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Jumbo, the trained elephant

Jumbo, the trained elephant

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Camera iris opens from black to a smiling man standing in front of an elephant, who is seated on her haunches on a stool with her front legs raised in the air. They are apparently on a stage with a painted backdrop of a forest. The man gives the elephant a treat, who then stands as the iris closes. Another iris effect opens on a stage with a painted backdrop of a castle. A man enters, dressed in a trainer or ringmaster's uniform of a dark suit with shoulder braids and a white cap. He is followed by Jumbo, a small Indian elephant with clipped tusks wearing a headress or headband. Both bow to the camera. A circus stool is rolled on the stage and Jumbo steps onto it with her front legs. A pony and dog enter the stage and create a domino effect behind the elephant, with the pony's front legs on Jumbo's rear and the dog's front legs on the pony's rear. Cuts to the dog making figure eights around Jumbo's legs as the elephant walks. Cuts to Jumbo lying down, then the pony and dog stand on either side of her with their front legs on her sides. Cuts to the pony walking across the stage on its hind legs, and then bowing with the trainer to the camera.
Cuts to Jumbo climbing on the circus stool with all four legs. The trainer gives her one end of a rope to hold with her trunk, and he twirls the other end as the dog jumps the rope. The trainer and the dog then jump the rope together as Jumbo watches. Cuts to the elephant sitting on the stool as the trainer places a handbell on a small table in front of her. Jumbo picks up the bell with her trunk and rings it. The man sets a plate on the table, from which Jumbo eats and then tosses aside. She rings the bell again and appears to drink from the bottle which her trainer brings in response. A series of jump cuts show Jumbo crawling on the ground in a circle on her back knees, standing on her hind legs, performing a handstand on her front legs, balancing on the circus stool with various combinations of two legs, and dancing in place with her front legs. Cuts to a frame of intertitle: "Oh! How she dances." With her back to the camera, Jumbo shuffles her hind legs in a kind of dance. Cuts to a closeup of Jumbo's open mouth as she walks toward the camera. Closes with her picking up a series of flags on the ground with her trunk and tossing them over her back. She holds the last one--a U.S. flag--as she turns in a cirle, the trainer bows, and the dog excitedly jumps around on stage.
Copyright: reg. unknown.
Reissued by U.S. Personal Film Co. at an unknown date with three other Spanuth acts, two of which were copyrighted under different release numbers, as "Vaudeville de-luxe: four acts"; LC holds reissue copy.
No copyright registration or original production and distribution information could be found for an act under this name, but the film appears to be an uncopyrighted Spanuth's original vod-a-vil movie given the similarities in camera technique to--and its inclusion on the reissue with--identified Spanuths.
Duration: 2:53 (part 1) and 1:43 (part 2) at 16 fps.
NCN015168; Zouary can no148.
Third film on reel with: Tetsuwari Japs [Spanuth's original vod-a-vil movies, no. 1], The Great Vulcano [Spanuth's original vod-a-vil movies, no. 13], and [Harry Codger and his cycling misses].
Probably filmed ca. 1918 in Chicago.
Sources used: Copyright catalog, motion pictures, 1912-1939; M/B/RS copyright descriptions; M/B/RS Acquisition files (AFI/Zouary file); M/B/RS shelflist cards.
Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as digital files.
Received: 4/1/80 from LC film lab; ref print; preservation; AFI/Zouary (Maurice) Collection.
Received: 1/14/77 from LC film lab; dupe neg; preservation; AFI/Zouary (Maurice) Collection.

Hachaliah Bailey established one of the earliest circuses in the United States around 1806. Barnum, who as a boy had worked as a ticket seller for Hachaliah Bailey's show, had run the Barnum's American Museum from New York City since 1841. Barnum brought in to the museum animals to add zoo-like elements, and a freak show and took the Museum on road tours, named "P.T. Barnum's Grand Traveling American Museum". The latter show was named "P.T. Barnum's Great Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Hippodrome". The show combined elements of museum, menagerie, variety performance, concert hall, and circus", and considered it to potentially be "the Greatest Show on Earth", which subsequently became part of the circus's name. In the 1860s, The Cooper and Bailey Circus became the chief competitor to Barnum's circus. The two groups agreed to combine their shows in 1881 under name "P.T. Barnum's Greatest Show On Earth, And The Great London Circus, Sanger's Royal British Menagerie and The Grand International Allied Shows United", it was eventually shortened to "Barnum and Bailey's Circus". Bailey acquired Jumbo, advertised as the world's largest elephant, for the show that was touring the eastern United States and Europe. European tour started on December 27, 1897, and lasted until 1902 while dozens of small circuses toured the Midwest and the Northeast. Ringling brothers circus was one of them, it rapidly grew and soon started to move by train, becoming the largest traveling amusement enterprise of that time. Bailey's European tour gave the Ringling brothers an opportunity to move their show from the Midwest to the eastern seaboard. After Bailey died, the circus was sold to the Ringling Brothers in 1907. On March 29, 1919, "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows" debuted in New York City. The posters declared, "The Ringling Bros. World's Greatest Shows and the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth are now combined into one record-breaking giant of all exhibitions." The circus flourished through the Roaring Twenties. The circus suffered during the 1930s due to the Great Depression, but managed to stay in business. During War, a special dispensation was given to the circus by President Roosevelt to use the rails to operate, in spite of travel restrictions imposed as a result of World War II. Many of the most famous images from the circus that were published in magazine and posters were captured by American Photographer Maxwell Frederic Coplan, who traveled the world with the circus. The Hartford circus fire occurred on July 6, 1944, in Hartford, Connecticut, during an afternoon performance that was attended by approximately 7,500 to 8,700 people. It was one of the worst fire disasters in the history of the United States. In the following investigation, it was discovered that the tent had not been fireproofed. Ringling Bros. had applied to the Army, which had an absolute priority on the material, for enough fireproofing liquid to treat their Big Top, but the Army had refused to release it to them. The post-war prosperity enjoyed by the rest of the nation was not shared by the circus as crowds dwindled and costs increased. Public tastes, influenced by the movies and television, abandoned the circus, which gave its last performance under the big top in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 16, 1956. In late 1967, Irvin Feld, Israel Feld, and Judge Roy Mark Hofheinz of Texas, together with backing from Richard C. Blum, the founder of Blum Capital, bought the company outright from North and the Ringling family interests for $8 million at a ceremony at Rome's Colosseum. The company was taken public in 1969. The circus's last performance was its "Out of This World" tour at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 21, 2017.





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