Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

Trapeze artist Holly (Betty Hutton) has finally won the coveted center ring, but boss man boyfriend Brad (Charlton Heston) has sawdust in his veins, you see. To help the show he hires hotshot Sebastian (Cornel Wilde) and gives him the center ring. But he promised that to her! What, does he have sawdust in his veins?

Well, Sebastian (the Great) does his best to show off as well as take after Holly with a vein of another kind. Whatever will Holly do? After all, it's not like she has sawdust in her veins! Oh, yea, and then there's Buttons the Clown (James Stewart) who never takes his makeup off. What's up with that?

This movie had everything! A love triangle, the spectacle of the tawdriest show on earth, a behind the scenes look at how they set up the tents, a three hour run time! Everything short of elephant poop. What more could you ask for? What, don't you have sawdust in your veins?

The principle attraction for me was the fact that it won Best Picture over High Noon (AMRU 3.5) and I had to see how a circus movie could do such a thing. I have to guess that the controversy over the underlying theme of High Noon along with a popular fascination of the topic swayed the day. Calling it tedious is something of an understatement. It was just over two and a half hours, but many dull scenes could have been cut to bring it much closer to 2, if not under. It had one side story after another, with Gloria Grahame (actual hottie) and Dorothy Lamour (you know, from the Hope and Crosby movies) having smallish rolls. Plus there was this gangster sub-plot that seemed to go nowhere.

Anyhow, having said all that, it wasn't too bad of a movie. Clearly no High Noon, but still worth seeing. AMRU 3. Brew some coffee.

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