Other Notable Films from 1954
Seven Samurai: Many consider this Kurosawa’s greatest film (although I’m partial to Ikiru), this movie about a group of nomadic samurai hired to protect a village from bandits is one of the most celebrated (#17 on the Sight and Sound list) and remade (most famously as The Magnificent Seven) movies of all time.
Rear Window & Dial M for Murder: two of the many great Hitchcock films from the 1950’s on that were not nominated for Best Picture (although Rear Window was for Director, Screenplay and two others). Both star Grace Kelly, who had an amazing breakout year as a lead actress (these two plus the previously reviewed The Country Girl which she won Best Actress for) and were both either entirely (Rear Window) or almost entirely (Dial M for Murder) filmed on one set.
Godzilla: The film that started it all for one of the longest running franchises in film history, even if the tone here is very different than some of the later sequels during the original run (especially once Godzilla had a baby and teamed up with this guy: http://kaiju.wdfiles.com/local–files/wiki:jet_jaguar/jet_jaguar_1973_02.jpg).
La Strada: It received mixed reviews at the time of its release, but has since been acknowledged as one of Fellini’s best works. Won the Oscar for best foreign film, and was on the 1992 Sight and Sound director’s top 10 list.
Johnny Guitar: Joan Crawford stars in this western that received negative reviews at the time (likely due to how untraditional a strong female lead in a western was), but has now been re-appraised. In the National Film Registry.
Sabrina: Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden in a rom com directed by Billy Wilder? Sounds great, and it was nominated for 6 Oscars including Director, Actress and Adapted Screenplay, but not Best Picture. In the National Film Registry.
Salt of the Earth: This movie was considered subversive when it came out because it was very pro-union, feminist and everyone involved with the production side used to be blacklisted. Not surprisingly, it was suppressed and only 12 theaters in the country were willing to show it. Eventually though, it was appreciated as a bold work and is now in the National Film Registry.
A Star is Born: Generally considered the best of the 3/4 versions of this movie, it marked Judy Garland’s big comeback and got 6 nominations but not BP. Everybody expected her to win for Best Actress, but Grace Kelly won in a massive upset for The Country Girl. In the National Film Registry.
Vera Cruz: Considered the first dark and cynical western (which would basically become its own genre in the 60’s and 70’s).
Carmen Jones: An all-black musical drama had to be considered a big risk for a big-budget movie, but it paid off and was a box office success. Dorothy Dandridge became the first black woman to be nominated for Best Actress. In the National Film Registry.
Journey to Italy: Considered Roberto Rossellini’s best work, and it stars Ingrid Bergman during the time her and Rossellini were married, along with George Sanders.
1954 Nominees in Review
On the Waterfront: B+ (Won Best Picture)
The Country Girl: B
The Caine Mutiny: B-
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: C+
Three Coins in the Fountain: D+
1954 was a lesser year, especially considering that you could have come up with a much better nominee list comprised of just the major Hollywood films (not mentioning how good foreign cinema was at this time). On the Waterfront was the first BP winner that I thought deserved it since 1949, is there is that, but there wasn’t a lot of real competition for it.
In 1955: A movie about an interracial romance between a white person and an Asian person and the prejudices they face that isn’t Broken Blossoms or another film we’ll get to in 1957; The first-ever Palme d’Or winner that’s also the only Best Picture winner adapted from a teleplay; A movie set on a WWII naval ship with one of the best male casts ever; our one Kim Novak movie (no, not THAT one, a different one); and the second of our three Tennessee Williams plays adapted into Best Picture nominees, and the one that is by far the least remembered.