The Artist Takes a Break

Trapeze posterOne of my many addictions is any kind of circus movie.  I’ve been this way since I was about seven years old and lived in NE Portland.  I could be doing the most important piece of painting or writing ever and yet if a circus movie comes on TV, especially a channel without commercials, I drop my brush or pen and make a dash for my little lounge chair (Chairy Two Electric Boog-a-Loo)[1], with a coke and some snacks.

I’ll let you in on a secret.  When I was little I had a trapeze in my backyard hanging from our old apple tree.  When my mom wasn’t looking I’d do as many tricks as you can do hanging from a trapeze that is only about five feet off the ground.  As usual I was fearless so I especially liked to hang from my knees and swing as high as I could.  I also could hang from my ankles, even though it hurt a little.  I totally planned on being a trapeze artist in the circus when I grew up.  But of course I was terrified of clowns.


A couple of nights ago I saw that Turner Classic Movies had a Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis movie on called “Trapeze”.  Oh my God this has always been one of my favorite circus movies. The music started and I was hooked.  Burt and Tony were cast as flyers.[2]  Burt was a catcher who had been a flier but who had been injured badly prior to the opening of the movie.  He walked with a cane and was always gazing sadly at the trapezes like a lost puppy dog.  He had once been the world’s best flyer but now injured and alone he was depressed.  Then along came Tony.  He was young, he was athletic and in tights or skins as we say it in the circus biz. He was looking a little more gay than usual.  Burt watched him fly.  He was oozing with talent.  They paired up.  They would be the first act ever to complete a triple.[3] This is where the fun begins.  Tony is flying and Burt is catching and everything’s great and their near a triple when another character, a real heartbreaker, Gina Lollobrigida, makes her sequined entrance. Wow she has a pair on her and they are real.  She flirts with both boys and I won’t be the spoiler but they all go through some rough patches.  The film is alive with elephants, roaring lions, white horses (with obvious painted on black spots), freaks, geeks and even clowns.  One scene should be in the classic movie shots hall of fame.  It’s when Tony and Burt are walking down a wet street in Paris after leaving the “Des Artes” bar when all of a sudden. Flip!  They are both walking and fading into the distance on their HANDS!  You gotta see it.  Time passed without me knowing it.  I’d give this movie five stars. You can take the girl out of the circus but you’ll never take the circus out of the girl.


Hey, I saw five eagles today on trees above Stinson Flats.  Could it be a sign?

[1] A lounge chair I bought for $30 at a garage sale named by my son.

[2] Guys or girls who fly… especially on trapezes.

[3] Flying from one trapeze and flipping three times in the air before being caught.

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