Running away to join the circus was a popular romantic sentiment in the 1920s for those wishing to escape life's drudgery. For wannabe actress Violet (Beatrice Lillie), it was joining a third-rate traveling actors troupe specializing in over-the-top melodramas of love and loss. Too plain to play the vampy vixen, she was relegated to the menial but necessary tasks to keep the show afloat. Known for her rubbery features and comic timing, Lillie taps her higher Chaplinesque qualities and deep humanist emotions in beguiling balance to the laughter. Violet's real-life drama rises far above the on-stage fiction, as with her tutoring and support of a handsome young recruit (Jack Pickford) who becomes the male lead, a man whom she falls in love with but withholds her heart. This silent classic is a riveting time capsule into a pre-Depression world that will fascinate, draw tears and ultimately...cheers.
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