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The NBR Project: The Top 10 Lists, 1944-1958

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And now for the second leg of the journey.

1944:

  • None But the Lonely Heart
  • Going My Way
  • The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek
  • Hail the Conquering Hero
  • The Song of Bernadette
  • Wilson
  • Meet Me in St. Louis
  • Thirty Seconds over Tokyo
  • Thunder Rock
  • Lifeboat

No Double Indemnity? Two Preston Sturges is nice, but (though I haven’t yet seen it) I feel like that’s a pretty damnable omission. Especially since the #1 film has a fairly weak reputation. Meet Me in St. Louis is a welcome inclusion, though.

1945:

  • The True Glory
  • The Lost Weekend
  • The Southerner
  • The Story of G.I. Joe
  • The Last Chance
  • The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
  • A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
  • The Fighting Lady
  • The Way Ahead
  • The Clock

So for their #1 they went with a mostly forgotten WWII documentary (The Fighting Lady is also a documentary), but the Colonel Blimp inclusion is very cool. Also, The Last Chance, a Swiss film, is the first of several foreign-language films the NBR picked over the next several years.

1946:

  • Henry V
  • The Best Years of Our Lives
  • Brief Encounter
  • A Walk in the Sun
  • It Happened at the Inn
  • My Darling Clementine
  • Diary of a Chambermaid
  • The Killers

It appears they only went with 8 films this year (one Wikipedia page adds Open City and Anna and the King of Siam to this list, but the NBR’s own website only lists these 8). It Happened at the Inn is a French film, by the way.

1947:

  • Monsieur Verdoux
  • Great Expectations
  • Shoeshine
  • Crossfire
  • Boomerang!
  • Odd Man Out
  • Gentleman’s Agreement
  • To Live in Peace
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • The Overlanders

Two foreign films this year, both Italian: Shoeshine, and To Live in Peace, a film that was very popular in the U.S. when first released, but which is now almost totally forgotten. And with The Overlanders, we have the first Australian film to make the lists–and it won’t be the last. One complaint: after citing several Powell-Pressburger films over the previous years, how do the NBR miss the wonderful A Matter of Life and Death or Black Narcissus, one of the greatest films ever made?

1948: 

  • Paisan
  • Day of Wrath
  • The Search
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • Louisiana Story
  • Hamlet
  • The Snake Pit
  • Johnny Belinda
  • Joan of Arc
  • The Red Shoes

Ah, but they notice The Red Shoes this year. Irritating. More notable, though–the #1 film is an Italian production, and the #2 is indeed Carl Th. Dreyer’s film–a very nice nod from the Board. Subjectively, this might be one of their strongest overall lists.

1949:

  • The Bicycle Thief
  • The Quiet One
  • Intruder in the Dust
  • The Heiress
  • Devil in the Flesh
  • Quartet
  • Germany Year Zero
  • Home of the Brave
  • A Letter to Three Wives
  • The Fallen Idol

Again, the #1 film is an Italian film–and one that’s generally considered one of the great masterworks of cinema. There’s also a French film (Devil in the Flesh) and an Italian film about Germany (Germany Year Zero). The Quiet One is an interesting case; it’s the only documentary film I know of that was nominated for an Oscar for Best Screenplay (some count Louisiana Story as a documentary, but it doesn’t quite qualify as one). Also, the Best Picture winner, All the King’s Men, doesn’t get on.

1950:

  • Sunset Boulevard
  • All About Eve
  • The Asphalt Jungle
  • The Men
  • Edge of Doom
  • Twelve O’Clock High
  • Panic in the Streets
  • Cyrano de Bergerac
  • No Way Out
  • Stage Fright

After this point, as far as I know, there are no true foreign-language films on the list. (I don’t count Letters from Iwo Jima. That’s an American film in Japanese.) Stage Fright is an interesting choice, since it’s generally considered lesser Hitchcock.

1951:

  • A Place in the Sun
  • The Red Badge of Courage
  • An American in Paris
  • Death of a Salesman
  • Detective Story
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Decision Before Dawn
  • Strangers on a Train
  • Quo Vadis
  • Fourteen Hours

Nothing to say here, except this is a hell of a list. I’m glad The Red Badge of Courage got some attention.

1952:

  • The Quiet Man
  • High Noon
  • Limelight
  • 5 Fingers
  • The Snows of Kilimanjaro
  • The Thief
  • The Bad and the Beautiful
  • Singin’ in the Rain
  • Above and Beyond
  • My Son John

The Best Picture winner, The Greatest Show on Earth, doesn’t make the list–not surprisingly, since it was an unexpected winner and generally considered one of the weakest winners ever. Singin’ in the Rain, largely ignored by the Academy, is a wonderful choice, and The Thief is an interesting case–a thriller sans dialogue.

1953:

  • Julius Caesar
  • Shane
  • From Here to Eternity
  • Martin Luther
  • Lili
  • Roman Holiday
  • Stalag 17
  • The Little Fugitive
  • Mogambo
  • The Robe

1953 was a great year, and this list reflects that (Martin Luther might be an iffy choice, but I’m glad they recognized the indie The Little Fugitive).

1954:

  • On the Waterfront
  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
  • The Country Girl
  • A Star Is Born
  • Executive Suite
  • The Vanishing Prairie
  • Sabrina
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  • The Unconquered
  • Beat the Devil

The nods for A Star is Born and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (I want to say this is the first science-fiction film to make the list) are very cool, but no Rear Window? Inexcusable. The Unconquered is a documentary about Helen Keller. Beat the Devil is an interesting choice, since it’s never had more than cult success (to the bafflement of Bogart and myself). Perhaps the NBR are hipsters.

1955:

  • Marty
  • East of Eden
  • Mister Roberts
  • Bad Day at Black Rock
  • Summertime
  • The Rose Tattoo
  • A Man Called Peter
  • Not as a Stranger
  • Picnic
  • The African Lion

The African Lion is the second Disney nature documentary in a row (after The Vanishing Prairie) to get on the list. I’m a bit surprised Rebel Without a Cause didn’t get on.

1956:

  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • Moby Dick
  • The King and I
  • Lust for Life
  • Friendly Persuasion
  • Somebody Up There Likes Me
  • The Catered Affair
  • Anastasia
  • The Man Who Never Was
  • Bus Stop

A strange list. I’m kind of glad they picked Moby Dick, but the omission of Baby Doll is disappointing and the omission of Giant is truly saddening (and, given its success, a bit baffling).

1957:

  • The Bridge on the River Kwai
  • 12 Angry Men
  • The Spirit of St. Louis
  • The Rising of the Moon
  • Albert Schweitzer
  • Funny Face
  • The Bachelor Party
  • The Enemy Below
  • A Hatful of Rain
  • A Farewell to Arms

I’m surprised they chose the generally ill-regarded remake of A Farewell to Arms, but I love that they recognized The Spirit of St. Louis, a great Lindbergh biopic that has never quite received its due. Funny Face is a nice inclusion as well. No Witness For the Prosecution, though?

1958:

  • The Old Man and the Sea
  • Separate Tables
  • The Last Hurrah
  • The Long, Hot Summer
  • Windjammer
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  • The Goddess
  • The Brothers Karamazov
  • Me and the Colonel
  • Gigi

A weird list. Old Man has a pretty weak reputation. Windjammer is a documentary made in a faux-Cinerama process. Me and the Colonel is a Danny Kaye comedy (and not an especially beloved one). But they score major points with me by picking The Long, Hot Summer, a film I love.

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