alfredos. Continuing hi
Genre: Drama, Western
Director(s): Henry Hathaway
Production: Paramount Pictures
  Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
135 min


Let the ghost be.

Its fourteen years.

It's time you buried the dead.

They're buried, Cap.

Bust you wanna walk over

their grave again, to make sure.

Got a great idea:

European Tour.

- What do you say?

- It's no good.

Berlin, Madrid, Paris,

Vienna, Budapest.

They got a nice sound.

Europe's just a big Jonah for

American circuses.

- They were in for the money.

- And you ain't?

I love a circus.

Matt, Lili's gone.

Forget her.

When she ran out that night

it was over.

Like that puff of wind.

It's gone.


Let it stay that way.

Got a lot to do tomorrow, Cap.

Ladies and gentlemen!

You have witnessed our last

performance of the season.

Tomorrow our circus bids

goodbye to its native land,

The U.S.A., and sails for


To raise our tents in all

its capitals.

At this time the ushers sell

tickets four our attraction.

Tonight, we invite you to be

Our guests.

And now, the greatest Wild

West Showin the World!

On your mark.

And now!

The Great Stage Coach


You are now about to witness

a race between man and a beast.

Ladies and gentlemen!

The Roman Race!

Toni, are you all right?

- Are you hurt?

- No.

- Are you sure?

- Yes.

- Are you all right?

- Yes.

- Get the next act on, Cap!

- Yes, sir.

- Have May drive for Toni.

- Right!

Are you sure you are O.K?


What happened?

There was a bird in the tent.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We offer you tonight,

A cast of daring, with hair raising

feats of skill.

Still seeing things?

It was there, that's why

I slipped.

A bird in the tent is one of

the worst omens.

Superstitions have no sense.

It's unreal, Toni.

It's a make-believe world?

What's wrong with a

Make-believe world?

It's for weak people,

To hide in.

I'm not hiding in anything.

Look that rabbit's foot around

your neck!

Horse hair in your handkerchief

and owl feathers.

You can't perform like that.

It's dangerous.

Those are good omens, Matt.

Like you.

Your are a good omen.

All good omens make good

things happen.

I raised you wrong.

No, you haven't.

You raised me as good as any

real father could.

What are you afraid of, Toni?

Almost everything. I was scared of

going to Europe.

This morning I found milk

white butterfly.

That means I'll have a

wonderful trip.

A butterfly is a moth.

A moth means moth holes.

Omens, hexes, voo doo,...

It's all bunkum.

I'll prove it to you.

Oh, no - bread and butter!


- Leave the hat there.

- On the bed!

Leave it there, Toni.


Now I'm going to bust

a ten dollar mirror.

I'll prove you that omens are

for crazy heads.

It doesn't count if you do it

on purpose. Don't be scared.


That mirror business is all



It's a good thing...

It was a Stetson.

You can't say I didn't try.

Matt, I don't worry about

omens when you're around.

Because when you love somebody,

nothing can hurt you.

And, I love you, Matt.

You sure cheer a fella up.

You better get to finishing

your packing.

I'll got Steve to pick you up.

I'm glad you found that

Lousy milk white butterfly.

That was a lot of yelling you

were doing to Toni.

Family discussion.

You can't deny that there was

a bird in that tent

The night that Alfredo fell

and her ma ran out.

You got anything else on

your mind?

Yes, Lili.

If you're going to Europe,

you start thinking about her.

She's liable to come out

to get a look at her daughter.

We'll take care of it.

Why don't you mind

our own business!

You got a circus to get



Glad you signed for the tour.

You shouldn't be.

- Bad news?

- Are you up to hearing it?

I was weaned on it.

I was thinking about trying

to talk you out of this tour.

Then I figured, just let him go bust

and I'll be around...

You'd step in:
New acts,

new flags in the tent,

New money thrown at you.

You're not sore?

Why? That's the way I started

ten years ago.

Got tired of being a rodeo bum,

grabbed an expiring big top -

Kicked everybody out

and took over.

That's exactly my plan.

I've been clear, Matt.

You want to fire me?

No, you'd better stick around.

I'll feel better if I know

there's a new genius around.

Will you bring Toni to the


Say, Matt...

You wouldn't consider skipping this

European thing?

I'm asking as a friend.

Thanks for saying that, Steve.

Shows you've got a big heart...

almost as big as your head.

Ship leaves at two.

Hello, boss!

Come in.


Matt asked me to come by and

take you to the ship.

Come in. I'll be ready in a

few minutes.

Come in. Come.

This is almost my favorite.

Don't you ever get tired of

looking at the same stuff?

Oh, Steve! Look at this one.

Where he's holding me over

his head.

I've seen it fifty times.

Alfredo, famed circus star,

Starts training daughter Toni

for a trapeze career.

Toni will be the greatest of

the flying Alfredos.

- Says Father.

- Says Father.

That's something new?

Yes, I put it in last week.

Isn't he sweet Looking?

He's a Saint

who watches over the beautiful souls

in Paradise.

You know? That's where

Alfredo is.

What are those things?

Owl feathers.

They protect you from falling.

Paradise is pretty high up.

You know? I think you're a

little crazy.

Come on, Toni! Finish packing,

will you?

What's this?

Too small for you, aren't they?

My first birthday present

from my Uncle Aldo.

They're cute! Hurry up, Toni!

I haven't got all night.

Rate this script:5.0 / 1 vote

Ben Hecht

Ben Hecht (1894–1964) was an American screenwriter, director, producer, playwright, journalist and novelist. A journalist in his youth, he went on to write thirty-five books and some of the most entertaining screenplays and plays in America. He received screen credits, alone or in collaboration, for the stories or screenplays of some seventy films. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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