The Greatest Show on Earth - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Greatest Show on Earth Reviews

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February 11, 2015
Trouble is part of the circus.

A clown with a checkered past resides in the Ringling Brothers circus where he hopes to keep his past behind him. The ringmaster and architect of the events is in love with the main act, but a new entertainer known as The Great Sebastian, joins the show and steal the ringmaster's girl's heart. Another woman in the circus sees this opening as a chance to steal the ring master's heart for herself. Can the circus work as expected with all this drama...because the show must go one?!?!

"I'm going to give him more than you ever could."

Cecil DeMille, director of The Ten Commandments, Samson and Delilah, Reap the Wild Win, Cleopatra, Union Pacific, Temptation, Forbidden Fruit, and The Captive, delivers The Greatest Show on Earth. The storyline for this picture is interesting but a unique mix of circus documentary mixed with several subplots with interesting characters. The acting is very good and the cast includes Charlton Heston, James Stewart, Betty Hutton, Cornel Wilde, and Dorothy Lamour.

"Women are poison."

I found this on Netflix and gave it a viewing because it had Heston and Stewart in the cast, which sounded like an amazing duo. They were fun to watch, and seeing Stewart as a clown was interesting. Overall, this was an average movie but it is a fun film to watch unfold. I'd give this a viewing if you're a fan of the classics.

"Wherever there are trousers you go."

Grade: C+
½ October 11, 2014
The Worst Picture to ever win Best Picture
½ July 4, 2014
Yes, the Greatest Show on Earth may be melodramatic, but it is not short on plot. Even though it runs 2 and a half hours it does not seem 'lengthy". Also you cannot condemn a movie for being bogged down with cliches if it's over 60 years old. It gave birth to plot points that others copied. A movie that won the Oscar for best picture deserves better than 42% and maybe, just maybe, a second look.
½ April 27, 2014
Not quite as bad as I expected, but still fairly atrocious. Everything was overplayed, worst of all DeMille's thoughts about the circus being entertaining.
April 19, 2014
A heavy dose of melodrama at the circus.
½ April 3, 2014
The Greatest Show on Earth has grand circus sequences and dazzling Technicolor for sure, but behind all that dazzle lies shallowness, awfully dramatic acting and extremely cliched and melodramatic plot (in the style of 'The Great Ziegfeld') making you consequently scratch your head thinking how could this have walked away with the highest honor of Best Picture with 'High Noon' in the nominees line-up that year. It is a travesty and definitely one of the worst Oscar winners.
January 1, 2014
Wonderful extravaganza. Almost a documentary-like look inside a world of performance that has brought joy to so many. The narration is impressively written. The death-defying acts were truly nerve-racking.
The circus performances were great, but some just ran on for too long. Especially since such things rarely come across on screen as well as they do in person.

Kind of an underrated drama. I know it won Best Picture, but many call it the worst Best Picture winner ever. I can think of so many others that are so much worse; terrible -- in fact. I can think of at least 20 more Best Picture winners I've seen, that I consider inferior. This is anything but.

Several odd edits. A somewhat perfunctory, but necessary ending. Otherwise, a fantastic presentation of A+ entertainment. Nothing more, nothing less.

Loved the Bing Crosby/Bob Hope cameo!
Super Reviewer
October 3, 2013
Likely the least memorable best picture of all time. It doesn't get steady airplay for good reason. The train wreck is of course the highlight and it doesn't stand the test of time in terms of leaving an impression on the viewer.
½ August 16, 2013
It is just what is meant to be, an spectacular movie. The plot might be short but entertaining. It is now considered a bad movie, but it isn't at all. The reason to consider it a bad movie focuses on the Academy Awards recognition that did not deserve. The performances doesn't offer too much, neither does the direction. It is the spectacle the main issue of the film, and suddenly the screenplay (which I find considerable good) makes of the movie a good one. The resentment harms its reputation, not its fulfillment.
August 9, 2013
A great spectacle and heart-filled tribute to the world of circuses. DeMIlle brings his signature style of great production, huge sets, animals, everything. I can only imagine how difficult it was to put this on film but with the partnering of Barnum and Bailey, it works tremendously. Heston gives a performance that anchors the movie while Hutton and Wilde give charm and spice to the already manic world of high flying acrobatics, stunt performers, clowns, and elephants. It may revel in the world for overly-long periods of time but it won't bother those who love the circus and appreciate the talent and risk of it all, and besides, this is what movies did back in the day, truly display the scale and effort of these shows. Makes me think a movie could be made on CIrque du Soleil for modern times.
August 6, 2013
Directed by Cecil B. DeMille, who was best known for historical epics like The Sign of the Cross (1932), Cleopatra (1934) and Samson and Delilah (1948). Here, he wanted to do something a little bit more contemporary, and chose to do this film about the thrill and spectacles of the circus. DeMille wanted to combine real life circus sets with behind the scenes footage of how they move about and work to make a big screen spectacular. Set in the bustling world of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's Circus, it follows the lives of the circus performers and those who make the show work behind the scenes. Including Brad Braden (Charlton Heston), who is told that in the post-war economy, the circus has to do a short 10 week season, or risk losing $25,000 a day, but Brad assures the board of directors it will be a success. There's romance between trapeze artists Holly (Betty Hutton) and The Great Sebastian (Cornel Wilde), whose rivalry soon blossoms into a romance, but Brad has eyes for Holly too. Then there's Buttons the Clown (James Stewart), who has a shady private background he's trying to keep secret. It is spectacular to look at, and the circus sequences are brilliantly staged, but it probably didn't deserved the 1952 Best Picture Oscar over Singin' In The Rain or High Noon, but it manages to be an entertaining film, worth it for the train crash though.
½ July 7, 2013
A fun movie with so-so acting that probably could have been much better, and by no means should have won Best Picture.
April 28, 2013
It is well-acted, and sometimes charming and visually outstanding, but Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth (and his only Best Picture winner) is pompous, over-melodramatic, filled with boring characters and a plot that never seems able to be stable. At the end, it is quite forgettable.
½ April 21, 2013
Alright so let's move on with best picture winners with one that I remember my brother talking about how bad it apparently was. Here's my 425th review: The Greatest Show on Earth.

Plot: Brad is the general manager of the world's largest railroad circus, who comes through a bunch of troubles as he tries to make a large profit from the circus. Firstly his girlfriend, Holly gets out of the center ring when the management hires a world class trapeze named Sebastian who takes a liking to Holly along with many other woman. Secondly, one of the midway concessionaires, Henry is suspected of running crooked games of chance under the employment of a mysterious gangster. And finally, Buttons the Clown appears to be hiding from someone unbeknownst to Brad.

To me, this has the melodrama of Broadway Musical, and the unnecessary length to The Great Ziegfeld and...that's almost it. Most of the time the film is either throwing in all this melodrama between Brad, Holly, Sebastian and some other woman whose name not sure if they even gave her one. But otherwise they're just showing us a circus with pretty much everything you'd see in a circus...except for the Disney mascots that they threw in about halfway in. And that's kind of the majority of just about anything that happens in this film. I mean too the film's credit, it does give the story a kind of decent turn turing around the last half hour. But also to a tiny bit of the film's credit but really to it's failure, the best part of this film is the fact that this film has James Stewart, whose character is a missed opportunity. And I say that for several reasons: 1) He's James Stewart 2) he's a clown with a mysterious past, 3) he's James Stewart 4) he's practically everyone's best friend in the circus 5) he's James Stewart 6) he's funny as a clown 7)...did I mention that he's James Stewart? who cares, I mean IT'S FREAKING JAMES STEWART!!!!!! Buttons the Clown was a very interesting character and the fact that he was played by a star like James Stewart just makes him better, and the fact that they hardly went really into him until around the end is! But it's not without it's good moments. Sometimes just watching the circus can be really fun with looking at all the tricks with the trapeze and elephants, and Buttons and the other clowns where fairly funny. And again, the turn that they took during the last half hour or so was actually a good way to give the film a climax and least for what it's worth.

And that's basically my review for The Greatest Show on Earth. It'll have some points as far goes as just watching a circus and having an okay climax, but otherwise it's way too long, has some melodrama that you just don't really care about from the main characters, and has a missed opportunity with James Stewart as Buttons the Clown. I'm sure it was good during its time, but it just doesn't hold out today.
April 11, 2013
Corny, melodramatic and cliche though it may be, this circus tale from, fittingly, one of Hollywood's greatest showmen, is not without charm or a sense of fun. A game cast, lots of great acrobatic sequences and spectacles (like the elephants or the famous train crash), and some very cheery, smile-inducing songs create an old fashioned type of charm and warmth that carry the picture over its sketchy plot and stock characters.
½ April 6, 2013
One of the greats, Heston is superb as always, and the sets are fantastic, each cast member is so well suited, its bold and breathtaking
March 20, 2013
Overblown De Mille malarkey, but Stewart & Wilde are great--A colourful & light hearted nothing!!
March 19, 2013
A good movie, detailing the lives of circus people.
February 18, 2013
Best Picture Winner of 1952, this movie is usually referenced as one of the worst Best Picture winners. While it might not be as deep or groundbreaking as most films, this docu-drama about the behind the scenes of a traveling circus works because of its showstopping acts. The drama in between is standard fare, but its A-list stars and director pull all the stops to make it an entertaining two and-a-half hours.

Grade: B
February 9, 2013
É difícil gostar de um filme tão superficial, e pior aceitar o fato de que ele é um ganhador do Oscar, sendo que todos sabemos que esta vitoria foi apenas uma forma de premiar o trabalho Cecil B. DeMille.
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