Tag Archives: Circus Movies

The Greatest Show On Earth

Directed by Cecil B. DeMille
Produced by Cecil B. DeMille
Written by Fredric M. Frank, Theodore St. John, Frank Cavett & Barré Lyndon Narrated by Cecil B. DeMille
Starring Betty Hutton
Cornel Wilde
Charlton Heston
James Stewart
Dorothy Lamour
Gloria Grahame
Music by Victor Young
Cinematography George Barnes
Editing by Anne Bauchens
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) January 10, 1952 (1952-01-10)
Running time 152 minutes
Country United States
Language English

We bring you the circus — that Pied Piper whose magic tunes lead children of all ages, from 6 to 60, into a tinseled and spun-candied world of reckless beauty and mounting laughter; whirling thrills; of rhythm, excitement and grace; of daring, enflaring and dance; of high-stepping horses and high-flying stars.

But behind all this, the circus is a massive machine whose very life depends on discipline, motion and speed …. a mechanized army on wheels that rolls over any obstacle in its path …. that meets calamity again and again, but always comes up smiling …. a place where disaster and tragedy stalk the Big Top, haunt the backyards, and ride the circus rails …. where Death is constantly watching for one frayed rope, one weak link, or one trace of fear.

A fierce, primitive fighting force that smashes relentlessly forward against impossible odds: That is the circus. And this is the story of the biggest of the Big Tops …. and of the men and women who fight to make it — The Greatest Show on Earth!

The Greatest Show On Earth won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1952 but is often called the worst Best Picture of all time. This is mainly because 1952 was the year that other classics such as High Noon, Singin’ In The Rain, Ivanhoe, The Quiet Man and Moulin Rouge were released. Despite what critics may say and the reputation that it has had hoist upon it, The Greatest Show On Earth is still a very fine film. I am not just saying this because The Greatest Show On Earth was my favourite show as a kid either. Sometimes it is good to watch a big budget, dumb film with lots of colour and action and FUN!!! It is not just worthy films that should be considered great, not all films have to have a message or feature dramatic performances, sometimes it’s enough to be able to much on some popcorn and be thoroughly entertained for two and a half hours. I suspect that if The Greatest Show On Earth had not received the Oscar for best picture in 1952 it would be much more respected than it is today.

I am not a wanker movie reviewer (obviously) who has try to look intelligent or profound with what I say. I don’t have to try to pretend to shun the mainstream for whatever is hip. I am allowed to say that I like a film that many professional critics have maligned, which is the case here. Let’s face it, I still like The Greatest Show On Earth and would say that of the other films that were nominated for Best Picture in 1952, only High Noon can compare to it. (The same can be said for The Sound Of Music, but that was omitted from the nominations for best picture!)

In hindsight I do admit that The Greatest Show On Earth is a big, dumb movie, but that is no bad thing. The best way to enjoy this film is to turn your brain off before watching it and to just take in the colour and spectacle of the movie. It’s fun to watch the film and to reminisce about the old days of the circus, and to watch the cameos by actual renowned circus performers like Emmett Kelly and Lou Jacobs. Charlton Heston is Ok as Brad the circus owner while Betty Hutton is downright annoying at times as aerialist Holly. I do like James Stewart’s fine role as Buttons the Clown and find him intriguing, especially as he does not take his make-up off at all in the picture.

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The Circus

Directed by Charlie Chaplin
Produced by
Charlie Chaplin
Written by
Charlie Chaplin
Starring
Charlie Chaplin
Al Ernest Garcia
Merna Kennedy
Henry Bergman
Music by
Günter Kochan (1969)
Distributed by
United Artists
Release date(s)
January 6, 1928
Running time
70 min
Country
United States
Language Silent film
English intertitles

Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus is one of his most underrated films. It is not as renowned as some of his other masterpieces such as The Gold Rush, City Lights or Modern Times, which is a shame as it is a very funny film. There were actually a few scenes which made me ‘laugh out loud’, whilst it is very easy to see the influence that this film and Chaplin has had on every other film comedian since 1928.

One thing that I appreciated was that I was easily able to empathise with the Tramp in his jealousy and his unrequited love for the girl, who naturally, only has eyes for the dashing young tightrope walker. Charlie agrees to walk the tightrope himself after the tightrope walker doesn’t turn up to perform, so he can prove his love for the girl even if it kills him. This is a very funny scene and something many guys, including myself, can empathise with. We’ve all done something stupid or dangerous just to get a girl to notice us! Seeing the Tramp up on the wire with monkeys climbing all over him is just hilarious, even now, 82 years after the films first release.

One thing I like about this film is that Chaplin is not trying to make a grand statement or a great melodrama like his other films. It is not overly sentimental like a lot of his later films either. The film is not a dusty old relic or nostalgic look at how things used to be like Keaton’s Steamboat Bill Jr., it is still very funny as it deals with something that is still relatable today, unrequited love. I know that many people such as Woody Allen see Chaplin as being over-rated but The Circus shows why he is the best of the silent movie comedians. Unlike his other films there is no giant serving of sentimentality or pathos, just lots of laughs and funny gags.