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Carnival Story

Carnival Story(1954)

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The working titles of this film were Backfire and Carnival. After the title card, the opening credits are interrupted briefly by the first scene of the film. The credits then resume and are interspersed throughout the scene. As noted in news items, Carnival Story was shot at the Geiselgasteig Studios in Munich, Germany. Some scenes were filmed at the Barnhof Railroad Station and Maxburg Strasse in Munich. A German-language version of the film, entitled Rummelplatz der Liebe, was made simultaneously with the English version and released in Germany in 1954. The German version starred Curt Jrgens as "Toni," the advance man; Eva Bartok as "Lilly," the diver; Bernard Wicki as "Franz," her husband; Robert Freytag as "Richard"; and Willi Rose as "Karl." Helene Stanley, Adi Berber, Jacob Mslacher and Jadin Wong reprised their English-language roles in the German version. According to an August 1953 New York Times article, many Munich locals appear in the picture as extras. Although pre-production news items announced that the film would be shot using the Zeiss 3-D system, an Los Angeles Daily News item of July 20, 1953 reported that plan had been dropped.
       According to the MPAA/PCA file on the film at the AMPAS Library, Carnival Story encountered many censorship problems during its script-writing phase. In a August 24, 1951 letter to the King Bros., PCA director Joseph I. Breen called the picture "so shockingly low-toned as to be grossly offensive." PCA memos indicate that in early drafts of the script, "Willi" (called "Vida" in the submitted draft) kills her husband after he demands that she quit the circus and live on a farm with him, then turns herself in to the police. Breen complained that the story lacked "compensating moral values," as Willi was not sufficiently punished for committing murder. In the final picture, "Joe" kills the husband and is himself killed by "Groppo." According to the PCA files, Arthur Gardner worked on the script's early drafts, but his contribution to the final film has not been determined. Despite the script changes, the Legion of Decency gave the film a "B" rating and publicly asked the producers to tone down the "offensive material." The King Bros. refused to comply, however. Some reviewers complained about the prurient nature of the story, but like the Variety reviewer, predicted that the "sizzling sex and carnival thrills" would spell box office success.
       On August 15, 1958, the King Bros., through Distributors Corp. of America, opened the German-language version of Carnival Story in New York. The film, titled Circus of Love (see below), was presented in the original German, with English subtitles, and was earmarked for art houses across America, according to an August 1958 Daily Variety news item. The New York Times review commented that the 1958 German-language version and the 1954 English-language version were "almost identical." According to the review, Anne Baxter and Steve Cochran are seen briefly in the German version, as are Bartok and Jrgens in the English version. In 1955, Los Angeles Times reported that the King Bros. were being sued for $20,000 over the use of John Philip Sousa's march "The Stars and Stripes Forever" in the picture. The disposition of the suit is not known.