Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

The dramatic lives of trapeze artists, a clown, and an elephant trainer against a background of circus spectacle. [imdb]

Nominated for 5 Oscars:

Best Picture (WINNER)
Best Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Best Writing, Story (WINNER)
Best Editing
Best Costume Design, Color

I'm continuing to see the Best Picture winners, and winner number 25 was Greatest Show on Earth, a film I've heard only bad things about. Many seem to consider it one of the worst to get Oscar's big prize, but as I always say: You've probably never seen Cavalcade. Anyway, I started watching it with low expectation and guess what: it's not a good film, but it's definitely not the least deserving. I can defend it by saying some of the scenes were entertaining and the film itself never annoyed me.

Its biggest problem is that it doesn't take itself seriously - sure, the costumes are fine, the art direction is good, the story has potential to be interesting, but the direction is lazy, the editing is sloppy and the film as a whole feels quite cheesy, and very dated today. Betty Hutton is a charismatic lead, while Gloria Grahame is definitely more interesting than in her Oscar-winning role in The Bad and the Beautiful. James Stewart gives a nice, low-key performance, while the big train scene at the end is nicely shot.

My rating for the film: 5.5/10. I hear all other 4 nominated film from that year were much more deserving. It's possible, I won't argue with that, I've only seen Moulin Rouge.

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