Cast & Crew
After an escaped lion is held at bay by small town resident Matt Varney, Nick Coster, the owner of Coster's Circus, offers him a job assisting the circus lion tamer, Hoffman the Great. Nick's original plan is simply to use Matt as a gimmick to attract the townspeople, but Matt shows a natural ability with the lions so Nick hires him permanently. Flo Lorraine, Nick's girl friend and the circus fortune teller, befriends Matt, all the while believing that he is too nice to work in a circus. One day, when Hoffman is too drunk to perform, Matt takes over and does so well that Nick fires Hoffman. Seeking revenge, Hoffman sneaks into the circus, picks a fight with Matt and is badly clawed by a rogue lion. Afraid that Hoffman might die, Flo takes Matt to Nick's nearby family farm to hide out, even though Nick has issued strict orders for everyone to keep away from his sister Mary because he wants her to associate with a better class of people. When Nick learns where Matt is hiding, he rushes to the farm, but by the time he arrives, Mary and Matt have already fallen in love. Despite Nick's orders, Matt cannot forget about Mary, and reveals his feelings to Flo, who mistakenly believes that Matt is in love with her. When she realizes that he loves Mary, she advises him to return to her. Nick is determined to prevent his sister from marrying Matt and, after Flo leaves the circus because she is in love with Matt, decides to force Matt to work with mankilling lion Caesar. Flo stops at Nick's farm and begs Mary to take Matt away from the circus. By the time they return, Matt is already in the ring with Caesar. Without Matt's knowledge, Nick has removed the blanks from his gun, making him defenseless against the lion. Mary pleads with Nick to save Matt and, out of love for his sister, he draws Caesar away from Matt. Before the badly mauled Nick dies, he asks Flo to see that Matt and Mary are wed.
Harry Harvey Jr.
E. A. Brown
Leo F. Forbstein
H. F. Koenekamp
Fred Niblo Jr.
Norman Reilly Raine
The Wagons Roll at Night
Humphrey Bogart (who'd been the villain in Kid Galahad) stars as the tough, cynical owner of a circus, full of "mugs and grifters and riffraff -- all under one tent," as his character Nick Coster describes. When a lion escapes the carnival, Nick finds the animal -- and potential lion tamer Matt -- in a nearby town. Later, when Nick's sister falls in love with Matt, Nick forces him into the cage with the crazy lion Caesar, the show's most ferocious beast. Nick has a change of heart, however, and helps Matt escape but dies in the effort.
Taming the lions, which were actually on loan from MGM's Tarzan back lot, is Eddie Albert, who would later gain fame with other animals on the television farm comedy Green Acres. Joan Leslie, who played Bogart's love interest in their previous film High Sierra (1941), is on board as the saintly sister, while Sylvia Sidney's fortune-teller has a romance with Bogie's Nick. Character actress Clara Blandick, known to legions today as Auntie Em in The Wizard of Oz (1939), also makes a brief appearance.
In the same year as filming High Sierra, Bogart got the role in The Wagons Roll at Night after George Raft turned it down. But The Wagons Roll at Night would be one of the last times Bogart was second choice for a role, and the picture marked the first time he received top billing, a status he would keep for every movie forward. Superstardom lurked around the corner, with The Maltese Falcon also released in 1941, and Casablanca (1942) and To Have and Have Not (1944) just a few movies away.
Although often overshadowed in Bogart's career because of its place between High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon, The Wagons Roll at Night received good reviews when released. Trade paper Variety noted the film was "a fast-moving (melodrama) constructed to hit the fancy of action-minded audiences who crave excitement in their cinematic fare ... a topnotch program attraction."
And further evidence that Hollywood believes in recycling: The plot was retooled as a vehicle for Elvis Presley in 1962 (under the title Kid Galahad), reverting to its original prizefight scenario but adding musical interludes.
Producer: Harlan Thompson, Hal B. Wallis
Director: Ray Enright
Screenplay: Fred Niblo, Jr., Barry Trivers, Francis Wallace (novel)
Cinematography: Sidney Hickox
Film Editing: Mark Richards
Art Direction: Hugh Reticker
Music: Heinz Roemheld
Cast: Humphrey Bogart (Nick Coster), Sylvia Sidney (Flo Lorraine), Eddie Albert (Matt Varney), Joan Leslie (Mary Coster), Sig Ruman (Hoffman the Great), Cliff Clark (Doc).
by Amy Cox
The Wagons Roll at Night
Eddie Albert (1906-2005)
The son of a real estate agent, Albert was born Edward Albert Heimberger in Rock Island, Ill., on April 22, 1906. His family relocated to Minneapolis when he was still an infant. Long entralled by theatre, he studied drama at the University of Minnesota. After years of developing his acting chops in touring companies, summer stock and a stint with a Mexican circus, he signed a contract with Warner Bros. and made his film debut in Brother Rat (1938). Although hardly a stellar early film career, he made some pleasant B-pictures, playing slap happy youths in Brother Rat and a Baby (1940), and The Wagons Roll at Night (1941).
His career was interrupted for military service for World War II, and after his stint (1942-45), he came back and developed a stronger, more mature screen image: Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman (1947); Carrie (1952); his Oscar® nominated turn as the Bohemian photographer friend of Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday (1953); a charming Ali Hakim in Oklahoma (1955); and to many critics, his finest hour as an actor, when he was cast unnervingly against type as a cowardly military officer whose lack of commitment to his troops results in their deaths in Attack! (1956).
As he settled into middle-age, Albert discovered belated fame when he made the move to Hooterville. For six seasons (1965-71), television viewers loved Eddie Albert as Oliver Wendal Douglas, the bemused city slicker who, along with his charming wife Lisa (Eva Gabor), takes a chance on buying a farm in the country and dealing with all the strange characters that come along their way. Of course, I'm talking about Green Acres. If he did nothing else, Alberts proved he could be a stalwart straight man in the most inane situations, and pull it off with grace.
After the run of Green Acres, Albert found two of his best roles in the late stages of his career that once again cast him against his genial, good-natured persona: the fiercly overprotective father of Cybill Shepherd in The Heartbreak Kid (1972), for which he earned his second Oscar® nomination; and the sadistic warden in Robert Aldrich's raucous gridiron comedy The Longest Yard (1974). Soon, Albert was in demand again, and he had another hit series, playing a retired police officer who partners with a retired con artist (Robert Wagner) to form a detective agency in Switch (1975-78).
The good roles slowed down slightly by the dawn of the '80s, both film: The Concorde: Airport '79 (1979), How to Beat the High Co$t of Living (1980), Take This Job and Shove It (1981); and television: Highway to Heaven, Murder, She Wrote, Thirtysomething, offered him little in the way of expansion. Yet, Albert spent his golden years in a most admirable fashion, he became something of activist for world health and pollution issues throughout the latter stages of his life. It is widely acknowledged that International Earth Day (April 22) is honored on his birthday for his tireless work on environemental matters. Albert was married to famed hispanic actress Margo (1945-85) until her death, and is survived by his son, actor Edward Albert, a daughter, and two granddaughters.
by Michael T. Toole
Eddie Albert (1906-2005)
Francis Wallace's novel was first published as a serial in The Saturday Evening Post (11 April-16 May 1936). The film's working title was Carnival. According to production notes included in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library, trick photography was not used to make it appear as if Sig Rumann and Eddie Albert were in the lion cage. The actors themselves actually played their scenes with the lions. Some scenes were filmed on location at Sherwood Lake near Los Angeles. Although the Variety review claimed that Sylvia Sidney returned to the screen after "several years away from pictures," she was actually absent for only two years. Wallace's novel was the basis for the 1937 Warner Bros. film Kid Galahad, directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Edward G. Robinson, Bette Davis and Wayne Morris. Humphrey Bogart played a gangster in that film. In 1962, UA made a musical version of the story, directed by Phil Karlson and starring Elvis Presley. Both of these films, like the novel, were set in the boxing world.
Released in United States 1941
Remake of "Kid Galahad" (1937) directed by Michael Curtiz.
Released in United States 1941