Top Ten 1954

1. Rear Window
2. On The Waterfront
3. Sansho The Bailiff
4. Seven Samurai
5. The Bridges At Toko-Ri
6. La Strada
7. Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto
8. Night People
9. Hobson’s Choice
10. A Star Is Born


Despite the fact that he later made a joke of himself with his gargantuan size and, to put it lightly, erratic on-set behaviour, the legend of Marlon Brando did begin in the talents of a brilliant actor. A Streetcar Named Desiredeservedly made him famous, but his growling menace is too obvious in that one; I much prefer his aptly Oscar-winning work in On The Waterfront, where his titanic energies are used towards a blistering frustration rather than a resentful sexual appetite. The film still burns the screen up after so many years, and his gritty work is no small part of that.

Honour Roll: William Holden, The Bridges at Toko-Ri; James Mason, A Star Is Born; Gregory Peck, Night People; Toshiro Mifune, Seven Samurai


One of the most famous Oscar robs in history; was it really important that Grace Kelly have an Academy Award before being shipped off to marry a prince? Or did Judy Garland really get passed over for her career-topping performance in A Star Is Born because the film’s troubled production (mostly caused by her) resulted in a botched version that underwhelmed critics following the initial premiere, and failed to convince Warner Bros to promote an award for a one-shot star? Either way, it’s hard to argue with the injustice today; had Kelly won for her sexy work in Rear Window instead of the dowdy The Country Girl I would allow the argument to take place, but otherwise I don’t see how anything could be more impressive that year than Garland’s singing, dancing, up-tempo manic suffering or soft sorrow in the epic tale of stardom gained and love lost. Not to mention that it is still the best version ever made of the oft-filmed tale.

Honour Roll: Dorothy Dandridge, Carmen Jones; Brenda De Banzie,Hobson’s Choice; Judy Holliday, Phffft; Grace Kelly, The Country Girl/Rear Window


Nobody was as good at shouting up a storm on screen like Lee J. Cobb was, and in the fifties he got to play just about every angry Everyman character role there was to be had. Among his best was his thrilling turn in support of Brando in Kazan’s masterful On The Waterfront. Oscar went and nominated him along with co-stars Karl Malden and Rod Steiger and split the vote so thin that Edmond O’Brien eventually took the prize for The Barefoot Contessa–and not too undeservedly–but Cobb’s is the most lasting impression in the group.

Honour Roll: Charles Laughton, Hobson’s Choice; Kenneth More, Doctor In The House; Edmond O’Brien, The Barefoot Contessa; Rod Steiger, On The Waterfront


I go for that brilliantly grizzled Thelma Ritter yet again for her brilliant work in Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Ritter was nominated so many times for an Oscar and yet this was not one of her mentioned performances, and it’s an unfortunate oversight. Her smart-alecky physiotherapist is a wise and comedic element that Hitchcock’s perfect film could hardly do without.

Honour Roll: Katy Jurado, Broken Lance; Eva Marie Saint, On The Waterfront


Suspense, comedy, sex and a multi-character background whose plethora of sounds and circumstances stand in place of a musical score. It’s a perfectly orchestrated symphony, and it will never get old: Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window.

Honour Roll: George Cukor, A Star Is Born; Elia Kazan, On The Waterfront; Kenji Mizoguchi, Sansho The Bailiff; Mark Robson, The Bridges at Toko-Ri