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The Best Picture Project – The Greatest Show On Earth (1952)

Greatest.gifDirected by Cecil B. DeMille

Screenplay by Fredric M. Frank &  Barré Lyndon   &  Theodore St. John, story by Fredric M. Frank   &  Theodore St. John   & Frank Cavett

Starring Charlton Heston,

It’s a fact: sit around and talk to anybody about the Oscars long enough and eventually you’ll get around to arguing over which was the worst Best Picture Winner – that I s, which was the worst film to win in a given year.  Inevitably, people in my generation, or at least those with no sense of history, will make strong arguments for Crash, Shakespeare in Love or maybe Titanic being the worst choices in recent memory.  Those with any real sense of history will instead bandy about two other choices:

  1. Citizen Kane, one of which is arguably the greatest film of all time,  being bested by How Green Was My Valley, a film that isn’t even one of the five best films by its own director – for John Ford, his best films obviously include The Grapes of Wrath, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Quiet Man, The Searchers, and one of about ten other films not named How Green Was My Valley.
  2. The Greatest Show On Earth winning Best Picture over Ford’s own The Quiet Man and a little Gary Cooper movie called High Noon.

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The Best Picture Project – The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

File:194ER57.jpgDirected by David Lean

Screenplay by Michael Wilson and Carl Foreman, from the Pierre Boulle Novel

Starring Alec Guiness and William Holden

A few weeks ago – or maybe a few months ago – I wrote in these pages about Lawrence of Arabia, Best Picture winner of 1962.  One of the complaints I had about Arabia is that, for all its arresting imagery, which the film had in spades, was the way everything bogged down in the second half when all the adventure turned to politics.  After all, the film is practically four hours long anyway and to throw politics into the mix – well, the only reason I made it to the end is because the first half was so damned good. Continue reading

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