119 user 47 critic

The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

Not Rated | | Drama, Family, Romance | May 1952 (USA)
The dramatic lives of trapeze artists, a clown, and an elephant trainer are told against a background of circus spectacle.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 4 more credits »
4,667 ( 799)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

Won 2 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Adventure | Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A Victorian Englishman bets that with the new steamships and railways he can circumnavigate the globe in eighty days.

Directors: Michael Anderson, John Farrow
Stars: David Niven, Cantinflas, Shirley MacLaine
Drama | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

At the turn of the century in a Welsh mining village, the Morgans, he stern, she gentle, raise coal-mining sons and hope their youngest will find a better life.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O'Hara, Anna Lee
Oliver! (1968)
Drama | Family | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Young Oliver Twist runs away from an orphanage and meets a group of boys trained to be pickpockets by an elderly mentor.

Director: Carol Reed
Stars: Mark Lester, Ron Moody, Shani Wallis
My Fair Lady (1964)
Drama | Family | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A misogynistic and snobbish phonetics professor agrees to a wager that he can take a flower girl and make her presentable in high society.

Director: George Cukor
Stars: Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway


Cast overview, first billed only:
FBI Agent Gregory
Mr. Henderson
Cucciola ...
Antoinette Concello ...
Antoinette Concello
John Ringling North ...
John Ringling North
Tuffy Genders ...
Tuffy Genders
Assistant Manager


To ensure a full profitable season, circus manager Brad Braden engages The Great Sebastian, though this moves his girlfriend Holly from her hard-won center trapeze spot. Holly and Sebastian begin a dangerous one-upmanship duel in the ring, while he pursues her on the ground. Subplots involve the secret past of Buttons the Clown and the efforts of racketeers to move in on the game concessions. Let the show begin! Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Incomparable! Incredible! See more »


Drama | Family | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

May 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In the decades since this film won the Academy Award for Best Picture, there has been a backlash of criticism from movie fans who believe that either High Noon (1952) or The Quiet Man (1952) should have won. This is hindsight; at the time, there was no such debate. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) was a popular win, an epic melodrama that had swept both critics and audiences away, with a smashing set piece at its climax. To get a sense of the context, see Bosley Crowther's rhapsodic review in the New York Times when the film opened; he points out the broad acting and the film's overlength, but he is still over the moon about the essence of roustabout life that DeMille has so spectacularly captured. This hindsight 'Oscar rage' has reared itself in other instances, i.e. Ordinary People (1980) beating Raging Bull (1980) and, most famously, How Green Was My Valley (1941) eclipsing Citizen Kane (1941). But audiences forget that the Oscars are a snapshot in time, and, at the time these films won, the victories were celebrated. Further evidence of the hindsight effect: Singin' in the Rain (1952) wasn't even nominated that year. Today it would have won. Back then, it didn't register at all. See more »


When Klaus is seen waving to stop the second section as the engine speeds towards him, the right Cylinder on the Locomotive are discharging steam. When Klaus' car is hit by the locomotive, there is no steam in sight. As a side note, the left Cylinder cock is not discharging steam, in fact both would very quickly alternate on and off. See more »


[to Holly, as his blood is being transfused into Brad]
Sebastian: If he should make love well after this, pay no attention - it will be me.
See more »


Featured in The 54th Annual Academy Awards (1982) See more »


Only a Rose
(1925) (uncredited)
Music by Rudolf Friml
Lyrics Brian Hooker
Sung by Betty Hutton and Chorus
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Amusing and and entertaining film about circus world for children of all ages
24 June 2011 | by See all my reviews

Spectacular and overlong story of a traveling three circus combined show , plenty of diverse characters as a tough manager (Charlton Heston) , a swaggering ringmaster , and a mysterious clown (James Stewart ) with a dark secret who never takes off his disguise . Furthermore , it includes the aerialist acrobat girlfriend (Betty Hutton) , a French somersault artist rival (Cornel Wilde) , and an evil elephant trainer (Lyle Bettger) , among others .

Cecil B. DeMille is an expert in realization of high-budget films with glamour where the greatness does not lack even a moment , here gets to make a nice tribute to the circus world and its surroundings . This hugely agreeable film is a faithful reflection of the title . This is tone of the best Cecil B. De Mille, here in all his epic glory , he is the great director of the greatness. It has a fantastic scenario, great mass movement, and even spectacular scenes for the time, as a car driving toward a train on the railroad tracks and subsequently crash. The story is fine , wrought with romance , love stories , and impressive scenes with enormous pedigree. The film is a melodramatic and romantic tale with the classic triangular love story between Heston-Hutton-Wilde and meshing drama with events offstage along with some scenes in documentary style . The movie is wrought with romance and glamour but is a simple , and also contains an intriguing story about a doctor pursued by the justice . It packs some patently faked ones with players in front of obvious blue real projection. This colorful and dramatic flick packs amazing shows and exciting final . Extraordinary cast and good performances , especially from Charlton Heston and James Stewart as likable clown , both of whom are top notch under Cecil B De Mille's correct direction . Furthermore , some scenes the actors perform their own stunts . Some surprising guest-star cameos as Bob Hope , Bing Crosby watching their usual partenaire , Dorothy Lamour . Lavishly produced Henry Wilconson who plays a police , he's Cecil B. De Mille's usual . Unfortunately the circus at present time , in total downfall, is far from the magic in which they lived in that time. Here are united the Ringling Bros , Barnum and Bailey in combined shows and three-ring circus with colorful parades . The movie deservedly won two Oscars as Best Picture and Story , however the complaints of reviewers and moviegoers ever since , who don't believe it worthy of the honor . Although long-term, it becomes very entertaining and does not superfluous nor a minute. It's a fantastic and spectacular film that achieved big success at Box office . There are frames that children may never forget as the train wreck and an aerialist falling to the soil . Rating : Better than average . Worthwhile seeing .

6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 119 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page