For Reel

Polly of the Circus (1932)
October 10, 2014, 5:56 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Alfred Santell
2.5 Stars
Polly of the CircusClark Gable was none too pleased to be attached to Polly of the Circus, the creaky second adaptation of a successful stage play by Margaret Mayo. A script rewrite and the monetary encouragement of William Randolph Hearst (whose mistress, Marion Davies, was to play the titular trapeze artist) eased the process along. The final product is still close to a dud–the miscasting of Gable as a Salvation Army worker in Laughing Sinners was bad enough, and here he’s assigned the role of a reverend. Marion Davies was a great comedienne, but in this particular melodrama she’s rather dreadful. Her deliveries are reliably mawkish and she isn’t aided at all by Gable’s bored performance–it’s shocking to see two of the era’s most charismatic screen presences contribute such a flat romantic relationship. Despite the disappointment of the drama, the trapeze scenes are actually quite thrilling. The editing and use of long takes in the final sequence creates the necessary suspense, even if the circumstances behind the dramatic moment are ridiculous.

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