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Polly of the Circus

Polly of the Circus(1932)

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When the circus goes to a staid Vermont town, aerialist Mme. Polly is insulted by posters showing lacy pants covering her bare legs. Mistakenly thinking that the town's minister, Rev. John Hartley, is responsible, she storms into his vestibule and confronts him. That evening, Polly is distracted by a heckler teasing her about her "pants" and falls to the ground. Because he lives close to the fairgrounds, John, who is in the audience, suggests that they take her there, where she recuperates for several weeks. Downey, John's manservant, antagonizes Polly, whom he regards as a bad woman, but John's kindness captivates her. One night, when Polly waits up for John, who has worked very late, they realize that they have fallen in love. When a drunken Downey sees them kiss, however, he becomes violent towards Polly. He is dismissed, but the next day, while John is giving a sermon, Downey accuses him of immoral behavior. Polly is too embarrased to remain in church and later offers to give John up, but he insists that they marry, over the objections of his uncle, Bishop James Northcott. John thinks that another congregation would be happy to take him, but after he and Polly marry, he finds that no congregation will take a minister involved in a scandal. Several months later, John has been reduced to selling bibles, while Polly tries to be a housewife. After an argument during which John refuses to take any of Polly's money or to allow her back in the circus, he leaves their apartment. Polly then follows John to a church and, realizing that his happiness lay with God, she pretends that she no longer loves him. She also visits his uncle and asks for his help in getting John's congregation back. When John talks to the bishop, they realize that Polly is planning to kill herself so that John will not have to face the scandal of a divorce. They then rush to the circus and arrive just before Polly is about to deliberately miss a dangerous stunt. Polly and John embrace after she gets the "o.k." from his uncle.