The Wagons Roll At Night

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3 thoughts on “The Wagons Roll At Night

  1. 8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Bogie Under The Big Top, November 22, 2004
    By 
    Simon Davis (Melbourne, Australia) –

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    “The Wagons Roll at Night”, would never be included in any retrospectives of the classic body of work by Hollywood legend Humphrey Bogart and indeed it couldn’t help but pale into insignificance compared to the two classics Bogie made both before and after this effort, namely “High Sierra”, and the unforgettable “The Maltese Falcon”. Viewed on its own merits however minor they might be, it makes for pleasing entertainment that really is a good illustration of the studio product that made up the major part of a output each year of the major movie studios such as Warner Brothers. An almost complete remake of Warner’s 1937 effort “Kid Galahad”, which also featured Bogart, this time around the locale has been changed from a boxing ring to a circus. “The Wagons Roll at Night”,referring to the constant moving of the circus generally during the night, however lacks many of the credentials of that earlier effort. Although Hal B. Wallis was the producer, this time around director Michael Curtiz is replaced by studio everyman Ray Enright and Bette Davis is missing as the leading lady to be replaced here by Sylvia Sidney an admittedly interesting actress who enjoyed stardom at Paramount in the early 1930′s but who by 1941 was definately moving into supporting roles. The locale however is not without interest and the wild animals of a circus make for some quite exciting scenes that are integral to the developments in the plot. Bogie as was always his way makes the most of a mildly interesting story that definately shows up the seedy side of carnival life behind all the glitter of the Big Top.

    Humphrey Bogart plays Nick Coster a tired Circus Owner with no illusions about the Carnival life and the people who inhabit it. Despite it being his livelihood Nick has nothing but comtempt for workers in the circus who he refers to as “mugs and assorted riffraff”. Even his unselfish lady friend Flo Lorraine (Sylvia Sidney),who tells fortunes at the Circus and is in actual fact devoted to him receives flak from him and is labelled as “vermin” on occasion. Nick views the circus as a way of making money and treats all his employees in the same harsh manner. Nick supports his kid sister Mary (Joan Leslie), paying for her education at a convent school and he has a strict rule about keeping his family totally seperate from his life in the circus which includes even Flo. At one stop on the ever moving journey by the Circus one of the lions escapes and is cornered by an inexperienced store clerk Matt Varney (Eddie Albert), in his drug store. Seeing how this amateur handled the beast Nick offers him a job working with the lions in the Circus under the direction of constantly drunken lion tamer Hoffman the Great (Sig Ruman). Learning all he can Matt begins to attract attention at the circus and he and Flo become good friends with the lonely Flo developing an attraction to the warm young man who is such a contrast to Nick’s fiery temper and cold manner. After Hoffman is found drunk before one too many performances Nick in a rage fires him and puts Matt into his role despite his inexperience. Despite nerves Matt is a success with the lion act and soon starts to become a great drawcard for the circus. While Nick is away setting up some new performance dates Hoffman comes back to the Circus to seek revenge on Matt for taking his job and in the fight that devolps Hoffman is killed and Matt is seriously injured by one of the caged Lions. Desperate to not get the police involved Flo along with Circus employee Doc (Cliff Clark), take Matt to Nick’s farm where Matt meets Nick’s sister Mary and an attraction develops straight away. Nick is enraged to learn that Flo has taken Matt to the farm and goes up immediately to bring him back. Love however has blossomed between Matt and Mary but still Nick is determined to keep them apart. During a short break that the Circus has before the next show Matt travels back to the farm to see Mary and this ignites in Nick a murderous intention of now getting rid of Matt by whatever means. Flo by this stage has had enough of Nick’s ways and leaves him just as he is making plans to have Matt perform with a Lion who has just killed a circus worker and who is now uncontrollable having smelt human blood. Despite everyone’s opposition to Matt working with this lion Nick goes ahead with the performance and to make sure a terrible accident occurs he empties the bullets out of the gun that Matt was supposed to be carrying for safety in the cage. Alerted to his murderous intent Flo collects Mary from the farm and both women rush back to the Circus just as the performance is getting under way. Matt realises right from the start the lion in uncontrollable and quickly discovers the gun is unloaded. Mary pleads with Nick to do something and suddenly realising he is destroying his sister’s life as well he tries to scare the lion away from Matt. It however attacks him and Nick is fatally wounded by the animal and…

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  2. 6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    From Boxing to the Circus, March 18, 2000
    By 

    If you’ve seen Kid Galahad (also with Humphrey Bogart) then you already know the story of Wagons Roll at Night. It’s a remake which follows the same plot structure, but switches the subject from boxing to the circus. Bogart runs a circus, and Sylvia Sidney is his girlfriend / fortune teller. Eddie Albert joins the circus as a gifted lion tamer(!). Bogart doesn’t have a high opinion of circus people (calls them gypsies), so he tries to keep his people away from his young sister, Joan Leslie. But it’s not easy to keep Joan and Eddie apart. The performances are fine, and the use of the circus is an interesting switch from the original. The movie is short (84 minutes), and thus it moves along well. This is not one of Bogart’s famous films, and it’s hardly a classic, but it’s an easy way to pass an hour and a half.

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  3. 4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    MEDIOCRE BOGART FLICK., September 25, 2002

    This is actually a remake of the 1937 Bette Davis/Humphrey Bogart film KID GALAHAD; here the action is transformed from the boxing world to the circus world. In this one, Bogie’s the owner of a run-down carnival which he desperately tries to keep his convent – schooled sis, Joan Leslie away from. By keeping her on a distant farm, he feels he can protect her from the evils that the carnival atmosphere breeds. Eddie Albert is hired by Bogart for the carnival because of the former’s ease with which he fearlessly handled a lion – which escaped from the troupe – when it wanders into the general store where Albert works as a clerk. It isn’t long before Leslie and Albert are an item…Sylvia Sidney is memorable as “Madame Florina” /AKA Flo Lorraine who reads both the Tarot and does crystal gazing as well. This isn’t a bad little picture but it was released between HIGH SIERRA & THE MALTESE FALCON, so it was understandably quickly forgotton upon its initial release back in 1941.

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