THE DEVIL’S CIRCUS

Produced and Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: February 15, 1926

Featured cast: Norma Shearer, Charles Emmett Mack, Carmel Myers, John Miljan

Producer: Harry Rapf
Director-writer: Benjamin Christensen (as Benjamin Christianson)
Cinematographer: Ben Reynolds

THEME

When a pickpocket is sent to jail, his naive girlfriend finds work in a circus.

PRODUCTION QUOTE

“Benjamin Christianson’s first American made production for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, in which Norma Shearer is starred, will be released as The Devil’s Circus, which title was finally decided upon by Louis B. Mayer, vice-president in charge of production. This production was formerly known as The Light Eternal and Devilkin.”
- “Christianson Picture Titled,” Motion Picture News, February 6, 1926

REVIEW

“As the girl who’s a little too good to be true, Norma is incredibly believable. If she makes you believe in this sap heroine, she can make you believe anything. Charles Mack works hard, but I can never decide whether he is impersonating Dick Barthelmess or John Barrymore. Altogether, Mr. Satan’s circus isn’t as much fun as some I’ve been to.”
- Delight Evans, Screenland, June 1926

TRADE ARTICLE

“The plot is not a very entertaining one if you are looking for something good and wholesome. It has some unsavory incidents in its development which make for unpleasantries not considered entertainment by a good majority. It includes the seduction of a circus performer by a ringmaster and the wrath of his mistress who causes the girl to be hurled from her trapeze into the lions’ cage.”
- “The Devil’s Circus,” The Film Daily, April 18, 1926

ARTIST COMMENT

“Wanting to show how brave I was, I volunteered to perform in the close shots where the cats prowl around my prostrate form as I lie crushed and bleeding in the dust. I soon regretted my gesture of bravado. Although the lions were trained for this special stunt, I was absolutely terrified, lying there and listening to their low growling. I could feel hot breath on my neck when the production manager rushed in and said the front office wouldn’t permit me to make this scene in this way. I would be separated from the lions by an invisible cage. I must say my fuzzy friends looked disappointed.”
- Norma Shearer, Memoir Notes

FIGURES

The Devil’s Circus cost $204,000 and grossed $619,000.
(These figures have not been adjusted for inflation nor do they include profits from reissues, television syndication, and home entertainment formats.)

Scenes

Portrait