Last night I found the below list while doing research for a blog post I’m working on for tomorrow. These were the top grossing movies in the US in 1948, the year in which my father was born and the year in which Montgomery Clift made his movie debut. The directors aren’t shown here, but we’re talking about people like Powell & Pressburger, John Huston, Vincente Minnelli, Frank Capra, Fred Zinnemann, Howard Hawks, and Billy Wilder. Even the fluffiest of the movies on this list surpasses any of the fluffy type films being put out today in terms of star power and entertainment value, while the great movies on the list are truly great — classics that have stood the test of time. And these are just the top 20 moneymakers of the year. There were plenty of other wonderful movies released in 1948, including Portrait of Jennie, The Bicycle Thief, Rope, Letter From an Unknown Woman, I Remember Mama, Rachel and the Stranger, Romance on the High Seas, and Unfaithfully Yours.
This list is as good a summary as any of why I can rarely be bothered to see a current movie in the theater anymore. Was there a film in 2013 that was as inventive as The Red Shoes? Or a musical starring people with the amount of talent Judy Garland and Fred Astaire had in their little fingers? Was there a satire as biting as Billy Wilder’s A Foreign Affair, or a comedy as amusing and full of charm as Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House? The answer to that is pretty clearly no, at least to me, and so for now my local theater only gets my money when they show something from their “classics” series. It’s Rear Window this weekend, and I’ll be there.
1. The Red Shoes – Moira Shearer
2. The Three Musketeers – Lana Turner and Gene Kelly
3. Red River – John Wayne and Montgomery Clift
4. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre – Humphrey Bogart
5. When My Baby Smiles at Me – Betty Grable and Dan Dailey
6. Easter Parade – Judy Garland and Fred Astaire
7. Johnny Belinda – Jane Wyman, tied with The Snake Pit – Olivia de Havilland
8. Joan of Arc – Ingrid Bergman
9. Adventures of Don Juan – Errol Flynn
10. Homecoming – Clark Gable and Lana Turner
11. The Loves of Carmen – Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford
12. Key Largo – Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and Lauren Bacall
13. That Lady in Ermine – Betty Grable
14. The Emperor Waltz – Bing Crosby and Joan Fontaine
15. The Search – Montgomery Clift
16. Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House – Cary Grant and Myrna Loy
17. Hamlet – Laurence Olivier
18. State of the Union – Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn
19. A Foreign Affair – Jean Arthur, Marlene Dietrich and John Lund
20. Sorry, Wrong Number – Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster
Stay tuned tomorrow for the first post in my month-long series on Montgomery Clift! I’m very excited to dedicate March to an actor I love so dearly. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather spend a month thinking and writing about, or anyone who deserves the attention more.