Circus (1936 film)

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File:Circus poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Grigori Aleksandrov
Isidor Simkov
Written by Grigori Aleksandrov
Starring Lyubov Orlova
Vladimir Volodin
Sergei Stolyarov
Pavel Massalsky
James Patterson
Music by Isaak Dunayevsky
Cinematography Vladimir Nilsky
Boris Petrov
Release dates
Running time
94 min.
Country Soviet Union
Language Russian

Circus (Russian: Цирк; translit. Tsirk) is a 1936 Soviet melodramatic comedy musical film. It was directed by Grigori Aleksandrov and Isidor Simkov at the Mosfilm studios. In his own words, it was conceived as "an eccentric comedy...a real side splitter."

Starring the glamorous and immensely popular Lyubov Orlova (Aleksandrov's wife), the first recognized star of Soviet cinema and a gifted singer, the film contains several songs which instantly became Soviet classics. The most famous is the "Song of the Motherland" (Широка страна моя родная).

The film was based on a comedy play by Ilf and Petrov and Valentin Kataev, Under the Circus Dome (Под куполом цирка), which was seen and liked by Aleksandrov. They made the play into the plot, but during the initial film shooting they went to America. Upon return, they disliked the director's interpretation, and after a conflict they abandoned the work, forbade the mention of their names in the credits, and further work on the plot was continued by Isaac Babel.[1][2]


File:Orlova, Patterson and Stolyarov.jpg
Closing scene of the movie: Marion hugs tight her Russian husband Ivan and son Jimmy.

Orlova plays an American circus artist who, after giving birth to a black baby (played by James Lloydovich Patterson), immediately becomes a victim of racism and is forced to stay in the circus, but finds refuge, love and happiness in the USSR. Her black son is embraced by friendly Soviet people. The movie climaxes with a lullaby being sung to the baby by representatives of various Soviet ethnicities taking turns.[3]

The film was digitally colorized in 2011 in Russia.


  • Lyubov Orlova as Marion Dixon, American actress and circus artist.[4]
  • James Patterson as Jimmy, Marion's baby
  • Sergei Stolyarov as Ivan Petrovich Martinov, Soviet performance director
  • Pavel Massalsky as Franz von Kneishitz, corrupt theatrical agent
  • Vladimir Volodin as Ludvig, Soviet circus director
  • Yevgeniya Melnikova as Rayechka, the director's daughter
  • Aleksandr Komissarov as Skameikin
  • Nikolai Otto as Charlie Chaplin
  • Solomon Mikhoels as Cameo

Interesting facts

  • The name of the heroine Marion Dixon - a tribute to the popularity of the famous actress and singer Marlene Dietrich[5]
  • In early 1953 the verses from the lullaby, sung in Yiddish (that where performed by Solomon Mikhoels) were removed. After Stalin's death the verses were returned.

See also

  1. "Пять интересных фактов о легендарном фильме "Цирк", May 25, 2013 (retrieved July 19, 2015)
  2. Сайт поклонников творчества Ильи Ильфа и Евгения Петрова
  3. "Tsirk (1936) - Trivia". 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Театральная энциклопедия. / Гл. ред. П. А. Марков. Т. 4. — М.: Советская энциклопедия, Нежин — Сярев, 1965, 1152 стб. с илл., 6 л. илл.
  5. «Цирк» зажигает огни

External links