The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Family, Romance  |  May 1952 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 8,902 users  
Reviews: 101 user | 43 critic

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



(screenplay), (screenplay), 5 more credits »
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Johnny Slate is the big boss who successfully keeps the circus running as it moves from town to town. He manages to deal with the unexpected frequently and uses Otto King, the accountant, as a sounding boarding

Stars: Jack Palance, Stuart Erwin, Michael Consoldane


Cast overview, first billed only:
Emmett Kelly
Cucciola ...
Antoinette Concello ...
Antoinette Concello
John Ringling North ...
John Ringling North
Tuffy Genders ...
Tuffy Genders
John Kellogg ...
John Ridgely ...
Assistant Manager


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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


Drama | Family | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

May 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

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

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)


$36,000,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Victor Young's big-top music brightened the last of his six consecutive scores for Cecil B. DeMille productions, which began with North West Mounted Police (1940). See more »


When Brad is checking the baby gorillas after learning they may have contracted the mumps, a crowd of onlookers is gathered right behind, plainly staring at the camera filming the scene. See more »


[Phyllis is having her hair washed by Birdie as heart-throb Sebastian approaches;]
Phyllis: Why is it whenever he's around I'm all wet?
Birdie: In more ways than one.
See more »


Featured in Precious Images (1986) See more »


(I Got Spurs That) Jingle Jangle Jingle
(1942) (uncredited)
Music by Joseph J. Lilley
Played while Sebastian rides in the parade
See more »

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User Reviews

Great show and story
1 October 2002 | by (Sugar Land, Texas, USA) – See all my reviews

I know that some people are down on this movie, but I absolutely LOVE it. It has great ideals and good (not great) acting. It tells a story about the circus in a pseudo-documentary. The story has love, action, and humor. Three things that are missing from much of today's movie. I also love the color and the dramatic "feel" of the film for that era. It's a wonderful, wonderful, piece of 'Americana'.

25 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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