Mike Ribble (Burt Lancaster) is a hard-drinking tent pitcher. His career as a famous trapeze artist ended years ago after attempting a triple somersault gave him a permanent limp. Young acrobat Tino (Tony Curtis) tracks Mike down and asks him to teach him the dangerous stunt. Mike first refuses but is convinced by his ex-lover, Rosa (Katy Jurado). Mike and Tino have a shot at the big time, but the two men are driven apart by the scheming of Lola (Gina Lollobrigida), an Italian trampolinist.