Recently inspired by a couple of friends, one old chum just got cast in Cirque du Soleil's next show and another friend has been taking trapeze classes and is looking to go pro. So I thought it was time to check out that video copy of the long out-of-print Trapeze.
I was immediately struck by those crazy tilted angles, director Carol Reed also employed in his classics The Third Man (1948) and The Fallen Idol (1949) (which recently was released on DVD for the first time, which gives hope that perhaps Trapeze may follow). Though here, those skewed angles are used while high-wire bars swing back and forth, helping to create a sense of danger.
Burt Lancaster in full brood, is the washed up ex trapeze artist now pursued by the young Tony Curtis to teach him the trade. Meanwhile they both fall for the sexy scheming Lola (Gina Lollobrigida) which could jeopardize the future of the act.
Yeah it’s a familiar plot. And it is a sudsy soap-opera, but unlike say Cecil B DeMille’s earlier (once overrated, later maligned, but still entertaining) The Greatest Show on Earth, which went for the epic spectacle of the circus, Reed is into the seedy, the Euro-sexyness and the strange characters standing in the background. Like The Third Man, Trapeze has great locations, those decrepit back alley cobblestone streets. it’s about the passion required to be fearless and the desperation that creates the passion (and it shows that Big Tops are great place to meet foxy ladies, at least better then acting classes and video stores)
I expressed my admiration for Lancaster earlier. And he is undoubtedly in his element here. He appears to be doing all his own stunts (unfortunately tricky editing was used to mask Curtis’s double, much better then, say Roger Moore’s Greek stunt double in Octopussy).
Curtis has run hot and cold for me, he peaked later, again with Burt in Sweet Smell Of Success (Mackendrick 1957) and then in Some Like It Hot (Wilder 1959) and the peek of his oeuvre The Boston Strangler (Fleischer 1968).
Gina Lollobrigida is incredibly alluring as Lola (I have a thing for manipulative foreign chicks). I was surprised to realize that John Huston’s Beat the Devil (1953) was the only other flick I’ve seen her in, Need to see more of her.
Interestingly of Reed’s seven films he directed after Trapeze only his corny Oscar winning musical Oliver (1968) and his Chuck Heston as Michelangelo flick The Agony & The Ecstasy (1965) have reached DVD,most aren't even available on VHS here. That wasn’t counting Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) which Brando got him fired from after a few weeks. Hopefully one day a Carol Reed Box set will be released. Until then, I don’t think Netflix is gonna have Trapeze.... only at Rocket.