When the Motion Picture Academy looked back at 1952, it gave its Best Picture award to The Greatest Show on Earth. That one is a ludicrous, bloated spectacle, and the conventional wisdom these days is to dismiss it, but I have to confess I kind of like it. Still, 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, a Moor of Venice
Directed by Orson Welles
Written by Welles, from a play by William Shakespeare
My favorite Shakespeare movie. Or, at least, 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 quickly.
4. 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."
5. 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.
6. My Son John
Directed by Leo McCarey
Written by McCarey, Myles Connolly, and John Lee Mahin
There is no other movie like this in the world. It's like someone crossed John Cassavates with Joe McCarthy.
7. 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.
8. The Narrow Margin
Directed by Richard Fleischer
Written by Earl Felton, from a story by Martin Goldsmith and Jack Leonard
Do you like movies about assassins on trains? Here's a hell of a movie about some assassins on a train.
9. Rancho Notorious
Directed by Fritz Lang
Written by Daniel Taradash
"I'd wish you go away...and come back 10 years ago."
10. Casque d'Or
Directed by Jacques Becker
Written by Becker, Jacques Companéez, and Annette Wademant
Belle Epoque noir.
11. Magical Maestro (Tex Avery)
12. Forbidden Games (René Clément)
13. Umberto D. (Vittorio De Sica)
14. A Phantasy (Norman McLaren)
15. Bells of Atlantis (Ian Hugo)
16. Son of Paleface (Frank Tashlin)
17. The Beast Must Die (Román Viñoly Barreto)
18. La Jeune Folle (Yves Allégret)
19. Scaramouche (George Sidney)
20. The Happy Family (Muriel Box)
If you're an aficionado of westerns with gay undertones, you needn't stop with The Lusty Men. 1952 also gave us Anthony Mann's Bend of the River, a movie about whether "that kind" can "change." Officially, the line I just quoted is about robbers. But watch Jimmy Stewart flirt with Arthur Kennedy at the beginning of this picture, and see if you don't think something more is going on here.
Of the films of 1952 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in The White Reindeer.