Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus

Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus

Synopsis of Movie

Millions of kids dream of running away to join the circus. Toby Tyler actually did. That was the idea behind James Otis Kaler’s novel Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks With a Circus, adapted to the screen in the 1960 Disney film of the same name. The movie was a return to the turn-of-the-century setting of Walt Disney’s own youth, a small, nostalgic look at a simpler time. The title role was played by Kevin Corcoran, a Disney contract player famous for his “Moochie” character and for his roles in Old Yeller, Swiss Family Robinson and many other Disney films of the period.

The circus comes to Toby Tyler’s town at just the right (or wrong) time. Young orphan Toby is already chafing under his adopted parents’ rule, and Uncle Daniel’s scolding is simply the last straw. Toby runs away from home and takes up with oily circus worker Harry Tupper, who decides to show him the ropes.

The boy takes an instant liking to his new life, finding friends in strongman Ben Cotter, troublemaking monkey Mr. Stubbs and bareback rider Mademoiselle Jeanette. Jeanette’s riding partner, Monsieur Ajax, becomes jealous of Jeanette’s fondness for Toby, and in trying to show off ends up with a sidelining injury. The act seems lost, but Toby suggests he could ride in Ajax’s place. The boy puts in his training, and before long he’s getting the hang of it.

Meanwhile, Harry Tupper has been skimming Toby’s earnings as a finder’s fee and hiding letters from the boy’s Aunt Olive. When Toby finds the letters, he learns his uncle is sick and Aunt Olive wants the boy home. Toby takes Mr. Stubbs and goes, but on the way, a hunter mistakenly shoots the monkey. What’s more, Tupper has noticed the boy’s absence and has come to take him back. Suddenly, the circus life doesn’t seem so attractive, but Toby won’t be able to get back home on his own.

A simple story with which almost all children could identify, Toby Tyler played to both the heartstrings and the funny bone. Kids came for the monkey; parents came to reminisce. While it hasn’t stayed as publicly visible as its nostalgic contemporary Pollyanna, Toby Tyler was a modest hit in its time and remains a fond memory for many.

Movie Release History

1960 - Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus

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Toby Tyler Kevin Corcoran
Ben Cotter Henry Calvin
Sam Treat Gene Sheldon
Harry Tupper Bob Sweeney
Colonel Sam Castle Richard Eastham
Jim Weaver James Drury
Mademoiselle Jeanette Barbara Beaird
Monsieur Ajax Dennis Joel
Aunt Olive Edith Evanson
Uncle Daniel Tom Fadden
Bandleader Ollie Wallace

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