What Should Have Won the 1952 Best Picture Oscar?

1952 brings to a close the Best Picture polls for V. 2, WHO Won?!? An Irreverent Look at the Oscars: 1944-1952.

We head out of this volume on a low note, with one of the worst choices for Best Picture of all time:


Here is part of what I had to say about this Cecil B. DeMille groaner from v.2: “Cecil B. DeMille’s work on The Greatest Show on Earth is probably best described as this: the little boy hidden inside the director runs away and buys a circus so he can play with it. The only thing duller than the script and the performances is the direction. DeMille succeeds in one thing and one thing only in this movie: he gives us a peripheral record of the circus at its height in American history. The main players couldn’t be more boring, but the incidentals of the Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey Circus make the movie worth watching once. Other than that, the movie is hopeless…”

Probably best to leave it at that. Some of you may actually like this movie…and if that’s the case, why not? Enjoy what you enjoy — I’ve got any number of guilty pleasures in my collection that folks laugh at me about. Right now my wife is giggling over there in the corner because of my Gammera and Godzilla collection…which, by the way, the grandkids love as much as I did at their age!

The other official nominees were: Gary Cooper going it solo (except for Grace Kelly) in High Noon; Robert Taylor getting even stiffer in Ivanhoe, but then, there’s Elizabeth Taylor, so that’s understandable…; John Huston cuts off Jose Ferrer at the legs in Moulin Rouge; and John Ford creates his most beloved film with The Quiet Man.

Here are some other possibilities, beginning with the stunning omission of Singin’ in the Rain, with Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds saying “Good Morning!”; Marlon Brando getting out his inner revel in Viva Zapata!; Kirk Douglas and Lana Turner as The Bad and the Beautiful; Alec Guinness in the delightful The Lavender Hill Mob; Shirley Booth and Burt Lancaster define dysfunctional in Come Back, Little Sheba; Jack Palance menaces Joan Crawford’s eyebrows in Sudden Fear; Bette Davis pretends to be Joan Crawford in The Star; the film version of Carson McCullers’ novel The Member of the Wedding; James Mason spies for the Nazis in Five Fingers; Susan Hayward gets hurt but sings anyways in With a Song in My Heart; Richard Burton gets involved with Olivia de Havilland and suspicions of murder in My Cousin Rachel; Kirk Douglas chops down some trees in The Big Sky; Alec Guinness is delightful again in The Man in the White Suit; Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn are both delightful in Pat and Mike; film noir at its B-budget best in The Narrow Margin; Ray Milland stays silent — completely silent — in The Thief; Danny Thomas tries to be Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer; Danny Kaye gets to be Hans Christian Andersen; Bob Hope meets Lucille Ball in Son of Paleface; Akira Kurosawa questions our sens of reality in Rashomon; Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner go Hemingway in The Snows of Kilimanjaro; Esther Williams gets really wet in Million Dollar Mermaid; Laurence Olivier goes all Theodore Dreiser in Carrie;  Fritz Lang sends Barbara Stanwyck out for a Clash by Night; Burt Lancaster is charmingly aaaaaargh in The Crimson Pirate; the Brits make the best version of The Importance of Being Earnest; Charlie Chaplin teams (briefly) with Buster Keaton in Limelight; Stewart Granger is The Prisoner of Zenda; Stewart Granger is even better as Scaramouche; Sydney Poitier helps to Cry the Beloved Country; and Jean Cocteau unleashes Les Enfants Terribles.

As always, I have much more to say in my book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PKK8MBY

Please vote here!


  1. I would vote The Quiet Man. I love so many John Wayne movies, Red River, The Searcher, but in The Quiet Man, he plays against type and I think he’s just wonderful.

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