THE BEST movies shown in Canada in 1950 were slightly better, in my opinion, than the best of 1949. And 1950’s worst films, by the
same happy token, seemed to me somewhat less bad than their dismal precursors of a year ago. I am not yet utterly convinced of the accuracy of the industry’s current slogan, “Movies Are Better Than Ever,” but I do agree that any customer willing to “shop around” for his films has a pretty good chance of finding some worthy ones if he looks carefully.
“All About Eve,” my choice as the year’s No. 1 entry, is a wise, witty, lusty and adult comedydrama which has to do with intrigue and doubledealing in the world of the Broadway theatre. It was written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, a 41-year-old veteran of Hollywood. In 1949, you may recall, he gave us “A Letter to Three Wives.” His output of the past two seasons, including the overly intense but stirring and sincere “No Way Out,” establishes him as one of the most effective one-man movie factories. “Eve” has a fresh and witty script, and its fine cast includes Bette Davis (her best performance in ages), Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Gary Merrill, Celeste Holm, Hugh Marlowe and Thelma Ritter.
My No. 2 pick, “Sunset Boulevard,” warmly
admired by many, detested by others, is a coldly brilliant melodrama about a spiderish ex-queen of the movies and the hack writer whom she destroys in her million-dollar web. Gloria Swanson and William Holden are superb in the leading roles.
“Trio” is a suave and satisfying import from Britain. It is based on three separate short stories by W. Somerset Maugham, with the old spellbinder himself on hand as intermission master-ofceremonies. I don’t think it’s quite as good as the 1949 “Quartet,” but it’s a delightful exhibit just the same.
“Tight Little Island” and “Kind Hearts and Coronets,” two more from Britain, are top-drawer comedies. “Island” tells how the parched residents of a lively Scottish community solve their wartime whisky shortage in a manner infuriating to the Home Guard but captivating to less tight-lipped beholders. In “Coronets” Dennis Price is a polite society murderer, and the sensational Alec Guinness is all eight of the aristocratic targets on his list.
“Panic in the Streets,” “Mystery Street” and “The Asphalt Jungle” all deal absorbingly with criminals. One of them, “Mystery Street,” is Hollywood’s finest detective story in several seasons.
“The Men,” created by the same craftsmen who formerly did “Champion” and “Home of the Brave,” is an honest and moving story about the paraplegics the wheelchair boys, war veterans hopelessly paralyzed from the waist down. Marlon Brando, a recruit from the New York stage, is
remarkably persuasive in his Hollywood debut.
“Mister 880” is a refreshing and different comedy. It’s about a benign old junk dealer, beguilingly played by Edmund Gwenn, who frustrates Uncle Sam’s treasury agents by printing a few crude onedollar bills whenever he and his dog run short of ready cash.
Of my 1950 “best” list, seven are from Hollywood and three from Britain. Last year the honors were even. All of the 10 “worst” this year are Hollywood items except the British “Madness of the Heart” and the Italian “Stromboli,” which director Roberto Rossellini complains was ruined by inartistic editing in North America. Somebody ruined it, that’s for sure.
Besides the good comedies already mentioned, others I enjoyed included, “When Willie Comes Marching Home,” “The Milkman,” “The Jackpot,” and “A Ticket to Tomahawk.” The latter was retitled “The Sheriff’s Daughter” by some exhibitors.
One of the funniest individual scenes of the whole year was in a British farce, “The Chiltern Hundreds,” in which A. E. Matthews, as an addled country squire, tries to explain the sex life of the salmon to an embarrassed Labor peer. I think the film itself, though, was widely overrated.
“The Bicycle Thief,” the best foreign movie I saw in 1950, is a poetic tragi-comedy from Italy, at times recalling the art of Chaplin at his best in its blending of laughter and tears. It was masterfully directed by Vittorio De Sica. ★
THESE WERE THE BEST
1. “All About Eve.”
2. “Sunset Boulevard.”
4. “Tight Little Island.”
5. “Panic in the Streets.”
6. “Kind Hearts and Coronets.”
7. “Mystery Street.”
8. “The Asphalt Jungle.”
9. “The Men.”
10. “Mister 880.”
Best Canadian documentary short: “Challenge—Science Against Cancer.” Best documentary from anywhere: “The Titan.”
Best foreign film: “The Bicycle Thief” (Italian).
Best comedy: “Tight Little Island” (British).
Best detective story: “Mystery Street” (U. S.).
Best westerns: 1, “Winchester ’73”; 2, “Broken Arrow”; 3, “Two
Best musicals: 1, “Annie Get Your Gun”; 2, “Summer Stock”; 3, “Let’s Dance.”
Best short: “Beaver Valley.”
Best for children: 1, “Cinderella”; 2, “Treasure Island.”
Best last-minute 1949 films not generally circulated in Canada until 1950: “Twelve O’Clock High” and “All the King’s Men.”
Best re-issues: 1, “City Lights”; 2, “The Informer”; 3, “The Lady Vanishes.”
Best actress: Bette Davis in “All About Eve.”
Best actor: William Holden in “Sunset Boulevard.”
Best supporting actress: Ann Dvorak in “Our Very Own.”
Best supporting actor: Millard Mitchell in “Mister 880” and several other films.
Most versatile actor: Alec Guinness in “Kind Hearts and Coronets.”
Best producer: Darryl F. Zanuck for “All About Eve.”
Best director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz for “All About Eve.”
Best screenplay: “All About Eve,” by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
Best photographer: Ray Renahan for “The White Tower.”
Best child actor: Jeremy Spenser in “Prelude to Fame.”
Most notable comeback: Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard.”
Best background musical score (not in a musical film): zither music by Anton Karas in “The Third Man.”
Best singer, female: Judy Garland in “Summer Stock.”
Best singer, male: Howard Keel in “Annie Get Your Gun.”
Best dancer: Fred Astaire in “Let’s Dance” and “Three Little Words.” Actress most successfully combining comedy and allure: Shelley Winters as a sultry singer in “South Sea Sinner.” (The customers always riot.) Most charming feminine personality (to Gilmour, anyway): Joan Greenwood as Peggy Macroon of Todday, in “Tight Little Island.”
Most likeable characterization, male: Edmund Gwenn in “Mister 880.” Best performance by a good actor in a poor picture: Jose Ferrer in “Whirlpool.”
Most interesting new leading man: Marlon Brando in “The Men.”
Most interesting new villain: Walter Palance in “Panic in the Streets.”
Best song-and-dance act: Betty Hutton and Fred Astaire doing “Oh, Them Dudes” in “Let’s Dance.”
Most exciting movie fight: Stanislaus Zbyszko vs. Mike Mazurki in “Night and the City.”
1. “A Life of Her Own.”
2. “Cargo to Capetown.”
3. “Beyond the Forest.”
4. “Madness of the Heart.”
5. “Colt .45.”
6. “A Kiss for Corliss.”
8. “House by the River.”
10. “The Furies.”
Worst performance, female: Lana Turner in “A Life of Her Own.” Worst performance, male: Zachary Scott in “Colt .45.”
HOW GILMOUR RATES THE CURRENT SHOWS
All About Eve: Satiric comedy. Tops. Annie Get Your Gun: Musical. Good. Asphalt Jungle: Crime. Excellent.
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