I think I've only ever seen this on the small screen - I have a VHS recording from 1998 - but it really lodged itself in my brain, primarily due to the hypnotic final sequence. The final staged performance is really a fantasy sequence. There's little in the preceding film to show how they got to this point of perfection. In fact, with all their bickering I'm surprised one of them didn't lose an arm. They're very unprofessional through the preceding training sessions.
Isabelle Pasco - what can I say? Okay, she doesn't do a lot of acting but I have tremendous admiration for her for just getting in the cage with those big cats. And she has a certain animal magnetism herself. Plus she went through hell by descending from a great height in that flimsy little cage (see the "making of" documentary on the DVD).
It has its flaws - quite a lot of them, actually - but I find this film magical. Aside from the stupid arguments they have, it's essentially a tale of an attractive young couple who run away to the circus and make a go of it.
A special mention for the music. It's probably just my weird taste, but when I first captured this film on video tape I rerecorded the last sequence, including credits, to an audio cassette so I could play it whenever I wanted to, at a very loud volume. Now I have the DVD I can watch the whole of that last 15 minutes or so over and over. Sad, I know, but it gets to me on a visceral level.
8 stars for the film as a whole - either theatrical cut or director's cut - but the final performance deserves 9 stars and I'm SO glad it's now out on DVD, even though I had to buy it from the States. Unfortunately, I have to add that the DVD picture quality is very poor. Colour registration is way off, which is a real shame.