Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

Director: Cecil B. DeMille

Writers: Fredric M. Frank, Barre Lyndon, Theodore St. John, Frank Cavett, Jack Gariss

Composer: Victor Young

Starring: Betty Hutton, Cornel Wilde, Charlton Heston, Dorothy Lamour, GLoria Grahame, Henry Wilcoxon, Lyle Bettger, Lawrence Tierney, Emmett Kelly, Frank Wilcox, James Stewart, Julia Faye, Cecil B. DeMille

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Heartbeat Story of Circus People, Filmed with the Cooperation of Ringling Bros. - Barnum and Bailey Circus!

Plot: To ensure a full profitable season, circus manager Brad Braden engages The Great Sebastian, though this moves his girlfriend Holly from her hard-won center trapeze spot. Holly and Sebastian begin a dangerous one-upmanship duel in the ring, while he pursues her on the ground. Subplots involve the secret past of Buttons the Clown and the efforts of racketeers to move in on the game concessions.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

First of all, shame on Netflix for showing this in widescreen when it wasn't filmed that way (wide started mainstream in '54).  I was watching THE ENEMY BELOW (1957)  on Netflix the other day and they showed it in 1:66 until the end credits and then it went to its proper 1:85 for.  Boneheads.  This is a pretty fun picture.  It's two and a half hours long and probably half of that is the various circus acts during live performances.  That's the fun part.  I was loving that stuff.  I can imagine that seeing this on the big screen 60+ years ago would've been like putting you right there in the big top.  The first 90 minutes of drama does little but build little by little until the final hour when major things start to happen.  It's got a great cast and I was really surprised at how professional Hutton & Wilde looked as trapeze artists.  Their stunt work is amazing.   I'm sure a real trapeze artist would think it's OK at best but to the layman, it looked good to me.  This won the Best Picture Oscar, beating out HIGH NOON, IVANHOE, MOULIN ROUGE and THE QUIET MAN.  Can you believe that?  It's good but it's not better than these movies (I've seen them all but MR). 

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