Story byMargaret Mayo CinematographyGeorge W. Hill CountryUnited States
CastMae Marsh (Polly), Vernon Steele (John Douglas the Minister), Harry La Pearl (Toby the Clown), Wellington A. Playter (Big Jim, Boss Canvasman), George S. Trimble (Barker and owner of the show), Lucille La Verne (Mandy) LanguageSilent (English intertitles) DirectorCharles T. Horan
Edwin L. Hollywood Release dateSeptember 9, 1917 Based onPolly of the Circus
by Margaret Mayo WriterAdrian Gil-Spear, Emmett C. Hall, Margaret Mayo (play) Similar moviesThe Ring, The Yankee Clipper, A Ship Comes In, North Star, The Sea Wolf, Midsummer Madness
Polly of the circus preview clip
Polly of the Circus is a 1917 American silent drama film notable as the first film produced by Samuel Goldwyn after founding his studio Goldwyn Pictures. This film starred Mae Marsh, usually an actress for D.W. Griffith, but now under contract to Goldwyn for a series of films. The film was based on a 1907 Broadway play by Margaret Mayo which starred Mabel Taliaferro. Presumably when MGM remade the film in 1932 with Marion Davies, they still owned the screen rights inherited from the 1924 merger by Marcus Lowe of the Metro, Goldwyn, and Louis B. Mayer studios.
This film marks the first appearance of Slats, the lion mascot of Goldwyn Pictures and (after the company's 1924 merger) Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Polly of the circus feature clip
As described in a film magazine, the parents of Polly (Marsh), a little horseback rider, are dead, and circus performers Jim (Playter) and Toby (Eldridge) are her sponsors. One night while performing Polly is thrown from her horse and injured. She is taken to the home of parson John Douglas (Steele), and the circus is forced to leave without her. The parson finds in Polly someone different than anyone in his flock, but his liking for the circus rider does not please the members of the congregation. They force Polly to leave and she reenters the circus, but thoughts of the parson make her unhappy. After a year's separation, the circus comes to town again. Douglas has not forgotten his little circus performer, and one night he goes to the tent to visit her. She tries to send him away, but he will not go. The circus tents catch fire, and in the general confusion and wreckage, Douglas and Jim bring Polly to safety. In the arms of the parson, Polly bids her circus friends goodbye.
Mae Marsh as Polly
Vernon Steele as John Douglas the Minister
Charles Eldridge as Toby the Clown
Wellington A. Playter as Big Jim, Boss Canvasman
George S. Trimble as Barker and owner of the show
Lucille La Verne as Mandy
Dick Lee as Hasty, her lesser half
Charles Riegel as Deacon Strong
Lucille Southerwaite as The Deacon's Daughter (credited as Lucille Satterthwaite)
Jack B. Hollis as Deacon Elverson
Helen Sallinger as Mrs. Elverson
Isabel Vernon as Sallie
Viola Compton as Jane, the widow
John Carr as Jim
Stephen Carr as John
The film was once thought to be lost, the last copy destroyed by fire at MGM Vault#7 in 1967. However, a copy of it was found amid a collection of silent films buried in permafrost in Dawson City, Yukon, in 1978. The Public Archives of Canada / Dawson City Collection possesses a print of this example of an early Goldwyn feature.
Polly of the Circus was released on Region 0 DVD-R by Alpha Video on January 28, 2014. A DVD release of Polly of the Circus from Warner Archive Collection has yet to be announced.