Reviews

  • Aug 24, 2021

    Not the greatest show on Earth!!

    Not the greatest show on Earth!!

  • Jun 07, 2021

    You might enjoy how handsome Charleton Heston is here. And James Stewart is always very good. Betty Hutton and Dorothy Lamour are lovely. So that's four good things. Unfortunately, that's the only good things here. The film is messy, silly, too long, and I'm not sure but much of it looks like stock footage, at least the backgrounds. It seems to me the circus performers are a bit long in the tooth for their parts. When things get desperately slow, there is a train wreck, but you might be snoozing by then. Worst Best Picture ever? Maybe, but I personally stayed awake the whole time. On the other hand, I snoozed through most of "A Beautiful Mind"...while in a theatre trying to stay awake, being poked by a friend cause I was snoring.

    You might enjoy how handsome Charleton Heston is here. And James Stewart is always very good. Betty Hutton and Dorothy Lamour are lovely. So that's four good things. Unfortunately, that's the only good things here. The film is messy, silly, too long, and I'm not sure but much of it looks like stock footage, at least the backgrounds. It seems to me the circus performers are a bit long in the tooth for their parts. When things get desperately slow, there is a train wreck, but you might be snoozing by then. Worst Best Picture ever? Maybe, but I personally stayed awake the whole time. On the other hand, I snoozed through most of "A Beautiful Mind"...while in a theatre trying to stay awake, being poked by a friend cause I was snoring.

  • Jan 31, 2021

    Started this film with an air of trepidation as I knew how derided its reputation was. I don't understand the negativity around the film. Ok the plot is simple enough but there are enough angles to the story to keep the pace going and the sheer brilliance of the early 20th century circus is there for all to see. The circus is now animal welfare and health and safety first.... great in many ways but having watched the film I'm reminded that the world is probably a worse place for all the modern political constraints put on what actually was the greatest show on earth. Also, have to address this rep as the worst Best picture winner of all time. I've only got one more best picture to watch and I can assure you there are multiple worse winners than this... Mrs Minniver is transparent vapid war propaganda, Hamlet will bore any non Shakespeare fan to death, Driving Miss Daisy is horrendously clichéd without any entertainment to redeem it, Cavslcade is another British puff piece, utter drivel and there are plenty of other shockers. The shape of water is a soporific nightmare whilst my winner by some distance as worst Best Picture winner is the deplorable Out of Africa which is nothing short of torturous to watch.

    Started this film with an air of trepidation as I knew how derided its reputation was. I don't understand the negativity around the film. Ok the plot is simple enough but there are enough angles to the story to keep the pace going and the sheer brilliance of the early 20th century circus is there for all to see. The circus is now animal welfare and health and safety first.... great in many ways but having watched the film I'm reminded that the world is probably a worse place for all the modern political constraints put on what actually was the greatest show on earth. Also, have to address this rep as the worst Best picture winner of all time. I've only got one more best picture to watch and I can assure you there are multiple worse winners than this... Mrs Minniver is transparent vapid war propaganda, Hamlet will bore any non Shakespeare fan to death, Driving Miss Daisy is horrendously clichéd without any entertainment to redeem it, Cavslcade is another British puff piece, utter drivel and there are plenty of other shockers. The shape of water is a soporific nightmare whilst my winner by some distance as worst Best Picture winner is the deplorable Out of Africa which is nothing short of torturous to watch.

  • Jan 19, 2021

    I can not believe this was even nominated for best picture. Hands down the worst of any of the winners, which includes Cavalcade(so boring).

    I can not believe this was even nominated for best picture. Hands down the worst of any of the winners, which includes Cavalcade(so boring).

  • Nov 14, 2020

    Bad writing complimented with Heston's horrible acting. Poor acting all around. Ridiculous ending. Gloria Grahame is the only reason to watch to the end.

    Bad writing complimented with Heston's horrible acting. Poor acting all around. Ridiculous ending. Gloria Grahame is the only reason to watch to the end.

  • Jul 23, 2020

    Ugh, I'll just say it, The Greatest Show on Earth is possibly the worst Best Picture winner in this list. There really isn't much of a story in this one, unless you count the love triangle between a French trapeze artist, The Great Sebastian (Cornel Wilde), Holly, another trapeze artist (Betty Hutton), and Brad, the circus manager (Charlton Heston). The first two thirds of this movie is completely padded with circus acts, parades, and that boring romance subplot. Some of the acts are fine, then again Cecil B. DeMille hired real Ringling Bros performers for them, but, when the Hollywood actors are roped in, the effect is ruined by the obvious stunt doubles and laughably outdated composite shots. Speaking of, I'm sure the green screen effects were limited for the time, but DAAAMMMNNN when they look lame, they look REALLY lame! The best part of all of this is Buttons the Clown (Jimmy Stewart), only because of his backstory. He was a doctor who disguised himself as a clown to evade the authorities after murdering his wife. It almost makes you wish the movie was about him half the time. Although I appreciate Cecil B. DeMille's ever-impressive and epic ambitions, The Greatest Show on Earth is not one of his greatest shows on Earth. Just skip this one and take your kids to an actual circus. (1 ½ Overblown Model Train Accidents out of 5)

    Ugh, I'll just say it, The Greatest Show on Earth is possibly the worst Best Picture winner in this list. There really isn't much of a story in this one, unless you count the love triangle between a French trapeze artist, The Great Sebastian (Cornel Wilde), Holly, another trapeze artist (Betty Hutton), and Brad, the circus manager (Charlton Heston). The first two thirds of this movie is completely padded with circus acts, parades, and that boring romance subplot. Some of the acts are fine, then again Cecil B. DeMille hired real Ringling Bros performers for them, but, when the Hollywood actors are roped in, the effect is ruined by the obvious stunt doubles and laughably outdated composite shots. Speaking of, I'm sure the green screen effects were limited for the time, but DAAAMMMNNN when they look lame, they look REALLY lame! The best part of all of this is Buttons the Clown (Jimmy Stewart), only because of his backstory. He was a doctor who disguised himself as a clown to evade the authorities after murdering his wife. It almost makes you wish the movie was about him half the time. Although I appreciate Cecil B. DeMille's ever-impressive and epic ambitions, The Greatest Show on Earth is not one of his greatest shows on Earth. Just skip this one and take your kids to an actual circus. (1 ½ Overblown Model Train Accidents out of 5)

  • Jul 21, 2020

    Not much to it but it is sure long.

    Not much to it but it is sure long.

  • Jun 05, 2020

    The controversy surrounding this films Best Picture win is insane, but totally understandable. The political situation, the director's legacy, the concept of what a ‘great film' is. These things have changed significantly since 1952, and so looking back it's hard to disconnect the movie from the world around it. At 2 and a half hours it's definitely way too long, and that can be largely blamed on what the films tries to push the most: spectacle. The film is a visual marvel, and its staggering to think how long it would have taken to create all the costumes, obtain all the equipment, train all the performers and assemble everything into a feature film. The movie is all about dazzling the audience with its visual flair and presentation, and several elements suffer as a result. The love triangle jumps about abruptly because we don't get to spend enough time watching the characters interact. It doesn't have much of a structure besides one grand show following the next, and the next, and the next. The circus performance start off fun but get progressively more tedious as it seems the movie is just padding its runtime. Jimmy Stewart, barely recognisable under makeup, has probably the closest thing to a character arc, and it's practically impossible to hate a character played by Stewart. If nothing else, the film is a time capsule of Hollywood in the early 50s. Its full of grandeur, big name stars and beautiful to look at, but when the credits role, you'll be left wondering if it was worth the 150 minutes it took to get to that point.

    The controversy surrounding this films Best Picture win is insane, but totally understandable. The political situation, the director's legacy, the concept of what a ‘great film' is. These things have changed significantly since 1952, and so looking back it's hard to disconnect the movie from the world around it. At 2 and a half hours it's definitely way too long, and that can be largely blamed on what the films tries to push the most: spectacle. The film is a visual marvel, and its staggering to think how long it would have taken to create all the costumes, obtain all the equipment, train all the performers and assemble everything into a feature film. The movie is all about dazzling the audience with its visual flair and presentation, and several elements suffer as a result. The love triangle jumps about abruptly because we don't get to spend enough time watching the characters interact. It doesn't have much of a structure besides one grand show following the next, and the next, and the next. The circus performance start off fun but get progressively more tedious as it seems the movie is just padding its runtime. Jimmy Stewart, barely recognisable under makeup, has probably the closest thing to a character arc, and it's practically impossible to hate a character played by Stewart. If nothing else, the film is a time capsule of Hollywood in the early 50s. Its full of grandeur, big name stars and beautiful to look at, but when the credits role, you'll be left wondering if it was worth the 150 minutes it took to get to that point.

  • May 24, 2020

    The cinema equivalent of cotton candy - big, colorful, fluffy, and when you apply any pressure to it at all you can watch it collapse. I also hate cotton candy. The story is unengaging and the performances hardly count as anything special, but that may be more due to the writing than casting. At two and a half hours, how they managed to stuff so much hot air into this behemoth and receive contemporary critical praise is anyone's guess. One of the absolute worst films to win top honors apart from some of the initial early stumbles out of the gate at the Oscars. The sole redeeming feature is the grand visual design, which is more interesting as a chronicle of the circus in its prime than any sort of film element. (1.5/5)

    The cinema equivalent of cotton candy - big, colorful, fluffy, and when you apply any pressure to it at all you can watch it collapse. I also hate cotton candy. The story is unengaging and the performances hardly count as anything special, but that may be more due to the writing than casting. At two and a half hours, how they managed to stuff so much hot air into this behemoth and receive contemporary critical praise is anyone's guess. One of the absolute worst films to win top honors apart from some of the initial early stumbles out of the gate at the Oscars. The sole redeeming feature is the grand visual design, which is more interesting as a chronicle of the circus in its prime than any sort of film element. (1.5/5)

  • May 10, 2020

    Made between two Biblical epics, Cecil B. DeMille's penultimate film is a bit of an oddity. The Greatest Show on Earth is about an American railroad circus and it is as much a tribute to such circuses as it is a story about one. With all the extravagance and spectacle one expects from DeMille's later sound films, it sees him explore the showmanship of circuses via the showmanship of his own style of film-making, but it does so at the expense of characterisation and plot. The story focuses on the circus run by one Brad Braden and the challenges he faces as he struggles to keep it profitable. DeMille's opening monologue sets the tone, describing the behind the scenes discipline required to make the circus a success and all the danger that performing in the ring entails. DeMille seems as interested in the nuts-and-bolts logistics of railroad circuses, as Brad both transports his vast number of performers, huge menagerie of animals and tonnes of equipment across the country, and organises the circus members as they set up the big tops and equipment ready for to receive an audience. I've never been especially interested in circuses, but the result is quite fascinating. The film is a snapshot of a bygone era: circuses still exist and many still have performing animals, but probably not on this scale. Braden's circus is a vast travelling community as the film unfolds he has to deal with FBI agents, gangsters, criminals, relationships and accidents. The film is nearly two and a half hours long and part of its bloated length is due to the fact that there are often very long scenes of actual performances; sometime, these form part of the story, such as when trapeze artists Sebastian and Holly are competing against one another, but at times DeMille is clearly just showing off the real-life circus performances and animals he recruited to the production. But then, in a film that celebrates the circus, this isn't perhaps inappropriate. It's a ridiculously lavish production and it's all about the spectacle, just like Braden's circus itself. In the midst of all this extravagance, the story focuses on a small group of characters, including Brad himself, his girlfriend Holly, her would-be suitor the Great Sebastian, and the mysterious clown Buttons. With so much time devoted to the circus acts, the characters are out of necessity barely sketched, although they work well enough, mainly due to the performances: Charlton Heston is surprisingly good as Brad, giving a commanding and charismatic performance in the role, whilst Cornel Wilde and Betty Hutton convince as Sebastian and Holly. James Stewart, barely recognisable behind Button's make-up until his familiar voice is heard, quietly steals the show as the wise clown who turns out to have a dark secret. Most of the character development takes place in the second half, and includes the relationship between circus members Angel and Klaus, the latter of whom inadvertently causes the famous train wreck that is perhaps the film's most impressive technical achievement. The film won two Academy Awards, one for Best Picture and one for Best Story: the former I can understand, given how impressive a technical achievement it is, although the latter award is more of a mystery, since the story is barely adequate for a film half the length. Moreover, the screenplay suffers from some horrible and often melodramatic dialogue, for example during Brad's argument with Holly and later when Holly argues with Sebastian after he returns with a crippled arm. And just as the characters are fairly one-dimensional, the relationships are all quite superficial too, with Sebastian and Angel philosophically deciding to marry after Holly and Brad end up together. DeMille is a director often neglected by critics, as though his colossal financial success somehow sullied any artistic achievements he might be considered to have made. But above all else, he was a showman and whatever flaws it may have, in its celebration of one of the performing arts The Greatest Show on Earth demonstrates that perfectly.

    Made between two Biblical epics, Cecil B. DeMille's penultimate film is a bit of an oddity. The Greatest Show on Earth is about an American railroad circus and it is as much a tribute to such circuses as it is a story about one. With all the extravagance and spectacle one expects from DeMille's later sound films, it sees him explore the showmanship of circuses via the showmanship of his own style of film-making, but it does so at the expense of characterisation and plot. The story focuses on the circus run by one Brad Braden and the challenges he faces as he struggles to keep it profitable. DeMille's opening monologue sets the tone, describing the behind the scenes discipline required to make the circus a success and all the danger that performing in the ring entails. DeMille seems as interested in the nuts-and-bolts logistics of railroad circuses, as Brad both transports his vast number of performers, huge menagerie of animals and tonnes of equipment across the country, and organises the circus members as they set up the big tops and equipment ready for to receive an audience. I've never been especially interested in circuses, but the result is quite fascinating. The film is a snapshot of a bygone era: circuses still exist and many still have performing animals, but probably not on this scale. Braden's circus is a vast travelling community as the film unfolds he has to deal with FBI agents, gangsters, criminals, relationships and accidents. The film is nearly two and a half hours long and part of its bloated length is due to the fact that there are often very long scenes of actual performances; sometime, these form part of the story, such as when trapeze artists Sebastian and Holly are competing against one another, but at times DeMille is clearly just showing off the real-life circus performances and animals he recruited to the production. But then, in a film that celebrates the circus, this isn't perhaps inappropriate. It's a ridiculously lavish production and it's all about the spectacle, just like Braden's circus itself. In the midst of all this extravagance, the story focuses on a small group of characters, including Brad himself, his girlfriend Holly, her would-be suitor the Great Sebastian, and the mysterious clown Buttons. With so much time devoted to the circus acts, the characters are out of necessity barely sketched, although they work well enough, mainly due to the performances: Charlton Heston is surprisingly good as Brad, giving a commanding and charismatic performance in the role, whilst Cornel Wilde and Betty Hutton convince as Sebastian and Holly. James Stewart, barely recognisable behind Button's make-up until his familiar voice is heard, quietly steals the show as the wise clown who turns out to have a dark secret. Most of the character development takes place in the second half, and includes the relationship between circus members Angel and Klaus, the latter of whom inadvertently causes the famous train wreck that is perhaps the film's most impressive technical achievement. The film won two Academy Awards, one for Best Picture and one for Best Story: the former I can understand, given how impressive a technical achievement it is, although the latter award is more of a mystery, since the story is barely adequate for a film half the length. Moreover, the screenplay suffers from some horrible and often melodramatic dialogue, for example during Brad's argument with Holly and later when Holly argues with Sebastian after he returns with a crippled arm. And just as the characters are fairly one-dimensional, the relationships are all quite superficial too, with Sebastian and Angel philosophically deciding to marry after Holly and Brad end up together. DeMille is a director often neglected by critics, as though his colossal financial success somehow sullied any artistic achievements he might be considered to have made. But above all else, he was a showman and whatever flaws it may have, in its celebration of one of the performing arts The Greatest Show on Earth demonstrates that perfectly.