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The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

Passed | | 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:

Cecil B. DeMille

Writers:

Fredric M. Frank (screenplay), Barré Lyndon (screenplay) | 4 more credits »
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 5 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 board.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Betty Hutton ... Holly
Cornel Wilde ... The Great Sebastian
Charlton Heston ... Brad Braden
Dorothy Lamour ... Phyllis
Gloria Grahame ... Angel
Henry Wilcoxon ... FBI Agent Gregory
Lyle Bettger ... Klaus
Lawrence Tierney ... Mr. Henderson
Emmett Kelly ... Emmett Kelly
Cucciola Cucciola ... Cucciola
Antoinette Concello Antoinette Concello ... Antoinette Concello
John Ringling North John Ringling North ... John Ringling North
Tuffy Genders Tuffy Genders ... Tuffy Genders
John Kellogg ... Harry
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:

Academy Award winner "Best Picture"! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Family | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Russian

Release Date:

May 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

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

Filming Locations:

Cedar City, Utah, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$36,000,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$36,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Special effects produced a green halo around Gloria Grahame and Betty Hutton in the Grand Parade scene, so a shot was added of green floodlights turning on above them. See more »

Goofs

When Mickey Mouse and other Walt Disney characters walk around the ring, the band plays the song "It's A Hap-Hap-Happy Day" from Gulliver's Travels, which was released by Paramount, not Disney. 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

References Hopalong Cassidy (1952) See more »

Soundtracks

The Greatest Show on Earth
By Victor Young and Ned Washington
Sung by Betty Hutton (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Amusing and and entertaining film about circus world for children of all ages
24 June 2011 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Spectacular and overlong story of a traveling three circus combined show , plenty of diverse characters as a tough manager (Charlton Heston) , a swaggering ringmaster , and a mysterious clown (James Stewart ) with a dark secret who never takes off his disguise . Furthermore , it includes the aerialist acrobat girlfriend (Betty Hutton) , a French somersault artist rival (Cornel Wilde) , and an evil elephant trainer (Lyle Bettger) , among others .

Cecil B. DeMille is an expert in realization of high-budget films with glamour where the greatness does not lack even a moment , here gets to make a nice tribute to the circus world and its surroundings . This hugely agreeable film is a faithful reflection of the title . This is tone of the best Cecil B. De Mille, here in all his epic glory , he is the great director of the greatness. It has a fantastic scenario, great mass movement, and even spectacular scenes for the time, as a car driving toward a train on the railroad tracks and subsequently crash. The story is fine , wrought with romance , love stories , and impressive scenes with enormous pedigree. The film is a melodramatic and romantic tale with the classic triangular love story between Heston-Hutton-Wilde and meshing drama with events offstage along with some scenes in documentary style . The movie is wrought with romance and glamour but is a simple , and also contains an intriguing story about a doctor pursued by the justice . It packs some patently faked ones with players in front of obvious blue real projection. This colorful and dramatic flick packs amazing shows and exciting final . Extraordinary cast and good performances , especially from Charlton Heston and James Stewart as likable clown , both of whom are top notch under Cecil B De Mille's correct direction . Furthermore , some scenes the actors perform their own stunts . Some surprising guest-star cameos as Bob Hope , Bing Crosby watching their usual partenaire , Dorothy Lamour . Lavishly produced Henry Wilconson who plays a police , he's Cecil B. De Mille's usual . Unfortunately the circus at present time , in total downfall, is far from the magic in which they lived in that time. Here are united the Ringling Bros , Barnum and Bailey in combined shows and three-ring circus with colorful parades . The movie deservedly won two Oscars as Best Picture and Story , however the complaints of reviewers and moviegoers ever since , who don't believe it worthy of the honor . Although long-term, it becomes very entertaining and does not superfluous nor a minute. It's a fantastic and spectacular film that achieved big success at Box office . There are frames that children may never forget as the train wreck and an aerialist falling to the soil . Rating : Better than average . Worthwhile seeing .


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