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The greatest Show On Earth


irishbrandy
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It should be shown in letterbox and has a great train wreck scene.

The Ringling Brothers train comes though my area and makes a stop once in a while.

 

Several years ago they were in town to give the animals a rest but didn't let any out to stretch their legs. I went over to the car that had the elephants and was in awe the size of the chain and shackles.

I joked at one of the handlers stating the last time I saw those was in the King Kong movie.

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> {quote:title=hamradio wrote:

> }{quote}It should be shown in letterbox and has a great train wreck scene.

Please, no, don't say that. It was released in 1952, it's not a widescreen film.

 

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>I think this film gets a bit of a bad rap.

 

I think mostly because it's so corny-but that's exactly why I like it!

 

I know lots of circus & carny type people from my line of work, and they are a fierce bunch, just as depicted in this film.

Circus work is the most traditional & earthy form of show business, and the animal factor definitely adds exotica (especially these days when even a horse is exotic to most kids!)

 

I like this film because it captures the last gasp of the great American circus, even featuring the great Emmett Kelly. The costumes are authentic as are the great carved wagons, now on display in Baraboo WI.

 

Betty Hutton was an over-the-top performer and is perfectly cast as is steely Charlton Heston.

I especially liked when fave Dorothy Lamour comes out riding an elephant and the band plays the theme from her breakout film The Jungle Princess!

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Wonderful film, certainly plays faster than its 152 minute running time. And Betty Hutton was AMAZING in that she did almost all her own acrobatic stunts (except for the extreme long shots).

I first saw GREATEST SHOW on NBC Saturday Night at the Movies and the train wreck gave me nightmares for a long time.

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ginnyfan wrote: I think this film gets a bit of a bad rap. Because it won Best Picture and is probably the most controversial winner, people don't think it's a worthwhile film.

 

It's an enjoyable film, I think, just not in the Best Picture class.

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Yep ginnyfan. Couldn't agree more. It's not a bad film, but by far the best film of 1952 was the timeless classic that featured a certain athletic dancer dancing around in a downpour. And ironically, a film not even nominated for Best Picture that year.

 

(...but "of course" the Academy couldn't have a movie made by and starring that guy win twice in two years, now could they?!) ;)

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> {quote:title=Hibi wrote:}{quote}

> I would've voted for it over Show, but I can understand why it didnt get it due to political overtones.......

So true and while I'm glad that Cooper won the Oscar that year, overall the whole thing of the golden statues never meant much to me. Mind you, I've watched the program every year since Sidney Poitier won his Oscar (with just two exceptions), but early on I realized that my favorites didn't tend to get nominated. I grew up on horror films, gangster movies and westerns and those weren't the kind of thing the Academy recognized for "Best Picture" back then, few critics did either.

 

But I always loved the ceremony of the Awards show, seeing the veterans now posed as senior spokespersons, once in a while getting a glimpse of one who had basically retired such as Cary Grant or Loretta Young.

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So true, clore. I also found that films that were my favorites might not be nominated by the Academy, but I have missed very few ceremonies just to see some of those performers who had officially or unofficially retired.

 

I thought Betty Hutton's energy and ability helped to make *The Greatest Show on Earth* so enjoyable, and also saw it, as well as many other classic films on NBC on Saturday Night at the Movies. The train wreck scared me, too!

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Yep ginnyfan. Couldn't agree more. It's not a bad film, but by far the best film of 1952 was the timeless classic that featured a certain athletic dancer dancing around in a downpour. And ironically, a film not even nominated for Best Picture that year.

 

(...*but "of course" the Academy couldn't have a movie made by and starring that guy win twice in two years, now could they?!)*

 

Well, Joesph Mankiewicz won Best Writer and Best Director two years running, for 1949's A LETTER TO THREE WIVES and 1950's ALL ABOUT EVE....so it wasn't inconceivable for Gene Kelly. It was more along the lines that musicals per se were seldom nominated for Best Picture,.

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*I especially liked when fave Dorothy Lamour comes out riding an elephant and the band plays the theme from her breakout film The Jungle Princess!*

 

An interesting precursor to Dottie Lamour's role in TGSOE is her performance as a circus performer in 1940's CHAD HANNA, which she made on loan to Fox. Sh played a stuntwoman riding standing on horseback, in mid-19th Century Upstate New York. Also starring are Henry Fonda as the smitten rube who follows her into the circus, and Linda Darnell as another small town runaway, who takes over Dorothy's role once Lamour is lured to a larger outfit. Quite colorful and and enjoyable, if slower paced than the later blockbuster.

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> {quote:title=ginnyfan wrote:}{quote}I think this film gets a bit of a bad rap. Because it won Best Picture and is probably the most controversial winner, people don't think it's a worthwhile film.

>

> It's an enjoyable film, I think, just not in the Best Picture class.

I agree...I enjoy it, but it did NOT deserve to win best Picture. It's definitely considered to be probably THE most misbegotten Best Picture winner.

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Arturo wrote:

Well, Joesph Mankiewicz won Best Writer and Best Director two years running, for 1949's A LETTER TO THREE WIVES and 1950's ALL ABOUT EVE....so it wasn't inconceivable for Gene Kelly. It was more along the lines that musicals per se were seldom nominated for Best Picture.

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Well, maybe Arturo, however the Academy sure as heck thought enough of Kelly's previous musical made just 12 months earlier(and one I think isn't quite as good as Singin' In the You-Know-What) to bestow that little statuette to THAT one, and over two great dramas in '51, A Streetcar Names Desire and A Place In The Sun.

 

(...so, excuse me here, but I'm still gonna go with the thought that they didn't want to acknowledge Gene Kelly two years in a row...well, it's either THAT, or they just had absolutely NO idea how much his '52 offering would be loved and admired by so many folks in the coming decades...and ESPECAILLY over that big overblown C.B. DeMille "epic" about circus life!)

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I can't think of all that many circus films but certainly I think it's safe to say that The Greatest Show on Earth remains the circus movie by which any others would be measured (and considered to come up short, by comparison).

 

Yes, there were better films made in 1952 but that doesn't prevent this DeMille production from being a fun, if corny, production, with a noteworthy casts of actors, and an impressive train wreck sequence. Paulettte Goddard, badly in need of a career comeback, pleaded with the director to cast her in the role that would be played, instead, by Gloria Grahame. (DeMille was still feeling bitter with Goddard over her refusal to participate in some of the Fort Pitt action scenes in Unconquered of a few years before. Ironically, it's my understanding that Goddard's double would suffer an injury doing the scenes that the actress refused to do).

 

The Academy awarded Greatest Show a Best Picture Oscar to honour one of the film community's original pioneers, even though they couldn't bring themselves to name C. B. best director in '52 (that award going to John Ford for The Quiet Man).

 

It's become rather fashionable, I feel, for Demille's costume epics to be looked down upon today. His films do, at times, have a certain tableau staginess in some scenes in which a large cast of actors will stand around spouting dialogue (and sometimes that dialogue is a hoot). However, DeMille was also a good story teller who sure liked to bring a lot of sex on screen when he could in the midst of his morality tales (i.e. The Sign of the Cross as an outstanding example).

 

I can't think of a single talkie epic that DeMille made that I wouldn't call fun to some degree, obviously some more than others. I particularly enjoy his Americana tributes, be it his fanciful take on Wild Bill Hickok (The Plainsman), or sea wrecking adventures in the Florida Keys (Reap the Wild Wind), or colonial America Indian wars (Unconquered).

 

Unconquered is a particularly enjoyable serial-like epic, nicknamed The Perils of Paulette since leading lady Goddard has so many Pearl White-like escapes from bondage, what with Howard Da Silva lusting over her, and she being taken captive by the Indians (with Boris Karloff as a campy Indian chief), only to get rescued by Gary Cooper in a still spectacular, if slightly incredible, sequence, in which the two of them make an escape by canoe and tumble over a waterfalls. My point being that, even though these films can hardly be taken seriously, they're still a lot of fun to watch.

 

And, for me, the same applies to Greatest Show, whether deserving of its Oscar or not.

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