THE BEST movie of 1952, in my opinion, is a western, although nary a shot is fired in it until the climactic fusillade in the final ten minutes.
High Noon is a strong and haunting story about a cowtown marshal (well played by Gary Cooper) who is humble enough—and unconventional enough, as Hollywood’s frontiersmen go to sit down and weep a little and write his last will and testament before walking out alone to tackle a squad of killers. Carl Foreman’s masterly script and director Fred Zinnemann’s cinematic feel for people and places helped to make this one a picture I enjoyed and admired even more the third time than I did at my first viewing. The characters are not the usual rangeland stereotypes; they are individual human beings. The craftsmen who put this compelling film together paid homage to the screen itself by taking a hackneyed situation the good guy, the bad guys, the lonely death-walk down the deserted street—and turning it into something fresh and mature and honest by dint of superior treatment all along the line.
Limelight, Charles Chaplin’s first new movie in five years, is disliked by some people whose judgments I esteem, but to me it seems one of the finest things Chaplin has ever done. Not even an occasional draggy or garrulous episode can detract seriously from the incomparable grace and wit and humanity which abound in this picture, fashioned with loving care by the greatest one-man moviemaker of them all.
Only two of my ten-best list, Breaking Through the Sound Barrier and The Man in the White Suit, are British films. But the British studios continued to delight audiences at home and abroad with many a worthwhile item. At the same time the British and the Americans together pooled their casts and cash and craft in such recommendable trans-Atlantic collaborations as Five Fingers, The African Queen, Ivanhoe, and The Quiet Man. Incidentally, most Canadians didn’t see The African Queen until 1952, so it belongs in my ’52 list even though it brought actor Humphrey Bogart an Academy Award for ’51.
Accolade For a Lovable Lion
My ten-worst list starts with the worst of all, the pretentious bigbudget floperoos like 3 for Bedroom C and Another Man’s Poison. The list concludes with The Unknown World and Bride of the Gorilla, which—though bad enough, heaven knows—never really set out to be anything but moronic fare. All my ten worst are from Hollywood or Hollywood-made except Fun for Four (a distressing British domestic farce) and Mad About Opera, a parcel of musical garlic from Italy.
In Canada, and in many cities of the United States, many customers had to wait until 1952 to see Royal Journey, our National Film Board’s lively and sweeping travelogue of the visit paid to these shores in ’51 by two highly popular residents of Buckingham Palace. It deserves inclusion among the screen’s worthier recent products.
Elsewhere on the cinema scene last year I found myself noting with warm approval such diverse phenomena as the lovable lion in Fearless Fagan, the saucy and imaginative sparkle of a cartoon short called Rooty Toot Toot, and the admirable legs—the legs, I said— displayed by Jane Russell as Bob Hope’s ferocious girl friend in Son of Paleface.
And after many years of daily invasions of the balcony I still find that the good movies stand out a lot more vividly in my memory than the bad ones. Furthermore, my conviction deepens that the muchabused film industry, hamstrung though it often is by stale formulas and commercial short-sightedness, probably comes up with a higher percentage of superior material than the book publishers, the baseball leagues and the so-called legitimate theatre—to mention only a few of the rival diversions.
These Were The Ten Worst
3 FOR BEDROOM c Gloria Swanson’s stagey surprise in this corny scene typifies top flop. It was big-budget.
ANOTHER MAN’S POISON
AARON SLICK FROM PUNKIN CRICK
DOWN AMONG THE SHELTERING PALMS
MAD ABOUT OPERA
FUN FOR FOUR
ISLAND OF DESIRE
THE UNKNOWN WORLD BRIDE OF THE GORILLA
THESE SCORED PERSONAL ZEROS
WORST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR: Tab Hunter as Linda Darnell’s teen-aged Marine in Island of Desire.
WORST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS: Anne Francis in the title role in Lydia Bailey.
CORNIEST SPOKEN COMMENTARY: Cecil B. DeMille's in The Greatest Show on Earth.
These Missed First Ten But Were Good Entertainment
BEST FOREIGN FILMS
1, La Ronde (France); 2, Rashomon (Japan); 3, Miracle in Milan (Italy).
BEST CANADIAN FILM
Royal Journey, a 1951 item not generally seen until '52.
1, The Maltese Falcon (U.S., 1941 ); 2, Oliver Twist (British, 1948); 3, King
Kong (U.S., 1933).
Giimour Also Especially Enjoyed These Films
THE QUIET MAN
CRY, THE BELOVED COUNTRY
SON OF PALEFACE
STORY OF ROBIN HOOD
THE ATOMIC CITY
THE CAPTIVE CITY
OUTCAST OF THE ISLANDS
WITH A SONG IN MY HEART THE NARROW MARGIN THE SNIPER
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
MORE BESTS, CURRENT REVIEWS, NEXT PAGE
Gilmour Acclaims These 1952
Shows And Stars
BEST ACTOR: Charles Chaplin, as the faded clown in Limelight. He also rates as 1952’s best all-round moviemaker for his multiple chores in that picture.
BEST ACTRESS: Shirley Booth, as the slatternly housewife in Come Back, Little Sheba.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Arthur Hunnicutt as Uncle Zeb in The Big Sky.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Kay Walsh as the cruise-ship spinster in Encore.
MOST IMPRESSIVE NEWCOMER, MALE: William Marshall as the giant Haitian jungle fighter in Lydia Bailey.
MOST IMPRESSIVE NEWCOMER, FEMALE: Claire Bloom as the ballerina in Limelight.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A JUVENILE: Mandy Miller in title role as deaf-and-dumb child in The Story of Mandy, directed by Alexander Mackendrick.
BEST SCRIPT WRITTEN ESPECIALLY FOR THE SCREEN: Boots Malone, written (and also produced) by Milton Holmes.
BEST SCRIPT ADAPTED FOR THE SCREEN FROM ANOTHER SOURCE: High Noon, written by Carl Foreman and based on a short story by John W. Cunningham.
MOST THRILLING AVIATION SHOTS: Breaking Through The Sound Barrier, an excellent British item.
BEST MOVIE FIGHT;Robert Taylor (with battle-axe) versus George Sanders (with mace-and-chain ) in Ivanhoe.
BEST OUTDOOR ACTION SHOTS: Storm at sea which wrecks the Mayflower in Plymouth Adventure.
BEST MUSICAL:Singin’ In The Rain, starring Gene Kelly.
BEST CARTOON SHORT: Rooty Toot Toot.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ANIMAL;The title-role lion in Fearless Fagan.
SHAPELIEST LEGS: Jane Russell’s (hitherto almost unnoticed) in Son of Paleface.
AMONG OTHER PERFORMANCES GILMOUR ESPECIALLY ENJOYED
Katy Jurado as Gary Cooper’s Mexican ex-flame in High Noon . . . Charles Boyer as Bonnard père in The Happy Time . . . Charles Laughton as Soapy, the elegant idler, in O. Henry’s Full House . . . Ray Bolger as Charley in Where's Charley? . . . Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell, and Miles Malleson as the vicar, in The Importance of Being Earnest . . . Fred Allen and Ginger Rogers as the disenchanted radio lovebirds in We’re Not Married . . . Alec Guinness as Denry Machin in The Promoter . . . Marlene Dietrich as the middle-aged temptress in Rancho Notorious . . Alastair Sim in bit role as a frustrated film producer in Lady Godiva Rides Again . . . Broderick Crawford as the breezy undercover detective in The Mob.
RATES OTHER CURRENT SHOWS
Affair in Trinidad: Drama. Fair.
All Because of Sally: Comedy. Fair. Because of You: Drama. Fair.
Because You’re Mine: Lanza operatic
Big Jim McLain: Spy drama. Fair.
Curtain Up: British comedy. Fair.
The Devil Makes 3: Suspense. Good. Dreamboat: Satiric comedy. Good.
Girl in White: Medical drama. Fair. Hawks in the Sun: Air war. Good. Hurricane Smith: Tropic drama. Poor.
I Believe in You: Drama. Good.
The Magic Box: Drama. Good.
The Merry Widow: Musical. Fair.
Mr. Denning Drives North: Suspense
drama (British). Fair.
Never Take No for an Answer: Italian
Paula: Drama. Fair.
Penny Princess: British comedy. Fair.
San Francisco Story: Drama. Fair.
Secret People: British drama. Pair.
Snows of Kilimanjaro: Drama. Good. Somebody Loves Me: Musical. Good. Something Money Can’t Buy: British
Sudden Fear: Suspense drama. Fair.
The Thief: No-talk spy tale. Good. Tomorrow Is Too Late: Drama. Fair.
Water Birds: Wildlife short. Good.
What Price Glory?: 1914 war. Fair. Yankee Buccaneer: Adventure. Fair.
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