Burt Lancaster traded on his former life as a trapeze artist for this melodrama, easily one of the most enjoyable of circus movies. He plays a famed flyer who is coaxed back after an accident that has left him with a limp by Tony Curtis, who wants to learn the near impossible triple somersault, until Gina Lollabrigida muscles in on their act and sets them against each other. Lancaster is on great form, either in the air or pinching his unwanted protégée's drink, Curtis (doubled in the acrobatic scenes by Lancaster's former circus partner Nick Cravat) is amiably enthusiastic, and La Lollabrigida is about as subtle as a flying sledgehammer, delivering lines like "I wuz alwayz strong in da legs" for considerably more than they're worth.
With a colourful supporting cast, including snake-hater Sid James trying to sell a used python (he apparently took the part to pay off another gambling debt), and a terrific array of behind-the-scenes talent (director Carol Reed, cinematographer Robert Krasker, composer Malcolm Arnold), Trapeze is a lavishly produced audience picture with a few inspired moments in the air. The first performance is a terrific piece of direction and editing and looks terrific in widescreen. This is a film that makes such full use of the Scope ratio that it's always been marred by panning-and-scanning on TV, very consciously designed for the CinemaScope screen that at the time was almost as big a draw as the stars at the box-office, so it's good to see the original ratio preserved on this DVD even if the print is a tad grainy in places.