36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Doris Day shines in this extravaganza, which was to be her last big musical; she is flawless vocally, and the melodic score contains some of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's most loved songs.
Her co-stars are equally strong, with the rambunctious pair of Jimmy Durante (as Doris' father) and Martha Raye (as Durante's ever-patient fiancée), and when either of them are on the screen, it is mega-kilowatt entertainment. Nearly 30 years before this film, Durante had been in cast of the original 1934 Broadway production, and it's also wonderful to hear Martha Raye sing the "Why Can't I ?" duet with Doris, as her great talents as a singer were rarely recognized.
Always a favorite of mine, Stephen Boyd is excellent as Doris' love interest. His beautiful speaking voice, mellow with a slight tinge of Irish, does well with the spoken/sung intro to "Sawdust, Spangles, and Dreams", but his two songs (the other being "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World"), are dubbed in by the rich voice of James Joyce.
Many genuine circus acts perform throughout the film, and the stunt work for the stars is seamlessly edited in. Jumbo the elephant of course, is the 5th star of the film, and he gives a "thumbs up" performance.
The lavish production has many magical moments, and though most of it is pure fantasy, it captures the feel of "on the road performers" that anyone who has done a lot of touring in any theatrical field will appreciate.
Kudos to director Charles Winters, and cinematographer William H. Daniels for their work in this film, which is superb family entertainment. Total running time is 123 minutes.
The song list is:
1: "Over and Over Again" ~ Day
2: "The Circus is on Parade" ~ Durante/Raye/Day
3: "Why Can't I ?" ~ Day/Raye
4: "This Can't be Love" ~ Day
5: "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" ~ Boyd (Joyce) reprise: Durante
6: "My Romance" ~ Day
7: "Little Girl Blue" ~ Day
8: "Sawdust, Spangles, and Dreams" ~ Boyd (Joyce) and cast.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
BILLY ROSE'S JUMBO makes it's long-awaited DVD release. The movie was one of the last hig musical hurrah's from MGM, and it was also Doris Day's last movie musical role. She shines as Kitty Wonder, the bareback-riding queen of the Wonder Circus.
Based around the classic Rodgers and Hart musical (with a new storyline devised by Sidney Sheldon). Pop Wonder (Jimmy Durante, who also headlined the original 30s' Hippodrome production) owns the magical Wonder Circus, famous for it's star attraction, Jumbo the elephant. His daughter Kitty, and on-again off-again squeeze Lulu (Martha Raye) complete his family. When the mysterious Sam Rawlins (Stephen Boyd) arrives to become the new tightrope aerialist, Kitty instantly falls in love with him, but Sam hides the secret that he is the son of the Wonders' main adversary, John Noble (Dean Jagger) owner of the Noble Circus.
Tempers and emotions run high as John Noble takes away Pop's beloved circus..and even Jumbo. It's up to Sam to unite the feuding clans and reclaim Kitty's heart.
Lavish, tuneful entertainment. Doris Day suits the role of Kitty to a tee and looks lovely in her Morton Haack-designed costumes. Stephen Boyd aquits himself quite well in a rare musical role. Jimmy Durante and Martha Raye are wonderful as feuding `odd couple' Pop and Lulu.
Several real circus acts and performers appear to add extra authenticity to the circus scenes; Doris Day performed many of her own stunts. Songs include "Over and Over Again" (Day performs most of her acrobatic tricks here), "Why Can't I?" (beautifully staged with Day and Raye perched on the rear of a caravan traveling in the moonlight), "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" (Day and Boyd waltz to the strains of the caliope), "Little Girl Blue" (Day soberly wanders the empty bigtop following the Noble takeover), "This Can't Be Love" (which Day triumphantly sings while riding her white horse around the bigtop), "My Romance" (which Day sings after Boyd saves her from a near-fatal trapeze stunt) and "Sawdust, Spangles and Dreams" (the rousing finale).
In the 30+ years it took for Rodgers and Hart's circus musical to get to Hollywood, the score drastically changed (the original Broadway score also included the numbers "The Song of the Roustabouts", "Laugh", "Women", "Memories of Madison Square Garden" and "Diavolo", all cut for various reasons) and the score was interpolated with "This Can't Be Love" from Rodgers and Hart's THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE.
JUMBO originally opened on Broadway in 1935, lavishly-produced by Billy Rose (hence his tribute being added to the movie title). The musical made history being staged in the huge Hippodrome and featuring many circus acts. A real trapeze was used for some numbers. However the show was very costly to run and it closed after 233 performances. The original cast included famous clown `Poodles' Hanneford, Gloria Grafton and Jimmy Durante.
As an added bonus for the movie's DVD edition, the original Overture has been restored to the movie for the first time since the original theatrical engagements. A vintage short and the original trailer are also included. BILLY ROSE'S JUMBO is back and better than ever!
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2005
By 1962, the MGM movie musicals that made up one of the genre's golden ages had disappeared. GIGI in 1958 was the last great musical from the old masters at that studio (in GIGI's case it was Arthur Freed and Vincente Minnelli), and JUMBO was pretty much the end of the trail for Joe Pasternak and Charles Walters. Walters would go on to direct 1964's popular MOLLY BROWN, but that film is a shadow of what it could have been if the right cast had been secured (some think Doris Day was meant for Molly, and she would have been good no doubt, but it was really designed for Shirley MacLaine). Day's last musical film was JUMBO, and, as such, it's a nifty way to say goodbye to the sunny, ebullient, effortlessly engaging actress's musical career. Day was one of the screen's most popular and talented actresses by any standards, and seeing her in this lightweight, funny, romantic slapdash of Rodgers and Hart tunes, circus troubles, and other songs interpolated from newer sources is not a bad way to spend an evening. The cast is very fine indeed, even the stiffer than wood Stephen Boyd, and how can you go wrong with both Jimmy Durante AND Martha Raye? It's all very bright and has nothing at all to do with reality, which makes it work well as a movie musical. The film includes one of the best circus numbers ever put on film - "Over and Over Again" - with an entire circus rehearsing their various acts to a sweeping waltz that builds and builds to ecstasy. But there are also "My Romance", "Little Girl Blue", and "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World".
This new DVD has a sparkling picture and terrific stereo sound, and the long forgotten overture is now back in place. Wonderful, old-fashioned family entertainment of the best sort from an era when film musicals were undergoing a change from MGM glory to big-budget roadshow extravagance. It also gives us that triple-threat talent Doris Day front and center, and what more could one ask for?
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2013
So far, none of the reviews for "Billy Rose's Jumbo" on Amazon are for the Blu-Ray disc issued in October 2013, so I jump into the pool courtesy of my good friend Bruce Deal, who just purchased the disc from Warner Archive to keep his Doris Day collection complete. I have come relatively late to Blu-Ray. I even work at a television station where I have been told "Blu-Ray is already dead" -- but this is a comment from someone who is part of the video future on mobile phones and tablets. I protested: "What about collectors, who value art direction and lighting and costume design and anamorphic ratios?" My commenter backed down; "Oh, those," he replied, meaning the odd and I guess pitiable collector.
Well, if you are one of "those," and have lagged behind in getting a Blu-Ray player (mine was only $69) for your flat-screen TV (mine is 36", just right, but I'd be happy with a 60" if I could fit it in my apartment), you are really missing something. When done right, Blu-Ray high-definition prints bring out the "wow" factor in movies you think you already know and love.
"Jumbo" is a case in point, and it's not a movie I loved back in 1963 (it opened at Radio City Music Hall in December 1962; I grew up in St. Louis where I must have been exposed to it a month or two later). I remember when the big-screen musical was dying, and I was a young critic shaking my head at how bad movie musicals like "Gypsy" (which I saw live with Ethel Merman in St. Louis in 1961; Roz Russell? No comparison!), "Hello, Dolly!," "Jumbo," "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever," and "Star!" were. ("Funny Girl" is excluded!). Now I'm a lot older, and while "Jumbo" is far from being an ideal or perfect musical, on Blu-Ray it is a revelation, particularly for how accomplished the great studio hands made it technically. (And I plan to watch the above-mentioned movies on Blu-Ray, though my views against "Dolly" have already softened.)
I feel I must cite the categories in which "Jumbo" excels and the professionals whose dazzling work make it a wonder to behold: Charles Walters, the director. William H. Daniels, cinematographer. Preston Ames and George W. Davis, art directors. Morton Haack, costume designer. Charles K. Hagedorn, color consultant. George Stoll, conductor, and orchestrators who include Conrad Salinger. Roger Edens, associate producer (and alleged tinkerer with certain lyrics and melodies, though the score is mostly the work of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart). Even the great Busby Berkeley had a hand in the staging of its musical numbers.
Stephen Boyd is a bit of a stick (with a singing voice dubbed by James Joyce) but he does have some sexual tension with Doris Day (and they allegedly continued to enjoy each other's company after the filming). Doris Day is a tad old for the part, but, as always, her acting, comic timing and beautiful voice are a pleasure. Jimmy Durante and Martha Raye play the comic older couple, and except for some dreadful circus sequences and "clowning," they are a delight.
Some of the musical numbers are thrilling ("Over and Over Again") and delightfully wistful ("Why Can't I?"). They work most of the time. "Little Girl Blue," with Doris Day alone in the ring, is fascinating in terms of lighting and mood. The finale, "Sawdust and Spangles and Dreams" (apparently with a bit by Rodgers and and the rest by Edens), is too long and could have been cut to greater effect.
For me, circuses are not a place for unrestrained joy - there's something about the caged animals, making noble beasts like elephants dance and stand on stools, cracking the whip at lions - that makes me worry for the animals. And clowns - why is this? - are rarely funny. That said, the elephant who plays Jumbo is a heart-tugger and very talented. The contributors to the film have made the circus background one of infinite variety and color and patterns. One almost wishes the cast had somebody like Robert Preston and a better-fitted score by Meredith Willson or Jerry Herman to really make the material come alive.
Despite the qualms, the mastery of the film medium's elements on display (except for the script by Sidney Sheldon) is truly remarkable, and the Blu-Ray rendering makes even Metrocolor "pop." It vividly show s us that film is a collective medium, and when pros come together, their collaboration can be breath-taking. Thanks, Warner Archive, for making this film available in Blu-Ray, and at such a reasonable price. And thanks, far too many years late, to the great artists who lent their talents to films from "the studio system" that will live on to inspire film fans for ages to come.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 1999
If you are looking for a light hearted, uplifting, and entertaining classic, then this is the one to see. Jimmy Durante is always at his best, especially as a circus owner, and his affection for an elephant named, Jumbo. Doris Day is also wonderful, as always. This movie has it all, romance, a little action, comedy, and a lot of good fun. An endearing movie that won my heart over, despite it's predictable corny scenes. I definitely recommend at least renting it.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2000
"Billy Rose's Jumbo" had been planned by MGM as a vehicle for Judy Garland. It never happened but in 1962 MGM polished off the sawdust,spangles, and dreams, gave it to famed producer Joe Pasternak and director Charles Walters, and starred the nation's number one box-office attraction, Doris Day, in the opulent and costly extravaganza. In the midst of an amazing string of box-office bonanzas, "Jumbo" proved to be the one weak spot for Miss Day. It's almost incomprehensible as to why.
"Jumbo", as it's usually known, is one of the most enjoyable musicals turned out in the 1960's, during the waning days of movie musicals. Rodgers and Hart's music has rarely been better performed. The film is replete with romance, comedy, circus acts, and spectacle. Day, Stephen Boyd (and a voice double), Jimmy Durante, and Martha Raye, are matchless.
Durante is owner of the Pop Wonder circus, a small traveling show, that may be sold to the John Noble circus. Noble really wants the Wonder's crown jewel, Jumbo, the elephant. Boyd is the son of Noble, who woos and wins Day, the daughter of Durante. That sums up the storyline but hardly the essence of what makes the film soar.
Doris Day never looked lovelier, in beautiful honey blonde styles by fabled stylist, Sydney Guilaroff. She sings like a dream and did 75% of her own acrobatic and equestrian work. Durante and Raye are a joy, singing, dancing and mugging. Day's duet with Raye is perfect as are her renditions of "My Romance" and "Little Girl Blue".
The disappointing receipts for this film supposedly cost Day the lead in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" which MGM had purchased with her in mind. It's a shame, because "Jumbo" contains some of the finest work she ever put on film. A treat for children of all ages!!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2014
stunning. large-format films are rarely encoded to blu-ray with as much transparency as this. Many scenes are like "looking through a window". The sound quality is fantastic as well, and Dorris Day is charming as ever.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2004
My collection of musicals will never be complete until this very entertaining favorite is released in DVD widescreen. (Hint, hint!)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2003
Just watched the Turner Classic Movies cable network airing of BILLY ROSE'S JUMBO during their January DORIS DAY month. I've always loved this film but had never seen it letterboxed ... man, what a difference!!! The VHS version I'd seen did a half-hearted attempt to partially letterbox the funny clown sequence finale but it still was a pan-and-scan/letterbox hybrid that really didn't work at all.
Lovely music, costumes, art direction which capture the glorious age of the traveling circus in turn-of-the-20th century America. DAY, RAYE, and DURANTE are matchless. STEPHEN BOYD looks great anyway. THIS FILM NEEDS TO BE RELEASED ON DVD IN WIDESCREEN!!! PLEASE!!! ASAP!!!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2005
DVD Special Features include: Soundtrack remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1, Musical short Yours Sincerely, Tom and Jerry cartoon Jerry and Jumbo, Original overture rejoined to the film for the first time in more than 40 years.