Saturday, May 24, 2008

"Jumbo" (1962) -- Initial Thoughts

I watched Jumbo (1962) yesterday. I think this must be my month for unusual casting, because first there was Peter Lawford in Easter Parade, then Clifton Webb in Stars and Stripes Forever, and now... Stephen Boyd?

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he-who-played-Messala-in-Ben-Hur made a musical. He even sang a song, though I'm sure the voice was dubbed. And he actually looked quite at home, not just on the set of a musical, but in a circus tent! DKoren, if you've never seen this, you really should, because he is 100% lunchable here! He shows up in a turtleneck, and I normally loathe turtlenecks, because most people cannot wear them well (Val Kilmer being a notable exception). But Stephen Boyd doesn't just wear that turtleneck well, he makes it look sexy! And that's a pretty rare feat.

So anyway, the Jumbo in the title is a trained elephant who's the star of a little family-owned circus. Jimmy Durante and Doris Day are father-and-daughter circus owners and performers back when circuses had one ring and paraded down main street of every small town they set up near. Jumbo is an exceptionally well-trained elephant that this other circus owner wants. A lot. This other owner, played by Dean Jagger (what? Dean Jagger as a bad guy? Noooo!), has tried repeatedly to buy Jumbo, or the entire circus, but Jimmy Durante always refuses, even though he's up to his famous schnozz in bills and has a gambling problem.

Enter Stephen Boyd in a turtleneck. From the first time we lay eyes on him, we can tell he is Up To Something, but it takes most of the movie for Doris Day and company to figure that out as well. Mostly because he keeps distracting everyone by walking tightropes or wearing tight white t-shirts that show off all those muscles he acquired by driving chariots a few years earlier. After some skulduggery and remorse and penitence, there is a happy ending, and when you get to the part where they start singing about spangles and stardust, just stop the movie. Because they go on for about ten minutes, singing the same song in an ever-more-elaborate parade of costumes. So just end it after one chorus, and all is well.


  1. Hah! I just finished watching and blogging about "Fall of the Roman Empire" with Stephen Boyd. :-D I've never even heard of this one, but Netflix has it. I'll check it out! You know I can't resist Stephen Boyd when he's being lunchable. :-D

    And your opening paragraph reminded me of the film "The Man Who Never Was" -- has Clifton Webb AND Stephen Boyd in it! Alas, not a musical. Hee.

  2. Oh, you are gonna dig dig DIG him in this -- he is all conflicted and up to no good and... honestly, I could see him as an alternate casting for Reisher, just based on this movie. As I was watching it, I kept thinking of you.

    Besides, him in that t-shirt? Whooo, mama! I may need to start finding more of his movies too....

  3. You know, I never thought of that, but you're right, he would make a very good Reisher! He'd also make a very good Serge.

    I've added this movie to my queue and bumped it up to the top! :-D

  4. Hmm, Serge, huh? I see Serge so totally as a lean, mean blond that I can't quite picture it, but it might work, especially if SB lost like twenty pounds or something.

    I'm betting you won't care much for the movie as a whole, but will get swoonified over Boyd.

  5. But Stephen Boyd is a lean, mean blond! Particularly in some of his earlier films. :-D

  6. As I'm sure you've seen far more of his films than I have, I'll bow to you on that one.


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