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The Circus Queen Murder (1933)

Passed | | Action, Crime, Drama | 10 April 1933 (USA)
Suave, lip-reading DA Thatcher Colt plans to get away from the big city for a while. So he and his secretary, Miss Kelly hop on a train for an Upstate NY town called Gilead. They expect a ... See full summary »


Roy William Neill


Fulton Oursler (from the story by) (as Anthony Abbott), Jo Swerling (screenplay)


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Cast overview:
Adolphe Menjou ... Thatcher Colt
Donald Cook ... The Great Sebastian
Greta Nissen ... Josie La Tour
Ruthelma Stevens ... Miss Kelly
Dwight Frye ... Flandrin
Harry Holman ... Jim Dugan
George Rosener ... John T. Rainey


Suave, lip-reading DA Thatcher Colt plans to get away from the big city for a while. So he and his secretary, Miss Kelly hop on a train for an Upstate NY town called Gilead. They expect a calm oasis, but when a small time circus rolls into town they soon find themselves caught up in a sordid tale of marital infidelity, murder, cruelty to animals, and cannibalism. Written by Cameron Majidi <cmaj@prolifics.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Passed | See all certifications »





English | German

Release Date:

10 April 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Murder of the Circus Queen See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Filmed February 6-24 1933, released April 10. See more »


Thatcher Colt: It's a well known fact that cannibals differ from the rest of us in their dietary customs.
See more »


Follows The Night Club Lady (1932) See more »

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User Reviews

Second Thatcher Colt mystery
7 March 2014 | by kevinolzakSee all my reviews

1933's "The Circus Queen Murder" was Columbia's second adaptation of an Anthony Abbot Thatcher Colt novel, in this case 1932's "About the Murder of the Circus Queen," a followup to the previous year's "The Night Club Lady." Back as the lip reading Colt is Adolphe Menjou, happily teamed again with gorgeous Ruthelma Stevens as faithful secretary Miss Kelly, as savvy and sassy as ever. This time around, there's precious little mystery, with Colt taken out of his native New York City milieu, watching over suspicious activities in a traveling circus far from home. It does evoke Tod Browning's "Freaks," with such pre-code details as cannibalism adding to the doom laden atmosphere, not really a mystery as defined in the title, the circus queen only meeting her fate in the final reel. Fortunately, we have Dwight Frye's Flandrin commanding attention, and in a larger role than usual he's definitely in rare form, better in dangerous mode than his bland hero from 1935's "The Crime of Doctor Crespi." Both Thatcher Colt features have remained stubbornly elusive over the years, while one of Columbia's four picture Steve Trent series has suffered the indignity of actually disappearing without any trace. There would be one revival for Colt, in 1942's "The Panther's Claw," casting dependable Sidney Blackmer as Colt, his fate on screen ending just like his inspiration Philo Vance, at Poverty Row's PRC.

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