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The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

Charlton Heston , Betty Hutton  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (215 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Charlton Heston, Betty Hutton, Lyle Bettger, Cornel Wilde, Emmett Kelly
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: April 6, 2004
  • Run Time: 152 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (215 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001AW08Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,508 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Greatest Show on Earth" on IMDb

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth is a lavish tribute to circuses, featuring three intertwining plotlines concerning romance and rivalry beneath the big top. DeMille's film includes spectacular action sequences, including a show-stopping train wreck. The Greatest Show on Earth won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Story.

Amazon.com

The Greatest Show on Earth is a heaping helping of flapdoodle served up by one of Hollywood's canniest entertainers: producer-director Cecil B. DeMille. This overripe melodrama purports to be life inside the Ringling Brothers Circus; maybe it's not, but the circus ought to be like this. The actors wrestling with the purple dialogue are: early-career Charlton Heston, as the tough-as-nails circus manager; Cornel Wilde and Betty Hutton as trapeze artistes; and Gloria Grahame (who won an Oscar), dangling from elephants. Best of all, James Stewart plays a clown who--for mysterious reasons--never removes his makeup. (Stewart took the supporting role simply because he'd always wanted to play a clown.) This is a fried-baloney sandwich of a movie: it ain't sophisticated, and probably isn't good for you, but once you start you can't stop. It was the box-office champ of 1952, and it shocked everybody by winning the best picture Oscar. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
105 of 112 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
As a circus buff, I can't imagine anybody BUT C.B. De Mille having the scope of vision to do justice to a show deliberately created to be so big that one person simply can't take it all in, and the stories and subplots that abound under the biggest of the Big Tops. That said, I do have to wonder what on earth the Academy was thinking when they voted TGSOE the Oscar as Best Picture of 1952. That year saw the release of High Noon, Ivanhoe, The Quiet Man and Singin' In The Rain, any one of which could lay better claim to the title of Best Picture in terms of writing, plot and cinematography. Why did TGSOE win the Oscar?
I believe it is because the film was seen as a "last chance" vote for De Mille; particularly ironic given that C.B. received the Thalberg that year as well, and for the same reason: for creating and producing consistently high-quality movies. De Mille's best work was decades behind him when he filmed the 1951 edition of the Ringling Brothers - Barnum & Bailey Circus. The subplots, purple prose and some of the situations have more in common with the silent cinema spectacles for which De Mille is justly famed than they do with the realities of running a three-ring railroad circus plus midway under canvas on the road for an 8-month season.
One subplot almost derailed the production, in fact. From its beginnings, Ringling Brothers was renowned for running a totally honest show. Considering that at one point Ringling had been nicknamed 'the Sunday-School Show' for its total intolerance of grifters, pickpockets and thieves, the subplot involving a dishonest rival circus owner planting a team of con men on the show to run the midway's games of chance was about as welcome to the circus's management as a skunk at a picnic.
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Movie: **** DVD Quality: ***** DVD Extras: N/A

It almost seems that "The Greatest Show on Earth" would be more highly respected today if it had not won the Best Picture Oscar in 1952; reviewers often tend to compare its value to that of other films released the same year (especially "The Quiet Man", which won Best Director for John Ford and "Singin' in the Rain" which failed to secure a Best Picture nomination at all), and find TGSOE lacking. Such criticism is patently unfair. After all, whether it won as a fluke because the other nominees split the vote, or whether the Academy voters simply went for it in a big way, it isn't TGSOE's fault that it emerged the big winner - blame the Academy! And Oscar considerations aside, it's undeniable that TGSOE is exactly what its producers and director Cecil B. DeMille intended it to be: a great big, gaudy, colorful, lavish example of traditional storytelling and old-fashioned entertainment that would delight and thrill audiences while raking in piles of money at the box-office. On those terms, the film was - and still is - a stupendous success.

Certainly the movie features the cast of a lifetime interacting with actual circus personnel in this early "Circus of the Stars". In addition to top-billed Betty Hutton and Cornel Wilde (who actually performed many of their own acrobatic stunts), the players include Charlton Heston; Gloria Grahame; Dorothy Lamour; legendary clown Emmett Kelly; DeMille regulars Henry Wilcoxon and Julia Faye; Lyle Bettger; Lawrence Tierney; and, in a meaty supporting role, James Stewart.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DEMILLE AT HIS BARNUM BEST! April 10, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
"The Greatest Show on Earth" is probably Cecil B. DeMille's best sound film (sans the 1956 perennial "The Ten Commandments") since it is a film about showmanship. DeMille was cinema's greatest showman, whether his movie plots were historical, religious, dramatic, or just plain American 1950's hokum, such as this one. "The Greatest Show on Earth" succeeds at glorifying the lost art of the world's traveling circus when the circus was performed in tents, vs. the great arenas of today. DeMille's narration adds an air of authenticity to the proceedings, but the audience knows full well that this movie is a big show itself, which is low on the acting quality but big on the spectacle. Some of the matte shots and special effects show their age, especially the model train wreck which climaxes the film. Most fun of all is seeing Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in the circus audience watching their Paramount co-star Dorothy Lamour perform.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE GREATEST FILMS ON EARTH July 5, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Some movies are classified as drama, others as comedy, some as adventure, some as romance. But "The Greatest Show On Earth" can be described in only one word: ENTERTAINMENT, for it is ALL of these things, and so much more... "Show" is a timeless film that all audiences ("children of all ages, and the old folks, too...") can enjoy... This superb Oscar winner for Best Picture has a fabulous cast and a great story. To open the new season of a circus show, a hard-nosed manager (Charlton Heston, in one of his first film roles) hires a French acrobat (Cornel Wilde, accent and all), to be the main attraction, ditching his girlfriend's (Betty Hutton, just great) chances for the center ring. What ensues is a battle for the spotlight between the two (and here we get to see Hutton and Wilde themselves doing some really incredible, breathtaking acrobatic stuntwork)... and a battle between Heston, Hutton, Wilde, and Gloria Grahame (as Wilde's ex-flame, now an elephant trainer) for each other's affections. As a side storyline, there is also a mysterious case involving Buttons, (Jimmy Stewart, likable as ever) a lovable clown... who never takes off his makeup or reveals his true identity. Cecil B. DeMille's "great" show is one you will always cherish, and one you will always be able to watch and be thoroughly entertained by the cavalcades of showcasing and stardust... er, sawdust.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It might not be great art but it’s great entertainment
For years, some critics have griped that THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH is one of the weakest films to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. Read more
Published 2 days ago by willsumner
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent movies
Published 2 days ago by winston h.
5.0 out of 5 stars An excelent film for the whole familyboth young and old.
A wonderful film. I never get tired of watching it. "The Greatest Show on Earth" always transports me back to my childhood, when times were less complicated and... Read more
Published 3 days ago by O.G.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good movie!!
Published 3 days ago by Randall E. Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Love the circus
I saw this as a kid. Love the circus.
Published 16 days ago by Z. Tribble
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
wonderful storyline, wonderful acting.
Published 18 days ago by xiaoyan yang
4.0 out of 5 stars That feels good to me
Bought it for a dear friend who owned a circus and now has Alzheimer's. He views the pic daily. That feels good to me.
Published 20 days ago by Don McGaw
5.0 out of 5 stars Have always liked this show
It has been a number of years since I purchased and received this Item. Have always liked this show. was in the theater when I was in the eighth grade. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Arthur H Wagner
5.0 out of 5 stars Give it a Try !
Yes, the "drama" is a little dated, especially Betty Hutton's dialog and DeMille's voice-over, but DeMille did a fantastic job of what capturing what a REAL circus was like... Read more
Published 25 days ago by Cowboy62
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A very good circus movie with some great stars. The DVD was delivered as expected.
Published 27 days ago by Robert Popchock
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