Yes, I know The Greatest Show On Earth (1952) is not a horror movie. While it does have thrills and suspense and drama, no it is not horror. The reason I’m talking about this movie today is because February 10, 2019 marks the seventh anniversary of Circus Tarot, and The Greatest Show On Earth is one of its biggest influences.
The film is about a traveling circus that is cutting back because of finances. Charlton Heston stars as Brad Braden the circus’s manager but Buttons the Clown (James Stewart) is the character behind my Clowns in World Circus. He never takes off his makeup. The movie explains that, but my theory is different, he can’t because he’s a Clown and it doesn’t come off; you’ll have to read Circus Tarot to understand, it’s free at Amazon on February 10, so there’s no reason not to.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (RIP) is the setting for this Paramount Pictures delight filled with a star-studded cast. The cameos in the audience are fabulous with everyone from Bing Crosby and Bob Hope to Beverly Washburn and Noel Neill; if you don’t know who those actors are, I suggest you get busy watching some classic movies. I find it amazing that Betty Hutton and Cornel Wilde had to learn parts of the trapeze routine. I can’t think of any current stars who would even try.
The interesting part of this movie is the fact is how much they show of the behind the scenes activities of the Circus. Also, there’s a scene in the middle of the film that is just showcasing the acts of the Circus, not just the actors, like it was a large advertisement for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Maybe, it was, I’m not going to waste time searching for that information, and it doesn’t matter, because I still enjoy those bits of this movie.
I remember seeing this movie for the first time when I was a kid, and how I was enamored then, and seeing it again as an adult, the magic of it is still there for me. No wonder this movie won Best Picture and Best Story at the 25th Academy Awards. With every word written with any of the Circus Tarot Trilogy books, this movie was in the back of my mind, wanting preserve something that doesn’t exist like it did back then. If you haven’t seen this movie, you need to make an effort to see it.
The first paragraph of the opening monologue by Cecil B. DeMille is my favorite and most appropriate for Circus Tarot: We bring you the circus — that Pied Piper whose magic tunes lead the children of all ages from 6 to 60 into a tinseled and spun-candied world of reckless beauty and mounting laughter; whirling thrills; of the rhythm, excitement and grace; of daring, enflaring and dance; of high-stepping horses and high-flying stars.
No matter how many times I see The Greatest Show On Earth, I will always give it 5 out of 5 Stars.