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After Sally's (Carol Dempster) mother has passed away, showman McGargle
(W.C. Fields) has taken it upon himself to bring her up, and she has never
regarded him as anything other than a father. McGargle has been with the
circus all of his life, so it's no surprise he has brought Sally up a
circus performer - but now that she's all grown, he figures she has earned
something better than a life on the road.
There is one thing McGargle
has never told Sally: That she actually comes from a rich family, but her
grandfather, Judge Foster (Erville Alderson) has cast out her mother years
ago when she had an affair with a circus performer. As of yet, the judge
has no idea that he has a granddaughter, but McGargle thinks about
introducing her to him - provided he deems the judge and his wife (Effie
Shannon) the right company for his beloved Sally ... which is also why he
keeps mum about her grandparents even when he and Sally join a carnival in
the town where the Fosters live. Judge Foster doesn't like showpeople,
Sally soon falls in love with young Peyton (Alfred Lunt), the
son of the judge's best friend Lennox (Charles Hammond), much to Lennox'
dismay, which is why he asks the judge to help out a bit - and after quite
a few attempts, McGargle is caught gambling, and when Sally helps him to
escape she's arrested for it. Held at the police station, she awaits
either Peyton or McGargle to save her, but Peyton has been sent away by
his father on business and is unaware of her predicament, and McGargle has
run into a bunch of gangsters who hold him captive. He does everything to
get away and save his girl, but while he's still engaged in a wild
carchase, his girl is already in court, about to be convicted by her own
grandfather. She makes a daring escape, but that ultimately leads to
Of course everything is resolved favourably for all the
involved in the end when McGargle shows up with Sally's papers that prove
her to be the judge's granddaughter just in time, and now both Sally and
McGargle are welcomed into the family with open arms, and furthermore, now
she will make an acceptable bride for young Peyton ...
melodrama that keeps things going at a steady pace, isn't half as cheesy
as my synopsis makes it sound to be, and fortunately both Carol Dempster
and W.C. Fields bring a bit of irony to their roles. Plus, a few chase
scenes lighten up the mood of the film considerably. Still, this all
doesn't make Sally of the Sawdust too great a film, it's still
primarily a piece of kitsch - but at least one of the more entertaining