Here are my favorites, not necessarily in this order, except for my top pick
Beyond being a "circus" movie, Trapeze is a great drama, combing a torrid love triangle with one trapeze flyer's quest to master the triple. Set in Paris, famed circus talent scout John Ringling North checks in now and then, ready to sign the flyer to a contract once he proves he can do it.
Yes, The Greatest Show on Earth. Of course, it has to be here, it offers too much of a circus to ignore. And too much (two and a half hours) to sit through; I would like to hire an editor and cut out the most boring parts and end up with my own greatest show on earth. First to go would be most of the train wreck, which IS a train wreck, sucking up the film's waning momentum and my patience. Yes, the best moments are dazzling, thrilling, memorable, all that. But the more I watch De Mille's lumbering epic, which thrilled me like no other film in my boyhood, the more difficult it is to watch.
Toby Tyler is warm and touching story, a wonderful movie.
I once called Ring of Fear "Ring of Drek," but, I've grown accustomed to its modestly enduring appeal, smartly contained in a tight 1 hour and 33 minutes, a full hour less than De Mille's bloated elephant. Ring has likable characters (the Mexican guy, the older fellow with the drinking problem, Clyde Beatty himself, the lovely helpless heroine), a few good circus acts, the wagons coming off the train at dawn, a haunting musical theme -- and that monster maniac who gets it in the end, getting locked up inside a box car with a loose lion! Go, lion, go! (or is it tiger?)
Spangles. There are many reasons to love this 1926 silent classic. At the top of the list, authentic big top atmosphere -- or so it appears.. And you'll have to rent it to find out for yourself. You can read my complete review by typing "spangles" in the blogger search box, above, left.
About Fellini's La Strada
Circo, more a documentary, captures the spare beauty of a profitless passion. The film follows a typical Mexican family circus struggling to stay on the road. A soft ringing authenticity
Now, for some lowdown trashy fun, you might invite either or both of these odd ball flicks into your home on a listless night in need of a little tacky shock-cinema relief
So there they are. Pick one or two, turn your damn dumb phone off, and bring on the dark.