BECK index
Movie Mirrors Index

More Movies from 1953

Movie Mirrors

by Sanderson Beck

Best Movies of 1953

Movie Mirrors Introduction

Abbreviations
 Title

Min.

c S M H P V En Ed
 Act of Love 106   b  6  5  5      5  5
 Actress, The 90   b  6  5  4    5  5  5
 All I Desire 79   b  6  5  4    5  5  5
 Arena 71   c  4  5  4      4  5
 Bad for Each Other 83   b  4  5  4      5  5
 Beat the Devil 89   b  5  6  5  7  6  5  4
 Bigamist, The 80   b  6  6  5  5  3  5  5
 Bright Road 68   b  4  4  5      4  5
 By the Light of the Silvery Moon 101   c  6  5  5  5  5  5  4
 Call Me Madam 114   c  7  6  7      5  4
 Clown, The 91   b  6  5  4  5  5  5  4
 Donovan’s Brain 83   b  6  6  5  5  6  5  5
 Dream Wife 100   b  5  3  4   4  5  5
 Eddie Cantor Story, The 115   c  4  3  4    5  5  5
 Escape from Fort Bravo 99   c  6  6  5  6  5  5  4
 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T 89   c  5  6  5  7  6  5  5
 Glass Wall, The 80   b  6  4      5  5  5
 House of Wax 89   c  5  6  6  6  6  5  4
 I Don’t Care Girl, The 78   c  5  5        5  4
 I Love Melvin 77   c  5  5  5  5  5  5  4
 Indiscretion of an American Wife 63   b  4  5  5  4  4  4  5
 Invaders from Mars 78   c  6  6  4  7  5  5  4
 It Happens Every Thursday 80   b  5  6  5      5  5
 Juggler, The 86   b  6  5  4   3  5  5
 Kansas Pacific 73   c    4    4  4  5  4
 Kid from Left Field, The 80   b  5  4  4      5  4
 King of the Khyber Rifles 100   c  4  5        5  5
 Knights of the Round Table 115   c  5  5  5  4  5  5  5
 Let’s Do It Again 95   c  5  6  4    5  5  4
 Little Fugitive 80   b  7  6      6  5  5
 Long, Long Trailer, The 96   c  6  5  5  5  5  5  4
 Man from the Alamo, The 79   c  5  6  5  6  6  5  4
 Man With a Million, The 89   c  6  4  5      5  5
 Miss Sadie Thompson 91   c  5  6  5  4  6  5  5
 Mississippi Gambler 99   c  6  5  4      5  4
 Mister Scoutmaster 87   b  4  6  4      5  5
 Moon Is Blue, The 99   b  4 5  5  3  5  5  4
 Never Let Me Go 92   b  5  5  4  5  5  5  5
 Off Limits 89   b  5 5  4  3  5  5  4
 Pony Express 101   c  5  6  5  5  6  5  4
 President’s Lady, The 97   b  5  6  5      5  5
 Sangaree 94   c  4  4  4      5  5
 Scandal at Scourie 90   c  5  5  4      5  5
 South Sea Woman 99   b  6  5  4    5  5  4
 Take Me to Town 81   c  6  5  4      5  5
 Take the High Ground! 101   c  6  6  4      5  5
 Trouble Along the Way 110   b  4  5  4  5  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

 

Act of Love

(1953 b 106') En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on a novel by Alfred Hayes, an American G.I. (Kirk Douglas) stationed in Paris during the winter of 1945 shares a room with pretty Lise (Dany Robin), who gets classified as a prostitute by the military police. He decides to marry her, but that causes an unfortunate sequence of events.

         This existentialist drama exposes the lack of humanity in the military bureaucracy during the modern age of warfare.

The Actress

(1953 b 90'') En: 5 Ed: 5

Adapted from Ruth Gordon’s autobiographical play, young Ruth (Jean Simmons) wants to be an actress. Her mother (Teresa Wright) understands her aspiration, but her father (Spencer Tracy) is struggling economically and wants her to be more practical.

         This realistic comedy portrays a family in the early 20th century with parents who care for their only child, whose immature ambitions are reluctantly given an opportunity to thrive.

All I Desire

(1953 b 79') En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on Carol Ryrie Brink’s novel, actress Naomi (Barbara Stanwyck) returns to her family for the school play of her daughter Lily (Lori Nelson) after leaving years before in a scandal involving Dutch (Lyle Bettger). Naomi is resented by her daughter Joyce (Marcia Henderson), but she finds reconciliation with her husband Henry (Richard Carlson).

         This domestic drama depicts the strong feelings of home and family that draw an ambitious woman back to the warm hearth she fled. All the other characters represent the different parts of her psyche that she needs to integrate.

Arena

(1953 c 71') En: 4 Ed: 5

Aging cowboys Hob (Gig Young) and Lew (Harry Morgan) learn how dangerous rodeo work can be. Lew has a devoted wife (Jean Hagen) and a son (Lee Aaker) and takes the role of the rodeo clown while Hob has to decide whether to stay with his new girlfriend Sylvia (Barbara Lawrence) or go back to his separated wife Ruth (Polly Bergen).

         This realistic drama in a one-day rodeo portrays brave men and women who take their chances with them as they gamble with their lives working with some untamed animals to try to make some quick money. The clown is shown to be the most courageous and valuable member of the rodeo team.

Bad for Each Other

(1953 b 83') En: 5 Ed: 5

Dr. Tom Owen (Charlton Heston) comes home to Pennsylvania from the Korean War a colonel. Doc Scobee (Rhys Williams) asks him to work in his coal-mining town, but divorced Helen Curtis (Lizabeth Scott) likes Tom and gets him a job treating wealthy patients with Dr. Homer Gleeson (Lester Matthews). Tom hires the dedicated nurse Joan Lasher (Dianne Foster), who is upset by Tom’s ethical failing and goes to work with Dr. Jim Crowley (Arthur Franz) in Coaltown.

         This medical drama contrasts the values and motivations of those who have integrity and those who want an easy life-style with plenty of money.

Beat the Devil

(1953 b 89') En: 5 Ed: 4

Truman Capote adapted the novel by James Helvick (Claude Cockburn). Billy (Humphrey Bogart) and his wife Maria (Gina Lollobrigida) pursue a scheme to make money by buying land in Africa with uranium with four crooked partners (Robert Morley, Peter Lorre, Ivor Barnard, Marco Tulli), but they are distracted by affairs with Gwendolen (Jennifer Jones) and her neurotic husband Harry (Edward Underdown).

         Director John Huston spoofs his own mystery films by letting the characters crack their own witty dialog, resulting in an oddly melodramatic story that becomes a joke. As a result this became one of the first camp films.

The Bigamist

(1953 b 80') En: 5 Ed: 5

Traveling salesman Harry Graham (Edmond O’Brien) and his wife Eve (Joan Fontaine) cannot have a baby, and an adoption agent (Edmund Gwenn) begins investigating them. Harry is lonely in Los Angeles and falls in love with equally lonely Phyllis (Ida Lupino), who gets pregnant. Not wanting “to hurt” either woman but really afraid to tell them, Harry marries Phyllis too.

         This realistic drama directed by Lupino explores the difficulty of the salesman’s divided life; but the situation is untenable, ethically because of the dishonesty involved and socially because polygamy is illegal. Producer and screenwriter Collier Young had divorced Lupino and was married to Fontaine, but he was not in trouble because he followed our society’s acceptable pattern of marrying only one at a time. The salesman is so used to not offending clients that he suffers from his occupational hazard of being dishonest by omission.

Bright Road

(1953 b 68') En: 4 Ed: 5

Rural schoolteacher Jane Richards (Dorothy Dandridge) and the principal (Harry Belafonte) have difficulty with the “backward” student C. T. Young (Philip Hepburn), whose main interests are outside the classroom.

         This drama includes the inner thoughts of the teacher as she struggles to say what is best in each situation. An individual is true to himself but does not easily conform to the educational institution.

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

(1953 c 101') En: 5 Ed: 4

In this sequel to the 1951 On Moonlight Bay, Marjorie Winfield (Doris Day) is eager to marry returning soldier Bill Sherman (Gordon MacRae), who wants to wait until he has earned some money. Her brother Wesley (Billy Gray) is up to more mischief, and her father (Leon Ames) is suspected of having an affair with an actress (Maria Palmer).

         This musical comedy provides family entertainment while reflecting an era of more simple joys and tame problems.

Call Me Madam

(1953 c 114’) En: 5 Ed: 4

Based on the play by Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay with songs by Irving Berlin, Sally Adams (Ethel Merman) is appointed in 1951 to be ambassador to Lichtenstein and takes Kenneth Gibson (Donald O’Connor) along as her press attaché. Some in the Lichtenstein government want a loan from the United States, and others do not. Sally falls in love with the Foreign Minister General Cosmo Constantine (George Sanders) while Kenneth falls for Princess Maria. Pemberton Maxwell (Billy De Wolfe) is the obnoxious Chargé d’affaires.

            This musical comedy entertains with outstanding love songs and good dancing while satirizing the foreign relations of the rich United States with small countries.

The Clown

(1953 b 91') En: 5 Ed: 4

In this adaptation of The Champ an alcoholic clown Dodo (Red Skelton) has a son Dink (Tim Considine) who takes care of him while Dink’s mother Paula (Jane Greer) wants to care for her son.

         This drama shows how sad a clown can be when he is not funny and is an attempt to redo and exploit the heart-tugging story by Frances Marion. Can television save a comic who is too dangerous to perform live?

Donovan’s Brain

(1953 b 83') En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on Curt Siodmak’s novel, scientist Patrick Cory (Lew Ayres) is assisted by his wife Janice (Nancy Davis) and his surgeon friend Frank (Gene Evans) in an usual experiment to keep a human brain alive to study it. The brain belonged to a ruthless capitalist, and Patrick lets it take over his life and use him to get revenge against his enemies.

         This science-fiction melodrama implies what lengths a selfish person might go to if he had the power to influence others after dying. Once again a scientist eager for extraordinary knowledge allows himself to slide into unethical behavior.

Dream Wife

(1953 b 100') En: 5 Ed: 5

Co-written and directed by Sidney Shelton, oil executive Clemson Reade (Cary Grant) meets the charming princess Tarji (Bella St. John) in Bukistan and feels that his fiancée Effie (Deborah Kerr) is too busy with State Department business to marry him. So Clemson proposes to Tarji, but Effie is assigned to work out the protocol and becomes their translator.

         This under-rated comedy satirizes the oil diplomacy in the year that Mosaddeq (who is mentioned) was overthrown by the CIA. The clash of patriarchal Mideastern culture with American freedom and feminism leads to many comic conflicts. In real life an anti-democratic political coup kept the oil flowing, but in this comedy romance triumphs and keeps the oil deal alive with a deus ex machina ending.

The Eddie Cantor Story

(1953 c 115’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Raised by his grandmother (Aline MacMahon), Eddie Cantor (Keefe Brasselle) is driven by his talent for singing, dancing, and comedy to become a star on stage and in radio. He marries his childhood sweetheart Ida Tobias (Marilyn Erskine), and Harry Harris (Arthur Franz) continues to be their good friend and doctor. Eddie’s boyhood friend Rocky Kramer (Gerald Mohr) becomes a bootlegger. Eddie is also encouraged by Jimmy Durante (Jackie Barnett) and Will Rogers (Will Rogers Jr.), and he is hired by Flo Ziegfeld (William Forrest).

      This uplifting biopic is a musical comedy as well with many entertaining songs. Cantor could afford a mansion for his family and bounced back after losing much in the stock market crash. Only a heart attack could slow down his ambition and excessive work; but he survived that and eventually resumed his career and contributed his talent to raising money for charities.

Escape from Fort Bravo

(1953 c 99') En: 5 Ed: 4

In 1863 Captain Roper (William Holden) is responsible for Confederate prisoners in an isolated Arizona fort. Visiting Carla Forester (Eleanor Parker) seduces him in order to help Captain John Marsh (John Forsythe) and others to try to escape; but they are ambushed by Mescalero Indians.

         In this western the hatred between the Civil War adversaries is only surpassed by their mutual dread of the Mescaleros, who are shown as foolish killers who are killed. Such westerns dull audiences’ sensibilities by making killing a callous sport for brutal entertainment.

5,000 Fingers of Dr. T

(1953 c 89') En: 5 Ed: 5

A boy (Tommy Rettig) is told by his mother (Mary Healy) and his piano teacher Dr. Terwilliker (Hans Conried) that he has to practice the piano; but he does not want to and finds support from the plumber (Peter Lind Hayes), who says that Terwilliker is a racketeer.

         This musical fantasy reflects the childhood of the post-war babies who are brought up with more opportunities but find that some of them are imposed on them by their parents and other adults.

The Glass Wall

(1953 b 80’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Hungarian Peter Kaban (Vittorio Gassman) survived ten years in a concentration camp and escaped. He stows away on a ship carrying displaced persons to New York where he is quarantined on the ship because he only knows the first name of Tom (Jerry Paris), a clarinet player. He escapes to avoid being deported and desperately searches for his friend. He helps fired factory worker Maggie Summers (Gloria Grahame); but he has trouble because he wanted by the police. He ends up at the United Nations building.
      This unusual film noir depicts the struggle of one man for his human rights and dignity while he is hindered by many but helped by some who understand his plight.

House of Wax

(1953 c 89') En: 5 Ed: 4

After his frustrated business partner Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts) burns down his wax museum for the insurance money, the sculptor Henry Jarrod (Vincent Price) becomes deranged and begins murdering and using corpses as the basis for making new wax figures. He uses Burke’s girlfriend Cathy Gray (Carolyn Jones) as Joan of Arc and tries to kill Sue Allen (Phyllis Kirk), who helps Lt. Tom Brennan (Frank Lovejoy) solve the case.

         This classic horror story shows artistic qualities perverted to murder and the macabre. Yet ironically this entertainment itself is a chamber of horrors.

The I Don’t Care Girl

(1953 c 78’) En: 5 Ed: 4

Based on the life of Eva Tanguay (1878-1947), George Jessel (himself) finds people who knew her to tell Eva’s story to his writers for a film. Vaudeville performer Eddie McCoy (David Wayne) gets young Eva Tanguay (Mitzi Gaynor) to join his act, and she falls in love with singer Larry Woods (Bob Graham). Pianist Charles Bennett (Oscar Levant) likes her too and becomes her friend.

            This biopic is a musical comedy that entertains with singing and dancing, great piano-playing, and the antics and emotional ups and downs of Eva.

I Love Melvin

(1953 c 77') En: 5 Ed: 4

Judy (Debbie Reynolds) is dancing the role of a football but dreams of better things than marrying Harry Flack (Richard Anderson) to relieve the anxiety of her frustrated father (Allyn Joslyn). Photographer Melvin Hoover (Donald O’Connor) falls in love with her and tries to get her on the cover of a national magazine with help from his boss Mergo (Jim Backus).

         This musical comedy faces the frustration of trying to become a star in a business that does so for few while the photographer faces the same uphill climb toward recognition.

Indiscretion of an American Wife

(1953 b 63') En: 4 Ed: 5

Mary Forbes has a husband and child in Philadelphia and tries to say goodbye at the train station in Rome to Giovanni Dori (Montgomery Clift), who is half American.

         This realistic but sad drama directed by Vittoria De Sica is emotionally painful because of the frustration of the two lovers who part and can only wonder what might have been in other circumstances.

Invaders from Mars

(1953 c 78') En: 5 Ed: 4

Young David MacLean (Jimmy Hunt) sees a flying saucer land and tells his parents. His father (Leif Erickson) is the first to be captured and transformed into a mean person who is the tool of the invaders. At the police station a health professional (Helena Carter) believes David and helps him contact those who will take on the Martian invasion.

         This scientific thriller reflects the cold-war era of military secrecy and fear of an authoritarian society that might try to take over our lives and minds.

It Happens Every Thursday

(1953 b 80') En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on a novel by Jane S. McIlvaine, newspaperman Bob MacAvoy (John Forsythe) and his pregnant wife Jane (Loretta Young) buy a little newspaper and work with two bachelors Jake (Edgar Buchanan) and Matthew (Jimmy Conlin) to publish. They use various devices to sell subscriptions and get advertising.

         This comedy-drama portrays the joys and problems of a small town where people are friendlier and more involved in each others’ affairs. The journalists are economically poor but are at the center of much activity and interest.

The Juggler

(1953 b 86') En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on Michael Blankfort’s novel, the juggler Hans Muller (Kirk Douglas), who was in a Nazi concentration camp, has psychological difficulty adjusting after the war when he goes to a camp in Israel. He suffers from paranoia and becomes a fugitive. A police detective (Paul Stewart) searches for Hans, who finds friendship with a boy (Joey Walsh) and a beautiful woman (Milly Vitale).

         This drama explores the healing process of the Jewish people after the holocaust. After suffering such severe persecution it is very challenging to face life without succumbing to fear.

Kansas Pacific

(1953 b 73') En: 5 Ed: 4

Cal Bruce (Barton MacLane), his daughter Barbara (Eve Miller), and Smokestack (Harry Shannon) are having troubles building a railroad; but General Winfield Scott sends them the excellent engineer, John Nelson (Sterling Hayden), who helps them overcome the sabotaging organized by Bill Quantill (Reed Hadley) and others fighting for the South on the brink of the Civil War.

         Despite the anachronisms of dynamite (invented in 1866) and the completed capital dome, this western reflects the violent North-South conflicts that occurred in Kansas prior to the Civil War.

The Kid from Left Field

(1953 b 80') En: 4 Ed: 5

The washed-up baseball player Larry Cooper (Dan Dailey) sells peanuts in the stands, but his 9-year-old son Christie (Billy Chapin) gets a job as batboy, gives hitting advice to Pete Haines (Lloyd Bridges), and with his father’s advice helps other players too. They get the owner (Ray Collins) to make Christie manager. Marian (Anne Bancroft) and Pete are in love, and she helps him realize he needs to retire from playing. Outfielder Bobo Noonan (Bob Hopkins) offers comic relief, and manager Billy Lorant (Richard Egan) is incompetent with an overgrown ego.

         This comic fantasy will interest baseball fans because of its clever strategies, such as moving a pitcher to third base while bringing in a lefty to face a left-handed hitter. I can particularly relate to this movie because as a young-teen-age pitcher I read the St. Louis Sporting News and knew more about baseball than most adults. This film also reflects how television is already making baseball an even more popular sport.

King of the Khyber Rifles

(1953 c 100')

Based on the novel by Talbot Mundy, Captain Alan King (Tyrone Power) was born to a Muslim mother in India, orphaned, and raised by Muslims with Karram Khan (Guy Rolfe) as his foster brother. Now King is serving in Peshawar under General Maitland (Michael Rennie), whose daughter Susan (Terry Moore) falls in love with him. Set in 1857 when the Great Mutiny was provoked by the new Enfield rifles with cartridges containing pig grease, King suffers discrimination by the British as an outcaste, but Maitland assigns him to lead Muslim sepoys.

         This romantic war drama depicts a Muslim area in British India at a critical historic moment. King has been educated by the British, and as usual culture trumps his mixed ethnic background. The aggressive Muslim fanaticism in conflict with oppressive British imperialism still resonates in the 21st century.

Knights of the Round Table

(1953 c 115') En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on the medieval novel Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory, the wise Merlin (Felix Aylmer) advises the noble King Arthur (Mel Ferrer), who is served by the gallant Lancelot (Robert Taylor). They are challenged by the ambitious Morgan Le Fay (Anne Crawford) and Mordred (Stanley Baker) when Lancelot falls in love with Arthur’s queen Guinevere (Ava Gardner). Lancelot marries Elaine (Maureen Swanson) while Percival (Gabriel Woolf) seeks the holy grail.

         This traditional version of the famous legend of chivalry features knightly violence and the quest for chaste virtue in the dark era that followed the decline of the Roman empire.

Let’s Do It Again

(1953 c 95') En: 5 Ed: 4

In this musical adaptation of The Awful Truth, Connie Stuart (Jane Wyman) tells her straying husband Gary Stuart (Ray Milland) that she spent the night in a motel with Courtney (Tom Helmore). They get a divorce, and then Connie wants to  marry rich Frank McGraw (Aldo Ray). When that falls apart, Gary starts going with Deborah (Karin Booth); but before the divorce is final, Connie gets even.

         This romantic musical comedy reflects the increasing use of divorce in modern society. The husband and wife love each other, but somehow they seem to need occasional breaks from the relationship.

Little Fugitive

(1953 b 80') En: 5 Ed: 5

Little Joey (Richie Andrusco) shoots a gun, and his older brother (Richard Brewster) pretends that he was shot and killed. Joey runs away and spends two days at Coney Island while his mother is away.

         This realistic drama presents a slice of life with a child alone in an adult world managing to get along just fine.

The Long, Long Trailer

(1953 c 96') En: 5 Ed: 4

Based on a novel by Clinton Twiss, Tacy (Lucille Ball) persuades Nicky Collini (Desi Arnaz) to buy a modern trailer for their honeymoon journey to his employment in Colorado. They have their ups and downs facing the difficulties; but when he finds out she disobeyed his instructions to leave the rocks and canned goods behind before crossing the Rockies, he leaves her.

         This slapstick comedy about a young couple learning to live together in tight circumstances depicts the increasing travel on the new highway system being built in this era.

The Man from the Alamo

(1953 c 79') En: 5 Ed: 4

John Stroud (Glenn Ford) wins a lottery to leave the Alamo and take care of their families. Young Carlos (Marc Cavell) tells him his wife and child were killed by the anti-independence leader Jess Wade (Victory Jory). Sam Houston’s messenger (Hugh O’Brien) calls Stroud a coward, and he is nearly lynched. He is helped by an editor (Chill Wills) and escapes with members of Wade’s gang; but he fights them to protect Beth (Julie Adams) and a wagon train from their greedy attack.

         This western is packed with violent action based on a plot that lets the misunderstood hero fight the bad guys (who have killed many civilians) to prove he is not a coward. Accepting the Mexican boy also sets the heroes apart and reflects the values of tolerance and diversity.

The Man With a Million

(1953 c 89') En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on a story by Mark Twain, a destitute American (Gregory Peck) in London is given a million-pound note for a month and finds he has a millionaire’s credit and influence. He also takes the opportunity to fall in love with a duchess (Joyce Grenfell).

         This social satire pokes fun at people who drastically alter their behavior when they believe someone is rich.

Miss Sadie Thompson

(1953 c 91') En: 5 Ed: 5

Similar to the 1932 film Rain, this version adds songs to an adaptation of Somerset Maugham’s story and the play by Colton and Randolph. Sexy Sadie (Rita Hayworth) is fleeing criminal suspicion in San Francisco and was driven out of Honolulu. On a South Pacific island Marine Sgt. Phil O’Hara (Aldo Ray) quickly falls in love with her and asks her to meet him in Sydney. However, the moralistic Davidson (Jose Ferrer) persuades the Governor (Wilton Graff) to deport her back to San Francisco. Sadie decides to reform until she discovers that Davidson is a hypocrite.

         This updated version reflects the aftermath of the American military experience in the Pacific War. Especially in peace-time the overly masculine military slides into local prostitution, but the moralistic 1950s shows Sadie as an experienced woman who fights off the men to preserve her honor.

Mississippi Gambler

(1953 c 99') En: 5 Ed: 4

Mark Fallon (Tyrone Power) wants to be an honest gambler, and he joins the experienced John Polly (John McIntire) on the Mississippi. Mark wins money from Laurent Dureau (John Baer), falls in love with his sister Angelique (Piper Laurie), and becomes friends with their father Edmond Dureau (Paul Cavanagh). Laurent falls in love with Ann Conant (Julie Adams), who is in love with Mark. These relationships are played out in the elegance of 19th-century New Orleans with the reckless abandon of aristocrats.

         This romantic drama suggests that an honest gambler can win if he is smart; but he is really gambling on a woman he is passionate for but who is high-strung and resentful. Yet he becomes a business partner with another attractive woman who loves him and is more rational.

Mister Scoutmaster

(1953 b 87') En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on a novel by Rice E. Cochran, Robert Jordan (Clifton Webb) writes a TV show for children and wants to learn more about them. His wife Helen (Frances Dee) suggests they adopt a child; but the minister Dr. Stone (Edmund Gwenn) helps Jordan become a scoutmaster. They also develop an ongoing relationship with a precocious cub scout (George Winslow).

         This comedy plays upon the aristocratic pride of the clever scoutmaster who manages to shake off setbacks and find ways to establish rapport with the youngsters.

The Moon Is Blue

(1953 b 99’) En: 5 Ed: 4

Based on the play by F. Hugh Herbert and directed by Otto Preminger, architect Donald Gresham (William Holden) picks up Patty O’Neil (Maggie McNamara) in the Empire State Building and gets her to go to his apartment where she also meets David Slater (David Niven), the father of Don’s estranged girlfriend Cynthia Slater (Dawn Addams). Patty is clever, frank and a virgin, and Don and David each tries to seduce her.
      This comedy challenged the Hayes Code by discussing sex openly and became popular because it was banned by the Legion of Decency. The conversation has witty banter, and Don and Patty find that they like each other. The irony is that she cleverly manages to seduce Don into marrying her.

 

Never Let Me Go

(1953 b 94') En: 5 Ed: 5

Adapted from Roger Bax’s novel, war correspondent Philip Sutherland (Clark Gable) falls in love with the Russian ballerina Marya (Gene Tierney), and they get married in Moscow. Her friend Svetlana (Anna Valentina) is married to the English Denny (Richard Haydn), but he is deported. Sutherland also has to leave and cannot get a visa for Marya. Ship-builder Joe Brooks (Bernard Miles) helps Sutherland and Denny sneak back into Russia. They are assisted by messages from the radio reporter Steve Quillan (Kenneth More). Sutherland steals a Russian uniform and tries to smuggle her out of the country.

          This romantic drama depicts how the Soviet Union became hostile to westerners during the cold war. In this fantasy-adventure the freedom-loving reporter manages to overcome the closed bureaucratic society to regain personal happiness with his beloved, confirming American and English confidence while making the Russians look foolish.

Off Limits

(1953 b 89') En: 5 Ed: 4

Boxing manager Wally Hogan (Bob Hope) learns his champion was drafted, and so he joins the army, but his champion is rejected. Herbert Tuttle (Mickey Rooney) wants to fight for Hogan; but his aunt Connie (Marilyn Maxwell) opposes boxing. Wally and Herbert become Military Police and get involved in boxing and much trouble while Wally and Connie fall in love.

         This comedy satirizes military regulations and suggests that the MPs have more opportunities for fun in night clubs. The humor stretches from the ridiculous to the absurd as Wally escapes from too many lady-friends by going into the army.

Pony Express

(1953 c 101') En: 5 Ed: 4

Buffalo Bill (Charlton Heston) fights off Indians by himself and gets a ride on a stagecoach. He and his friend Will Bill Hickok (Forrest Tucker) help start the Pony Express while overcoming an evil plot by Rance Hastings (Michael Moore) with help from his sister Evelyn Hastings (Rhonda Fleming) and the tomboy Denny (Jan Sterling), killing many Indians in the process.

         This historical fantasy invents a fictional version of how two western legends got the Pony Express started. In fact Buffalo Bill was 14 years old when the Pony Express began in 1860. He later became a rider for them. Hickok worked for the Pony Express in Nebraska.

The President’s Lady

(1953 b 97’) En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on the biographical novel by Irving Stone, lawyer Andrew Jackson (Charlton Heston) meets beautiful Rachel (Susan Hayward) on the frontier near Nashville while she is married to Lewis Robards (Whitfield Connor), who gives her cause to leave him. Believing he has divorced her, Jackson and Rachel marry and are hounded by the scandal that results for the rest of their lives.

This biopic is quite accurate while focusing on the romantic Jackson couple up until his election as President while depicting Jackson’s violence against threatening Indians and in defending his wife’s honor from slanders, though his use of many slaves to enhance his wealth is barely even implied.

Sangaree

(1953 c 94') En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on Frank Slaughter’s novel set in Georgia just after the Revolutionary War, dying General Victor Darby (Lester Matthews) leaves his estate to be managed by Dr. Carlos Morales (Fernando Lamas) because his son, Dr. Roy Darby (Tom Drake) does not want to handle business. Nancy Darby (Arlene Dahl) contests the will, and Roy’s wife Martha (Patricia Medina) is still in love with Carlos, who faces powerful adversaries such as Dr. Bristol (Francis L. Sullivan).

         This romantic drama portrays early American society and exposes class prejudice against servants and former servants.

Scandal at Scourie

(1953 c 90') En: 5 Ed: 5

Set in the late 19th century in Canada, after a Catholic orphanage is burned down accidentally by Patsy (Donna Corcoran), she is adopted by the Protestant couple, Victoria (Greer Garson) and Patrick (Walter Pidgeon).

         This sentimental family drama explores the feelings of people in a small town who have to adjust to welcoming someone from a different religious tradition. This becomes more difficult when there are political considerations involved.

South Sea Woman

(1953 b 99’) En: 5 Ed: 4

Based on William Rankin’s play, Marine Sergeant James O’Hearn (Burt Lancaster) is tried by a court martial in 1942 for his activities over several months. Ginger Martin (Virginia Mayo) testifies to help him, and O’Hearn decides to testify to clear the name of his friend Private Davey White (Chuck Connors). Davey and Ginger want to get married so that he can help her get home from Shanghai, but the three miss the ship home and embark on an extraordinary series of adventures.

            This adventure story has comic and heroic elements as it entertains with unusual experiences of two Marines stranded in Asia with a beautiful woman during the beginning of American involvement in the Pacific War.

Take Me to Town

(1953 c 81') En: 5 Ed: 5

Vermilion O’Toole (Ann Sheridan) escapes from the custody of a marshal (Larry Gates) and gets a job singing in a western town with Rose (Lee Patrick). She escapes again by going with three little boys to the home of a widower timberjack (Sterling Hayden), who is also a preacher. They get along and put on a show to raise money to build a church.

         This western comedy with songs satirizes the hypocrisy of the intolerant while celebrating the spontaneity of the children who find themselves a mother for their kind father in a story of redemption on a personal scale.

Take the High Ground!

(1953 c 101') En: 5 Ed: 5

During the Korean War in 1953 a tough sergeant (Richard Widmark) and a kinder one (Karl Malden) train young Americans to be cogs in the infantry war machine. A beautiful woman (Elaine Stewart) is treated as a sex object who can not be attained by a crude approach.

         Aside from the prolog, this war drama has no battle scenes but rather depicts the recruits, many of whom were probably drafted in this era, as kids who need external discipline forced on them to make them men who can work together as a team.

Trouble Along the Way

(1953 b 110') En: 5 Ed: 5

Father Burke (Charles Coburn) is rector at Saint Anthony’s with so much debt he has to close it down. He asks the gambler Steve Williams (John Wayne) to coach its football team as a way to save the school. Steve is devoted to raising his daughter Carol (Sherry Jackson), but his ex-wife Anne (Marie Windsor) has got the probation officer Alice Singleton (Donna Reed) investigating who should raise Carol. Steve uses monetary incentives to put together a top-notch football team, but many rules are broken.

         This comedy combines the worlds of sports and Catholic schools with a child custody plot. The macho coach raises his girl as a tomboy, and Alice is trying to recover from the same kind of upbringing. They all learn from each other, and the entertaining story also satirizes the corruption of a system that has amateur athletes make money for others.

Copyright © 2009 by Sanderson Beck

Best Movies of 1953

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1930
1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939
1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
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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