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Greatest Show on Earth

The Greatest Show on Earth

4.3 3
Director: Cecil B. DeMille

Cast: Betty Hutton, Cornel Wilde, Charlton Heston


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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.


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.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Donald Liebenson
Among Oscar buffs, Cecil B. DeMille's star-spangled 1952 epic is notorious as perhaps the most surprising winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, as it triumphed over fellow nominees High Noon and The Quiet Man. (The classic Singin' in the Rain famously went un-nominated.) This is grand, old-school Hollywood entertainment, though, with something for everyone "ages 6 to 60," to quote DeMille's Barnumesque narration. Charlton Heston heads the glittering cast as a circus master with "sawdust in his veins" who is struggling to stay in the black and finish out a full season despite economic pressures to skip the small towns. When Heston is reminded that times have changed, he thunders back: "Kids haven't!" Cornel Wilde costars as Sebastian, the conceited trapeze superstar whose rivalry with Betty Hutton in the air doesn’t get in the way of his attempts to seduce her on the ground. Heston has eyes for Hutton, too, and the ravishing Gloria Grahame adds more romantic intrigue. Kids will thrill to the three-ring spectacle of the circus acts, the animal antics, and action set pieces, including the spectacular circus train wreck. At 2 ½ hours, it may at times seem like the longest show on earth, but if it's true that kids haven't changed, they will be entranced by this "spun-candy world of reckless beauty, twirling thrills, and mounting laughter."
All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
The Greatest Show on Earth is often ridiculed as the worst Oscar-winning Best Picture of all time, but that is unfair -- Cimarron and Cavalcade are both a considerable chore to sit through, and The Greatest Show on Earth is at least watchable trash. As is often the case when a questionable Best Picture winner is announced, external circumstances played a major role in determining the Academy's choice. John Huston's Moulin Rouge was seen as glorifying a dissipated lifestyle, and High Noon, written by blacklist victim Carl Foreman, was clearly an attack on Hollywood's cravenness in capitulating to the hysteria of the McCarthy era. On the other hand, there is at least some charm in noting that the Academy's family-friendly Best Picture selection was a movie about a killer clown (James Stewart) who hides out in a circus while being chased by the police. Despite its diminished reputation, The Greatest Show on Earth is not without merits. Producer/director Cecil B. De Mille fills the screen with admirable production values, and Charlton Heston gives a star-making performance that maintains interest between the circus acts and train shots.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Paramount Catalog
Region Code:

Special Features

Closed Caption

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Betty Hutton Holly
Cornel Wilde Sebastian
Charlton Heston Brad Braden
Dorothy Lamour Phyllis
Gloria Grahame Angel
James Stewart Buttons, a Clown
Henry Wilcoxon Gregory of the FBI
Lyle Bettger Klaus
Lawrence Tierney Henderson
Emmett Kelly Himself
Antoinette Concello Herself
John Ringling North Himself
John Kellogg Harry
John Ridgely Jack Steelman, Assistant Manager
Frank Wilcox Circus Doctor
Bob Carson Ringmaster
Lillian Albertson Buttons' Mother
Julia Faye Birdie
Dorothy Adams Actor
Stanley Andrews Man
Ross Bagdasarian Man
Bruce Cameron Bruce
Davison Clark Actor
Russ Conklin Rus
Riccardo Cucciolla Himself
Mary Field Actor
Greta Granstedt Actor
William Hall Bill
Charmienne Harker Charmienne
Milt Kibbee Townsman
Mona Knox Mona
Anthony Marsh Tony
Ottola Nesmith Actor
David Newell Actor
Hugh Prosser Hugh
Robert St. Angelo Actor
Josephine Whittell Actor
Claude Dunkin Claude
Lorna Jordan Lorna
Erik Nelson Boy
Dolores Hall Actor
Lee Aaker Boy
Felix Adler Himself
Bill Boyd Hopalong Cassidy
Iphigenie Castiglioni Herself
Lane Chandler Dave
Ken Christy Spectator
Lydia Clarke Circus Girl
John Crawford Jack
Lester Dorr Circus Barker
Jimmie Dundee Utility man
Norman Field Truesdale
Bess Flowers Spectator
Kathleen Freeman Woman
Mona Freeman Spectator
Nancy Gates Spectator
Everett Glass Board member
Brad Hatton Osborne
Lou Jacobs Himself (clown)
Brad Johnson Reporter
Fred Kohler Fireman
Ethan Laidlaw Hank
Herbert Lytton Foreman
John Merton Chuck
Gertrude Messenger Gertrude
Clarence Nash Spectator
Howard Negley Truck boss
Noel Neill Noel
John Parrish Jack Lawson
Dale Van Sickel Man in train wreck
Beverly Washburn Girl
Keith Richards Keith
Sid Saylor Circus barker

Technical Credits
Cecil B. DeMille Director,Producer
George Barnes Cinematographer
Richard Barstow Choreography
Anne Bauchens Editor
Frank Cavett Screenwriter
Sam Comer Set Decoration/Design
John Cope Sound/Sound Designer
Fredric M. Frank Screenwriter
Edith Head Costumes/Costume Designer
Dorothy Jeakins Costumes/Costume Designer
Gordon Jennings Special Effects
Devereaux Jennings Special Effects
W. Wallace Kelley Cinematographer
Paul K. Lerpae Special Effects
Harry Lindgren Sound/Sound Designer
Barré Lyndon Screenwriter
J. Peverell Marley Cinematographer
Ray Moyer Set Decoration/Design
Hal Pereira Art Director
Anne Peverell Cinematographer
Theodore St. John Original Story,Screenwriter
Walter Tyler Art Director
Wally Westmore Makeup
Miles White Costumes/Costume Designer
Henry Wilcoxon Associate Producer
Victor Young Score Composer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Greatest Show on Earth
1. Chapter 1 [6:27]
2. Chapter 2 [2:21]
3. Chapter 3 [3:48]
4. Chapter 4 [2:11]
5. Chapter 5 [4:39]
6. Chapter 6 [:23]
7. Chapter 7 [5:40]
8. Chapter 8 [2:17]
9. Chapter 9 [4:15]
10. Chapter 10 [:48]
11. Chapter 11 [5:07]
12. Chapter 12 [2:07]
13. Chapter 13 [4:26]
14. Chapter 14 [:05]
15. Chapter 15 [5:53]
16. Chapter 16 [1:51]
17. Chapter 17 [5:30]
18. Chapter 18 [3:05]
19. Chapter 19 [3:21]
20. Chapter 20 [2:48]
21. Chapter 21 [4:28]
22. Chapter 22 [2:40]
23. Chapter 23 [2:19]
24. Chapter 24 [3:34]
25. Chapter 25 [1:36]
26. Chapter 26 [4:46]
27. Chapter 27 [1:08]
28. Chapter 28 [2:44]
29. Chapter 29 [4:02]
30. Chapter 30 [2:42]
31. Chapter 31 [5:27]
32. Chapter 32 [:25]
33. Chapter 33 [4:56]
34. Chapter 34 [2:09]
35. Chapter 35 [3:10]
36. Chapter 36 [:29]
37. Chapter 37 [4:30]
38. Chapter 38 [2:26]
39. Chapter 39 [3:43]
40. Chapter 40 [3:39]
41. Chapter 41 [1:52]
42. Chapter 42 [5:10]
43. Chapter 43 [:36]
44. Chapter 44 [6:52]
45. Chapter 45 [:28]
46. Chapter 46 [5:57]
47. Chapter 47 [:36]
48. Chapter 48 [2:36]

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The Greatest Show on Earth 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a child, I loved the Greatest Show on Earth.  First time I'd seen Charlton Heston.   Went back and saw the film several times.  Loved Betty Hutton in that, as well as her performance in  Anne Get Your Gun.  Especially remembered scene when elephant trainer had elephant hold its huge food over Gloria's head.
Jay_Raskin More than 1 year ago
Much of this film holds up very well. It is not the great film that Cecil B. Demille was trying to make, but a lot of it is beautiful and a lot is effective and moving. Betty Hutton, Cornel Wilde, Gloria Graham and James Stewart are excellent. Hutton should have received an academy award nomination as she is absolutely convincing as a trapeze artist. Wilde plays a wonderfully amusing arrogant French trapeze artist. Gloria Graham as a cynical elephant trainer and James Stewart, hiding under clown make-up for almost the entire movie, are quite moving in roles that could easily have been cliches. On the other hand, Charlton Heston's screen debut is rather inauspicious. He looks like a male model, overacts (probably taking too much direction from Demille) and lacks emotional range. Dorothy Lamour is sadly wasted in a bit part. After starring in three films in 1949 that did not do well, her terrific career went into a death spiral. This film did not help. The main plot involves a love quadrangle with Hutton, Graham, Heston and Wilde. This is complex and involving. Two subplots involving competition between Hutton and Wilde for star billing and Stewart trying to escape his past work very well too. A fourth subplot concerning a robbery is childish and almost ruins the picture. The movie won an Oscar for best picture of 1952. It was not a great year for films, but "Singing in The Rain" and "High Noon" both should have beaten it. It was also the highest grossing movie at the box office that year. The movie attempts to show a time when the circus was "the Greatest Show on Earth". It actually succeeds in this rather well. The acts are quite entertaining and they add enough "wow" to make this a near great film. It may not be the greatest show on Earth, but this film is one of the good films of the 1950's.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago