Trapeze (film)

Trapeze is a 1956 American circus film directed by Carol Reed and starring Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis and Gina Lollobrigida, in her American film debut. The film is based on Max Catto's 1950 novel The Killing Frost, with an adapted screenplay written by Liam O'Brien.[3]

Theatrical release poster
Directed byCarol Reed
Written byMax Catto (novel)
Liam O'Brien (adaptation)
James R. Webb (screenplay)
Produced byJames Hill
StarringBurt Lancaster
Tony Curtis
Gina Lollobrigida
CinematographyRobert Krasker
Music byMalcolm Arnold
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • May 30, 1956 (1956-05-30)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$4 million[1]
Box office$15.5 million (US)[2]

The film performed well at the box office, placing among the top three earners of 1956 in the United States and Canada[4] and as the fourth-most-popular film at the British box office in 1956.[5]


Crippled trapeze aerialist and former star Mike Ribble sees great promise in young, brash Tino Orsini. Ribble, only the sixth man to have completed the dangerous triple somersault, thinks that his protégé is capable of matching the same feat, but only if he provides him with rigorous training. However, Orsini is distracted by the new third member of their circus act, the manipulative Lola. Tensions rise as a love triangle forms.



Lancaster, a former circus acrobat, performed many of his own stunts, though the most dangerous (including the climactic triple somersault) were performed by technical consultant Eddie Ward from the Ringling Brothers Circus.[6]

Trapeze was filmed entirely in Paris, including at the Cirque d'Hiver and at the nearby Billancourt studios.[6]


Curtis, Lollobrigida and Lancaster

Burt Lancaster won the Silver Bear for Best Actor award at the 6th Berlin International Film Festival.[7] Reed was nominated for best director by the Directors Guild of America.

Pauline Kael of The New Yorker wrote: "There's vitality in Carol Reed's direction, and an exuberant sweep in Robert Krasker's camera work. Burt Lancaster and Gina Lollobrigida function as stars--they're magnetic."

Bosley Crowther panned the film in his review for The New York Times, writing that the story was "dismally obvious and monotonous", the direction no better and the dialogue "dull and hackneyed." He also criticized the film's leads, writing that Lollobrigida offered nothing beyond her beauty and that Curtis and Lancaster were both uninteresting.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kate Buford, Burt Lancaster: An American Life, Da Capo 2000 p 151
  2. ^ "Some of the Top UA Grossers". Variety. June 24, 1959. p. 12. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
  3. ^ Variety Staff (Dec 31, 1955). "Review: 'Trapeze'". Variety.
  4. ^ "109 Top Money Films of 1956". Variety. January 2, 1957. p. 1. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  5. ^ BRITISH. FILMS MADE MOST MONEY: BOX-OFFICE SURVEY The Manchester Guardian 28 Dec 1956: 3
  6. ^ a b Stafford, Jeff. "Trapeze". Turner Classic Movies ( Retrieved 2007-08-04.
  7. ^ "6th Berlin International Film Festival: Prize Winners". Retrieved 2009-12-27.
  8. ^ Crowther, Bosley (Jun 5, 1956). "Trapeze (1956) Screen: Greatest of Ease; Monotonous 'Trapeze' Swings Into Capitol". The New York Times.

External linksEdit