The third highest-grossing film of 1956, Trapeze is set in Paris (France) at the Bouglione Circus (the film was shot on location at the Cirque d’Hiv, Paris’ famed one-ring circus)
Young American acrobat Tino Orsini (Tony Curtis) persuades his father’s ex-trapeze partner Mike Ribble (Burt Reynolds) to teach him to do the triple somersault.
Lola (curvaceous Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida in her first American film), an ambitious and unscrupulous tumbler, is determined to join the act in the hope that it will take her to Madison Square Garden in New York and uses her charms to seal the deal.
Her charms work on Tino, and he gets Ribble to allow her to join the act.
Dissatisfied with Lola, Mike – who was crippled in a bad fall while trying to exercise the triple – decides to expose her deception to Tino (who thinks she’s genuinely in love with him) and get her out of the act.
But Mike is injured while trying to subdue an escaped lion, and while Lola treats his wounds, he realises he has fallen in love with her himself.
Tino discovers them together and comes to blows with the older man, who bows out of the circus act.
When an American circus impresario arrives to scout Tino, Mike taunts him into trying the triple somersault. With split-second timing, Tino successfully completes the manoeuvre – the eighth man in circus history to accomplish the feat.
The show ends happily with Lola and Mike walking together in the Paris dusk.
41-year-old Burt Lancaster performed all but one of the trapeze stunts himself, having worked in a circus before entering films.
John Ringling North
Circus Family Children