Originally broadcast as a "Movie of the Week" by CBS in 1981, "When The Circus Came to Town" is a thoughtful, lovely, quiet film about a woman nearing middle age, bored with a sheltered and sterile life, who suddenly decides to leave home and join the circus when it comes to her small town. In the process, her eyes are finally opened to life, for better and for worse, but she is awakened and, ultimately, content. Elizabeth Montgomery gives yet another of her patented superior performances; there isn't a false note. She is helped enormously by supporting players, sure-handed direction, and the kind of TV-movie writing that has sadly and completely disappeared over the years. Also to be lauded is the fact that this is the only film involving circus life in which its denizens aren't portrayed as sleazy, oversexed losers or out-and-out scumbags, though they ARE outside the "norm". It is refreshing to see a sensitive viewpoint. For all these reasons, this was quite a successful broadcast for CBS, and was thereafter often found on many a late-night-movie schedule, back in the days when they HAD late-night-movie schedules. Alas, those days are long gone and many worthwhile TV films from the Golden Age of the TV Movie - the 70's & early 80's - have disappeared altogether, without even the benefit of a video release. Such a shame. Perhaps amongst the glut of DVD's being released this, too, will find a new home and audience. It certainly deserves as much.
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