best film:  Singin’ in the Rain remains my #1 film of the year though it has become closer and closer over time with umberto d and le Plaisir. Singin’ in the Rain is film worthy of such praise. It’s many virtues include having a superior narrative, kelly’s greatest performance, and the iconic scene with magnificent crane shot that has rightly become an all-time iconic cinematic moment.

most underrated:   Somehow welles has a film that is underrated by the consensus. His Othello at #853 is hundreds of spots underrated. It’s baroque and visually stunning- a top 5 of the year quality film for me which with 100 years of cinema would put me closer to #500 all-time.

most overrated:. Ikiru at #112 all-time and #2 of 1952 by TSPDT doesn’t gel with where I have it. I have it as #8 of 1952 and probably closer to the 500th best film of all-time. It’s extremely well-acted by Shimura and I like many of the individual sequences but I have a hard time with the 20 minutes of male wailing at the end.

gem I want to spotlight: John Ford’s the quiet man is gorgeously photographed (not his first color film by any stretch but a breakthrough for him nonetheless in this area), has a rousing score, and includes no less than 4 great performances: Ford, O’Hara, Fitzgerald, and McLaglen (Ward Bond is good, too)

trends and notables:  Again it’s not an all-time great film but 1952 is most important for giving us the first archvieable film from Fellini. So, 1950 gave us Bergman and 1951 gave us Fellini- 2 of my top 5 directors of all-time. Mitzoguchi and Ophuls are both absolutely crushing it and continue to output top 5 of the year quality films with le Plaisir and life of oharu respectively. It’s a really strong year with those top 8 films. With Fellini’s first archiveable film we also have the first archiveable film of his muse, wife, and long-time collaborator Giulietta Masina.  We also have the debut of Grace Kelly who’s career would last four short years– unparalleled beauty. They aren’t amongst the best performances of the year but I have to take a minute to point out great supporting actors Arthur Kennedy and Jack Elam- both of which have three archiveable films in 1952.

best performance male:  Gene Kelly in singin’ in the rain is the performer of the year. As a pure acting performance, I’d probably give it to Takashi Shimura in ikiru but Kelly’s achievement in the film, the artistic weight of the film, and the impact of other facets of his performance give Kelly the edge for me. Beyond the top two, it’s a great year for Jean Gabin in Le Plaisir, Gary Cooper in high noon and Carlo Battisti as the title character in umberto d.

best performance female: There isn’t a lot of depth here which is unfortunate.  My easy choice is the bold performance by Maureen O’Hara. She’s certainly up to the challenge of capturing our eyes as we look at the screen and see her doing battles within the scene with giants like John Wayne and Victor McLaglen. It’s wonderful comedic performance. O’hara’s only real competition is Katharine Hepburn in Pat and Mike and Joan Crawford in sudden fear.

 

top 10

  1. Singin’ in the Rain
  2. Umberto D
  3. Le Plaisir
  4. High Noon
  5. The Quiet Man
  6. Life of Oharu
  7. Othello
  8. Ikiru
  9. Forbidden Games
  10. The Bad and the Beautiful

 

 

Archives, Directors, and Grades

Angel Face- Preminger R
Bend of the River- A. Mann
Breaking the Sound Barrier- Lean R
Carson City
Clash By Night- Lang R
Deadline USA- Bogart, Hunter
Europa 51- Rossellini R
Five Fingers- Manzewitz
Forbidden Games- Clement MS
High Noon- Zinneman MP
Ikiru- Kurosawa MS
Kansas City Confidential R
Le Plaisir – Ophuls MP
Life of Oharu- Mitzoguchi MS
Limelight- Chaplin R
Member of the Wedding
Othello- Welles HR
Park Row- Fuller R
Pat and Mike- Cukor R
Rancho Notorious- Lang R
Singin’ In the Rain- Donen MP
Sudden Fear
The Bad and the Beautiful- Minnelli HR
The Big Sky- H. Hawks R
The Golden Coach- Renoir R
The Greatest Show on Earth- DeMille R
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Lusty Men- N. Ray R/HR
The Quiet Man- Ford MP
The White Shiek- Fellini R
Umberto D- De Sica MP
Vita Zapata- Kazan R

 

*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives