Cast & Crew
At the dawn of World War I, Russian General Onyegin and his family, wife, the Duchess, nieces, Countess Nina and Princess Ilena, and nephew Kolia, must escape the Russian revolution to save their lives. They send their jewels safely ahead to Paris, their intended destination. On the road they encounter circus clown Gabbo the Great, who is alone with a circus wagon that converts into a stage and has the passports of his missing circus troupe. The general and his family pretend they are performers and join up with Gabbo, who falls instantly in love with Ilena. The general contacts his allies, Count Bulba and Colonel Merski, who are producing counterfeit money with which to buy an army. Gabbo worries about the general, who seems to have disappeared, but is actually meeting with his allies to plot their next move. Gabbo's adoring fans, a group of neighborhood children, lead him to the meeting house where Gabbo pelts the count with stones when he sees him drinking vodka. When the count runs out, Gabbo runs in, and his pockets are filled by counterfeit rubles spewing from the printing press. With so much money Gabbo dreams of building a house for Ilena and himself, but is arrested by a revolutionary officer when he attempts to buy a horse with which to take the group to Paris using the counterfeit money. Gabbo breaks out of jail with the help of his children friends and is allowed to remain free after the children lead the revolutionary officer, Ivan, to the printing press. Bulba tries to kill everyone, but Gabbo uses his slingshot to knock the gun out of his hand. Ivan allows Gabbo and his friends to cross the border as thanks for Gabbo's help in the efforts of the revolution. In Paris, Gabbo is the guest of honor at a magnificent ball. That evening, Gabbo shyly shows Ilena a tintype of the "dream" house he has built for her in the slums of Paris. Once he becomes aware of her status and immense wealth, however, Gabbo gives up his dreams and leaves Paris.
J. Charles Gilbert
Also in the cast, as extras, were a former governor-general of Siberia, a grandson of Leo Tolstoy, and Lucius Henderson, a moviemaking pioneer, who managed the Majestic Film Company before D.W. Griffith took over.
According to copyright records, producers Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur wrote the film as a vehicle for pantomimist Jimmy Savo. Reviews were almost unanimously negative. According to a pre-release news item in Hollywood Reporter, Paramount considered not releasing the film after plans to reshoot some scenes were abandoned. According to copyright records, six hundred children were recruited as extras, many from the Russian community in New York, and others from the Gould Mission and Happy Valley Farm in New York. In addition, some scenes were filmed on location in Tuxedo, NY.