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The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

Not Rated | | Drama, Family, Romance | May 1952 (USA)
The dramatic lives of trapeze artists, a clown, and an elephant trainer are told against a background of circus spectacle.

Director:

Writers:

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

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

Love! Laughter! Thrills! Wonders! Suspense! Spectacle! Heart! 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

The movie is often cited as the least deserved Best Picture winner ever. It is widely believed the film only won because many members of the Academy were reluctant to vote for the anti-Joseph McCarthy western High Noon (1952), whose screenwriter Carl Foreman had just been blacklisted from Hollywood. See more »

Goofs

In one scene Buttons the clown is wrapping cloth tape around Holly's trapeze bar. He wraps it for about a third of its length then lays it down. When he lays it down it is clear that there is almost no tape left on the roll. When he picks it back up a short time later the bar is wrapped almost three quarters of the way and the roll of tape is much bigger. See more »

Quotes

Brad Braden: [while Buttons is doing first aid] Buttons! If that detective sees you doing this, he won't need *fingerprints*!
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 80th Annual Academy Awards (2008) 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

 
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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