The Great Caruso (1951)

RICHARD THORPE Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.  USA, 1951.  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  Screenplay by Sonya Levien, William Ludwig, suggested by the biography of Enrico Caruso by Dorothy Caruso.  Cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg.  Produced by Joe Pasternak.  Music by Johnny Green, Peter Herman Adler.  Production Design by Cedric Gibbons, Gabriel Scognamillo.  Costume Design by Helen Rose, Gile Steele.  Film Editing by Gene Ruggiero.  Academy Awards 1951.  …

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The Mating Season

BBB.5 (out of 5) John Lund plays an ambitious worker at an Ohio industrial company who meets and marries a gorgeous socialite (Gene Tierney) after he saves her from falling down a cliff. The day of their marriage, his mother (Thelma Ritter) comes to visit, having just shut down her New Jersey hamburger joint after the…

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Detective Story

BBBB (out of 5) A New York police headquarters is the nexus of intense activity in this smooth adaptation of the hit Broadway play by Sidney Kingsley.  William Wyler keeps it stagebound without sacrificing cinematic style in a small world of action, at its head an incorruptible but darkly cynical cop (Kirk Douglas) who sticks…

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Ace In The Hole (The Big Carnival) (1951)

BILLY WILDER Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5. Paramount Pictures.  USA, 1951.  Story by Victor Desny, Screenplay by Billy Wilder, Lesser Samuels, Walter Newman. Cinematography by Charles Lang.  Produced by Billy Wilder.  Music by Hugo Friedhofer.  Production Design by A. Earl Hedrick, Hal Pereira.  Costume Design by Edith Head.  Film Editing by Arthur P. Schmidt.  Academy Awards 1951.   A stunning piece of news media satire, told with so…

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When Worlds Collide

BB.5 (out of 5) It must have dazzled the kids in 1951, but this film has not aged nearly as well as Forbidden Planet or The War Of The Worlds (heck, it hasn’t aged nearly as well as World Without End). When scientists announce that a star is headed for Earth and will destroy our planet…

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The Tales Of Hoffmann

MICHAEL POWELL, EMERIC PRESSBURGER Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBB.5.  United Kingdom, 1951.  The Archers.  Screenplay by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, based on the English libretto by Dennis Arundell, from the French text by Jules Barbier, adapted from stories by E.T.A. Hoffmann with French text by Michel Carre.  Cinematography by Christopher Challis.  Produced by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger.  Production Design by Hein…

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La Ronde

BBB (out of 5) Max Ophuls adapts Arthur Schnitzler’s play to delightful effect in this beautiful film. It begins with Anton Walbrook playing host to the audience, setting the scene in turn-of-the-century Vienna and popping up between scenes as various characters in order to facilitate the many crazy love affairs that are displayed.  Each scene…

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Decision Before Dawn

BBBB (out of 5) Twentieth century-Fox head Darryl Zanuck liked to temper the success of the studio’s splashier hits by producing “prestige pictures”, his pet projects often gritty World War II dramas.  This film, shot on location, is an absorbing and upsetting adventure based on the true story of German POWs recruited by Allied forces…

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Quo Vadis

BBB (out of 5) Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr throw Christians to the lions, then live to feel the conscientious guilt. Huge sets and thousands of extras in ‘authentic’ Biblical period costumes are exciting and eye-popping, but the only thing that makes this film worth reaching for instead of similar sandal epics like Ben-Hur and The Robe…

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Fourteen Hours

BBB.5 (out of 5) Strangely absorbing melodrama that features terrific performances and also marks the debut of Grace Kelly in a minor role. A traffic cop (Paul Douglas) finds himself pulled into the eye of the tornado when he looks up at a New York hotel and sees a man (Richard Basehart) about to jump from…

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A Place In The Sun

BBB (out of 5) A good but strongly overrated film about a superficial tragedy that besets the lives of superficially pretty people in New England in the 1930s (though it never for a second convinces you of its time period, nor does it seem to try). Montgomery Clift is excellent as a young working-class man…

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Kon-Tiki

BBBB.5 (out of 5) Thoroughly enjoyable documentary that follows Thor Heyerdahl‘s historic expedition from Peru to a South Pacific Island, looking to explore the theory that Polynesians possibly originated from South America. If this were true, then it would have to be possible for primitive humans to cross the large expanse of ocean on a…

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