Man on a Tightrope (1953)

Man on a Tightrope (1953)





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Man on a Tightrope Photos

Movie Info

Elia Kazan directed this drama inspired by a true story. Karel Cernik (Fredric March) is the leader of a troupe of Czechoslovakian circus performers who have been plying their trade in Eastern Europe for years. When Czechoslovakia falls under Communist rule, the proud and independent Cernik finds that he is no longer free to operate his circus as he sees fit. Many of his performers are conscripted into military service, and his equipment and possessions are declared government property, though the state fails to maintain it properly, or even to give him access to the material to fix it himself. Finally, when Cernik's remaining performers are ordered to insert pro-Communist messages into their acts, he decides that he can take no more and begins making plans to escape to Bavaria during an upcoming tour. Cernik's plans hit a snag, however, when he learns that one of his performers is a spy for the Czech communists, working in collusion with government factotum Fesker (Adolphe Menjou). While politics are making a mess of his professional life, his daughter Tereza (Terry Moore) is complicating matters at home because of her romance with the handsome but unreliable lion tamer Joe Vosdek (Cameron Mitchell), much to the chagrin of both Karel and his wife Zama (Gloria Grahame). The Birnbach Circus troupe, along with a variety of other European carnival performers, appear as themselves in this film, lending the performances a keen authenticity.
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In Theaters:
Twentieth Century Fox

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Fredric March
as Karel Cernik
Gloria Grahame
as Zama Cernik
Terry Moore
as Tereza Cernik
Cameron Mitchell
as Joe Vosdek
Robert Beatty
as Barovic
Alex D'Arcy
as Rudolph
Richard Boone
as Krofta
Pat Henning
as Konradin
Paul Hartman
as Jaromir
John Dehner
as The Chief
Mme. Brumbach
as Mme. Cernik
as Kalka
Phil Kenneally
as Sergeant
Dorothea Wieck
as Duchess
Philip Kenneally
as Sergeant
Edelweiss Malchin
as Vina Konradin
Margaret Slezak
as Mrs. Jaromir
Peter Beauvais
as Secret Police Captain
Robert Charlebois
as Secret Police Lieutenant
Gert Fröbe
as Police Agent
Rolf van Naukhoff
as Police Agent
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Critic Reviews for Man on a Tightrope

All Critics (1)

Writer Robert E. Sherwood never gets the screenplay to gracefully walk across the tightrope.

Full Review… | October 12, 2011
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Man on a Tightrope

Fredric March leads his small circus troupe in a daring escape from Soviet occupied Czechoslovakia. Say what you want about Elia Kazan and his shameful role in Joseph McCarthy's witch-hunt, the man could direct with the best of 'em. Man on a Tightrope could have easily become cliché ridden propagandistic tripe but Kazan has crafted it into something of substance. ...and nobody but nobody plays an opportunistic slut like the magnificent Miss Gloria Grahame!

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Although it lacks the fire and energy of Kazan's masterpieces, Man on a Tightrope is still an expertly crafted and wholly engaging film.

Mike T.
Mike T.

Super Reviewer

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