Polly of the Circus (1932 film)

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Polly of the Circus
Directed by Alfred Santell
Written by Laurence E. Johnson (dialogue)
Carey Wilson
Based onPolly of the Circus
1907 play
by Margaret Mayo
Produced by Marion Davies
Starring Marion Davies
Clark Gable
Cinematography George Barnes
Edited by George Hively
Music by William Axt
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • February 27, 1932 (1932-02-27)
Running time
69 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$438,000 [1]
Box office$700,000 [1]

Polly of the Circus is a 1932 American pre-Code MGM drama film directed by Alfred Santell and starring Marion Davies and Clark Gable.



When a traveling circus arrives in a small town, trapeze artist Polly Fisher (Marion Davies) is outraged to find that clothing has been added to posters of her to hide her moderately skimpy costume. She goes to see the man she mistakenly holds responsible, Reverend John Hartley (Clark Gable). He denies being the censor, but their relationship gets off to a rocky start.

When a heckler distracts Polly during her performance, she falls 50 feet (15 m) to the ground. John Hartley has her brought to his nearby house. The doctor advises against moving her. As she recuperates, Polly and John fall in love and marry. She willingly gives up the circus for him.

John's uncle, Bishop James Northcott (C. Aubrey Smith), questions the wisdom of the union, and John's congregation rebels at having an ex-circus performer as their minister's wife. As a result, he is fired and cannot obtain another church position because of his marriage.

Seeing how miserable her husband is, Polly goes to plead for the bishop's help, but he remains unmoved. When she tells Northcott she is willing to give John up, the clergyman tells her that a divorced minister is just as unacceptable. Polly sees only one way out - as a widower, John could return to the church. She pretends that she has tired of her husband and returns to the circus, planning to have a fatal "accident". However, Northcott has a change of heart. When he goes to tell the couple, Polly has already left. Northcott guesses what she intends to do. He and John speed to the circus' next stop and arrive just in time to save Polly.



The story started as a short novel by Margaret Mayo which she then adapted as a script for a 1907 play, Polly of the Circus , written for the entertainment magnet Frederic Thompson. The play, complete with a live circus and other spectacles on stage designed by Thompson, was Broadway success and eventually had several productions playing in cities around the country.

First film adaptation of the play

A silent film version of the Margaret Mayo play was made in 1917, the first film by Goldwyn Pictures. It was shot in Fort Lee, New Jersey at Universal Studios when it and many other early film studios in America's first motion picture industry were based there at the beginning of the 20th century. [2] [3] [4]

Box office

According to MGM records, the film earned $530,000 in the US and Canada and $170,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $20,000. [1]

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<i>Polly of the Circus</i> (1917 film) 1917 film

Polly of the Circus is a 1917 American silent drama film notable as the first film produced by Samuel Goldwyn after founding his studio Goldwyn Pictures. This film starred Mae Marsh, usually an actress for D.W. Griffith, but now under contract to Goldwyn for a series of films. The film was based on the 1907 Broadway play Polly of the Circus by Margaret Mayo which starred Mabel Taliaferro. Presumably when MGM remade Polly of the Circus in 1932 with Marion Davies, they still owned the screen rights inherited from the 1924 merger by Marcus Loew of the Metro, Goldwyn, and Louis B. Mayer studios. This film marks the first appearance of Slats, the lion mascot of Goldwyn Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Prints and/or fragments were found in the Dawson Film Find in 1978.

Polly of the Circus may refer to:

<i>Polly of the Circus</i> (1907 play) Play about a circus performer falling in love with the local pastor

Polly of the Circus was a 1907 Broadway play by Margaret Mayo which starred Mabel Taliaferro and was produced by Taliaferro's husband, Frederic Thompson. A circus girl/minister love story known for its drama and its spectacle staging, the cast also included Edith Taliaferro, Herbert Ayling, Joseph Brennan, Mattie Ferguson, John Findlay, Guy Nichols, Ida St. Leon and Malcolm Williams.


  1. 1 2 3 The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. Koszarski, Richard (2004), Fort Lee: The Film Town, Rome, Italy: John Libbey Publishing -CIC srl, ISBN   0-86196-653-8
  3. "Studios and Films". Fort Lee Film Commission. Archived from the original on October 20, 2018. Retrieved July 23, 2015.
  4. Fort Lee Film Commission (2006), Fort Lee Birthplace of the Motion Picture Industry, Arcadia Publishing, ISBN   0-7385-4501-5