In post-WWII Czechoslovakia, circus owner Fredric March plots his escape to freedom, using his troupe’s innocuous guise as entertainers to con their way past the border guards and into the American zone of Germany. But that may be the easy part. Complications are presented by March’s straying wife, Gloria Grahame, and his willful daughter Terry Moore’s affection for circus hand Cameron Mitchell, whom March suspects may be a spy for the secret police. “The whole point of the circus is that these are the least uniform, the most individualistic, the oddest, the most eccentric, the most widely ‘deviationist’ of any people. This is an ode to individualism!” —Elia Kazan —AFI
Kazan was born Elias Kazancoglu in Istanbul to a Greek father from Kayseri, Turkey and a Greek mother from Istanbul, where her family were cotton merchants who imported cotton from Manchester, England, and sold it wholesale in Istanbul to various merchants, both Greek and Turkish, who took the goods out to the provinces. His family emigrated to the United States in 1913 and settled in New York City, where his father, George Kazanjoglu, became a rug merchant. Kazan’s father expected that his son would go into the family business, but his mother, Athena (née Sismanoglou), encouraged Kazan to make his own decisions. His family name ‘Kazanjoglou’ (an alternate spelling is Kazantzoglou) is Turkish, meaning “The son of a cauldron maker”, where the root word ‘kazan’ means cauldron or boiler. It was and still is common to find people of Greek, Jewish, Assyrian, Armenian, and Kurdish lineage with Turkish family names or where the root words in the names are uniquely Turkish.
Kazan attended… read more