Carol Reed's backstage circus melodrama is far better than its reputation would suggest. Visually, it's bursting at the seams. The production design is fantastic and there are some excellent performances, particularly from the athletic Lancaster and a massively underused Katy Jurado.
Remarkably, this film focuses less on the pomp of the circus and rather the cruelty of the lifestyle. Trapeze is about perfectionism and trust, idealistic individuals and broken people.
If there is a major fault, it's the naive optimism of the end. That said, it's far better than other circus films of the period (i.e. The Greatest Show on Earth) and was surprisingly a massive hit in 1956.