The Greatest Show on Earth
Cecil B. DeMille directs this Oscar winner for Best Picture, a splashy, three-ring epic about Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Charlton Heston stars as the respected circus manager who keeps the show together. That's not an easy job, considering all the clashing egos involved, including a daredevil trapeze artist (Cornel Wilde) and his fellow performer (Betty Hutton). Jimmy Stewart co-stars as an undercover clown on the lam.
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- Cecil B. DeMille
- DVD and streaming
- 1953 Golden Globe Awards
- Best Director (Motion Picture)
- Best Motion Picture (Drama)
- 1953 Academy Award®
- Best Picture
- Best Writing
- Best Film Editing nominee
- Best Director nominee: Cecil B. DeMille
- Best Costume Design Color nominee
NRNot rated. This movie has not been rated by the MPAA.
Full Screen 1.33:1Subtitles
YesLanguage and sound
English: Dolby Digital Mono, French: Dolby Digital MonoOther features
Color; interactive menus; scene access.
The Greatest Show on EarthClose
Common Sense Note
Parents need to know that The Greatest Show on Earth is a sprawling, lavish, over-two-hour look at the life of the circus from 1952. It's a visual feast of costumes, performances, and the glamour of a show in an era when it was still a respectable way of life, not to mention still a major draw in any city. However, it runs long and is rather gritty with some adult themes, such as unrequited love, escaped criminals, dangerous high-wire acts, cutthroat competition, and the despair of dashed dreams. There also is quite a bit of peril and violence: A man falls from a high distance and is left partially paralyzed; blood is shown trickling from his mouth. A train full of circus people and animals crashes into a car placed purposely on the track, destroying it and leaving many people wounded, with some blood shown. A transfusion is performed.
- Sexual Content
- A man and woman kiss. Very minor jokey innuendo about girls who "get around." A man romances a woman by embracing her and whispering sweet nothings.
- There's a perilous overtone to the movie, particularly with regard to the high-wire acrobatics and risk. A man falls from a high distance and is left partially paralyzed; blood is shown trickling from his mouth. A woman sticks a piece of hot iron on a man's hand. A woman's act involves an elephant's foot hovered just above her face, ever at risk of crushing her. A man hits a man over the head with a stick. A train full of circus people and animals crashes into a car placed purposely on the track, destroying it and leaving many people wounded, with some blood shown. A transfusion is performed.
- Very minor references to dated or era-specific ideas, such as blackface.
- Social Behavior
- The Greatest Show on Earth espouses positive messages about circus life, loyalty, commitment to the performance above all else, and putting personal issues aside to do good work.
- Not applicable
- Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol
- Brief, era-specific smoking of pipes, cigars, and the occasional cigarette.
- Age appropriate
- Not an issue
- Depends on your kid and your family
- Not appropriate for kids of the age most likely to want to see it