During the 1700s, pirate Captain Vallo seizes a British warship and gets involved in various money-making schemes involving Caribbean rebels led by El Libre, British envoy Baron Jose Gruda, and a beautiful courtesan named Consuelo.
During the Rif War in Morocco, the French Foreign Legion's outpost of Tarfa is threatened by Khalif Hussein's tribes but Sergeant Mike Kincaid devises a plan of survival until the arrival of French reinforcements.
Mike Ribble was once a great trapeze artist - and the only the sixth to have completed a triple somersault - before his accident. Tino joins the circus, and manages to convince Mike to teach him the 'triple'. Meanwhile Lola, a tumbler, wants to get in on the act.Written by
Colin Tinto <email@example.com>
"In the end, you'll think about her in the middle of a triple and lose it"
Carol Reed was one of Britain's most interesting directors, and perhaps most intriguing about his work is his unique brand of stylised realism, the two conflicting moods astutely and unforgettably blended: the handsome, dream-like snow-storm in 'Odd Man Out (1947)'; the woozy war-torn streets of Vienna in 'The Third Man (1949)'; the blending of fantasy against a working-class London background in 'A Kid for Two Farthings (1955).' With 'Trapeze (1956),' Reed deliberately contrasts his use of fantasy and realism. The circus had long held an element of prestige, having spawned a tidy sub-genre of its own, encompassing everything from Lind's 'The Flying Circus (1912)' to DeMille's 'The Greatest Show on Earth (1952).' For decades, the circus has entertained the masses with daring acts of strength and bravery, dangerous animals and extraordinary human performers. But behind this glamour is a less enchanting side of the circus – endless practice sessions, money-hungry managers, and scheming performers who'd place their own interests before those whose lives are being placed in their hands nightly. 'Trapeze' deals with the collision of these two conflicting worlds.
Mike Ribble (Burt Lancaster) was once a great "flyer" of the trapeze, one of the few men who could execute a triple somersault. However, a tragic accident left him with a permanent limp, and Mike has since lost all interest in the sport he once dominated. That, at least, is until Tino Orsino (Tony Curtis) arrives in Paris, a keen acrobat who seeks Mike's expert instruction. That Ribble eventually agrees to the partnership is, of course, a given, and their ultimate accomplishments are never in any doubt, but the interplay between Lancaster and Curtis is authentic and entertaining. Reed depicts the indomitable circus prestige through audience applause and the cheerful melody of the "Blue Danube" waltz. When the antagonism being played out behind-the-scenes inexorably spills out into the performing arena, both the applause and the music comes to a standstill. Thus, interjecting into this fantasy world comes the realisation that the circus performers are only human. The reality suddenly becomes clear: one mistake will spell almost certain death.
Though Mike and Tino make a formidable team, a romantic complication arises in Lola (Gina Lollobrigida), an ambitious acrobat who'd betray her friends and promise love to anybody whom she thought could aid her career. Lola's exploits are contemptible throughout the film, garnering little sympathy from the audience; one might even suggest that the beating she receives at the hands of her former partners is almost justified by her actions. In any case, the film's conclusion is far too kind to her. Lola chases Mike down a quiet Paris street, perhaps a complementary allusion to Holly Martin's shameful snubbing in the final moments of 'The Third Man (1949).' Maintaining the optimism that Reed displayed previously in 'A Kid for Two Farthings,' this ending offers redemption rather than disgrace to Lola, who is seen to have betrayed her companions, much as Martins betrayed Harry Lime and Anna Schmidt. Most impressive of all is Robert Krasker's creative photography, frequently offering the audience a breathtaking "birds-eye" view of the trapeze routines, like leaning over a precipice into open space.
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