Jesse Walker now turns his sights on 1952. It was a tough time for Hollywood. Television was coming on strong and the studios were falling apart. They started throwing widescreen, technicolor and 3-D at the audience, along with film noir, Westerns, musicals, nutty comedy and whatever else they thought might work. Meanwhile, foreign films were coming to our shores showing a new kind of movie was possible. (And it was a great time for Warner Brothers cartoons, and knowing Jesse no doubt some will make the list.)
So here's Jesse's top ten for 1952:
2. The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice
3. Singin' in the Rain
4. The Lusty Men
5. Viva Zapata!
6. Water, Water Every Hare
7. The Narrow Margin
8. Forbidden Games
9. Umberto D.
10. Magical Maestro
A couple cartoons, as expected. Then there are some certified foreign classics--Ikiru, Forbidden Games, Umberto D.--that, to varying degrees, have earned their reputation. Jesse thinks a lot more of Welles' Othello than I do (in general I feel his Shakespeare films are his least interesting). Singin' In The Rain, if anything, is rated too low. Nicholas Ray films are always interesting, though I don't love The Lusty Men as much as Jesse. Same for Viva Zapata!--early Marlon Brando is always worth watching, but there are a lot of things in the film I find silly. I've seen so many noir films (pardon me, films noir) they start to run together, but Narrow Margin is one of the better ones.
Jesse also states he sort of likes The Greatest Show On Earth. For some reason, this film is often listed as the worst ever to receive the Best Picture Oscar, but I sort of like it, too, and can think of much worse films to win.
He's never seen The Golden Coach or My Son John. I haven't seen The Golden Coach in a long time, but I don't think it's top-tier Renoir, though it's still worth watching. My Son John is a fever dream of a film that everyone should see because you can't believe what you're watching.
Here are some titles that might have made my top ten:
The Life Of Oharu (a certified classic that Jesse leaves off his list)
This Is Cinerama (seen in Cinerama)
The White Sheik
Other films of 1952 that I like:
5 Fingers, The Belle Of New York (even the weakest Fred Astaire musical is worth seeing), Hans Christian Andersen (not much of a film, but a great score), The Importance Of Being Earnest (fairly straightforward adaptation), Jumping Jacks and Sailor Beware (I like those awful Martin And Lewis films, so sue me), Mexican Bus Ride, Park Row, Pat And Mike (my favorite Tracy and Hepburn), Road To Bali
Other films of note in 1952:
Abbott And Costello Meet Captain Kidd, Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla, Bend Of The River, Beware, My Lovely, Big Jim McLain, The Big Sky (Hawks should have held out for John Wayne), The Big Trees, Bloudhounds Of Broadway, Breakdown, Bwana Devil, Clash By Night, Come Back, Little Sheba, Deadline--USA, Don't Bother To Knock, Europa '51, A Girl In Every Port, The Happy Time, Here Come The Marines, Here Come The Nelsons, High Noon (still considered a classic, though I'm not sure why), Hold That Line, Holiday For Henrietta, Invasion, USA, Ivanhoe, Jack And The Beanstalk, Kansas City Confidential, The Las Vegas Story, Limelight (how the mighty have fallen), Lone Star, Lovely To Look At, The Lusty Men, Ma And Pa Kettle At The Fair, Macao, Mandy, The Marrying Kind, Meet Danny Wilson, The Member Of The Wedding,Million Dollar Mermaid, Monkey Business (Hawks put out two and a half films in 1952--not a great year for him), Moulin Rouge, O. Henry's Full House, Plymouth Adventure, The Quiet Man (yet another overrated Ford film), Room For One More, Ruby Gentry, Scandal Sheet, The Sound Barrier, The Star And Stars And Stripes Forever, Wait Till The Sun Shines, Nellie, We're Not Married!, Where's Charley?, With A Song In My Heart,