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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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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:

Thrill to Cecil B. DeMille's pageantry and excitement! 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
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

In the decades since this film won the Academy Award for Best Picture, there has been a backlash of criticism from movie fans who believe that either High Noon (1952) or The Quiet Man (1952) should have won. This is hindsight; at the time, there was no such debate. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) was a popular win, an epic melodrama that had swept both critics and audiences away, with a smashing set piece at its climax. To get a sense of the context, see Bosley Crowther's rhapsodic review in the New York Times when the film opened; he points out the broad acting and the film's overlength, but he is still over the moon about the essence of roustabout life that DeMille has so spectacularly captured. This hindsight 'Oscar rage' has reared itself in other instances, i.e. Ordinary People (1980) beating Raging Bull (1980) and, most famously, How Green Was My Valley (1941) eclipsing Citizen Kane (1941). But audiences forget that the Oscars are a snapshot in time, and, at the time these films won, the victories were celebrated. Further evidence of the hindsight effect: Singin' in the Rain (1952) wasn't even nominated that year. Today it would have won. Back then, it didn't register at all. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Holly: [singing] When things go wrong, and life's no song, and you're flat on your back, that doesn't mean you have to lie there: be a jumping jack!
Buttons: [singing] Keep on the hop, and if you flop, and everything looks black, stand on your head and holler "hi there!" Be a jumping jack!
Holly: When things go up, they must come down, and also visa verse. If things look bad, don't fret and frown - they could be ten times worse!
Buttons: Your train of luck, it may get stuck if something's on the track; give a good jump and ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Happy Days: They Call It Potsie Love (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

Dream Lover
(1929) (uncredited)
Music by Victor Schertzinger
Performed by the orchestra during an acrobatic performance in one of the circus scenes
See more »

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User Reviews

Great show and story
1 October 2002 | by Graceland316See 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'.


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