The Greatest Show on Earth

I watched a bit of the morning news before going off to work. We were surprised with a little bit of rain. The hours seemed to pass slowly. I returned home tired and hungry. I had some Chinese food and watched “The Greatest Show on Earth,” the old movie with Betty Hutton and Charlton Heston. It was a messy film with stale show elements and an intrusive voice-over. I did like the way they showed all the effort it takes to set up the circus with the trains and the people placing poles in the ground. I’m guessing that no one won any acting Oscars for this movie. Betty Hutton did not impress me with her acting, although she looked athletic enough to do some stunts. She also had one of those powerful singing voices that brought to mind Ethel Merman. This wasn’t the best moment for Charlton Heston, who overdid it with the show must go on sentiments. I’ll remember him for “Ben-Hur” and “Planet of the Apes.” Dorothy Lamour had a prominent part, and Bob Hope and Bing Crosby did appear in one shot. Gloria Grahame was not a blonde in this movie, but I did like watching her. She didn’t have much of a role here. James Stewart and Gloria Grahame were both in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and so it was amusing to see them together again. Stewart, however, is in clown makeup for the entire movie. He made a good clown, though. The movie feels like a night at the circus, with the performers parading around in costumes. I kept thinking of how the elephants are supposed to vanish from the circus in the near future. There was a scene in which an elephant nearly steps on Gloria’s face. There were some suspenseful moments with the trapeze, even if it was faked. There was something evil in Betty Hutton’s character. She had too big of an ego, and also had a dangerous jealousy. Everyone had to be idiots for saying that the only thing that Brad cared about was the circus. The color of the print this disc was made from didn’t look so good. The colors were faded, and it looked like the screen was too narrow. Some of the cutting of the scenes was questionable. I didn’t get why it was done the way it was done. The story with James Stewart’s character was so curious and hard to believe. He reminded me a little bit of Harrison Ford in “The Fugitive.” I would say that the Great Sebastian was foolhardy. You shouldn’t go up there without a safety net as you’re going through hoops and trying something different. I liked the clown bit with the small car. One of the people in the audience that I’ll remember is the man who took pleasure in seeing Mickey Mouse and the Mad Hatter while eating an ice cream cone. I wish I could still get excited about those things. The love triangle aspect was not so interesting because Charlton Heston was as cold as ice. I couldn’t imagine any of the women in the movie being happy with him. Sebastian was rather obnoxious, but he did have some blood flowing through his veins. The dramatic event that happens near the end is the train crash. It looked too fake, even considering that it was 1952. I didn’t believe how the car bounced off the train. It seemed that the driver of that car should have met a gruesome end. Brad was nearly comical as he was bleeding to death and still trying to give orders for the next performance. I was thinking it was something like an opera, like “Tristan and Isolde.” I thought about how big a spectacle this movie seemed on the screens in the early 1950s. The movie tried to give us an idea of how difficult the circus business was with the massive expenses and the smaller towns not being worth visiting. There had to be something of De Mille mulling over the changing movie business in all of this. At the end, it looked like a huge crowd of people was following Betty Hutton down the street. I will have to say that “The Greatest Show on Earth” was one of the weaker movies to win the Best Picture Oscar. You’d like to see a movie with more insight and deeper emotion win such an award. The one thing I liked about this movie was its old-time feeling with a star like James Stewart. I tried to remember the movie “Trapeze” with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. That movie had a bit more life in it than “The Greatest Show on Earth,” I would say. The disc did not have any special features to speak of. It seemed like it could use a restoration. If “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” could get special treatment, then so could this movie. I watched a Here’s Lucy episode that had Arte Johnson as a guest star. I watched two episodes of The Big Bang Theory. I did not like Priya. It’s hard to like anyone who studies law. It was William Shatner’s birthday on Sunday, so it seemed right that the Twilight Zone episode of the night featured William Shatner and a fortune-telling machine. It was called “Nick of Time.” Shatner was better in it than many of the Star Trek episodes. I found it hard to believe that he could be superstitious and weak. The writing of this episode was strong and fascinating. It was not quite in real time, but it would have been cool if it was. The air date was November 18, 1960. The woman who played Shatner’s wife was Patricia Breslin, who was very good. Watching this program made me wonder why baseball players are so superstitious. They should believe in themselves. They would be stronger, better players if they did. I can’t understand why Bob Melvin is superstitious. The Bob Newhart Show was about a tape recorder. Jerry had a new digital watch. Some of the people who died on March 24 include Jules Verne (1905), Ray Goulding (1990), John Hersey (1993), Richard Widmark (2008), and Robert Culp (2010). Today is a birthday for Jessica Chastain (38), Jim Parsons (42), and Louie Anderson (62). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 24, the Bee Gees were Number One on the singles chart in 1979 with “Tragedy.” In 1995, “Dolores Claiborne,” starring Kathy Bates and Jennifer Jason Leigh, was released. In 2002, Halle Berry won the Best Actress Oscar, and Denzel Washington won the Best Actor Oscar. Steve McQueen was born 85 years ago today.

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