If the larger-than-life approach to this complicated picture (based on the novel The Rose in the Ring by George Barr McCutcheon) seems reminiscent of Cecil B. DeMille, that's not surprising. Its director, Oscar Apfel, basically taught fledgling filmmaker DeMille how to direct. When David Jenison (Jode Mullally) is falsely accused of a murder, he joins a traveling circus owned by Thomas Braddock (character actor extraordinaire Theodore Roberts). Braddock's wife, Mary (Mabel Van Buren) and daughter, Christine (Florence Dagmar) both take a liking to David and insist that he be given a job as one of the clowns. But hunchback Ernie Cronk (Raymond Hatton) resents David's presence because he loves Christine himself and tries to turn him in to authorities. Ernie's brother Dick (Frank Hickman) helps David escape. Eventually the real killer -- David's uncle -- confesses to the crime on his deathbed and David is exonerated. Before leaving the circus he proposes to Christine, but Mrs. Braddock claims they are too young and insists that they wait for five years. During that time Braddock goes head-to-head with his rival, Colonel Grand (Frank Montague), and loses -- Braddock winds up in jail, while Grand takes control of the circus. At the end of the five years, Braddock gets out of jail and goes to kill Grand but Ernie Cronk is the one who does the deed. The experience makes a new man out of Braddock, while David and Christine are finally united.
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