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 7 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

As of 2016, this is the fifth of six Best Picture winners to have won only one other Academy Award. The others are Wings (1927), All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), You Can't Take It with You (1938), Rebecca (1940) and Spotlight (2015). See more »

Goofs

The Walt Disney characters are seen getting their costume heads prior to the parade. When the characters are seen on parade inside the tent, they are in different costumes to what they were wearing when they got the heads. See more »

Quotes

[Phyllis is having her hair washed by Birdie as heart-throb Sebastian approaches;]
Phyllis: Why is it whenever he's around I'm all wet?
Birdie: In more ways than one.
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Connections

Featured in The Oscars (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

An der schönen blauen Donau Walzer (The Blue Danube Waltz), Op. 314
(1867) (uncredited)
Music by Johann Strauss
Played during the sword swallowing demonstration
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User Reviews

 
Hey, doesn't anyone remember Last Emperor?
28 December 2005 | by sharkey197See all my reviews

It constantly amazes me that people carp that this won best Picture, as though no movie before or since ever won when maybe they shouldn't have. It was a big picture, it had a great story, it gave a lot of bang for the buck and that has always been a factor in grabbing the Oscar. It does seem a bit dated to us now, used to high flying special effects, different acting styles, and quick cut editing, instead of letting the scene play out as it so often does here, but it's such a great story. The circus itself is a character and the way Demille used the audience to make them seem so individual is wonderful. And I'm not just referring to the Hope/Crosby cameo. Remember the fat guy with the kid scarfing down the ice cream laughing his head off while the kid looked confused? You could tell he was reliving his childhood and he became EveryMan to us with only seconds of screen time. That's mastery. The integration of the real circus people with the actors was seamless and if nothing else this movie captures a time when the circus was really a circus. Carp all you want, guys. But I think you may be too spoiled by ultra realism to appreciate the subtler gems in this very respectable film.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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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 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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