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The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

 -  Drama | Family | Romance  -  May 1952 (USA)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 7,349 users  
Reviews: 94 user | 28 critic

The dramatic lives of trapeze artists, a clown, and an elephant trainer against a background of circus spectacle.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay), 5 more credits »
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Title: The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) on IMDb 6.7/10

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Won 2 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Phyllis
...
...
FBI Agent Gregory
...
Klaus
...
Mr. Henderson
...
Himself
Cucciola ...
Himself
Antoinette Concello ...
Herself
John Ringling North ...
Himself
Tuffy Genders ...
Himself
John Kellogg ...
Harry
John Ridgely ...
Assistant Manager
Edit

Storyline

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. Let the show begin! Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Mightiest of Motion Pictures! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Family | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

May 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$36,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Lucille Ball was Cecil B. DeMille's first choice for "Angel", but she became pregnant and was replaced by Gloria Grahame. Paulette Goddard also campaigned strongly for the role but was turned down owing to her reluctance to perform stunt scenes. See more »

Goofs

When the circus train is leaving to start the season, as it passes the priest performing the blessing, we see the car carrying Holly (clearly visible in the open door) pass twice - two nearly identical shots, one right after the other. See more »

Quotes

Holly: [singing] When things go wrong, and life's no song, and you're flat on your back, that doesn't mean you have to lie there: be a jumping jack!
Buttons: [singing] Keep on the hop, and if you flop, and everything looks black, stand on your head and holler "hi there!" Be a jumping jack!
Holly: When things go up, they must come down, and also visa verse. If things look bad, don't fret and frown - they could be ten times worse!
Buttons: Your train of luck, it may get stuck if something's on the track; give a good jump and ...
[...]
See more »


Soundtracks

Be a Jumping-Jack
(1951)
Music by Victor Young
Lyrics by Ned Washington
Sung and jumped by Betty Hutton (uncredited) and James Stewart (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Hey, doesn't anyone remember Last Emperor?
28 December 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It constantly amazes me that people carp that this won best Picture, as though no movie before or since ever won when maybe they shouldn't have. It was a big picture, it had a great story, it gave a lot of bang for the buck and that has always been a factor in grabbing the Oscar. It does seem a bit dated to us now, used to high flying special effects, different acting styles, and quick cut editing, instead of letting the scene play out as it so often does here, but it's such a great story. The circus itself is a character and the way Demille used the audience to make them seem so individual is wonderful. And I'm not just referring to the Hope/Crosby cameo. Remember the fat guy with the kid scarfing down the ice cream laughing his head off while the kid looked confused? You could tell he was reliving his childhood and he became EveryMan to us with only seconds of screen time. That's mastery. The integration of the real circus people with the actors was seamless and if nothing else this movie captures a time when the circus was really a circus. Carp all you want, guys. But I think you may be too spoiled by ultra realism to appreciate the subtler gems in this very respectable film.


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