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The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Family, Romance  |  May 1952 (USA)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 8,721 users  
Reviews: 100 user | 43 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:

The Heartbeat Story of Circus People, Filmed with the Cooperation of Ringling Bros. - Barnum and Bailey Circus! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Family | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

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

Conspicuous mention is made of the circus tent's fireproof quality. This is because only a few years earlier, in 1944, 167 people were killed and hundreds more injured when a Ringling Brothers "big top" caught fire and burned to the ground in Hartford Connecticut. This movie may be seen by some as an elaborate public relations gesture by Ringling Brothers. See more »

Goofs

The Walt Disney characters are seen getting their costume heads prior to the parade. When the characters are seen on parade inside the tent, they are in different costumes to what they were wearing when they got the heads. See more »

Quotes

Angel: [Sebastian almost drives his car into the elephant Angel is riding] Hey! Don't crowd, mister! Can't you see an elephant or do I have to paint her red?
Sebastian: I was blinded by the memory of a beautiful night in Paris.
Angel: [to the other circus performers] Blow up your water wings, girls, here comes the big wave!
[to Sebastian]
Angel: How come no husband ever shot you?
Sebastian: I never offer a sitting target.
Angel: I thought I'd seen the last of you when you got mixed up with that wire walker in Lisbon.
Sebastian: You will never see the last ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in You Bet Your Life: Episode #5.36 (1955) See more »

Soundtracks

Aloha Oe
(1908) (uncredited)
Music by Queen Liliuokalani
Played during the "Lovely Luawana Lady" sequence
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Betty Hutton and Cornel Wilde are superb in their 'flyer' roles!
8 August 2001 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I saw this film in a theatre when it first came out and, had forgotten a great deal of it, until I saw it again last evening.

Much of the film is actual footage of the REAL Barnum and Bailey Circus, setting up, tearing down and loading up for the trip to the next venue.

I had also forgotten how superb both Betty Hutton and Cornel Wilde are doing a great deal of their own 'flying'! While you realize that they have a net just under the view of the camera, they both perform physically demanding stunts with the camers right in their faces! I can't stand on my head on the floor much less on a swinging trapeze!!

Wilde's front summersault from one swinging bar to another swinging bar is breathtaking!!

Some of the action is quite dated and the trainwreck is...well, DeMille's rendition of a massive trainwreck. The plot creaks a bit here and there, but the many performers do their bits with conviction.

Hutton and Wilde steal the show from Heston and Stewart. I recommend this film to Circus lovers everywhere and to people who appreaciate actors placing themselves in Harms Way to create illusions (be they VERY dangerous illusions) of the REAL thing! I give it an 8.


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