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The Greatest Show On Earth: Paramount Presents Blu-ray Review

“The Greatest Show On Earth” is pure Cecil B. DeMille.

In this 1952 epic, the story focuses on manager Brad Braden’s traveling circus during a full season run. As we get to know circus performers like the new wild star The Great Sebastian, a trapeze artist named Holly, a secretive clown (Buttons) and Angel, all sorts of drama, danger, and excitement begins to take shape. Key subplots include romance, gangsters, a major injury, a criminal in the circus, and a literal train wreck.

Filmed in cooperation with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey (and featuring real circus acts), Cecil B. DeMille’s Best Picture winning “The Greatest Show On Earth” is the type of grand Hollywood production that only DeMille could make. For 152 minutes, DeMille fills the movie with death defying stunts, an all-star cast (I’ll get to that shortly), countless extras, extravagant costumes, animals galore, massive sets, and shots that are brimming with activity. Say what you will about the cheap blue screen scenes, the soap opera romance, the weird documentary esque narrated moments, and some of the dopey dialogue like “Having a man love sawdust more than me,” but the film itself is nothing short of a visual spectacle. Cecil B. DeMille has always understood that film is a visual medium and he never disappoints in that respect.

Going back to the cast, it’s filled with A-listers like Charlton Heston, Jimmy Stewart, Betty Hutton, Cornel Wilde, Dorothy Lamour, and Gloria Grahame. Everyone gets their chance to shine here,but Cornel Wilde clearly has the best part as the ladies man/risk taking The Great Sebastian. Jimmy Stewart also shines as Buttons who is only in clown make-up for the entire movie.


Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? Despite some print defects, this is the best the film has looked. The colors are noticeably striking.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? This is a nice clean audio track.

* Digital copy
* “Filmmaker Focus”- An interview with Leonard Maltin about “The Greatest Show On Earth.”

March 29, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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