Cats and dogs
Wild animal exhibitions originated with the menagerie, but jungle beasts as performers are relative newcomers to the circus. Because traveling menageries were so successful financially, circus operators around the turn of the century began to incorporate into their shows wild animal exhibitions with “lion tamers” in attendance. The American public flocked to see the dangerous denizens of faraway jungles paraded with great ballyhoo by nerveless human handles, and wild animal acts swiftly became an integral part of the circus. There is another kind of animal act which answers a different interest among circus audiences and comes out of a longer standing tradition than the wild animal acts: the tame animal act in which the animal, through meticulous training, is able to perform tricks exploiting the upper limits of its physical capability and intelligence. It is always with squeals of delight that the audience watches an animal –a seal, pony, chimpanzee, or dog –break into a routine which makes it look “human.”This program concentrates on these two kinds of animal performance. It uses as examples of the tame animal act the skillful and imaginative “Stephenson’s Dogs,” seen in rehearsal on the Ringling lot. In the wild animal category there are three different performers: Clyde Beatty, Pat Anthony, and Robert Baudy. In each case the viewer sees them at work with their “cats” (tigers and lions), while their voices come over their own performance shots describing the dangers of their profession, their training methods, how they groom the animals, and what happens when a snarling cat turns against his master (Anthony, who puts his arm in the mouth of a tiger, tells us that if the animal begins to bite his arm, he bites his ear, which makes the tiger relinquish its hold.) The three trainers on this program represent two different approaches to the art of the wild animal act. Both Pat Anthony (who studied animal training under the G.I. Bill) and veteran Clyde Beatty (whose performances are seen in both old and current film clips) give “fighting acts,” concentrating on the physical aspects of their performances –often wielding the gun and whip irritating the cats into loud roaring, and, in general, making it as clear as possible that a 165-pound man is taking on 8700 pounds of “unleashed jungle fury.” Robert Baudy, a Frenchman, has a different approach. His act emphasizes “style” rather than combat, and, clad in rich costume, he enters the steal arena with a more aesthetic objective than that of his colleagues Beatty and Anthony: he makes his Siberian tigers go through the paces of their impossible tricks with quiet, sinister, grace.
Joan Shigekawa; Mallory Slate; Ormonde deKaye Jr.; James Salter; James Trainor; Brice Howard; Lane Slate; Edward Nielsen
National Educational Television
Educational; Historical; Animal
Circus--United States--History; Circus animals; Animal trainers
- Rights Statement
- Copyright Not Evaluated
- Physical Description
1 film reel sound,black and white/monochrome; 16 mm
- Other Identifiers
Catalog Key: 7827224; Other: GR00465609; MDPI Barcode: 40000003094572
This item is accessible by: the public.