24 January 2003 | Doghouse-6
Guilty Pleasure of the Fabulous '50's - Indulge!
C'mon, where else are you going to find a cast like this - at these prices, at least? It may not have the benefit of a DeMille budget, but this little gem succeeds where that director's "The Greatest Show On Earth" fails.
In place of DeMille's overblown hokum (which took itself too seriously to the point of campiness), THE BIG CIRCUS is earnest, lean and tightly paced, with no illusions that it's anything other than what it is: a collection of all the admittedly cliché elements that belong in a big-top thriller: sabotage by a rival, a lion on the loose, a killer in their midst, a fire, a train wreck and even a walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope!
Seasoned pros Victor Mature, Gilbert Roland, Red Buttons and Rhonda Fleming give it their all without going overboard, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre appear appropriately suspicious for those wondering if type-casting will reveal one of them as the villain, David Nelson is on hand doing some of his own trapeze work and even Steve Allen gets into the act!
Don't look for import, just sit back and enjoy the ride (and forgive the cheesy matte work on the Niagara sequence; at least they sprang for CinemaScope).