Creepy! Nasty! Moody! Hateful! Grotesque! Haunting! Chilling! Sad ..... these things and more when peeking under the tents and into the dressing rooms of the Carny .
Teenage nymph Donna (Jodie Foster) strolls through the Carnival and falls in love with the excitement, the charisma, the charm. She runs away from home to become a carny roady and soon finds not is all as it appears.
Frankie (Gary Busey) is the carny Bozo - that loud talking, taunting guy that sits on the platform and teases you into throwing the balls and try to knock him into the water tank. Full of rage and hate, fortunately this job is perfect for him. He uses is as his outlet for spite ..... and by this fashion is able to draw a large crowd of wannabes because he is so vocal.
Patch (Robbie Robertson) is Frankie's friend and room mate, also the carny peacemaker. He greases the palms of local law enforcement and politicians, soothes the jangled nerves of customers, steps between altercations in the crew. Soft spoken, sweet, loving - everything Frankie is not.
The three meet, join, and worlds collide. Originally taken with Frankie's extroverted personality, Donna soon learns he is as abusive off the platform as on. Stepping back from their relationship, she ends up sleeping with Patch, causing a huge rift between Patch and Frankie. Frankie goes out of control and Patch must step in once again to soften the local townspeople and pay a few of them off.
This is a gritty little movie and actually quite a good one. Busey carries the entire show with his animal-like personality. It seems most pictures he plays in, he stays pretty true to form and you begin to wonder just what this guy is really like. Foster, of course, is dynamic in her role, an early one for her.
Originally started as a documentary by filmmaker Robert Kaylor, he became so engrossed with the information he obtained while visiting various carny's around the country, he decided to turn it into a short movie. Well worth watching.