Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

Today's film is The Greatest Show on Earth, but it's definitely not the greatest movie on earth.  Why are Charlton Heston movies so long?  I remember watching this on tv when I was little, but all I remembered was the train crash, so I thought I should watch the whole thing.  So this marks the 50th best picture film I have ever seen.

I wouldn't call this a best picture, but compared to the other films nominated? Probably yeah.  There was like Ivanhoe and Moulin Rouge and stuff, so I can see that a super exciting circus picture would win it.  It's more of like an almost 3 hour long commercial for Barnum and Bailey circus.  The worst part was Betty Hutton's acting by a long shot.  They have scenes showing each of the acts, the animals, and a whole section about putting the tent up. They make sure to mention the tent's fireproof quality because just a few years before, a circus tent burned to the ground, killing over 100 people.  And no one has to worry about racketeers or thieving carnies at the circus, because they will get thrown in the mud.  No, literally they get thrown in the mud.

The main reason why I really don't like the circus and I'll never take my kids is because of the animals.  Animals are not meant to be locked in cages and only let out to perform for people.  That's a horrible way to live.  They are portrayed positively in this film, and an elephant trainer even uses her elephant to lift off a broken rail off the boss, when machinery could not.  Barnum and Bailey actually stopped using elephants in its acts this year, but is it too little, too late?

There's lots of subplots in this movie and there has to be because circuses take a lot of people to run.  The boss, Brad (Charlton Heston) hires a popular new act to ensure a full season.  The act is Sebastian, a hot either French or Italian, I cant tell, aerial act.  This forces Brad's girlfriend, also an aerial artist, out of the center ring which devastates her.

My little sister is actually an aerial artist for the circus which is one reason why I find circuses so interesting.  Aerial artists (they hate being called trapeze artists) take what they do really seriously and often feel invincible doing it.  That's why Holly used the wrong rope to do her spins and why Sebastian cut away his net.  They don't see the danger in what they're doing.

Another thing is they gave Buttons the clown wayyy too much screentime.  He's like in every scene.  And the big reveal is that he's actually a murderer.  Well of course he's a murderer, he's a clown.  I didn't need to see any of the movie to tell you that.

This may not be the best acted movie ever, but you don't go to the circus for the acting.  You go because it's exciting.  And there's a lot going on everywhere you look. And this film achieved that so I will give it an 8/10.

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