1951 in Review

1951
BEST PICTURE

Nominees that didn’t make it:
5. Quo Vadis-never ends, no one interests
4. An American in Paris-like Singin’ in the Rain if everything was dated

For Twitter length reviews click here

60. Victims of Sin
Standard hackwork from this guy.
Favorite Moment: Opening.
59. Awaara
Never ends but only occasionally bores. Great craftmanship via the numbers, unusually grim.
Favorite Moment: The halfway point musical number.
58. The Idiot
Wish the editing hadn’t been botched, although the movie definitely needed some trimming, but still an interesting trinity to observe.
Favorite Moment: The ending.
57. Red Badge of Courage
Gets in, Huston does the heavy lifting, and then gets out.
Favorite Moment: Jim’s freakout.
56. The Enforcer
Standard Bogie noir.
Favorite Moment: Ending.
55. Apache Drums
Lewton does a Western. It’s solid the whole way through thanks to the Technicolor.
Favorite Moment: Church setpiece.
54. Der Verlorene/The Lost One
Owes a lot to M, but the concept’s arguably even more twisted. Lorre does great work in front of and behind the camera.
Favorite Moment: The big flashback reveal.
53. When Worlds Collide
Shot in ravishing technicolors despite silly potboiler material that is still surprisingly fun in a stupid way.
Favorite Moment: The lottery drawing.
52. Flying Leathernecks
Ray and Wayne weren’t the best match but this was always a few years out of date.
Favorite Moment: Opening.
51. An American in Paris
If only the rest of the cast was as good as Foch and the production design. Bad songs.
Favorite Moment: Dream ballet.
50. Cry Danger
Enjoyable quippy noir with a weird pace.
Favorite Moment: Hair fluffing.
49. Lady of Musashino
While it’s not subtle in the least about nostalgia for prewar Japan and it relies too heavily on Tanaka’s performance (and as a rather plain character to boot), it looks beautiful and the ending is genuinely impressive.
Favorite Moment: The fight during the rainstorm.
48. Rawhide
Standard Western fun that feels like a rough draft for Lusty Men. Surprised Tarantino’s such a fan.
Favorite Moment: Child wanders around…
47. Variety Lights
Fellini gets dragged down by Lattuada.
Favorite Moment: Opening show.
46. Captain Horatio Hornblower RN
Walsh’s descent begins. Bland ship movie, watch Tourneur instead.
Favorite Moment: Final fight.
45. Susana
Bunuel makes a subtle satire (and reportedly regretted it later), but the change of pace is a good thing, especially since “the Catholic Church hates women and thinks they’re the devil!” is already plenty loud.
Favorite Moment: Susana at the rainy window.
44. His Kind of Woman
Hughes’ meddling is too evident here. Solid Mitchum stuff.
Favorite Moment: Opening.
43. People Will Talk
What happens when someone gets a free pass after two writing Oscars.
Favorite Moment: Margaret Hamilton opening.
42. The Thing From Another World
Sadly, the remake was better, but this film is a little like His Girl Friday with aliens and you can’t go wrong with that.
Favorite Moment: The chair tying.
41. Repast
Setsuko Hara, as per usual, is the savior of this movie. A little too willing to outright state themes but is still full of subtleties thanks to the actors throwing in nuances where other movies wouldn’t have any.
Favorite Moment: The ending.
40. Death of a Salesman
A bizarre mix of overly theatrical and interesting subjectivity. March’s performance is an interesting failure but McCarthy/Dunnock pump a little subtlety in, along with the score.
Favorite Moment: Susana at the rainy window.
39. Royal Wedding
What colors!
Favorite Moment: Ceiling dance.
38. Hard Fast and Beautiful
Tennis noir from Lupino! Her thin style usually works better.
Favorite Moment: Opening meeting with the boy and Trevor’s mom.
37. Cause for Alarm
Solid Garnett thriller.
Favorite Moment: Ending.
36. The Model and the Marriage Broker
More Thelma Ritter starring vehicles please! What a star. Very drily witty in all the right ways.
Favorite Moment: Everyone gets tangled.
35. Detective Story
It’s well-written but I wish it innovated more, and the two nominated ladies are quite bad. Bendix is the real standout-where are his prizes?
Favorite Moment: The final shot.
34. The Mating Season
Mostly just an excuse for Ritter and Tierney to fuck around, but they do it so well even with the idiot plot.
Favorite Moment: The nutty dinner.
33. The Browning Version
Like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, but self-censoring in more ways than one. Engenders sympathy for arguably the most loathsome person in the cast but never denies that. Vicious performances that could maybe give Streetcar a run for its money?
Favorite Moment: The confrontation at the reception over the tenure.
32. Scrooge
The most famous non-Muppet adaptation off the back of some inspired production design and the best Scrooge ever to hit the screen.
Favorite Moment: The child reveal.
31. Decision Before Dawn
Wish the supporting cast was up to Werner’s level-they’re slightly stilted. Nice little ambiguities peppered throughout if buried too deep, with truly grim production design thanks to it being genuine shells of buildings and the like.
Favorite Moment: The medication decision.

For my Top 30 of 1951 click here.

BEST ACTING (Finalists in bold)
Nominees that didn’t make it (Actor):
5. Fredric March, Death of a Salesman-a bizarre success or a borderline failure? I genuinely don’t know

Nominees that didn’t make it (Actress):
5. Eleanor Parker, Detective Story-dry and airless

Nominees that didn’t make it (S. Actor):
5. Leo Genn, Quo Vadis-delivers his lines?
4. Gig Young, Come Fill the Cup-makes an effort, hamstrung by awful script

Nominees that didn’t make it (S. Actress):
5. Lee Grant, Detective Story-pulls too many faces for my liking

ACTOR

Humphrey Bogart, African Queen-a neat twist on his old act
Marlon Brando, Streetcar Named Desire-redefining acting and sex
Montgomery Clift, Place in the Sun-quietly suffocated by America
Kirk Douglas, Ace in the Hole
Kirk Douglas, Detective Story
Farley Granger, Strangers on a Train
Van Heflin, The Prowler
Arthur Kennedy, Bright Victory-believably blinded
Peter Lorre, Der Verlorene
Birgir Malmsten, Summer Interlude
Michael Redgrave, Browning Version
Robert Ryan, On Dangerous Ground
Alistair Sim, Scrooge
Oskar Werner, Decision Before Dawn

ACTRESS
Maj Britt-Nilsson, Summer Interlude
Setsuko Hara, Early Summer
Setsuko Hara, Repast
Katherine Hepburn, African Queen-appropriately stiff
Jean Kent, Browning Version
Evelyn Keyes, The Prowler
Vivien Leigh, Streetcar Named Desire-making it up as you went along never looked so perfect
Ida Lupino, On Dangerous Ground
Nubuko Otowa, Miss Oyu
Jean Peters, Anne of the Indies
Rosita Quintana, Susana
Thelma Ritter, Model and the Marriage Broker
Hideko Takamine, Carmen Comes Home
Kinuyo Tanaka, Lady of Musashino
Shelley Winters, Place in the Sun-such a sad lump, yet her awareness growing is awful
Jane Wyman, Blue Veil-peak maternalism

S. ACTOR
Robert Arthur, Ace in the Hole
William Bendix, Detective Story
Louis Jourdan, Anne of the Indies
Karl Malden, Streetcar Named Desire-a sad lump of a man
Kevin McCarthy, Death of a Salesman-gets it all out in one scene but it’s a barnburner
Toshiro Mifune, Rashomon
Nigel Patrick, Browning Version
Peter Ustinov, Quo Vadis-deliciously venal in a dry movie
Robert Walker, Strangers on a Train

S. ACTRESS
Joan Blondell, Blue Veil-basically a cameo but a real hard hitting one
Mildred Dunnock, Death of a Salesman-as appropriately a pushover as needed
Nina Foch, American in Paris
Peg Hilias, Streetcar Named Desire
Patricia Hitchcock, Strangers on a Train
Kim Hunter, Streetcar Named Desire-shifts her desires around
Machiko Kyo, Rashomon
Marion Lorne, Strangers on a Train
Thelma Ritter, Mating Season-conjures up a whole lot of light fun
Jan Sterling, Ace in the Hole
Haruko Sugimura, Early Summer
Elizabeth Taylor, Place in the Sun
Gene Tierney, Mating Season
Vivian Vance, Blue Veil

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