7.1/10
870
23 user 6 critic

Man on a Tightrope (1953)

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

Director:

Elia Kazan

Writers:

Neil Paterson (story "International Incident"), Robert E. Sherwood
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Fredric March ... Karel Cernik
Terry Moore ... Tereza Cernik
Gloria Grahame ... Zama Cernik
Cameron Mitchell ... Joe Vosdek
Adolphe Menjou ... Fesker
Robert Beatty ... Barovic
Alexander D'Arcy ... Rudolph (as Alex D'Arcy)
Richard Boone ... Krofta
Pat Henning Pat Henning ... Konradin
Paul Hartman ... Jaremir
John Dehner ... The Chief
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

The headline-hot drama of how a whole circus escaped the hand of terror !

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA | West Germany

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

29 June 1953 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

International Incident See more »

Filming Locations:

Fall, Bavaria, Germany See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,200,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Hildegard Knef was supposed to play the female lead, but shortly before filming began, Elia Kazan cast Gloria Grahame instead. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

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

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Women Are Not Like Angels
(uncredited)
Music by Franz Waxman
Sung by Gloria Grahame
See more »

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User Reviews

This Is What Communism Was All About...
9 February 2002 | by supershamanSee all my reviews

This is a particularly fine film, but the other users missed an item that I would like to mention.

Namely, communism or, rather, the specific type of communism which was practiced within the old Soviet Empire, was a subtle poison to the human spirit.

In a critical scene, just before the fatal run across the border, the Circus manager questions a roustabout about his betrayal of his community(the Circus) and everyone whom he ever knew there. This man, with a straight face, announces that he and the other manual laborers are the heart and essence of the circus. Along with the movie audience, the manager(played by veteran actor Frederick March) is shocked that anyone could convince himself that people come to see him and his fellows, not the aerialists, not the lion tamer nor even the clowns.

There are no paranoid political rants here, but that form of communism is "busted" for its "divide and conquer" tactics. People took appalling risks to flee communism and this film gives the viewer part of why they were willing to take them. I couldn't imagine then and I can't imagine now that "a higher standard of living" was the reason for this.


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