Previous What I’ll Remember Posts:
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1952 posts:
100 (or so) Favorite Images from the Films of 1952
Top Ten By Year: 1952 Poll Results

My Top 10 (but actually 25) Films of 1952

  1. Singin’ in the Rain (US / Kelly & Donen)
  2. The Lusty Men (US / Ray)
  3. Wait Til the Sun Shines, Nellie (US / King)
  4. Bend of the River (US / Mann)
  5. Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (US / Sirk) / “Feed the Kitty” (US / Jones) (yes, I’m tacking a short on as a tie for my own workaround)
  6. Rancho Notorious (US / Lang)
  7. Ruby Gentry (US / Vidor)
  8. Si muero antes de despertar (If I Should Die Before I Wake) (Argentina / Christensen)
  9. Ikiru (Japan / Kurosawa)
  10. The Narrow Margin (US / Fleischer)

Here are 15 more films I really wish could have made the 10 and could easily have been swapped in. Some of these I also consider all-time favorites or simply love a lot or am very fond of:

Abstract in Concrete” (US / Arvonio), The Bad and the Beautiful (US / Minnelli), Carrie (US / Wyler), , The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (Japan / Ozu), Hans Christian Andersen (US / Vidor), Lightning (Japan / Naruse), The Marrying Kind (US / Cukor), Million Dollar Mermaid (US / LeRoy), “A Portrait of Ga” (UK / Tait), The Quiet Man (US / Ford), “Rabbit Seasoning” (US / Jones), Rome ore 11 (Italy / De Santis), The Scarlet Flower (Soviet Union / Atanamov), Sudden Fear (US / Miller), “Water Water Every Hare” (US / Jones)

Full List of 1952 Films Watched and/or Rewatched:
Abstract in Concrete” (US / Arvonio), “Abstronic” (US / Bute & Nemeth), Affair in Trinidad (US / Sherman), Alraune (West Germany / Rabanalt), April in Paris (US / Butler), The Bad and the Beautiful (US / Minnelli), Beauties of the Night (France / Clair), “Beep Beep” (US / Jones), Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (US / Beaudine), Bells of Atlantis (US / Hugo), Bend of the River (US / Mann), Carmen’s Innocent Love (Japan / Kinoshita), Carrie (US / Wyler), Casque d’or (France / Becker), Children of Hiroshima (Japan / Shindo), Clash by Night (US / Lang), “Color Cry” (UK / Lye), Come Back, Little Sheba (1952, Mann), The Crimson Pirate (US / Siodmak), Deadline U.S.A (US / Brooks), Don’t Bother to Knock (US / Ward Baker), Eight Iron Men (US / Dmytryk), Europa ’51 (Italy / Rossellini), Fan-fan the Tulip (France / Jaque), The First Time (US / Tashlin), Flamenco (Spain / Neville), The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (Japan / Ozu), “Fool Coverage” (US / McKimson), “Going, Going, Gosh!” (US / Jones), The Golden Coach (France/Italy / Renoir), The Greatest Show on Earth (US / DeMille), Hans Christian Andersen (US / Vidor), Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (US / Sirk), “The Hasty Hare” (US / Jones), High Noon (US / Zinneman), The Holly and the Ivy (UK / O’Ferrall), Ikiru (Japan / Kurosawa), Ivanhoe (US / Thrope), Just This Once (US / Weis), Kansas City Confidential (US / Karlson), “Kujira” (Japan / Ofuji), The Life of Oharu (Japan / Mizoguchi), Lightning (Japan / Naruse), Limelight (US / Chaplin), “The Little House” (US / Jackson), Love is Better than Ever (US / Donen), Lovely to Look At (US / LeRoy/Minnelli), The Lusty Men (US / Ray), Macao (US / Ray / Von Sternberg), The Machine that Kills Bad People (Italy / Rossellini), The Marrying Kind (US / Cukor), The Member of the Wedding (US / Zinneman), Million Dollar Mermaid (US / LeRoy), Mother (Japan / Naruse), Moulin Rouge (US / Huston), My Cousin Rachel (US / Koster), My Son John (US / McCarey), Neighbours (Canada / McLaren), La Noche avanza (Night Falls) (Mexico / Gavaldón), No Room for the Groom (US / Sirk), O Henry’s Full House (US / various), “Operation Rabbit” (US / Jones), Othello (Italy / Morocco / Welles), Park Row (US / Fuller), Pat and Mike (US / Cukor), Phone Call from a Stranger (US / Negulesco), Le Plaisir (France / Ophüls), “A Portrait of Ga” (UK / Tait), The Proud Princess (Czechoslovakia / Zeman), The Quiet Man (US / Ford), “Rabbit Seasoning” (US / Jones), Rancho Notorious (US / Lang), Rome ore 11 (Italy / De Santis), Room for One More (US / Taurog), Rosen blühen auf dem Heidegrab (West Germany / König), Ruby Gentry (US / Vidor), Scandal Sheet (US / Karlson), Scaramouche (US / Sidney), The Scarlet Flower (Soviet Union / Atanamov), Si muero antes de despertar (If I Should Die Before I Wake) (Argentina / Christensen), Singin’ in the Rain (US / Kelly & Donen), The Skin of the South (Japan / Honda), Something to Live For (US / Stevens), Son of Paleface (US / Tashlin), The Sniper (US / Dmytryk), The Snow Maiden (Soviet Union / Ivanov-Vano & Snezhko-Blotskaya), The Star (US / Heisler), Stolen Face (UK / Fisher), The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (US / Annakin), Sudden Fear (US / Miller), “The Super Snooper” (US / McKimson), Talk About a Stranger (US / Bradley), The Thief (US / Rouse), This is Cinerama (US / Cooper & von Fritsch), Three Girls from Rome (Italy / Emmer), “Tree for Two” (US / Freleng), “Trick or Treat” (US / Hannah), Umberto D (Italy / De Sica), Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie (US / King), Waiting Women (Sweden / Bergman), “Wakefield Express” (UK / Anderson), “Water Water Every Hare” (US / Jones), Way of a Gaucho (US / Tourneur), The White Reindeer (Finland / Blomberg), The White Sheik (Italy / Fellini), The Witch (Finland / Hällström), The World in His Arms (US / Walsh)

The Queen and King of 1952 are, respectively, forever fav Gloria Grahame and the great Arthur Kennedy. Grahame won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in The Bad and the Beautiful, was in the Best Picture winner (The Greatest Show on Earth), and appeared in four films (Sudden Fear and Macao are the other two). My favorite performances of hers are from other years, but from an accolades and output standpoint, this marks her peak in Hollywood. Meanwhile, Arthur Kennedy starred in three all-timers (Bend of the River, Rancho Notorious, and The Lusty Men), lending a shiftiness and latent instability to the genuine male bonds of each, and offering different depictions of off-putting, and barely suppressed, bitterness & greed. His presence consistently makes films more engagingly ambivalent

Before Godzilla, Ishiro Honda made The Skin of the South, a lovely film centered around many of the same issues he’d explore two years later: the intersection of societal progress, science, land, and the people who inhabit it

Ikiru, one of the greatest (the greatest?) bureaucracy prevents anyone from ever being helped and anything from ever being done movies

♫ Do not forsake me oh my darlin ♫ (High Noon)

There was a lot of room made for child actors in 1952 (& its surrounding years obviously!): The Marrying Kind, Room for One More, The First Time, Love is Better than Ever, Has Anybody Seen My Gal?, No Room for the Groom, Talk About a Stranger, If I Should Die Before I Wake, The Narrow Margin, Don’t Bother to Knock, Park Row, Hans Christian Andersen, O. Henry’s Full House, Member of the Wedding, Forbidden Games, Europa ’51, Children of Hiroshima, etc)

Ray Bolger dancing with himself dressed as two imaginary hanging portrait presidents in April in Paris (don’t ask!)

The inconsistent and totally unrelated Rita Hayworth lookalike dream sequences in the stage play adaptation of Eight Iron Men (most especially the “Nothing but Dames” scene). It’s a (good!) hangout movie about infantrymen waiting the day out in a rain-soaked bombed-out town. But the studio clearly felt they needed to spice things up with some awkwardly inserted cheesecake

The dynamic between Jimmy Stewart and Arthur Kennedy in Bend of the River, one of the richest and most fraught relationships in any Western

The way Jennifer Jones speaks from the back of her jaw in Ruby Gentry

The way both Manda and Marie of Casque d’Or feel indefinable in the way humans often are, and the way Jacques Becker and the actors reflect that we know them enough to want to know a lot more while understanding that we won’t

All of the narrative twists and window reflections in The Narrow Margin

The exquisite ornate combination of Rotoscope animation, luminescent paints, and two-strip Technicolor palettes in Soviet animation from this year (and that era)
(The Scarlet Flower and The Snow Maiden)

The distance of Mizoguchi’s camera taking Oharu’s bottomless plight out of the individual and into a much broader historical commentary re: women’s place in Japan (and, guess what? everywhere!) as the fated bearer of restriction, and absorber of all male foibles (so, basically, it’s a Mizoguchi film!) (The Life of Oharu)

Robert Mitchum blowing in with the wind and the litter at the start of The Lusty Men

“Dignity. Always dignity” (Singin’ in the Rain)

The masterful first 40 minutes of Rome ore 11, which tracks a steadily growing queue of girls desperate to interview for one available secretary position. Following around a dozen characters from their arrival on (who largely don’t interact with one another), while establishing a variety of predicaments/personalities and the steadily escalating and increasingly untenable situation, it is one of my favorite sections of any film I’ve seen in recent years

The “Zelda! Ohhhhhhh Zelda!!!!!” gentleman in Singin’ in the Rain

“What are the train wheels sayin’, Nellie?” (Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie)

Kaneto Shindo making a harrowing docudrama on the long-term aftermath and devastation in his hometown of Hiroshima (Children of Hiroshima)

I really should have read Member of the Wedding before watching it because there is virtually no chance I’ll read it now, not with Julie Harris as Frankie in my head. One of the worst characters and most grating performances I’ve ever had the misfortune to sit through. Poor Ethel Waters

Only Marlene Dietrich would ever have an entrance where she’s riding a man like a horse through a saloon’s drunken obstacle course (Rancho Notorious)

The contagious power and momentum of Park Row, bolstered from every angle by Sam Fuller. Movement and action linked

Olivia de Havilland in her first role since 1949’s The Heiress, and they’ve got her sporting that same hair! (My Cousin Rachel)

Charlie Chaplin finding direct face-front pathways to the audience whenever he can (Limelight)

Othello: starts at a crazy pitch and just about stays there

Two of the best movies about making movies (Singin’ in the Rain and The Bad and the Beautiful)

The way the Irish countryside’s beauty and comforts nestle alongside a mandatory submission to the “your business is everyone’s business” way of life in The Quiet Man

The poignant and melancholy “Inchworm” song in Hans Christian Andersen. A big influence on David Bowie, most intensely re: “Ashes to Ashes” (which happens to be my favorite Bowie song!) but he’s also said it has been an instrumental inspiration for him throughout his career

Just look at these three, what a team! At least for now (Bend of the River)

A trail of buttons, colored chalk, and enticements of lollipops in If I Should Die Before I Wake

There was nobody better than Joan Crawford. She and her collaborators trust in her ability to carry emotionally fraught silence, allowing Sudden Fear two unconventionally lengthy sequences that rest entirely on her ability to convey conflict and tension through her face. Watching her listen to the bombshell recording between Jack Palance and Gloria Grahame is a document of the range of human emotion and how to utilize the camera as communicator

Rediscovering Ikiru‘s bold structural choices, and other idiosyncratic qualities that its baseline canon 101 status make you (or at least me) easily forget about

The worst movies I watched for 1952: The Member of the Wedding, Ivanhoe

The lovable pouty childishness and delusional naivete of Carmen in Carmen’s Innocent Love. Hideko Takemine does something really special here, and I wish that a. film incorporated her more and b. that the third planned Carmen adventure had been made. The shots of her attempting to learn ballet, as the only adult in a sea of little kids, are so perfect

Cut to an empty audience in the first dream sequence of Limelight

The ending of The Bad & the Beautiful: a light note masking a really multifaceted one about forgiveness and success, but also how badly those in the industry need or will kowtow to others in if the opportunity is promising . But this time they’d know what they’re getting into and have the upper hand and it’d be a win-win for everyone! Still some cynicism mixed in

Sweet flirtatious moments between a girl waiting in line for a job and a boy across the street with a handful of tchotchkes waiting for a bus (Rome ore 11)

The San Francisco location work in The Sniper. Utilizes a wobbliness that emphasizes the disorientation of modern life and women’s place within it

The luminous backlit Simone Signoret in Casque d’Or

The repellent discomfort of Othello. All jagged cuts and angles. All abrasion. An Escher world of deceit, paranoia, and cobbled together bits

Toyo playing devil’s advocate with Kanji as they talk parents and children in Ikiru

The everyday routine of boyfriends or hopeful boyfriends waiting for the girls to get out of work in Three Girls from Rome

Ray Milland’s exhausted and remorseful burst of cry laughter in the entirely dialogue free The Thief

The wind-up dog toy in Sudden Fear

The deep periwinkle blues and seaweed streamers in the Little Mermaid ballet sequence of Hans Christian Andersen

Shooing away ants with newspaper fire in Umberto D

I want just a whole movie about the Helen Ramirez character from High Noon: she’s the best part!

My two favorite scores of 1952: Europa ’51 (Renzo Rossellini) and Children of Hiroshima (Akira Ikufube)

Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly both tend to be pretty Dullsville, which definitely contributes to my being lukewarm about High Noon

The extremely gay The Crimson Pirate!

The extremely gay vibes in Way of a Gaucho!

Robert Mitchum crawling underneath his broken down childhood home, into the past, to find his tin toys and keepsakes in their hiding place, intact, rusty, and cobwebbed (The Lusty Men)

The girls of Rome ore 11 listening with hushed intensity to the tortuously slow typing of one applicant, and the machine gun rat-a-tat of another

The way Fritz Lang makes Arthur Kennedy’s quest for revenge in Rancho Notorious a deeply ugly one, subtly but unmistakably revealing the cruelty & transparency of his infiltration. This is the type of throughline you could imagine being nowhere in the script and entirely from Lang’s filmmaking choices and performance direction (pure conjecture!). More nuanced and more surprising than most “revenge ain’t all it’s cracked up to be” angles

Chills from Jimmy Stewart’s “you’ll be seein’ me” in Bend of the River. He fucking means it; a career-high moment and an all-timer shot

The way that kid goes from protagonist to antagonist in Talk About a Stranger

Was not prepared for Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie. I had really only heard of it before in reference to David Lynch. It’s the first film he recalls seeing, and it frightened him a lot (specifically the choking scene). The parallels to his own work are very clear (the darkness underneath small-town Americana)! Someone get this masterpiece in watchable condition and freely available!

My Son John should be the poster child for why talking or writing about movies on a scale of good and bad is often silly and uninteresting. An incredible and bizarre historical document i.e an anti-communist propaganda narrative feature. Gets ridiculous, and morally heinous (as expected), but the first hour plays as a wonderfully shaded drama about how invisible-to-us changes in family dynamics are actually substantively volcanic. The “red” flags would have been universally understood to American audiences of 1952, but to us Robert Walker just seems to display intelligence, albeit in a snobby and condescending way, towards his old values patriotic family. And so the confusion that the coded and implicit “Red Scare” creates (in the 1st hour before it’s all made explicit) in that chasm between past and present, unintentionally results in a film about family dynamic driven minutiae in the way you’d only ever find in literary fiction because it’s too internalized a dilemma for film to depict. Yet My Son John, through its hateful fearmongering, stumbles onto it!

Roscoe Dexter’s increasingly frayed nerves while dealing with Lina and sound equipment malfunction in Singin’ in the Rain

This incredible tracking shot from the opening minutes of Moulin Rouge, where the top-down mirror reflects all along the bar’s surface. There is light and life everywhere

Bouncing pearls reveal a killer at the bottom of the stairs in The Narrow Margin

The young Toyo sitting with Kanji while surrounded by other young people having a birthday party in Ikiru

Susan Hayward spending time in the rodeo lady trick-shooter’s fancy trailer as she observes the daily ins and outs of the new life she’s been unwittingly dragged into (The Lusty Men)

The fluid transition into a POV shot that takes us up and out the window in Le Plaisir

The abject pain of having to see 19 year old Elizabeth Taylor actively pursuing the 38 year old Larry Parks, a walking Phil Hartman character without any of the Phil Hartman je ne sais quoi (Love is Better than Ever)

Speaking of Larry Parks: The Downfall of Larry Parks. An in-demand leading actor for a brief time, the one film of his released in 1952, Love is Better than Ever, was shot 2 years earlier. It had been shelved because he testified for HUAC, after begging in tears not to, and ended up blacklisted anyways. His movie career was over. He was supposed to have played the Robert Cummings role in The First Time but he subsequently lost the part. Both films came out in 1952

Douglas Sirk coming in for back-to-back films about the various ways family can become splintered and priorities become grotesque under capitalism and mid-century American living with No Room for the Groom and Has Anybody Seen My Gal?

The uncompromising way the child killer subject matter is handled in If I Should Die Before I Wake, and how real the threat of violence feels. A kid stumbles into a potential fate that he’s too young to fathom

The entire section with the novelist in Ikiru. I love that character so much, both how immediately and intensely invested he is in Kanji’s predicament, and that his solution is to take him on a bender

The red and blue puddle reflections of city lights in Abstract in Concrete

Being taken aback at how much I loved an Esther Williams movie (I hadn’t seen any!) (Million Dollar Mermaid)

The last piece of fruitcake in Eight Iron Men

The consistent eye-popping joys of watching the Hollywood musicals of 1952, a peak of Technicolor fantasias. I loved almost every one, and even the one I was very mixed on (Lovely to Look At) contains some of the most gorgeous images from anything I watched from this or any year! (April in Paris, Hans Christian Andersen, Singin’ in the Rain, Million Dollar Mermaid, Lovely to Look At)

Million Dollar Mermaid is definitely the better circus movie than The Greatest Show on Earth!

The way Bells of Atlantis brings these words by Anais Nin to visual life: “I am of the race of men and women who see all things through this curtain of sea, and my eyes are the color of water”

I love Pacific Northwest Westerns! (Bend of the River)

Describing Flike as a “mutt with intelligent eyes” in Umberto D

A drunk Georgia comes home to see Jonathan waiting for her in The Bad and the Beautiful

The one take fight down the street in Park Row. Its dynamism reminded me a lot of the quick raucous energy pumping through similar scenes and thematic concerns in Gangs of New York (absolutely not a coincidence)

Speaking of fights, the three-man brawl in The Narrow Margin between two men and a handheld camera acting as third participant!

Ann Miller’s one number in Lovely to Look At. She has (comparatively) thicker legs, is allowed to have thicker legs and to shake them. It absolutely rules. What a powerhouse.

The tense recognition and loaded glances that accompany the names Glyn McLyntock and Emerson Cole in Bend of the River

Harry’s infuriating “wow, he sure ruined you” routine to Georgia, James, and Fred throughout The Bad and the Beautiful

The fascinating tension between both the celebration and critique of the small-town American way in Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie. Gives way to a brutal character study and then occupies this strange space of espousing Ben’s outlook while acknowledging the permanent semi-hardening of his soul is his own doing

The way The Thief‘s ambitious no-dialogue experiment heightens the secrecy and invisibility of spy work

Let’s check in on what Busby Berkley’s up ton in 1952: oh, OK, he’s just completely out of his gourd, only able to achieve geometric shapes to his satisfaction via death-defying stunts with absolutely zero oversight or safety precautions! (Million Dollar Mermaid)

A hand reaches out in pitch-black darkness in Waiting Women

Match strikes on the wall in Umberto D

The way Akira Kurosawa and Takeshi Shimura seemingly understand that the actor’s exaggerated just-saw-his-dog-get-run-over face as Kanji brushes up against pantomime without that awareness getting in the way of sincerity

A husband pushes his invalid wife in her wheelchair along a wintry beach; stray chairs are scattered along either side. We’ve just learned who they are and how they came to be (Le Plaisir)

The dazzling 8-minute sword fight at the end of Scaramouche. Entirely executed by Stewart Granger (one couch leap aside) and Mel Ferrer, who trained for 8 weeks learning stunts and sword passes before shooting

The full frame Technicolor Western spaces in Rancho Notorious. Between that and the presence of Marlene Dietrich in pants and a position of business, it feels very much like a proto Johnny Guitar

The carousel of the old stories in Si Muero Antes de Despertar

Gene Kelly’s, in the immortal words of Al Pacino in Heat, “great ass!!!” is the source of much enjoyment and discussion, but I also spend an unhealthy amount of time thinking about his arms, specifically when he rests one along the wall Kathy’s leaning back on during their stroll on the Hollywood lot (Singin’ in the Rain)

The haunting presence of Robert Walker, who died during the filming of My Son John. At one point he encourages his mom to take pills because the doctor said so. Walker passed away when the pills his psychiatrist prescribed to him (at his home during an episode) mixed with all the alcohol in his system. Leo McCarey &/or the studio made the awkward choice of inserting dialogue free shots of him on a telephone and elsewhere lifted straight from Strangers on a Train. Then there’s the end, in which his character gives a postmortem commencement speech from beyond the grave, all because Walker himself was dead. As if My Son John needed assistance in infamy and oddity

No Room for the Groom, a domestic horror movie if I’ve ever seen one. Think the anxiety of the escalating crowded house/sink sequences in mother! but stretched out for most of a movie in the guise of a comedy. Douglas Sirk keeps things keyed up from scene-to-scene with cluttered framing and constant invasive blocking. It triggered enough palpable claustrophobia in me that I’m not sure I’d ever watch it again! But that also means it contains some of Sirk’s best and most underseen filmmaking

This stunning dreamlike two-part dissolve in Something to Live For, a really thoughtful alcoholism drama George Stevens made between A Place in the Sun and Giant. The characters are allowed flaws and murky situations without moralism or judgment seeping in. Underseen solid stuff

Contagious church tears in Le Plaisir

Back and forth “laughs” with the landlady in Umberto D

The third story in Waiting Women. A long-time married couple now defined by convenience and no fire get trapped in an elevator. The night slowly, and amusingly, allows for a rare temporary honesty and lust

The trees falling montage in The Skin of the South

The Narrow Margin’s 70 minute live-wire b-movie energy and the fun shapes of its narrative patterns. As the train moves forward, we get a cast of rotating players that pop up in circular or zig-zag fashion as misunderstandings are had, dangers are dodged, and twists are revealed

The preternaturally off-kilter This is Cinerama, stemming from a combination of 50s kitsch and the Fantasia-like presentation of ultramodern technology containing sci-fi promises of a new world. This feeling is most present in the sepia toned church choir scene. We start close by the organ and slowly dolly back. We hear chimes and singing as the choir flanks forward from both sides into the frame, moving through the warps of the triptych. It’s like something out of a Ken Russell movie

Undercutting expected with humor in The Bad and the Beautiful (It Stinks card and dropping Lana in the pool)

The gradual sloppy and insistent drunkenness, theorizing, and recollecting in Ikiru‘s last third

Trying to get up the will to beg (Umberto D)

The several times Bob Hope makes sounds just like Daffy Duck when he’s losing his mind in Son of Paleface

A staircase overflowing with hundreds of girls to fill one typist position collapses causing catastrophic injury. A reporter asks the father of one of the injured to say something. This is what he says. Later, he’s excited to hear his moment in the interview on the radio broadcast. Of course, they edited his remark out (the staircase collapse actually happened in Rome the year before) (Rome ore 11)

Ben Halper narrates about finding his place in town life, telling us all the groups he joins, flatly oblivious that Nellie isn’t even allowed in the barbershop connected to their home and also wanted precisely none of this life (Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie)

Every time Phineas looks down he looks just like Robert Shaw…and he looks down a lot in Park Row

The ever-infectious Doris Day gets out of the stuffy dining room and charms the pants off an entire kitchen staff in April in Paris. Table dancing, chefs hats, conjugated verbs. Such fun!

Two films from: Frank Tashlin, Douglas Sirk, Roberto Rossellini, John Ford, Carlos Hugo Christensen, Roberto Gavaldon, Mikio Naruse, George Cukor, Budd Boetticher, Fred Zinnemann, Henry King, Hugo Fregonese, Norman Taurog, Jean Negulusco, Harry Horner, Richard Thorpe, Vincent Sherman, and more!

Douglas Sirk going in for that lush small-town autumn imagery in Has Anybody Seen My Gal? years before All That Heaven Allows

A showcase scene for Ethel Waters in Member at the Wedding: the story of Ludie

The gorgeously arid and hazy Argentinian location shooting in Way of a Gaucho. This and Moulin Rouge have a similar unforgettable gauziness to their photography. I think about the looks of both quite often

Jimmy Stewart and Arthur Kennedy’s river brawl in Bend of the River. Nowhere near as long as The Quiet Man‘s climactic multi-location fistfight (& they have very different purposes!), but it is vicious

Jane Russell’s very elaborate secret hideout in Son of Paleface!

Ishiro Honda coming in, as always, with scenarios and concerns that have only become more prevalent. Here, businessmen don’t trust or care to listen to scientists in the face of alarming and dangerous environmental evidence! (The Skin of the South)

The way Hideko Takemine observes the squabbles, losses, and pressures of her family in Lightning, and starting to figure out the tricky balance between being your own person but not having to live through inherited dysfunction

Rouge swapping in Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie

The extreme 90s Nickelodeon commercial break short energy of Neighbours and I mean that as the highest compliment

The wildly risque exchange in The First Time when Robert Cummings picks up a sex worker, thinking she’s a babysitter, & says “you’re a sitter, right?” and she goes “just between you & me, two scotches & I’ll sit anywhere”. Old Hollywood innuendos were definitely a thing but this is on a whole other explicit level. Still half convinced my ears misheard

Everything about Gloria Grahame’s look here in Sudden Fear. The PJs, cigarette, position, phone and coffee by the bed, all the scheming. Icon!

Son of Paleface is slammed with quintessentially Tashlin gags, but this keyhole bit might take the cake.

Nellie discovers the documents in Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie

The way Way of a Gaucho interrogates the cowboy mythos and recognizes there is a cost to a renegade freedom, a cost that pertains to the people around you

I’ve never read Sister Carrie, and I didn’t know the basic story, so I was pretty unprepared for the trajectory of Laurence Olivier’s character and the excruciating way it all slowly unfolds. I was also unprepared for how taken I’d be with this movie (Carrie)

A great moment from The White Sheik

Jane Russell looking back two more times and deciding two more times to add one more sleeping pill to Bob Hope’s drink in Son of Paleface

The noise noise noise of a Hollywood party in The Bad and the Beautiful; we pick up various conversations as the camera scopes out the ritz

Carmen’s Innocent Love being shot in canted angles by Keisuke Kinoshita and Hiroshi Kusuda. Makes for a distinctly quirky experience, especially the scenes that rock back and forth like you’re out to sea (because apparently a film made with canted angles wasn’t enough?!?!)

The loose and eccentric screen presence of both Judy Holliday and Aldo Ray in The Marrying Kind. There’s something really unique here, in the performances, the space they are given, and in the somehow relaxed pace (even more strange given the flashback structure)

The face Marc Anthony the bulldog makes when he quickly succumbs to love for the kitty is one of the best moments in any cartoon (“Feed the Kitty“)

Maria in the kitchen by herself in Umberto D

Relishing the act of being annoyed with R.F Simpson in Singin’ in the Rain

Women making a fool of men with “I Love Lucy” style schemes in Just This Once, The First Time, Love is Better than Ever

The psychological “sex criminal” case study as character study, combined with the then on-trend police procedural noir in The Sniper

May you approach literally anything in life with the enthusiasm and carefree gleam of Burt Lancaster in The Crimson Pirate. Not sure I could tell the difference between him and just a pair of pearly whites

That time Marge and Gower Champion danced across the sky in Lovely to Look At

Terence Fisher’s loony proto-Vertigo b-noir Stolen Face. Sadly, part of what makes it loony is the way it completely demonizes the molded former convict as a pox on the lives of the people responsible for the entire scenario!

The boxing flashback in The Quiet Man: the shock of the modern and the harsh disruption of flash bulbs

A drunk girl’s legs dangle from the rafters of an abandoned home (The Bad and the Beautiful)

Simone Signoret’s locked eyes on Serge Reggiani as she waltz’s with another (Casque d’Or)

Federico Fellini’s debut film & already the focus on procession (The White Sheik)

So much great cat content in Lightning!

Chase through the fishing nets in Macao

Abstract/modern art jabs in Carmen’s Innocent Love, Has Anybody Seen My Gal?, and O. Henry’s Full House

The fact that Mel Ferrer is supposed to be considerably older than Arthur Kennedy in Rancho Notorious (he is 3 years younger, with artificially grayed hair)

Opening one-time narration: this is Macao, The First Time, Room for One More, Love is Better than Ever, Affair in Trinidad, and more!

The house of Carmen’s unrequited artist crush in Carmen’s Innocent Love (he makes his family wear clothes with his designs on them too). Every time we’re near his work there are Willy Wonka factory sounds in the audio

Cyd Charisse’s leggy sex bomb completely dominating Gene Kelly’s dumbstruck “character” during their initial “Broadway Melody” dance in Singin’ in the Rain

The father-son relationship in Si Muero Antes de Despertar

The resources it takes to have a voice, and the power that comes with it in Park Row

Marc Anthony the bulldog careening between squishy protective love and helpless panic in “Feed the Kitty

The gift that is this diabolical queen. A performance for the ages, I could not love her more (Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain)

The abundant full body nudity of Mirja Mane in The Witch

The streaks of beer fizz that appear across the bar as the barmaid sloshes everyone’s drinks over to them in Park Row

That oh-so-brief flash of tongue that Hideko Takemine playfully shows in Lightning. A precious performance beat

The murders in The Sniper. We watch the victim and hear the shot. A web of broken glass materializes out of thin air, and a body that was just going about its life is now mercilessly jerked into death

Winton C. Hoch’s Irish countryside photography in The Quiet Man, some of the most beautiful Technicolor images ever shot

Sudden Fear taking a gamble on the fact that we spend about 30 minutes of the movie having no idea what Joan Crawford is up to. And then it’s revealed in the masterful Schedule as Planned sequence

The consistency of bare walls and phone trills in The Thief

Burt Lancaster’s onscreen stunt work tends to be overlooked in the Buster Keaton/Jackie Chan scheme of things, but he’s a key figure in this regard. In The Crimson Pirate, he (along with acrobatic buddy) makes a spectacle of showing off those skills

Swordplay, the high seas, and/or pirate adventure films are in full swing! (Scaramouche, The Crimson Pirate, The Brigand, The Sword’s Point, Fanfan the Tulip, The Prisoner of Zenda, Son of Ali Baba, The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men, Captain Pirate, The Golden Hawk, Plymouth Adventure, Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd, Caribbean, Blackbird the Pirate, Yankee Buccaneer, Against All Flags)

The painterly way that grey fog wraps around Janet Leigh and her white hair in Scaramouche 

Moviehouse seduction from a black screen by our unseen narrator in Le Plaisir: “I’m delighted to speak to you in the dark, as if seated right beside you…and perhaps I am”. I rewatched this at home (obviously), but I can only imagine what being folded into a film this way right at the top would be in a theater

Eddie Albert giving one of the best grade-A slimy sweet-talker performances in Carrie

A silent crackle of lightning signifies those rare moments of turbulent clarity that can pave the way for acknowledgment and understanding (Lightning)

The look Manda gives Raymond before walking out the door in Casque d’Or

Kathleen Freeman popping up in just about everything
(Singin’ in the Rain, Talk About a A Stranger, Love is Better than Ever, Wait Till the Sun Shines Nellie, O Henry’s Full House, The Prisoner of Zenda, Monkey Business, The Bad and the Beautiful)

The breathtaking cinematography in Moulin Rouge. Using Toulouse Lautrec specific color palettes as well as what must be diffusion filters (so says the guesses of others), the film has an exquisite softness that evokes the past through the slightest of fogs, where each pool of color is both immediate & intimate and evokes The Past (a film from the past that evokes The Past, a double dreamlike remove).

Love old movies about terrible dudes where you’re just waiting to get their comeuppance (Scandal Sheet, Night Falls)

The cartoonishly surreal moment in Son of Paleface when, get this: Bob Hope drives his old car through the desert while two vultures perch on the back because they want to eat him and then they drive through a mirage of snow and the vultures become penguins

A movie about newspapers written and directed by Sam Fuller and a movie about newspapers adapted from a novel by Sam Fuller (he used to work in newspapers!)
(Park Row and Scandal Sheet)

Uncle “POW” teaching mother how to iron (Mother)

Stay or Leave? The Jimmy John vote in Room for One More

The striking visual illusion shot in Talk About a Stranger, where a pair of car headlights careening towards a child in the road reveals itself, at the last second, to actually be two motorcycles that splinter off

This gorgeous Klimt-like mural in Alraune

One of the best comedy bits in any film: the way the sex workers being away for one night disrupts the entire rhythm of a town, immediately sending the men into childish petty fighting the second they actually are forced to spend time with each other (Le Plaisir)

Lana in the car in The Bad and the Beautiful. Show stopping cinematic moment. There is no music. All you hear are horns, all you feel is a bumpy and unstable ride, and all you see are a starlet’s tears and where’s-it-coming-from flashes of light. Genuinely nothing else quite like it

The best part of Member at the Wedding is easily the kid from Shane walking around in high heels because he’s into them

That time Katharine Hepburn beat up some gangsters including Charles Bronson! (Pat and Mike)

Tony Curtis saying “Don’t scraaaatch” in No Room for the Groom

The loneliness and longing of Danny Kaye in Hans Christian Andersen. There’s a solemn Robin Williams quality to the character and performance

Arguably no actress better than Barbara Stanwyck at playing characters that truly know themselves (Clash by Night)

The politically risque and very atypical screwball comedy elements of Carmen’s Innocent Love. There’s a housemaid convinced that everyone is an atomic bomb, and a major subplot involving a terrifying woman’s quest for election and the militant pro-rearmament rants she goes on every chance she gets!

Rosemary DeCamp’s aching one-scene performance in Scandal Sheet

Sudden Fear‘s use of shadow and ceiling courtesy of Charles Lang and David Miller. There is something particularly cruel and solitary that comes across in both the story and look of this film. I think about Joan Crawford edging towards the sides of the frame when she discovers her husband’s intentions — unable to escape, closed in by a ceiling the bares down on her as the framing becomes a prison

Really missing when cross dissolves were seen as a go-to filmmaking technique for communicating ideas, narrative, and/or aesthetics in mainstream filmmaking. Just one of many things I miss in filmmaking that seems to have been largely tossed out the window (this is a small sample from 1952 and obviously not specific to just 1952!)

Marveling at the blank space ballet set in Singin’ in the Rain every time. Trying to get a feel for where it ends and begins, where the steps are and how big or small, and the angelic movement and flight of Cyd Charisse’s costume

Judy Holliday’s reaction to Aldo Ray hocking some phlegm in The Marrying Kind, so cute and natural. The kind of small acting moment that takes you by surprise in the best way

1952: the peak of Stewart Granger’s bid for Hollywood stardom (it would not last, thank goodness) (Scaramouche, The Prisoner of Zenda, The Wild North)

The Ballad of Chuck-a-Luck” song heard throughout Rancho Notorious, a new stylistic choice for the time

That time Spencer Tracy imagined Katharine Hepburn’s face on a horse in Pat and Mike

The heyday of husband-and-wife dance team Marge & Gower Champion (Lovely to Look At and the autobiographical Everything I Have is Yours)

Long overdue cathartic communication and mutual understanding between father and daughter in The Holly & the Ivy

Battle for the sheets with Trigger (Son of Paleface)

All the sweat and men slapping each other in Kansas City Confidential

Clash by Night‘s about to burst mid-century tension re: male/female relationships: what are they for, what to expect, how to be, and the frivolous pact made with misogyny by both men and women because nobody knows better

This very brief moment when Katharine Hepburn has the kind of Lucille Ball energy that made up my favorite random comedic beats of her on “I Love Lucy” (Pat and Mike)

Mexican cinema continuing to thrive!

These two eerily similar shots of daughters and staircases in Has Anybody Seen My Gal? and The Star

The perceptive way The Sniper depicts how individual misogyny arises from embedded societal misogyny, which seems likely unintentional and may just come from its own misogyny!

The intimate familiarity a grandmother is preserved on film by Margaret Tait in A Portrait of Ga. A person recalled in how they did everyday things, and what those who love you observe and remember of you (the sticky candy, the way she holds her teacup)

The way the sea and port city are a dead end instead of typically freeing in Clash by Night

Peter Lawford and Janet Leigh stare at each other silently as another couple speaks lovingly to one another, saying what the two of them are not yet ready to in Just This Once

Developing a crush on Chikage Awashima from seeing her in The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice and Carmen’s Innocent Love

The perpetual and garish opulence of the Vincente Minnelli directed Adrian costumed fashion show spectacle that ends Lovely to Look At. A Pandora’s Box of decor and color

Jimmy Stewart as a clown named Buttons wanted for murder in The Greatest Show on Earth!

Universal continues its efforts to make Piper Laurie their Debbie Reynolds (Has Anybody Seen My Gal, No Room for the Groom, Son of Ali Baba)

A daughter tells us her favorite sound, one of comfort and love, and a sign that everything is OK: her dad chewing on toasted beans ❤ (Mother)

The emotional pay-off of “thank you” in Bend of the River

Barbara Hale screaming Hitler! at her husband in The First Time

The nightclub and gambling outfit in Macao called “The Quick Reward”

The Calorie House

“The Calorie House” in The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice

Swanky nightclub/piano accompanied performances in non-musicals Macao, Affair in Trinidad, Don’t Bother to Knock, Rancho Notorious

The out-of-sync “Dueling Cavalier” in Singin’ in the Rain (“No! No! No!” “Yes. Yes. Yes.”)

The Toni “narrative” in This is Cinerama

The camp-tastic jubilee that is Bette Davis’s “Come on Oscar, let’s you and me get drunk” sequence in The Star. She (playing a washed up actress) takes her Oscar on a drunken joy ride while slur-talking to it, which includes giving it an impromptu Hollywood homes tour!

The ending of Moulin Rouge, a quieter precursor to the ending of All That Jazz. Bye bye life.

Two more beautiful people at the start of their careers: Lee van Cleef and Lucia Bose

Shelley Winters as a stripper who can read people and their troubles in Phone Call from a Stranger

The wind! That kiss! (The Quiet Man)

The irritated (but still trying to put on a face for her public) way Lina blows kisses while exiting the stage after being interrupted by Don in Singin’ in the Rain

Being totally OK that a third of Pat and Mike is watching Katharine Hepburn show off her tennis and golfing skills. In one shot we just watch her tee off ball after ball after ball

Just how many times does Shirley Booth call Burt Lancaster ‘Daddy’ in Come Back, Little Sheba? 512? 789? 330? I lost count very early on, but all of these numbers seem feasible

This explicit exchange in The Greatest Show on Earth!

Mo Money, Mo Problems (Just This Once, The First Time, No Room for the Groom, Has Anybody Seen My Gal?)

James Dean’s bit part in Has Anybody Seen My Gal? as a soda fountain customer that rattles off a very elaborate order

The barefooted Trinidad Lady number performed by Rita Hayworth in Affair in Trinidad

The world of wholesome and fixable mid-century family problems in Room for One More. So warm, cozy, and moving (hell, I cried). Very episodic in that first half of Little Women way. A very underappreciated film that wins you over to the possibilities of family

The colored dogs moment in April in Paris! (Yes, I know this was probably not good for the dogs)

The post office nightmare sequence in The Marrying Kind. All those ball bearings! And an all Judy Holliday firing squad!

Marie Windsor in The Narrow Margin, one of my favorite noir performances, and the dame I’d want in my corner, acidic quips at the ready

Arthur Franz (he looks like the James Badge Dale of his day) in three Stanley Kramer productions from 1952 (The Sniper, Eight Iron Men, Member at the Wedding)

The daydream sequence in Pat & Mike where Katharine Hepburn’s tennis match turns exaggeratedly disproportionate. Both The Marrying Kind and Pat & Mike were written by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, both with surreal dream sequences!

Poor “Mr. Bonehead”
(The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice)

The Cinecolor photography of Flamenco

The blinding whites of snowy Lapland in The White Reindeer

Realizing that Judy Holliday and Brittney Murphy were kindred cinematic spirits

Barbara Hale’s delivery of “Poor little fella. He’s hungry. He can’t read the schedule!”
in The First Time

The White Reindeer, eerily constructed in the silent film form

The big Kay Nielsen energy from this shot in The Snow Maiden

A tracking shot in Carrie: inside the restaurant, Jennifer Jones walks to reception while Laurence Olivier gazes at her and follows parallel along the other side of the partition

Kathy’s riotious slightly raspy crack-up when Don rips his jacket in Singin’ in the Rain. It’s a sound that comes to my head extremely often!

In Le Plaisir, presenting the women, their brothel, and its clockwork routines with labyrinthine uniformity from the literal outside looking in (a showstopper), only to extract them from the place that defines them (to others and audiences) for an overnight sojourn to the countryside. That’s the joke, but it’s a sweet-natured and human one, as close to a positive and carefree depiction of sex workers as you’re likely to find in this or any time!

As a rule, I will always love any movie that features Charles Coburn as an eccentric old millionaire (Has Anybody Seen My Gal?)

Leopoldo Trieste’s one face during The White Sheik: dumbstruck stress

Bebe and Louis Barron’s pioneering early electronic music, used in Bells of Atlantis to intensify the dreamlike pre-shoegaze aesthetic

Following a stranger back to his story in Le Plaisir

The same thing happens in Europa ’51, in which Ingrid Bergman helps out a sex worker in need but instead of following her to place and story, she ends up seeing the woman through her final hours

Gene Kelly’s line reading of “I will not mol-est you” in Singin’ in the Rain

The last year before Cinemascope started, the regularity of the Technicolor in 1.37 aspect ratio has its swan song in 1952

Entry into the Thankless Parts Hall of Fame: Gloria Grahame in Macao. This is what happens when your role probably sucked to begin with, and then your soon-to-be ex-husband replaces the director who was making everyone miserable, and then you ask them to basically get you out of this picture as he cobbles together enough usable footage for a finished film. Could’ve watched her indifferent dice-shaking in long dazzle-ridden gloves for hours though

Memories of air raids evoke a nostalgia of better times between a mother and son (Europa ’51)

The power of pets! (Umberto D)

The sheer exhaustion and desperate limitless energy of Donald O’Connor in the justly legendary “Make ‘Em Laugh” number (Singin’ in the Rain)

That look that Robert Mitchum and Arthur Kennedy exchange before the former goes out for the last time (The Lusty Men)

Gliding through Cypress Gardens in This is Cinerama

Tweeting about how hot Laurence Olivier is as a broken man at the start of Carrie and then having the movie eat my words as it progressed. Yikes, I take it all back

The grace of Mizoguchi’s camera following a sword to beheading in The Life of Oharu

Ingrid Bergman’s walk around the sanitarium in Europa ’51. The camera acts as her POV while young women stare at the camera’s slowly searching gaze with suspicion and guardedness

Being very emotionally caught off-guard by the reveal in “The Last Leaf” segment of O. Henry’s Full House. Went from nowhere near crying to full-on sobbing within about five seconds

The uncomfortable unfamiliarity of the countryside’s night silence in Le Plaisir

Life is a stage in The Golden Coach

Paul Henreid resting on Lizbeth Scott’s nightdress-clad breasts as he listens to her heartbeat. Erotic! (Stolen Face)

Speaking of erotic, few things match the raw and violent sexual tension between Jennifer Jones and Charlton Heston in Ruby Gentry, hot damn

Also speaking of erotic! Nighttime shadows and desire and the what-could-be in Way of a Gaucho

A son seeks attention in Europa ’51

The way Susan Hayward sits back and observes her husband’s new friendship, ambition, and hubris, all while tolerating radical change that runs against he own hopes and dreams. She clocks what Robert Mitchum’s presence will bring to her marriage right from the start (The Lusty Men)

Richard Burton………..hello (major fellow Welshman Matthew Rhys vibes)
(My Cousin Rachel)

Two Charlotte Armstrong adaptations (Don’t Bother to Knock based on her short novel Mischief, and Talk About a Stranger based on her story “The Enemy”)

Digging both female leads in Scaramouche: Eleanor Parker in shocking red as the feisty hellcat, and Janet Leigh in shocking white as the pure but resourceful ward

The shade of lilac purple lighting the warehouse in the “You Were Meant for Me” scene in Singin’ in the Rain, a color I associate first and foremost with that number

The way Charlton Heston barely mouths the words “I love you” at the end of Ruby Gentry, something I don’t think I even caught the first time. Completely breaks out of the Hollywood template of what moments like that tend to look and feel like. Incredible blink-and-you’ll-miss-it intimacy

The eye-popping almost hallucinatory Studios Convert to Talkies montage in Singin’ in the Rain

Speaking of mouthing declarations of love right before death, how about that cutaway to the young daughter at the end of The Lusty Men? One of those moments that reduced me to tears in a few seconds, so caught off-guard I was by the attention paid to her one-way heartbreak

Burt Lancaster’s very modern and blunt line reading of “alright then, shut up!” in The Crimson Pirate

The unsettling and compelling radical empathy The Sniper has for its serial killer

Guilietta Masina getting completely distracted by the fire-eater in the middle of the night in The White Sheik

Banana sandwiches in The First Time

The block of swimming and underwater spectacles in Million Dollar Mermaid are, obviously, something out of this world. Ethereal spectacle, and also a reference point for the saying “Beauty is pain”

“And THIS is Cinerama” (This is Cinerama)

The romantic farce that delightfully plays out in The Golden Coach (one of the men waiting in the kitchen looking completely over it while being bugged my one of the kids is a particularly amusing moment)

The leaves already falling around Daniel Gélin and Simone Simon in Le Plaisir; fate signaling the end of their relationship’s brief honeymoon period

The lengthy pelota scenes in Night Falls, so much more entertaining to watch than the lengthy tennis scenes in Strangers on a Train from the year before!

Did not expect to see an image this psychedelic in a 1952 movie, and from Hans Christian Andersen no less!

The prevalence of the Pachinko parlor in The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice, the first commercial one having opened in Japan only a few years before

Ingrid Bergman and Guilietta Masina onscreen together!!! (Europa ’51)

Judy Holliday playing the ukelele during a weekend family picnic, moments before life-changing tragedy (The Marrying Kind)

Self-harm wrist scars in Don’t Bother to Knock and Scandal Sheet

Robert Taylor, reliably the worst dude you can put in your movie (Ivanhoe)

Holy hell Burt, tell us how you really feel! (Come Back, Little Sheba)

Cary Grant’s eternal struggle to just get laid by his wife in Room for One More

Theater actress Mary Welch’s one movie role, as Charity Hackett in Park Row. Such a memorable and startling presence, the kind where you immediately look up what else she was in

Newspaper films! (Deadline — U.S.A, Park Row, Scandal Sheet)

The way Jennifer Jones in jeans sets every man’s loins on fire in Ruby Gentry

I’m sorry, but Wile E. Coyote does not sound like that, I refuse to accept it! (Operation: Rabbit”)

The preposterous image of Gloria Grahame having an elephant foot inches from crushing her head in The Greatest Show on Earth

A long contemplative moment at the window after Ruth’s brother tells her she’s going to Hell for the millionth time (Ruby Gentry)

Fashion shows within a movie: my favorite thing! And there’s two major ones in 1952 (Singin’ in the Rain and Lovely to Look At)

Dinner table candle flames used for comedic symbolism during the dinner table argument in The First Time. This was Frank Tashlin’s first feature length film, and just one of many instances where you can already see the influence of his background in animation and Looney Tunes

All of the great dog content, before, you know, in Talk About a Stranger

Oharu quietly gets her revenge with the balding woman in The Life of Oharu

Eleanor Parker’s brow-to-lid single shade eye make-up in Scaramouche

The postwar hotel purgatory of Don’t Bother to Knock. The Charlotte Armstrong book’s Nell was a far too vague troublemaker. Here, she’s a broken and unwell young woman lost in an increasingly delusional fugue state

“Ta tay tee toe too” (Singin’ in the Rain)

A Lord’s absurdly specific list of requirements in The Life of Oharu

One of the best character names ever: Boake Tackman (Ruby Gentry)

Appearances by both Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in Moulin Rouge!

The one thing I remembered from seeing Le Plaisir was the mysterious man in the mask, dancing as if death was taking him, but only if he stopped moving. There’s a reason it stays with you. Ophüls famously creates dense and busy interior spaces for his camera to weave through. Usually he’s navigating and photographing the architectural obstacle course of his own making, but here he’s met his match; the challenge of keeping up with a man without a face and the frenzy of his aged desire

The “Moses Supposes” number in Singin’ in the Rain, my actual favorite number in film full of favorite numbers. Kelly and O’Connor going tow-to-tow like that, in sync all the way, is exhilarating every single time. And it’s a song I enjoy getting stuck in my head

That time Jennifer Jones scratches Charlton Heston’s face in Ruby Gentry

The newfound familiarity and discovery when husband and wife gather for a late night makeshift meal in The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice

A selection (not exhaustive!) of favorite title cards from 1952

The line delivery of “He broke me pipe!” in Bend of the River

Charles Laughton tries to get arrested in O. Henry’s Full House

Maybe it’s because I’ve known the song “Singin’ in the Rain” for as long as I can remember but the number conjures up a very specific feeling of warmth akin to a bedtime lullaby. It always seems like a state of being to strive for (Singin’ in the Rain)

Sammy Petrillo, the Jerry Lewis knock-off in Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla, and the human embodiment of Dumb & Dumber‘s “wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?”. I admittedly had a slight and inexplicable Stockholm Syndrome reaction towards him by the film’s end though

The slow-motion ether dash in “Water Water Every Hare“!

Kathryn Grayson daydreaming about Howard Keel appearing in various mirrors to sing his love to her in that trademark baritone (Lovely to Look At)

Limelight being so full of phrases you’d find on home decor plaques like “Time is the great author. Always writes the perfect ending.” or “Life can be wonderful, if you’re not afraid of it”. Contagious because it’s incredibly emphatic

The deeply uncomfortable “imitate Chinese” scene in Clash by Night. The cuts to Barbara Stanwyck’s face illustrate that, at least for once in classic Hollywood, the racism is knowingly placed and has a function

The feeling when you recognize you’re too self-involved, delusional, and out-of-touch to be good anymore in The Star (Bette watches her screen test)

The joys of watching Cary Grant in Dad mode in Room for One More: theatrically making pancakes, sleeves rolled up, holding kittens, everyone calling him Poppy, unable to get a word in with his own family

It was all a dream! (Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla)

This Martin Denny album cover! Oh wait, it’s actually a shot from Ivanhoe!

The whiplash of seeing Burt Lancaster giving two performances in 1952 that could not be more different in character or personality. Come Back, Little Sheba was his first transformative “I’m a serious actor” role (the other film is The Crimson Pirate)

Young Billy Gray’s rage as he beats up the oil tank lock in Talk About a Stranger, severely and memorably lit by the great John Alton

The lovable and naive newlywed fangirl Brunello Bovo aka “Passionate Dolly” in The White Sheik. She impressively registers the determination of her character as aloof, supporting the film’s feeling of wandering misadventure

Marilyn Monroe in Don’t Bother to Knock. She seems truly elsewhere. Every so often these expressions will break across her face that contain palpable human pain

I always think of the 1950s as the decade of play adaptations. This being the first year after A Streetcar Named Desire, there were definitely quite a few stage-based films being released in Hollywood (Clash By Night, Come Back, Little Sheba, The Member of the Wedding (from 1950 play adaptation of the novel), Beware My Lovely, The Happy Time, Eight Iron Men, The Four-Poster, Stop You’re Killing Me, What Price Glory). This would only increase throughout the decade. For now, play adaptations continued to be much more common in the UK than the US

Hildegard Knef and Karl Böhm looking like a doppelganger Ginger Rogers and Orson Welles in Alraune

Favorite Performances: Judy Holliday and Aldo Ray in The Marrying Kind, Hideko Takemine in Carmen’s Innocent Love, Laurence Olivier in Carrie, Joan Crawford in Sudden Fear, Danny Kaye in Hans Christian Andersen, Marilyn Monroe in Don’t Bother to Knock, Jean Hagen in Singin’ in the Rain, Mel Ferrer in Scaramouche, Chishū Ryū in The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice, Néstor Zavarce in If I Should Die Before I Wake, Marie Windsor, The Narrow Margin, Ingrid Bergman in Europa ’51, Mary Welch in Park Row, Lana Turner in The Bad and the Beautiful, Brunella Bovo in The White Sheik, Bonor Colleano and Lee Marvin in Eight Iron Men, Maria Pia-Casilio in Umberto D

Favorite Characters: Carmen (Hideko Takemine, Carmen’s Innocent Love), Aya (Chikage Awashima, The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice), Cosmo (Donald O’Connor, Singin’ in the Rain), Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen, Singin’ in the Rain), Maria (Maria-Pia Casilio, Umberto D), Frenchy (Mel Ferrer, Rancho Notorious), Mrs. Frankie Neall (Marie Windsor, The Narrow Margin), Louise Merritt (Susan Hayward, The Lusty Men), Phineas Mitchell (Gene Evans, Park Row), Kiyoko (Hideko Takemine, Lightning), Julie Allison (Donna Reed, Scandal Sheet), Angel (Gloria Grahame, The Greatest Show on Earth), Charity Hackett (Mary Welch, Park Row), Binky Gay (Shelley Winters, Phone Call from a Stranger), Henny Carey (Joan Fontaine, Something to Live For), Ethel (Doris Day, April in Paris), Sgt. Joe Mooney (Lee Marvin, Eight Iron Men), Wanda (Brunello Bovo, The White Sheik), Manda (Serge Reggiani, Casque d’Or) , Helen Ramirez (Katy Jurado, High Noon)

Least Favorite Characters: Frankie (Julie Harris, Member of the Wedding), Dan Jefferson (Dan Jagger, My Son John), the entire family in No Room for the Groom, Kumako Satake (Eiko Miyoshi, Carmen’s Innocent Love), Nonaka (Yoshio Kosugi), Sammy Petrillo, Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla, Ivanhoe in Ivanhoe, Larry Parks, Love is Better than Ever, Arthur Kennedy, mom in Has Anybody Seen My Gal?, Marcus Arizimendi in Night Falls, RF Simpson, Johnny Kernan (Richard Widmark, O. Henry’s Full House), Tony Naylor (Howard Keel, Lovely to Look At), Eddie Hoke (Keenan Wynn, Phone Call from a Stranger), Antonia (Lina Gennari, Umberto D)


“The press is good or evil according to the character of those that direct it”
(Park Row)

“When you’re poor it all gets mixed up. You like the people who are good to you”

“Men — I’d like to try ’em all: in deep fat!”
(The Lusty Men)

“I don’t want to fall down with you. This is not a farce”
(The Bad and the Beautiful)

“You make me sick to my stomach”
“Yeah, well use your own sink”
(The Narrow Margin)

“In Spring, a young man’s fancy turns…pretty fancy”
(Come Back, Little Sheba)

“Don’t be so eager to make a mistake”
(Clash by Night)

“What a sad business being funny”

“There’s a difference between apples and men”
(Bend of the River)

“My love for others springs from the hate I feel for myself”
(Europa 51)

“Everybody frazzles everybody. Then they turn around and tell them ‘don’t be'”
(Pat and Mike)

“Your daddy and his surprises. He’s one to learn slowly”
(Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie)

“You’re real little with your shoes off”
“You’re real little with your shoes on”
(The Lusty Men)

“This train’s headed straight for the cemetery. But there’s another one coming along, a gravy train. Let’s get on it.”
(The Narrow Margin)

“On your way, dust!”
(Clash by Night)

“You love him. He loves you. What’s left?”
“But he hasn’t suffered enough!”
(April in Paris)

“What is it that makes you incompatible?”
“Being married to each other”
(The Marrying Kind)

You make me sick to my stomach.”
“Well, use your own sink.”
(Don’t Bother to Knock)

“There’s only one way of doing it and that’s doing it”
(Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie)

“See, you get married and you become a statistic.”
“Yeah. Stay single and you wind up talking to bartenders”
(Don’t Bother to Knock)

“I don’t want my wife supporting herself. What am I, a peculiar?”
(The Marrying Kind)

“Women are poison”
“But it’s a wonderful death”
(The Greatest Show on Earth)

“You’re not a mouse, you’re a man”
“You peeked”
(Son of Paleface)

“Well, we get there just as fast, talkin’. What about this dame, Mr. Crystal Ball?”
“A dish.”
“What kind of a dish?”
“Sixty-cent special. Cheap, flashy. Strictly poison under the gravy.”
(The Narrow Margin)

“You’re crude Earl.”
“I never claimed a polish”
(Clash by Night)

“One should never meet a person whose work one admires. What they do is always so much better than what they are”
(Moulin Rouge)

“It gave me goose flesh and notions”
(Don’t Bother to Knock)

“It’s getting so nowadays you can’t trust men anymore”
“It’s getting so you can’t trust women either”
(The Sniper)

“You’re off your stick — way off”
(The Narrow Margin)

“Talking pictures, that means I’m out of a job. At last I can start suffering and write that symphony.”
“You’re not out of a job, we’re putting you in as head of our new music department.”
“Oh, thanks, R.F.! At last I can stop suffering and write that symphony.”
Singin’ in the Rain

“Too bad. He seemed like a real nice fella.”
“He was…til they found gold”
(Bend of the River)

“You’re just like me. You’re born and you’d like to get unborn”
(Clash by Night)

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