Man on a Tightrope (1953)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller  |  29 June 1953 (West Germany)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 623 users  
Reviews: 21 user | 4 critic

Czech circus owner-Clown and his entire troupe employ a daring stratagem in order to escape en masse from behind the iron curtain.



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Complete credited cast:
Karel Cernik
Tereza Cernik
Zama Cernik
Joe Vosdek
Alexander D'Arcy ...
Rudolph (as Alex D'Arcy)
Pat Henning ...
Paul Hartman ...
The Chief


In 1950s Czechoslovakia circus manager Karel Cernik is planning an escape from Communism to freedom.His idea is to force his way across the guarded border using his entire circus.Three years in the making his idea is ready to be tested when he's suddenly summoned to a Secret Police routine questioning about his circus' program.To Cernik it's clear that he has an informer among his staff who reports his activities and private talks to the Secret Police. The Americans are just across the river in a nearby border village but Cernik needs a special permit from the Secret Police allowing his circus freedom of movement in the border areas to perform his shows.This hard to get permit is vital to his escape plan.To make matters worse his wife is being unfaithful, his daughter has fallen in love with the new stables boy,his circus is falling apart and his longtime rival, Barovik, wants to take over Cernik's circus. Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

29 June 1953 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Cirque en révolte  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Marlene Dietrich turned down the role that eventually went to Gloria Grahame. See more »


When Fredric March is being interrogated, the inkwell in front of him is uncovered, when the camera switches between him & his interrogator, the inkwell's cover is on. See more »


Rudolph: [to Cernik] The curse of my life is that I'm a handsome man.
See more »


Referenced in American Masters: None Without Sin (2003) See more »


Chattanooga Choo Choo
Music by Harry Warren
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User Reviews

Why isn't this movie considered a classic?
15 November 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is a really fine movie, with some marvelous subtlety and powerful metaphor, despite the fact it shows its age. Great editing, good script, some superb scenes. I can't understand why it is not more widely known and appreciated. The Cold War is simply the setting; the unprepossessing story means far more.

For those who might be interested, this was the favorite movie of American poet Richard Hugo (1923-1982), who wrote several pages about it in his posthumously published 1986 autobiography, The Real West Marginal Way. A couple of Hugo's comments:

"The border becomes a kind of symbolic line separating the will from the imagination, the world of serious organizational adult responsibility from the paradise of childhood play."

"More than anything else, the music {of the amateurish circus musicians} attests to the poor odds facing not only the tacky circus but humanity itself."

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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