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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 7,822 users  
Reviews: 97 user | 29 critic

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

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

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Won 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Himself
Cucciola ...
Himself
Antoinette Concello ...
Herself
John Ringling North ...
Himself
Tuffy Genders ...
Himself
John Kellogg ...
John Ridgely ...
Assistant Manager
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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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cecil B. DeMille was always demanding of his actors and actresses. He insisted that everyone truly learn to perform the circus stunts they were supposed to be performing. This meant that Betty Hutton really learned the trapeze and Gloria Grahame had to let an elephant rest its foot an inch from her face. Cornel Wilde probably had it the worst since he was portraying a high-wire artist. He was seriously afraid of heights in real life. See more »

Goofs

When Mickey Mouse and other Walt Disney characters walk around the ring, the band plays the song "It's A Hap-Hap-Happy Day" from Gulliver's Travels, which was released by Paramount, not Disney. See more »

Quotes

Holly: I'd hate to have your nerve in a tooth!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Heavenly Creatures (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

William Tell Overture
(1829) (uncredited)
Music by Gioachino Rossini
Played during the dog and pony show
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Brassy Big Top Corn
12 April 2007 | by (Biloxi, Mississippi) – See all my reviews

Every one was shocked when THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH won Oscars for Best Motion Picture and Best Screenplay; there was nothing about the film that could be considered "great art." At the same time, however, SHOW was a lot of fun, and certainly audiences of the day flocked to it, making it the single biggest grossing film of 1952.

The story is purple-prose soap opera. Circus manager Brad Braden (Charleton Heston) is doing a balancing act between rival arielist stars Sebastian (Cornel Wilde) and Holly (Betty Hutton)--the later of whom is torn in her affections between the two. Add in a lovely but common show girl (Dorothy Lamour), a jealous elephant trainer (Lyle Bettger), the object of his affections (Gloria Graham), a clown with a mysterious past (Jimmy Stewart), high wire accidents, and a train wreck--all mixed well by Cecil B. DeMille's eye for larger-than-life spectacle. The result is brassy, silly, corny, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Seen today, the big attraction here is the chance to see the circus when it was still traveling by rail and performing under "the big top." Filmed with the cooperation of Ringling Brothers-Barnum and Bailey, SHOW allows us to see what was involved in organizing the lavish show that was the circus in the 1950s, a world filled with roustabouts, elephants, barkers, peanut vendors, acrobats, and all the rest. One of the more interesting aspects of this is Emmett Kelly, one of America's greatest clowns, who appears throughout the film as himself.

THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH is lots of flash and dazzle, a little song and dance, Charleton Heston in his first major role, Betty Hutton in one of her final films (she did most of her own stunt work), and lots of corny charm. It might not really be the "greatest" show on earth, but it is very picturesque. The film isn't restored, but it isn't in bad condition; sadly, there are no bonuses at all.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer


11 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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