Trapeze (1956) Poster


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To my surprise, a great subtle and rather sad movie
trpdean20 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This movie by Carol Reed (director of such great movies as The Third Man, Odd Man Out, The Key, and The Fallen Idol, who finally won the Oscar for Best Director for his musical, "Oliver!"(a musical adaptation of Oliver Twist) is simply superb.

Although this shares the circus setting as some others of the time, it's not primarily "about" the circus. It's a profound look at age, comeback, love (whether wanted or not), ambition. It's set in a dark and almost tawdry Paris of the mid-1950s, one that seems still tired and rather poor a dozen years after liberation.

The whole setting - and the love triangle - are fabulous yet realistic. This is a great bookend for An American in Paris - two entirely different images of Paris and France at the time.

The Burt Lancaster characterization is simply great - understated, powerful, moving - a man looking for a comeback, a last chance. Tony Curtis is also fine (I think Curtis has long been terribly underrated - he's a very good actor, wonderful in all kinds of parts from The Boston Strangler to Boeing, Boeing, from Sweet Smell of Success (with Lancaster again) to Some Like it Hot). Lollobrigida is great - a fine actress, yes unbelievably sexy but also just excellent at making us feel what her (desperate and cunning) character feels.

This is a great movie - amazingly set with a circus backdrop. I loved it. It's as good a depiction of post-war western Europe as can be imagined - in music, in light/shadow, in the fatigue you feel throughout. Watch it! You won't be disappointed.
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Almost a great circus movie
Martin Bradley24 April 2006
Almost a great circus movie, (if such a thing could exist), "Trapeze" comes closer than most to capturing the tawdry excitement of the milieu. While most circus pictures are aimed at kids this is aimed, if not quite at adults, then at least at older kids. It's sexy and it makes the whole business of being a trapeze artist seem like the sexiest, most exciting thing in the world.

It's about the rivalry that can develop, both professionally and romantically, between artists and the director, Carol Reed, gives the film a charge that his more famous and infinitely more civilized films don't have. As the trio of artists who are almost consumed by their passions Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis and Gina Lolobrigida have an instinctive rapport. Lancaster and Curtis' performances here seem like a dry run for their work a year later in "Sweet Smell of Success" and Lolobrigida never looked or acted better. Although Lancaster wasn't young when he made this, he's like the biggest kid in the playground and seems to be having a hell of a time while Lolobrigida is a dynamic tease.
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Bravo Lancaster!
artzau31 July 2001
What can we say about the big guy? He did his own stunts and this little film with Tony "Yonder's m'fadda's castle" Curtis [né Schwartz] and the lovely Ms. Lollobrigida, along with vet character actor Tom Gomez, delivers. Lots of fun. Lots of stunts. A reminder of a long gone era when movies had something to say. I remember seeing this one in San Francisco when it first aired. My date that evening was beautiful El Salvadorian who looked (nearly) as gorgeous as Gina. But, the film was so good, I stayed on my best behavior, much to her (and my) surprise. Ah, those were the days and this was a fun film to watch. The scene where Curtis and Lancaster walk home on their hands alone was worth the price of admission-- for both of us.
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I'm biased; I liked it.
eaglejet9811 January 2005
Actually I think Trapeze is a fairly decent depiction of a 1950s European flyer's act. And I understand that Mr. Lancaster was an acrobat whose career was ended due to injury prior to his becoming an actor. So this may have enabled him to have a good feel for his role.

But I'm also a bit biased. I've been to a couple of circuses in Paris, which seemed to mirror the film's atmosphere and I actually met the actors who starred in this film.

In 1955 I was living on an American military base near Paris where Trapeze was being filmed. The USO hosted a gathering on base and Tony Curtis and Gina Lollabrigida appeared to promote the film and sign autographs. My older sisters got their photos taken with Mr. Curtis.

So naturally, whenever I catch this film on late night cable, I see it from a nostalgic point of view.
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Very Entertaining Film
whpratt17 June 2008
Enjoyed this great 1956 Classic film starring Burt Lancaster, (Mike Riddle) who gave an outstanding performance as an experienced trapeze artist. In real life, Burt left Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois in his second year and decided to join a circus and traveled all around performing on the high wires. As Burt's movie career became successful, he had the opportunity to make this picture which he had longed to do for many years. Burt teams up with Tony Curtis, (Tino Orsini) who gave a great supporting role along with the beautiful Gina Lollobrigida, (Lola) who added her great charm to this picture and had two men fighting over her for her love. Thomas Gomez,(Bouglione) was the circus manager and gave an outstanding performance to his role as a man who ran his circus with an iron fist. This is a great picture with great veteran actors, enjoy.
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A classic love-triangle tale set within the backdrop of the French Circus
abernste31 October 2001
Curtis was young...Lancaster was in his prime.....The trapeze performances were stunning and despite the predictability of the story, Trapeze was a wonderful movie. Though a little "hokey" at times, and dated perhaps today, the warmth, sincerity, and circus-realism makes this a mild classic!
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byoolives10 June 2006
There were not many films made about the circus, but this one tops them all by far. Much better than DeMille's melodramatic soap opera which won an Oscar for Demille by default.

Getting back to Trapeze, this film combines a wonderful story with beautiful acting from the stars and supporting cast, and the photography of the aerial stunts will leave you felling as though you attended the circus in person. Lancaster who at one time actually performed in a circus act, gives a towering performance and Curtis and Lollabridgida are terrific as well. This is easily the gorgeous Gina'a best dramatic role, and we see that she was a very much underrated performer in her time.

Thomas Gomez and Katy Jurado are wonderful in support as are all the lesser players. This is a look at the real circus from inside. It's about the longings about real stars and the ways they attempt to achieve and hold on to that elusive stardom.

This film does not contain a dull moment and has a fantastic climax that will keep you glued, and on the edge of your seat as if you were sitting ringside.

It is somewhat a shame that this great film is not well known at this time and of course would never be mentioned on any top 100 or even 1,000 list, but long after Casablanca and Citizen Cane have been relegated to their rightful places in history, this film and many others will be truly recognized for the masterpieces that they are.
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Lancaster,Curtis and Lollobrigida fly high under the big top.
RIO-154 May 1999
Lancaster,Curtis and Lollobrigida as a trio of trapeze flyers.Young Curtis wants to learn the famous triple somersault from old vet Lancaster,who's crippled from a fatal fall.In comes Lollobrigida making trouble for the two flyers both on the ground and in the air.

One of the most enjoyable films about life under the big top.The trio of stars deliver sock performances worthy of their star status.Carol Reed's direction of the triple somersault is breathtakingly staged.Don't miss this one.
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Oh the many unknown masterpieces most have yet to discover
Gloede_The_Saint4 March 2009
From the notorious "Third Man" director Carol Reed comes a noirish circus film set in the heights. A beautifully composed movie about ambitions, deceit, cruelty, love and perfection is what's brought to us here.

Burt Lancaster plays Mike Ribble, once the greatest Trapeze artist in the world is now a circus rigger after a accident that destroyed his leg, but now hope is brought to him. Tino Orsini (Tony Curtis) comes to him to learn the now vanished triple somersault. Mike soon understands that Tino is the only one who can bring this back to the world and they form an act together. Obviously it can't end there. The overly ambitious Lola (Gina Lollobrigida) sets out to make it big trying everything she can to get in their acts and when she makes it her ambitions only grows.

With unusual angles, rough style and a rather fresh story Reed creates gold her. The film brings along a lot of the noirish feel though it can't be put it that genre. The film is cold and warm altogether something which at least I always appreciates.

The plot turns are great and the characters aren't exactly your average blowup dolls. Great performances all around. And I must applaud for Lancasters understated yet incredibly moving performance. A fabulous film without a single dull moment! My rating is 10/10, it will get on my top 250 and it's the best film I have seen from 1956 this far (though Death is the Garden is very close)
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Thrilling high flying
blanche-229 August 2008
Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis and Gina Lollabrigida star in "Trapeze," a 1956 film directed by Carol Reed and also starring Katy Jurado, Thomas Gomez and Johnny Puleo. Lancaster plays a former trapeze artist turned rigger, Mike Ribble, working in a Paris circus. A once great artist, he is grounded due to a permanent injury while doing his famous triple. He is approached by Tino Orsini (Tony Curtis), a talented aerialist who wants to learn the triple. Ribble sees the man's talent immediately, takes him on, and agrees to be his "grabber," the man who catches him mid-air. Problem arise when the beautiful, seductive user Lola (Gina Lollabrigida) who plays both men in order to be part of the act.

Director Reed gives the viewer the vivid experience of working in the circus and the resulting pressure cooker of relationships. The trapeze work is glorious, and there is plenty of it.

Lancaster has the major role, and he gives an excellent performance as a man with no illusions who, through Tino, dares to dream again. His muscular build is shown to great advantage as well. Curtis is excellent as the young, ambitious Tino who falls hard for Lola. Lollabrigida is gorgeous and sexy as the alluring Lola - she does a good job, but really, all she has to do is stand there and she IS the role. The supporting cast is solid, including Katy Jurado as an ex-girlfriend of Mike's and Thomas Gomez as the owner of the circus.

I don't have any figures, but I suspect this film was a big hit. It led to another Lancaster-Curtis collaboration, Sweet Smell of Success, so for that reason alone, it would be worth it. However, Trapeze flies on its own merits.
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