1951: Movies Sorted By Tier

  • Loved

  • Scrooge

  • Really Liked

  • The African Queen

  • The Lavender Hill Mob

    ... More fun than a heist movie has any right to be, especially for one with such quaint robbers. I slightly preferred Kind Hearts and Coronets because our hero/cad in that film brings a delightfully smug mean streak to the role, whereas this movie lacks any real dark side, but you really can't go wrong with either Ealing Studio/Alec Guiness film.
  • Strangers on a Train

    ... Nothing kills a movie like this for me quicker than observing our hero's plight and thinking, "why doesn't he just tell the police everything?" This movie handles that plausibly, so instead you wonder "how's he going to get out of this?" I was quite struck by how good the cast was, and while I suspected suspense, I had no idea the movie would end with such a terrific action scene.
  • A Streetcar Named Desire

  • Glad I Saw

  • The Day the Earth Stood Still

    ... This, along with The Thing from Another World and Invasion of the Body Snatchers completes my 1950s "they were talking about the Russians, weren't they?" science fiction hat trick. I actually think too much is made of that reading of these movies, but it's impossible not to watch 'em without thinking that at least a bit. Anyway, of the three, I probably liked this the least, but that may have been because I was dog tired. It was nonetheless quite good, and I liked the idea of the alien looking like us, blending in, and observing our culture. I bet this was pretty novel at the time, as I can think of later (usually inferior) movies that used this plot, but not any earlier ones. A bit preachy at times, but the acting, script, and characters were generally strong enough to get away with it.
  • The Thing From Another World

    ... Many folks I respect prefer this original to John Carpenter's 80s version, but I just can't get there from here. Maybe it's because I saw Carpenter's version as a kid (and was thus scared silly) and this as an adult (and thus was not scared even a little bit), but Carpenter's version seems superior in every respect, at least from a horror perspective. The original does have better dialog and more likeable characters, and it's quite enjoyable for those elements, but it's not horror. Heck, it's barely even suspense! Still, I liked it, I'm glad I watched it, and I'd recommend it. One of the better 50s sci-fi movies I've seen (although I vaguely remember being impressed and frightened by Invasion of the Body Snatchers; perhaps I'll check that out again one of these days).
  • Guilty Pleasures

  • None Yet
  • Could Have Missed

  • None Yet
  • Should Have Missed

  • None Yet
  • El Sucko Grande

  • None Yet

I'm very glad to find you enjoyed The Lavender Hill Mob, a film which either seems to hit funny bones or bore to tears. Good stuff!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

As a bonus, we had company that week, so we had a big audience for The Lavender Hill Mob: my wife, our six-year-old, three kids ranging in age from 9 to 14, their mom, and me. Remarkably, everybody liked it to varying degrees (sophisticated kids!) and our guests have added Kind Hearts and Coronets to their "to see" list!

Jim, I agree with you about the two versions of The Thing; Carpenter's is superior(though it does have some grievous faults). Both were based on a short story published in the 30s as "Who Goes There?" - which, when you think about it, is an absolutely brilliant title for that particular story. In the original story the base was a military base. It's interesting that Carpenter's base has only one military type.

"Who Goes There?" is a much better title.

It's been a long time since I've seen Carpenter's version, but I remember it scared the bejeezus out of me. I'd like to see it again. What were it's grievous faults, in your estimation?

Carpenter's The Thing was the first movie I bought on DVD. I had it for several months before I got a player. There's an amusing commentary by Carpenter and Kurt Russell on it too.

The most grievous fault is the silly opening sequence in which the Norwegians are chasing the dog/thing in a helicopter. The pilot, inexplicably, is apparently unable to make the chopper hover. They swoop past the dog again and again, as if strafing it from a fighter plane. Insultingly dumb, Mr Carpenter.

Another fault, imo, is to have the scientist who first figures out what's going on react so ridiculously, shooting his revolver at all and sundry. I never find that scene plausible.

Perhaps their regular chopper pilot had already been killed. I can't even come up with a lame excuse for the scientist's behavior though, which bothered me too, now that you mention it.

You could be right about the chopper pilot. I was about to say that I couldn't think of a way we could have been informed of this, but I just thought of a way. There could have been a brief subtitled conversation between the two Norwegians during which the point is made that the pilot is not a bona fide chopper pilot. For me, that would have saved the opening sequence from idiocy.

My explanation probably doesn't really hold water anyway. It reminds me of the Norm MacDonald line, only substitute in "helicopter piloting" where appropriate:

"There's no middle ground in cliff diving; you're either grand master world champion... or stuff on a rock."