This week’s mystery movie has been the 1962 MGM picture “Billy Rose’s Jumbo,” with Doris Day, Stephen Boyd, Jimmy Durante and Martha Raye, Dean Jagger, Joseph Waring, Lynn Wood, Charles Watts, James Chandler, Robert Burton, Wilson Wood, Norman Leavitt, Grady Sutton, Ron Henon, The Carlisles, The Pedrolas, The Wazzans, The Hannefords, Billy Barton, Corky Cristiani, Victor Julian, Richard Berg, Joe Monahan, Miss Lani, Adolph Dubsky, Pat Anthony, Janos Prohaska and The Barbettes.
The film was based on the musical produced by Billy Rose at the New York Hippodrome, with a book by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, and music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. The music was supervised and conducted by George Stoll. The film was photographed by William H. Daniels in Panavision and MetroColor, with art direction by George W. Davis and Preston Ames, and set decoration by Henry Grace and Hugh Hunt. Costumes by Morton Haack, hairstyles by Sydney Guilaroff, makeup by William Tuttle and circus acts coordinated by Al Dobritch. The second unit director was Busby Berkeley. The screenplay was by Sidney Sheldon. The film was produced by Joe Pasternak and Martin Melcher, and directed by Charles Walters.
Historical notes: Durante appeared in the 1935 stage version as a press agent and was recast as the circus owner for the film. This was Raye’s first film since “Monsieur Verdoux” and Day’s last movie musical.
“Billy Rose’s Jumbo” is available on DVD from Amazon.
Interesting casting note: Hedda Hopper wrote (June 3, 1961) that MGM wanted Richard Burton for the role that eventually went to Stephen Boyd. Philip K. Scheuer wrote in the Los Angeles Times (Feb. 7, 1962) that three elephants were used in filming the movie, a massive production that included the construction of two circus tents, one on Lot 3 that could seat 2,000 people, and another on Stage 15. Stage 29 was also used for some of the filming.
Writing in the New York Times (Dec. 7, 1962) Bosley Crowther said:
The only thing vastly wrong with “Jumbo,” which arrived at the Music Hall yesterday, along with the Christmas stage show, is that it is hitting the screen about 25 years too late. The aura of wonder and excitement it tries to throw around old-fashioned circus life, the sentiment it tries to squeeze and siphon out of an old-time circus manager, the sense of emotional exaltation it tries to pump into a dull tanbark romance — all are such stuff as was familiar in circus pictures that many years ago.
…. Miss Day, for all her pleasant singing, is something of a bore as she plows her way through the proceedings as the herd-rider on the dying show and on Mr. Durante as her father, who is a woeful manager. And her downright labored endeavors to sham a romance with Stephen Boyd, the treacherous son of the rival manager, are as blunt as the driving of stakes to hold the tent. But then Mr. Boyd gives no assistance. He might better have played the elephant and the creature that is that major fixture might better have played his role. For the elephant is still the chief love interest in this conspicuously elephantine show.
The film received a rave review in the Los Angeles Times (Dec. 21, 1962) from Scheuer, who wrote:
I urge you to put it down right now as a Christmas gift for yourself and the kids. In 1935 as a stage musical it helped to close the venerable New York Hippodrome, but I wouldn’t hold that against it if I were you.
For Monday, we have a mystery guest.
Update: This is Stephen Boyd.
For Tuesday, we have a mystery guest.
Update: This is Martha Raye.
Brain Trust roll call: Gary Martin (mystery movie and mystery guest). Very impressive!
And for Wednesday, we have a topsy-turvy mystery guest.
Update: This is Jimmy Durante.
Brain Trust roll call: Gary Martin (mystery guest), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and mystery guests), Pat in Michigan (mystery movie and Tuesday’s mystery guest), Roget-L.A. (mystery movie and Tuesday’s mystery guest), Tucson Barbara (Tuesday’s mystery guest), Bob Hansen (mystery movie and Tuesday’s mystery guest), L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast) and Claire Lockhart (after a long absence!) (mystery movie and mystery guests).
For Thursday, our mystery guest is not wearing a disguise or clown makeup.
Update: This is Stephen Boyd.
I’m on the road early in the morning. I’ll post the Brain Trust roll call later. I suspect it will be long.
And for Friday, we have a mystery guest….
… who may be our first four-legged mystery guest.
He even gets screen time with our leading lady.
Update: Doris Day and Jumbo.
Friday’s Brain Trust roll call: Gary Martin (Wednesday’s upside-down chap), Howard Decker (mystery movie and Tuesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s upside-down chap and Thursday’s mystery guest), Jenny M. (mystery movie and Wednesday’s upside-down chap), Roget-L.A. (Wednesday’s upside down chap and Thursday’s mystery guest), Mary Mallory (Thursday’s mystery guest), B.J. Merholz (Thursday’s mystery chap), Mike Hawks (mystery movie and Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests), Beachgal (mystery movie and mystery guests), Patricia van Hartesveldt (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery guest), Candace (mystery movie and Tuesday and Thursday’s mystery guests), Lee Ann, Megan and Thom (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery guest), Don Danard (Thursday’s mystery guest), Candy Cassell (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery guest) and Benito (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery guest).