Billy Rose's Jumbo is based on a play of the same name produced by Billy Rose. The play was adapted from the book written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, the screenplay here is written by Sidney Sheldon. Music is scored by George Stoll, with songs written by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart. It's directed by Charles Walters, with Busby Berkeley on second unit duties, and stars Doris Day, Jimmy Durante, Stephen Boyd, Martha Raye and Dean Jagger. William H. Daniels photographs and it's a Panavision/Metrocolor production out of MGM.
The Pop Wonder Circus is suffering desperate financial problems, with rival Noble Circus circling like a vulture ready to strip it of its greatest assets. Then one day a stranger walks in and joins them as a wire walker and things start to pick up. But as romance blossoms and problems begin to ease, shocking news brings great disruption to the equilibrium.
It's the sort of musical production that can be picked apart to reveal many problems. Problems in length, quality of song execution and certain casting issues, they are there and undeniably stop the film being great. However, if one is just after a breezy piece of fluff, in the company of a delightful leading lady, then it's a film that does its job. Structured as a series of songs and circus routines, there is little room for an intelligent plot, it's a basic boy/girl romance played out whilst some bad guy lurks in the background threatening to drive a wedge between the lovers. Still, the foot tappers keep it charming, the production value is top notch and the Metrocolor used is very pleasing. While the actual circus performers are truly great at their art (wire walkers a favourite over here).
So, as shallow as a puddle in terms of story and character depth, but even tho it should have had better care and attention afforded it, it remains above average and of appeal to musical fans. 6.5/10