MoviePosterShop.com is the web's best shopping site for movie posters including today's hottest Hollywood blockbusters.





Best Films of 1950
Best Films of 1951
Best Films of 1952
Best Films of 1953
Best Films of 1954



Best Films of 1955
Best Films of 1956
Best Films of 1957
Best Films of 1958
Best Films of 1959



The Gunfighter
The Steel Helmet
High Noon
The End
A Man Escaped



BEST FILMS OF 1952
by Mike Lorefice

Angel Face
Otto Preminger

Howard Hughes's RKO studio produced the best American pictures of their time, even if accidentally. As Hughes would often put something other than the bottom line first, even if it was silly or vindictive, the final product was usually more artistic even if that was in spite of him. Preminger had absolutely refused to do this film, originally titled Murder Story, feeling it was trash. However, in order to get another picture out of Jean Simmons in the 18 shooting days he had left and stick it to her for cutting her hair short by making her wear a long wig, Hughes allowed Preminger to do whatever he wanted with the picture as long as he didn't hire any communists to fix the script and conceded to the silly wig. What emerged was one of Preminger's better explorations of what would eventually go down as his typical themes. He liked to explore the contrast between the exterior and interior of women, more specifically seemingly attractive young innocents who were actually mentally unbalanced. Simmons gets the nod here as the spoiled rich girl, pretending to be in love with Robert Mitchum while really plotting to use him to help get rid of her stepmother so she could have her beloved father all to herself again. Despite the censors, early on Preminger is able to make it clear her interest in her father is sexual. Simmons is not an actress I've been particularly impressed with so far, but here she got the last laugh on Hughes giving a memorably emotionless performance to show she's a black hole inside. Mitchum once again manages not to play the simple sap, he's too smart for that but once again he can't stop the women from exerting enough power over him to keep him from ever making a clean escape. Mitchum's laid back seemingly indifferent acting style is perfectly suited for the role, where he's torn between Simmons' character and his previous girlfriend, who worked with him at the hospital (she too splits her interest between Mitchum and another man from the hospital) but really isn't that excited about either one. Detachment is the order of the day, and more than anything that's what makes the film disturbing; it's so matter of fact about its perversity. Preminger's films arguably had the best blocking in Hollywood, and this film benefits tremendously from him maintaining his own style rather than doing the quasi-expressionist touches that dominated noir. Preminger utilized smooth camera movements to elongate scenes and eliminate the need to edit, but there was much more to the style. Its uninterrupted nature was suited to the interior of the characters, very clean and precise and undisturbed by values or conscience. Preminger and Claude Chabrol have more in common than is often noted, particularly in the way they use the same cast over and over and each film is a variation on the same topics, the continuing story so to speak. Angel Face is one of the most original Hollywood films of the era because of it's matter of fact bleakness, with a great surprise ending that must have made a mark on Chabrol because he's done variations on it a few times. [3/9/06] ***1/2

AMAZON.COM CD UNIVERSE
BUY DVD BUY DVD
Gift Set DVD Gift Set DVD
BUY VHS BUY VHS

The Bad and the Beautiful
Vincente Minelli

***

AMAZON.COM CD UNIVERSE
BUY DVD BUY DVD
BUY VHS BUY VHS

Bend of the River
Anthony Mann

***

AMAZON.COM CD UNIVERSE
BUY DVD BUY DVD
BUY VHS BUY VHS

Clash By Night
Fritz Lang

***

AMAZON.COM CD UNIVERSE
BUY DVD BUY DVD
BUY VHS BUY VHS

Forbidden Games
Rene Clement

****

AMAZON.COM CD UNIVERSE
BUY DVD BUY DVD
Gift Set DVD Gift Set DVD
BUY VHS BUY VHS


High Noon
Fred Zinnemann

****

Full Movie Review

AMAZON.COM CD UNIVERSE
BUY DVD BUY DVD
BUY VHS BUY VHS


Ikiru
Akira Kurasawa

***

AMAZON.COM CD UNIVERSE
BUY DVD BUY DVD
Gift Set DVD Gift Set DVD
BUY VHS BUY VHS


The Importance of Being Earnest
Anthony Asquith

***


Limelight
Charles Chaplin

***1/2

AMAZON.COM CD UNIVERSE
BUY DVD BUY DVD
BUY VHS BUY VHS


The Lusty Men
Nicholas Ray

One of the very best westerns, permeated with a grim yet poetic sadness. Ray tended to depict and pick holes in the testosterone driven nonsense he was so prone to himself, and no subject he ever tackled was more suited to this than the rodeo. His other favorite theme, the father-son relationship (in this case surrogate) is also here in abundance. Robert Mitchum, in one of the greatest of his great performances is the broken up now penniless former champion who winds up taking on Arthur Kennedy, who gives a pathetic one dimensional grinning performance, as his protégé because he's intrigued by Susan Hayward. Hayward is given far too little to work with (the role was virtually non-existent when she was borrowed from Fox). We want to admire her for her ability to take care of big infant Kennedy, but despite the social consciousness of the film her responsibility tends to be shown in a poor light and she comes off rather narrow and dimensionless. It's only when she acts like a man, brawling to protect what's hers that we are supposed to cheer her. Nevertheless, the relationships are handled with rare depth and maturity for the genre, and the film is excellent at teasing the predictable then going in other directions. It's also a rare Hollywood film that deals with class, as killing themselves for our enjoyment is the only way a cattle hand has a chance to ever make enough to own property. The rodeo scenes are very professional, as Ray spent months filming the circuit and used a good deal of actual footage, but in this case that's not totally a positive. So much time is devoted to rodeo footage, as the danger of the rodeo is a constant theme, but it's mostly shot from quite a distance to try to hide the fact that the stars aren't the riders (occasionally they did violate the studios insurance and do some stunts). Despite this major handicap, Ray still manages to make each riding scene very suspenseful, the atmosphere is so strong that we expect injury at every moment. [10/29/05] ***1/2

AMAZON.COM CD UNIVERSE
BUY DVD BUY DVD
BUY VHS BUY VHS


The Narrow Margin
Richard Fleischer

One reason today's genre movies aren't as good as the old black and white ones is they are simply too long. Richard Fleischer's taut little B is a 71 minute film that runs 71 minutes, while Peter Hyams wasteful big budget remake is a 60 minute film that drags on for 97. The premise that the mob doesn't know what the mobster's wife, who is being transported by train from Chicago to L.A. to hand over their payoff list and testify, looks like is beyond silly. Apparently they didn't take photos in the 1950's, and the big twist is implausible and illogical in every respect. But what's here is a brilliant bit of no frills low budget filmmaking. Almost the entire film takes place on the train, which is actually an RKO sound stage but unlike today's phony CGI it's possible for a solid director to do his job to the point we can never tell. Genre specialist George E. Diskant never calls attention to his cinematography. He simply creates a claustrophobic maze of narrow corridors and tight compartments, allowing our perspective of the size to come from facts like people not being able to fit around the fat man's gut. Money isn't wasted on a hokey score, the constant chugging away of the train is more disconcerting, maddening, and ultimately credible. Danger comes from anyone, anywhere, at any time. Every stop brings potential new threats, though we see the same handful of people over and over since they probably couldn't even afford a couple big guys to look dangerous but ultimately just be taking a vacation. Nonetheless, it's a gut-wrenching film that creates tension without seeming to try simply by placing total faith in the set and scenario. Charles McGraw's detective just wants to keep a low profile, but everything works against him from a bratty kid who decides he's a robber and wants to see his gun to the obese man wanting his extra room since he's too big to be stuck with half a room. McGraw plays an incorruptible tough gruff cop, but the idea he's no nonsense doesn't fly considering he spends more time endangering passenger Jacqueline White by association than protecting sneering sleazy mob wife Marie Windsor. [3/20/07] ***

AMAZON.COM MOVIES UNL
BUY DVD BUY DVD
GIFT SET DVD GIFT SET DVD
BUY VHS BUY VHS


On Dangerous Ground
Nicholas Ray

***

AMAZON.COM MOVIES UNL
BUY DVD BUY DVD
Gift Set DVD Gift Set DVD
BUY VHS BUY VHS

Park Row
Samuel Fuller

***1/2

AMAZON.COM CD UNIVERSE
BUY DVD BUY DVD
BUY VHS BUY VHS


The Quiet Man
John Ford

***

AMAZON.COM CD UNIVERSE
BUY DVD BUY DVD
BUY VHS BUY VHS


Rancho Notorious
Fritz Lang

***

AMAZON.COM CD UNIVERSE
BUY DVD BUY DVD
BUY VHS BUY VHS


Othello
Orson Welles

****

AMAZON.COM CD UNIVERSE
BUY DVD BUY DVD
BUY VHS BUY VHS

Umberto D.
Vittorio De Sica

****

AMAZON.COM CD UNIVERSE
BUY DVD BUY DVD
Gift Set DVD Gift Set DVD
BUY VHS BUY VHS
 
Web rbmoviereviews.com
Previous Year Next Year Main Page