The Greatest Show on Earth (Showtime today at 12:30 p.m.). The circus found its perfect filmmaker in Cecil B. DeMille, who rightly won a 1952 best picture Oscar, for this irresistible, all-star, part-documentary, part-melodrama extravaganza about life under the big top. Betty Hutton and Cornel Wilde star.
The Sheik (AMC today at 3:30 p.m., again at 10:30 p.m.). The 1921 film that established Rudolph Valentino as the great lover of the silent screen; innocently racist--Valentino is revealed to be of English and Spanish ancestry to make his winning of Agnes Ayres more acceptable to audiences of the time--but visually stunning.
Mean Streets (A&E Thursday at 6 p.m., again at 10 p.m.). With its strong evocation of the stifling ethnic atmosphere of life in Manhattan's Little Italy, Martin Scorsese's 1973 film shows how difficult it is for young Italian Americans to endure their ghetto existence, trapped as they are by traditions riddled with destructive contradictions and hypocrisies. Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro star.