Articles

Picks the Best and Worst MOVIES OF 1951

Clyde Gilmour January 1 1952
Articles

Picks the Best and Worst MOVIES OF 1951

Clyde Gilmour January 1 1952

Picks the Best and Worst MOVIES OF 1951

Articles

Clyde Gilmour

These Were The Ten Best

This Was No. 1

PARADOXICALLY a recent American movie which isn’t good enough to be included among the Best Films of 1951 is nonetheless one of the most heartening pieces of evidence that Hollywood, at long last, is “growing up.”

I’m referring to People Will Talk, a wordy and rambling comedy - drama bearing the esteemed imprint of writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz. In most respects this picture compares disappointingly with Mankiewicz’ brilliant 1950 product, All About Eve. But its sound track is devoted, in part at least, to many a frank and grown-up comment on medical ethics, the moral and social aspects of illegitimacy, the institution of the vengeful professional witch-hunt and several other matters not ordinarily dealt with in films manufactured for perpetual adolescents.

Not only that: People Will Talk had the nerve to present two such conventional box-office stars as Cary Grant and Jeanne Crain in a highly unconventional story which the bankers who underwrite Hollywood would never have sanctioned a few years ago. The surgeon hero blandly marries an “illicit” expectant mother after fibbing away her jitters by telling her she isn’t pregnant—and although he is not to blame for her condition.

A Place in the Sun, my nomination as the best movie of the year, is a sensitive modernization of Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 novel, An American Tragedy. Here, too, one of the central themes is unmarried motherhood; and the doomed heroheel (Montgomery Clift) walks to the electric chair for murder in the fade-out with no softening or pret.tying-up of Dreiser’s sombre story. A Place in the Sun is a crowning achievement for director George Stevens. Under his guidance actor Clift and actresses Shelley Winters and Elizabeth Taylor have come through with the most compelling performances of their careers.

All the others in my ten-best roster are familiar entries on these pages except one, which I didn’t see until the year was almost over. The River is a beautiful film about nature’s wonders and the aches of young love in India. It was made in that country, under American auspices, by French director Jean Renoir.

Vivien Leigh’s virtuoso portrayal of a tattered plantation Belle, in A Streetcar Named Desire, was the year’s finest acting in the femme division. In the same picture Marlon Brando gives a brilliant and appalling performance as a primeval brute.

The year’s top acting job, beyofid any doubt —beyond any doubt of mine, at least was that of Michael Redgrave as the despairing schoolmaster in The Browning Version, a superior item from Britain.

One comedy, the Lavender Hill Mob, and one musical, An American in Paris, are 1951’s best in their own categories and good enough on all counts, I think, to rate among the top ten.

Old-fashioned escapism, mind you, is still a standard celluloid commodity, probably because it usually finds a ready-made popular market. Sometimes, of course, a frankly escapist movie turns out to be acceptable entertainment for all but the most austere customers. More often it is likely to be the sort of stuff that mercifully vanishes from your memory before you have even finished walking out of the theatre.

The worst films of 1951 were about as bad as the worst of 1950. But the best ones were the best in a long long time. Both Hollywood and the British studios contributed to this pleasant manifestation. Let’s cross our chocolate-coated fingers and hope they keep it up in ’52. if

These Were The Worst

2. I.ll.l.t MARLENE

3. LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE I. HALF ANGEL

5. THREE HUSBANDS

6. NIGHT WITHOUT STARS

7. THE SCARF

8. YOU NEVER CAN TELL

9. I NDF.RWORLI) STORY

10. VALENTINO

Worst performance by an actress: Sally Forrest (as Blanche De Malet roil) in The Strange Door.

Worst performance by an actor: Hugh McDermott (as

Steve, the reporter) in Lilli Marlene.

Worst performance by a juvenile: Ginger Prince (as

Ginger Prince) in .The Prince of Peace.

Worst sequel: The Miniver Story.

These Stars Also Shone in '51

Best Screenplay Written Especially for the Filins

The Lavender Hill Mob: T. E. B. Clarke

Most Athletic Performance

Burt Lancaster (as Thorpe) in Jim Thorpe, AllAmerican

Best Sports-Action Photography

The football shots by Lee Garmes in Saturday’s Hero

Best Musicals

1, An American in Paris; 2, Show Boat; 3, Meet Me After The Show

Best Suspense Filin

Strangers on a Train

Biggest Improvement Shown hy a Hitherto Routine Director

Gordon Douglas, for Only The Valiant and Come Fill The Cup

Best Sequel

Father’s Little Dividend

Best Late-1950 Films Not Generally Circulated in Canada Until 1951

1, Born Yesterday; 2. King Solomon’s Mines; 3, The Happiest Days of Your Life

BITTER RICE ^ won for Italian Silvana Mangano the undisputed crown as sexiest actress of 1951.

More i$e»t-i*erformuuee Picture» Next Paye

Giimour Picks 19519s Best Movie Performances

HOW GILMOUR RATES THE CURRENT SHOWS

An American in Paris: Musical. Tops. Angels in the Outfield: Comedy. Fair.

Blue Veil: Drama. Fair.

Bright Victory: Drama. Good. Browning Version: Drama. Excellent.

Captain Horatio Hornblower: Adventures afloat and ashore. Good. Cattle Drive: Quiet western. Good. Close to My Heart: Drama. Fair. Come Fill the Cup: Drama. Good. Crosswinds: Melodrama. Poor.

David and Bathsheba: Epic romance. Fair.

Day the Earth Stood Still: Planetary space drama. Excellent.

Desert Fox: War drama. Fair. Detective Story: Crime. Excellent.

Flying Leathernecks: War. Fair.

Force of Arms: love and war. Good. Happy Go Lovely: Musical. Fair.

He Ran All the Way: Crime. Fair. Iron Man: Boxing drama. Fair.

Jim Thorpe, All-American: True-life sports drama. Good.

Lady From Texas: Comedy. Fair.

The Lady Pays Off: Comedy. Poor. Laughter in Paradise: Comedy. Fair. Lavender Hill Mob: Comedy. Excellent. Lost Continent: Adventure. Poor.

Love Nest: Comedy. Fair.

Meet Me After the Show: Betty

Grable musical comedy. Good. Nature’s Half Acre: Disney wildlife

short. Tops.

No Highway in the Sky: Drama.

Good.

People Against O’Hara: Crime. Good. People Will Talk: Drama. Good. Pickup: Marriage drama. Fair.

A Place In the Sun: Drama. Tops.

The Racket: Crime drama. Good.

Red Badge of Courage: War. Excellent.

The River: India drama. Excellent.

Saturday’s Hero: Campus drama.

Good.

7 Days to Noon: Suspense. Excellent. Strange Door: Melodrama. Poor.

A Streetcar Named Desire: Drama

for adults. Excellent.

Texas Carnival: Musical. Fair.