Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


Cornel Wilde pitches the woo to Betty Hutton

THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH (1952). Producer/director: Cecil B. DeMille.

Late in The Greatest Show in Earth, star Betty Hutton (also star of the "craptastic" Betty Hutton Show), playing trapeze artist Holly, is shown doing acrobatics on a cross bar in a parade down Main Street. Or rather Hutton is superimposed over the parade, and you can actually see through her in an embarrassingly cheap process shot. That pretty much encapsulates this whole cheesy movie, which purports to be about circus life. What it actually is -- against a backdrop of Barnum and Bailey/Ringling Brothers circus -- is a tiresome soap opera wherein Holly is in love with manager Brad (Charlton Heston), rival trapeze artist Sebastian (Cornel Wilde) is in love with Holly, and Jimmy Stewart wears clown make up throughout because he's hiding a secret. Dorothy Lamour of Donovan's Reef sings a number or two and is sardonic, while Gloria Grahame, also carrying a torch for Heston, has a good scene trading minor barbs with Hutton. The acting in this isn't bad -- even Hutton is more palatable than usual -- but you may find the elephants far more impressive. Wilde swaggers around with an okay Italian accent and is effective. [Although Wilde is billed over Heston, the latter is featured on the DVD cover due to the vagaries of Hollywood fame.] There's a not-bad train crash at the climax. DeMille only directed one more movie, The Ten Commandments, four years later.

Verdict: Okay, but Berserk is more fun. **1/2.


Anonymous said...

The Greatest Show on Earth is one of my all time favorites, It is a fantastic movie!!! A wonderful cast of all time stars too. Just look at the junk they make today. STEWART, HESTON WILDE!!! real movie stars!!!

William said...

I may not like the movie as much as you did, but I agree that it had real movie stars in it of the kind you rarely see today!

Glad you enjoyed the movie, though. Thanks for your comment!