Circus World (1964) - Rotten Tomatoes

Circus World (1964)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Circus World Photos

Movie Info

Filmed in Cinerama and Technicolor, Circus World may have drawn the crowds for various reasons -- not the least, perhaps, for the big names. John Wayne stars as circus owner Matt Masters, who takes his show to Europe hoping to save it from financial ruin. Accompanying Matt, is young Toni (Claudia Cardinale), whom Matt had raised since her aerialist mother Lili (Rita Hayworth) left them years before. Just before he departs from New York, Matt is reminded that Lili may be somewhere in Germany. Upon their arrival in Europe, much of the equipment is lost when their ship sinks in a Spanish port. Matt doesn't let that get the best of them, and he is soon up and running with the show, becoming a hit throughout Europe. Against Matt's wishes, Toni trains to become an aerialist like her mother. A quiet figure in the shadows proudly watches Toni rehearse her daring routines. The writing team of Ben Hecht, James Edward Grant and Julian Halevy adapted their screenplay from a story by Philip Yordan and Nicholas Ray. Though this was not a gunslinger role for Wayne, Matt Masters was not a far stretch. This could have been due to the fact that Wayne had previously worked on several projects with director Henry Hathaway and writers Hecht and Grant -- and the part was altered to suit him.


John Wayne
as Matt Masters
Rita Hayworth
as Lili Alfredo
Claudia Cardinale
as Toni Alfredo
Lloyd Nolan
as Cap Carson
Richard Conte
as Aldo Alfredo
John Smith
as Steve McCabe
Henri Dantes
as Emile Schuman
Wanda Rotha
as Mrs. Schuman
as Giovana
Kay Walsh
as Flo Hunt
Miles Malleson
as Billy Hennigan
as Bartender
Bob Cunningham
as Ringmaster
George Tyne
as Madrid bartender
View All

Critic Reviews for Circus World

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (2)

Director Hathaway uses a pro's skill continuously to blend laughs, pathos and excitement. Good show.

December 1, 2020 | Full Review…

Heaven help all those other people who, deep down, remain to be convinced of the irresistibility of the circus. They're in for a terrible jolt.

May 9, 2005 | Rating: 1.5/5 | Full Review…

The ONLY John Wayne film not currently available, and well worth seeing.

February 17, 2008 | Rating: 3/5

This big, sprawling film, beautifully filmed in Cinerama, has Wayne as the owner/manager of a small-time circus.

October 22, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

John Wayne goes to the Big Top in a Samuel Bronston produced film that has the Duke's role custom-made to fit his rooting-tooting western persona.

March 5, 2006 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

Begun by Capra and Completed by Hathaway, Circus World is one of John Wayne's weakest star vehicles, neither entertaining as an adventure nor convincing as a family melodrama.

November 9, 2005 | Rating: D | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Circus World

It's a big production of a film, but still essentially a minor soap opera with the Duke running a circus/Wild West show. Despite the name of the movie, the traditional circus acts are given nearly an incidental status (except for the clowns) whereas the Wild West portions are shown in their entirety (I wonder why?). But Rita Hayworth as a tortured runaway mom centers and steals the whole magilla, elegant and magnetic in her matronly years.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


Worth seeing for the odd pairing of John Wayne and Rita Hayworth. They actually interact well but Rita's part is minor considering her star status and the story is weak. Claudia is lovely but totally unbelievable as Duke's daughter speaking with her natural Italian accent while supposedly being raise by him, he of course talks like John Wayne. Not a terrible film but diffuse and without a strong point of view, that may be because the film was begun by Frank Capra and finished by Henry Hathaway so there was no clear vision as to the shape the film was suppose to offer.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Circus World Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

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