When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looked back at 1952, it gave its Best Picture award to The Greatest Show on Earth, a ludicrous, bloated spectacle that I have to admit I kind of like. But there never was a chance that it would make it onto my list.
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Written by Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, and Hideo Oguni
This would make an interesting double feature with It's a Wonderful Life.
2. The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice
Directed by Orson Welles
Written by Welles, from a play by William Shakespeare
My favorite Shakespeare movie. Or at least it's my favorite that isn't a loose adaptation set in Japan.
3. Singin' in the Rain
Directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen
Written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
This might have made it to the #1 spot but for Donald O'Connor, who wears out his welcome awfully fast.
4. The Lusty Men
Directed by Nicholas Ray
Written by David Dortort and Horace McCoy, from a novel by Claude Stanush
The title makes it sound like it's a gay thing, but that's not what it's about at all. It's about a man and a woman who want to buy their own ranch, you see, but then the guy partners up with a rodeo star and enters the older man's footloose, risky, masculine world, and the woman starts to worry that her husband's losing sight of their domestic dreams, and...oh.
5. Viva Zapata!
Directed by Elia Kazan
Written by John Steinbeck
"Now I know you. No fields, no home. No wife, no woman. No friends, no love. You'll only destroy, that is your love."
6. Water, Water Every Hare
Directed by Chuck Jones
Written by Michael Maltese
A sequel to Hair-Raising Hare. More dreamlike than the first film, and almost as funny.
7. The Narrow Margin
Directed by Richard Fleischer
Written by Earl Felton, from a story by Martin Goldsmith and Jack Leonard
Assassins on a train.
8. Forbidden Games
Directed by René Clément
Written by Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost, from a novel by François Boyer
One of those movies that I don't think I'll be able to watch again now that I'm a parent.
9. Umberto D.
Directed by Vittorio De Sica
Written by Cesare Zavattini
It teeters on the edge of sentimentality. Hell, sometimes it falls over the edge entirely (that music!). But the cast keeps it from going too far in that direction, especially the excellent Carlo Battisti, who knows how to earn our sympathy without begging for it. It's amazing that this is the only film he ever acted in.
10. Magical Maestro
Directed by Tex Avery
Written by Rich Hogan
Of all the Tex Avery cartoons I've seen, this one just might be the TexAveriest.
I'm not going to post a full honorable mentions list for this year, but I will give a shout-out to On Dangerous Ground, Rancho Notorious, and Son of Paleface. While I'm at it, I'll confess a fondness for Scaramouche.
Of the films of 1952 that I haven’t seen, I’m most interested in The Golden Coach. And also My Son John, though in that case I expect to find the movie more interesting than good.