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Movie Mirrors Index

More Movies from 1951

Movie Mirrors

by Sanderson Beck

Best Movies of 1951

Movie Mirrors Introduction

Abbreviations

 Title

Min.

c S M H P V En Ed
 Across the Wide Missouri 78   c  5  5  5  4  5  5  5
 Alice In Wonderland 75   c  6  6  5  6  6  5  5
 Bannerline 87   b  4  4  5      5  5
 Brave Bulls, The 106   b  8  6  4      5  5
 Callaway Went Thataway 81   b  6  5  5      5  4
 Close to My Heart 90   b  5  6  4      4  5
 Cry Danger 79   b  6  6  5  5  6  5  4
 Decision Before Dawn 110   b  5  6  5      5  5
 Early Summer (Japanese) 124   b  6  6  7  6  6  5  5
 Flying Leathernecks 102   c  4  6  4  6  6  5  4
 Force of Arms 99   b  5  5  5      5  5
 Golden Girl 108   c  5  5  5      5  5
 Goodbye, My Fancy 107   b  5  6  4    4  5  5
 He Ran All the Way 77   b  6  5  5      5  4
 His Kind of Woman 120   b  6  6  5  6  6  5  4
 I Can Get It for You Wholesale 91   b  5  6  5      5  5
 Idiot, The (Hakuchi) (Japanese) 166   b  7  6    9  8  5  5
 Let’s Make It Legal 77   b  5  4  4  5  5  5  4
 Lullaby of Broadway 92   c  4  5  5  4  5  5  4
 Man With a Cloak, The 81   b  5  5  5    3  5  5
 Mob, The 87   b  6  4  5      5  5
 My Favorite Spy 93   b  6  6  5    5  5  4
 Night Into Morning 86   b  5  6  4      4  5
 Nobody’s Children (Italian) 96   b            5  5
 On the Riviera 89   c  6  6  6      5  4
 Outcast of the Islands 101   b  8  6  6      5  5
 Pandora and the Flying Dutchman 123   c  6  4  5  6  5  5  5
 People Against O’Hara, The 102   b  6  5  5      5  5
 Racket, The 88   b  6  6  5  5  6  5  5
 Saturday’s Hero 110   b  6  5  4    4  5  5
 Storm Warning 91   b  5  5  5    4  5  5
 Summer Interlude (Swedish) 96   b  7  5  5  6  7  5  5
 Tall Target, The 78   b  6  6  6      5  5
 Thing from Another World, The 81   b  7  7  6  9  7  5  5
 Thunder on the Hill 84   b  6  6  4    5  5  5
 Too Young to Kiss 89   b  6  5  4      5  5
 Up Front 92   b  6  5        5  5

Abbreviations
b = black and white
c = color
S = Scheuer's rating
M = Maltin's rating
H = Halliwell's rating
P = Martin & Porter's rating
V = Videohound's rating
En = Beck's entertainment value
Ed = Beck's educational value

 

Across the Wide Missouri

(1951 c 78’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Trapper Flint Mitchell (Clark Gable) with translating help from Pierre (Adolphe Menjou) marries Blackfoot princess Kamiah (Maria Elena Marques) and reunites her with her Nez Perce grandfather Looking Glass (J. Carrol Naish), but his son Iron Shirt (Ricardo Montalban) tries to keep white men out of their country.

         Set in 1829, this western depicts the mountain men who went farther west to get the lucrative beaver skins that had been depleted in the east. Flint is transformed by his experience and learns Indian ways.

Alice In Wonderland

(1951 c 75’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Adapted from Lewis Carroll’s novels, a girl daydreams during her lesson, changing size, meeting peculiar characters, and being tried by a tyrannical playing card.

         This animated classic lets imagination run wild into a nonsense world where virtually everyone is mad in some way. These absurdities give us some consolation when we have to relate to a real world that is not always reasonable.

Bannerline

(1951 b 87’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on Samson Raphaelson’s play, young reporter Mike Perrivale (Keefe Brasselle) is given the most trivial stories but wants to do more. His fiancée Richie Loomis (Sally Forrest) urges him to write about the dying history teacher Hugo Trimble (Lionel Barrymore). The alcoholic Josh (Lewis Stone) encourages Perrivale, and they persuade the publisher to print a few  papers with a fictional front-page that would please the idealistic reformer Trimble with an investigation of the town’s criminal boss Frankie Scarbini (J. Carrol Naish). Richie suggests doing more, and Perrivale and Josh put the fictional front-page in the press run and expect to lose their jobs, but things work out differently. Richie’s mother (Spring Byington) provides kind support to Perrivale.

This drama shows how the ideas of an outstanding teacher can be put it into effect by reporters and a newspaper persuading a grand jury to investigate the town’s corruption.

The Brave Bulls

(1951 b 106’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Adapted from the Tom Lea’s novel and directed by Robert Rossen, acclaimed matador Luis Bello (Mel Ferrer) is managed by Raul Fuentes (Anthony Quinn) but becomes afraid after being gored in Mexico City. His younger brother Pepe Bello (Eugene Iglesias) is also a bull fighter. Eladio Gomez (Jose Torvay) in the small town of Cuenca manages to get Raul and Pepe to fight in his arena with San Mateo bulls. Raul falls in love with beautiful Linda de Calderon (Miroslava Sternova), but Raul also likes her.

This drama depicts the popular “sport” of bull-fighting in Mexico and shows how changeable the rabid fans can be. The violent contest between the matador and the bull is seen as a challenge to the courage of both. Director Robert Rossen would need such courage when facing the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1951 and 1953.

Callaway Went Thataway

(1951 b 81’) En: 5 Ed: 4

Television producers Mike Frye (Fred MacMurray) and Deborah Patterson (Dorothy McGuire) use the old movies of western star Smoky Callaway (Howard Keel) and want to make more, but their star has become an alcoholic womanizer and has disappeared. So they hire look-alike Stretch Barnes (Howard Keel), who wants to donate most of his high salary to charity.

          This spoof of the latest craze that made Hopalong Cassidy a marketable name contrasts the morally degenerate star with a cowboy who has good values.

Close to My Heart

(1951 90’) En: 4 Ed: 5

James R. Webb adapted his own novel about a couple that tries to adopt a child. After Brad Sheridan (Ray Milland) brings home a dog, his wife Midge Sheridan (Gene Tierney) persuades him to adopt a child; but Mrs. Morrow (Fay Bainter) tells them that the usual wait is two years.

         This drama explores the process of adoption and the advisability of accepting a child of a criminal.

Cry Danger

(1951 b 79’) En: 5 Ed: 4

Rocky Mulloy (Dick Powell) is out of prison after the alcoholic Delong (Richard Erdman) testified to his alibi. Rocky finds Nancy Morgan (Rhonda Fleming), whose husband is still in prison and tries to find the criminals and the $100,000 they took while he is being tailed by detective Lt. Gus Cobb (Regis Toomey).

         This snappy detective story follows the fall guy as he gets revenge by helping the police catch the criminals who framed him. The cynical dialog, betrayals, and violence provide elements of film noir to keep the audience’s interest.

Decision Before Dawn

(1951 b 110’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Adapted from George Howe’s novel, Lt. Rennick (Richard Basehart) captures the German soldier Karl Maurer (Oscar Werner). Col. Devlin (Gary Merrill) selects volunteer Karl to be a spy and sends him with Rennick behind the German lines.

         This war drama reflects the changing the attitudes toward Germans as they became a new ally in the cold war.

Early Summer

(Japanese 1951 b 124’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Directed Yasujiro Ozu, 28-year-old Noriko Mamiya (Setsuko Hara) and her friend Aya Tamura (Chikage Awashima) seem to be happy unmarried. Noriko lives with her father (Ichiro Sugai), her mother Shige (Chieko Higashiyama), her brother Koichi (Chishu Ryu), his wife Fumiko (Kuniko Miyake), and their two spoiled boys. All these adult relatives want Noriko to get married. She works as a secretary, and her boss arranges for her to marry a 40-year-old man, but she makes another choice.

            This family drama portrays an extended Japanese family after World War II that is turning from traditional ways and becoming modern. What most characters seem to want has the effect of making most of them sad as women have the right to choose their own mates.

Flying Leathernecks

(1951 c 102’) En: 5 Ed: 4

The new squadron commander Major Dan Kirby (John Wayne) is tough on his men and executive officer Captain Griffin (Robert Ryan), who was passed over for being too sentimental in this World War II classic about an officer who clashes with his marine aviators at Guadalcanal.

         The violence of war dominates the mood of this portrayal of men struggling to win and survive in harm’s way. War is exciting and dramatic to watch from a safe distance, but it must be hell to suffer the consequences.

Force of Arms

(1951 b 99’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Sergeant Joe Peterson (William Holden) leads his men against Germans in battle and is promoted by Major Blackford (Frank Lovejoy). While on leave Joe falls in love with Lt. Eleanor McKay (Nancy Olson).

         This romantic drama set in the massive violence of war contrasts the absurdity of human combat with the sensitivity of loving that fears the likelihood of sudden death.

Golden Girl

(1951 c 108’) En: 5 Ed: 5

During the Civil War young Lotta Crabtree (Mitzi Gaynor) is determined to become a singer and a dancer. She is assisted by her mother (Una Merkel), her father John Crabtree (James Barton), and the singer Mart (Dennis Day). Lotta falls in love with Tom Richmond (Dale Robertson) who is from Alabama.

            This biopic musical includes song from that era and depicts Lotta’s career as her family travels to San Francisco and then to New York.

Goodbye, My Fancy

(1951 b 107’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on Fay Kanin’s play, Congresswoman Agatha Reed (Joan Crawford) and her secretary Woody (Eve Arden) go back to her college, where Agatha was expelled to protect its current president (Robert Young) who works for the board chairman (Howard St. John). They rekindle their romance and decide to marry, but the showing of her controversial film makes Agatha realize that photo-journalist Matt Cole (Frank Lovejoy) has much to offer her too.

         This melodrama explores how McCarthyistic politics is affecting higher education and makes a strong plea for the academic freedom that treats students with respect instead of from fear. Each of the characters realizes that they need to understand themselves better.

He Ran All the Way

(1951 b 77’) En: 5 Ed: 4

Based on a novel by Sam Ross, a desperate man (John Garfield) commits armed robbery and kills a policeman. He escapes but keeps a woman (Shelley Winters) and her parents (Wallace Ford and Selena Royle) hostage in their apartment.

         This crime drama portrays a violent man who struggles with conflicting emotions of ruthless selfishness and occasional concern for others.

His Kind of Woman

(1951 b 120’) En: 5 Ed: 4

Gambler Dan Milner (Robert Mitchum) is offered $50,000 to go to Mexico, where he romances a gold-digging singer (Jane Russell) and learns he is a patsy for a gangster (Raymond Burr); but Dan is rescued by a movie star (Vincent Price) glad to be playing a hero in real life.

         This far-fetched film-noir with a Shakespearean joker thrown in reflects the film-makers who are so stoned they don’t bother about following an intelligent script.

I Can Get It for You Wholesale

(1951 b 91’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on the novel by Jerome Weidman, ambitious Harriet Boyd (Susan Hayward) starts as a model but becomes a successful dress designer. She schemes to form a partnership with playboy salesman Teddy Sherman (Dan Dailey), who is nuts about her, and managerial Sam Cooper (Sam Jaffe) in the $10.95 dress line; but she is tempted by the successful gown dealer J. F. Noble (George Sanders),resulting in the difficult love triangle.

This romantic drama depicts the competitive Seventh-Avenue garment business in New York City that is overshadowed by expensive gowns from Paris.

The Idiot (Hakuchi)

(Japanese 1951 b 166’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Adapted from Dostoyevsky’s novel and directed by Akira Kurosawa, war veteran Kinji Kameda (Masayuki Mori) suffers from epilepsy that has made him an idiot. He is kind and becomes friends with wealthy Denkichi Akama (Toshiro Mifune) and his beautiful lover Taeko Nasu (Setsuko Hara), but then Kameda falls in love with young Ayako (Yoshiko Kuga) and proposes to her before her entire family. He is then forced to choose between those whom he loves.

            This tragic drama implies that someone who seems to be an idiot can be very loving and even wise in simple ways; but those around him are more complex and may have difficulty relating to his love.

Let’s Make It Legal

(1951 b 77’) En: 5 Ed: 4

Barbara (Barbara Bates) does not get along well with her husband Jerry (Robert Wagner), but she wants her divorcing mother Miriam (Claudette Colbert) to get back together with her eccentric and gambling father Hugh (Macdonald Carey), but Miriam’s old flame Victor (Zachary Scott) returns to town as a wealthy bachelor who still wants her.

         This comedy reflects the more common divorces as women become independent. After twenty years of marriage they are still drawn to each other despite their differences.


Lullaby of Broadway

(1951 c 92’) En: 5 Ed: 4

Melinda Howard (Doris Day) returns to New York to visit her mother (Gladys George) who has become an alcoholic. Lefty Mack (Billy De Wolfe), Gloria Davis (Anne Triola), and Adolph Hubbell (S. Z. Sakall) help Melinda find a place to stay, and she gets in a musical show with Tom Farnham (Gene Nelson).

This musical entertains with comedy, good songs, and fine dancing while making the young singer’s entrance into show business seem easy while contrasting Melinda’s success with talented Lefty and Gloria having to work as servants.

The Man With a Cloak

(1951 b 81’) En: 5 Ed: 5

In 1848 New York actress Lorna (Barbara Stanwyck) and the butler Martin (Joe De Santis) are anxious for wealthy Theverner (Louis Calhern) to die so that they can inherit his money; but Madeline Minot (Leslie Caron) arrives from Paris with a letter from Theverner’s grandson and is helped by the alcoholic poet Dupin (Joseph Cotton).

         Cynical conversation by the poet keeps this suspenseful mystery lively with wit while a group of selfish vultures wait to swoop on the romantic French during a year of revolutionary spirit.

The Mob

(1951 b 87’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on a novel by Ferguson Findley, police detective Johnny Damico (Broderick Crawford) goes undercover to investigate the mob exploiting the waterfront led by Joe Castro (Ernest Borgnine). Lt. Banks (Otto Hulett) guides the sophisticated police work. Johnny makes friends with Tom Clancy (Richard Kiley), and his fiancé Mary Kiernan becomes involved.

            This crime drama depicts how police use clever methods to catch the leaders of a gang that is extorting money from the longshoremen.

My Favorite Spy

(1951 b 93’) En: 5 Ed: 4

Burlesque comic Peanuts (Bob Hope) looks like a gangster and is hired by the US Government to purchase microfilm in Tangier while romancing the intriguing Lily (Hedy Lamarr).

         This comedy follows Hope’s entertaining formula of being a coward in dangerous situations that he always manages to escape while pursuing a beautiful woman, thus providing escape entertainment for viewers.

Night Into Morning

(1951 b 86’) En: 4 Ed: 5

English professor Philip Ainley (Ray Milland) loses his wife and son in a fire and turns to liquor while widow Katherine (Nancy Davis) tries to help him without making her fiancé Tom (John Hodiak) jealous.

         This drama explores grief aggravated by alcoholism that flirts with suicide; but the experience of one who has been there shares her experience and brings redemption to both men.

Nobody’s Children

(Italian 1951 b 96’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Directed by Raffaello Matarazzo, Guido Canali (Amedeo Nazzari) helps his mother, Contessa Canali (Françoise Rosay) run a quarry she owns, but he has conflicts with her and her manager Anselmo Vannini (Folco Lulli). Guido is in love with Luisa Fanti (Yvonne Sanson), but his mother opposes their marriage. The Contessa and Anselmo deceive Guido and cause problems for him and Luisa with tragic results.

This family drama depicts how those with economic power can manipulate people for their own advantage while harming others.

On the Riviera

(1951 c 89’) En: 5 Ed: 4

Based on the Adler-Lothar play, entertainer Jack Martin (Danny Kaye) impersonates aviator Henri Duran (Danny Kaye) and likes his wife Lili  Duran (Gene Tierney) while his girl-friend Colette (Corinne Calvet) becomes jealous.

         This farce plays once again on the mistaken identities of look-alikes and reflects the new distraction of television while displaying many beautiful women in revealing costumes.

Outcast of the Islands

(1951 b 101’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Adapted from Joseph Conrad’s novel and directed by Carol Reed, Peter Willems (Trevor Howard) is in trouble in Singapore and leaves his wife to go with Captain Lingard (Ralph Richardson), who previously saved his life, to go up a dangerous river where Lingard’s daughter (Wendy Hiller) is married to Elmer Almeyer (Robert Morley) who does business with natives and Lingard. Willems is left there and becomes bored but falls in love a chief’s daughter Aissa (Kerima) who knows no English.

This adventure portrays a selfish Englishman trying to get along among native peoples after failing to get along with others. The story shows the difficulty the captain has trying to help someone and how Willems tends to ruin the lives of those around him.

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman

(1951 c 123’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Written and directed by Albert Lewin, beautiful Pandora Reynolds (Ava Gardner) is a heart-breaker and agrees to marry race-car driver Stephen Cameron (Nigel Patrick) even though she is in love with the mysterious ship captain Hendrik van der Zee (James Mason). She also rejects the matador Juan Montalvo (Mario Cabré).

            Using fantasy to get across its spiritual message that love is what prevents human violence, the captain’s purgatory of not being able to die until he learns to love and be loved symbolizes the wheel of reincarnation.

The People Against O’Hara

(1951 b 102’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on a novel by Eleazar Lipsky, an aging attorney (Spencer Tracy) defends O’Hara (James Arness) in a murder case against a capable prosecutor (John Hodiak) while his daughter (Diana Lynn) is worried he will start drinking again.

         This realistic courtroom drama and murder mystery portrays a declining lawyer whose weakness for alcohol is reflected in corruption, but he tries hard to redeem himself.

The Racket

(1951 b 88’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Adapted from Bartlett Cormack’s play, an honest police captain (Robert Mitchum) goes after a violent gangster (Robert Ryan), protects a witness (Lizabeth Scott), and catches a corrupt district attorney (Ray Collins).

         This remade crime drama reflects the current Kefauver Senate hearings into organized crime and corruption and shows that cooperative police work can catch criminals.

Saturday’s Hero

(1951 b 110’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on Millard Lampell’s novel, high school football star Steve Novak (John Derek) gets many offers from colleges and chooses Jackson University so that he can study engineering. There he excels at football and is given special favors by wealthy T. C. McCabe and gets to know his beautiful daughter Melissa (Donna Reed). English professor Megroth (Alexander Knox) is skeptical of the football hero but helps him learn. Steve has to make difficult choices.

            This drama depicts the excitement and acclaim of college football in which the students are required to be amateurs while accepting scholarships, easy jobs, and other favors. The best players are idolized and are expected to perform well so the team can win, and pressure is put on them by coaches and others.

 

Sealed Cargo

(1951 b 90) En: 5 Ed: 4

Adapted from Edmund Gilligan’s novel, a fishing-boat captain (Dana Andrews) gets help from a passenger (Carla Balenda) and a Danish sailor (Philip Dorn) when they discover a stranded schooner captain (Claude Rains) who is a Nazi spy helping their submarines off New Foundland.

         This war-time adventure story strains credulity but is filled with entertaining intrigues and a heroic plot to fulfill American fantasies of defeating Nazis.

Storm Warning

(1951 b 91’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Model Marsha Mitchell (Ginger Rogers) while going to visit her sister Lucy Rice (Doris Day) sees Ku Klux Klan members kill an investigative reporter after taking him from jail. She realizes that Lucy’s husband Hank Rice (Steve Cochrane) was one of the two men she saw involved in the murder. District Attorney Burt Rainey (Ronald Reagan) wants her to testify as to who or what she saw.

This drama exposes the violent bullying tactics of the KKK that crumble when they are not a gang hidden by their hoods.

Summer Interlude

(Swedish 1951 b 96’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Ballerina Marie (Maj-Britt Nilsson) recalls thirteen years before when she spent a summer at the house of her Uncle Erland (George Funkquist) being happy with young Henrik (Birger Malmsten) that ended tragically.

         Ingmar Bergman wrote and directed this study of how a care-free youth and lost love affected the life of a dancer.

The Tall Target

(1951 b 78’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Police detective John Kennedy (Dick Powell) tries to protect President-elect Lincoln on a train ride from New York to Baltimore, but Col. Jeffers (Adolphe Menjou), pretending to help him, has him arrested.

         Although Lincoln did have to avoid assassination plots in Baltimore, this drama is a fictional mystery thriller played for entertainment within that historical context.

The Thing from Another World

(1951 b 81’) En: 5 Ed: 5

The Air Force and scientists discover a flying saucer with an intelligent plant that lives off blood. Captain Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) and Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) argue over whether to destroy it or not.

         This science fiction thriller reflects the current interest in flying saucers and the dangers of nuclear weapons that have made the world much less secure. The scientist is portrayed as single-minded in his pursuit of knowledge, but he is dominated by the authority of the military approach which opts for destruction of the alien.

Thunder on the Hill

(1951 b 84’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Adapted from a play by Charlotte Hastings, the self-confident nun Mary (Claudette Colbert) in an isolated hospital meets Valerie Carns (Ann Blyth), who is soon to be executed for the murder of her invalid brother. Mary believes Valerie is innocent and works energetically to solve the crime.

         This melodramatic mystery depicts the spiritual powers of intuition, persistence, courage, and sometimes the need to ignore authorities in pursuit of truth and justice.

Too Young to Kiss

(1951 b 89’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Pianist Cynthia Potter (June Allyson) pretends to be a child to get an audition with impresario Eric Wainwright (Van Johnson), who will only give her a contract as a child prodigy. Her boyfriend John Tirsen (Gig Young) agrees to go along in order to write the story of the fraud.

         This romantic comedy has fine classical music and satirizes the show business world that can sell a child but not an adult with equal talent. Another comic theme is the foolishness of adults who smoke and drink while being horrified when children do the same.

Up Front

(1951 b 92’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on Bill Mauldin’s cartoons, GIs Joe (David Wayne) and Willie (Tom Ewell) are buddies in combat. When Joe is wounded, Willie gets a pass to visit him in Naples, where they have adventures with Emi Rosso (Marina Berti) and her relatives.

         This comedy satirizes army life in the European war from the privates’ point of view. With poetic justice the stolen equipment and uniforms end up being used by the MPs in combat.

Copyright © 2007 by Sanderson Beck

Best Movies of 1951

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1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959

Sanderson Beck’s List of the Greatest Movies of All Time
Sanderson Beck’s List of the Greatest Movies in Alphabetical Order

Movie Mirrors Index

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