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DISCLAIMER: All film criticism is extremely subjective and there is no such thing as the definitive list of the Greatest (English-language) Films. Great Films can't be measured scientifically because greatness is extremely subjective. Just because we like a film doesn't mean that you will like it as well. Please feel free to leave us a comment with the films that you think are the greatest which we have not included on our list.

Not only was 1951 a big year for movies but it was also a big year for actors making their film debuts and the deaths of some truly great talent. Here is a snap shot of the American film industry.

Making Their Film Debuts:


Top-grossing Films

1.Quo VadisMGM$11,902,000
2.Alice in Wonderland*Disney$7,196,000
3.Show BoatMGM$5,533,000
4.A Streetcar Named DesireWarner Brothers$4,800,000
5.David and BathshebaFox$4,720,000
6.An American in ParisMGM$4,531,000
7.The African QueenUnited Artists$4,300,000
8.A Place in the SunParamount$4,213,000
9.Strangers on a TrainWarner Brothers$3,800,000
10.Pandora and the Flying DutchmanMGM$3,500,000

(*) After theatrical re-issue(s)


Academy Award Winners

Best Picture: An American in Paris – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Best Director: George Stevens – A Place in the Sun

Best Actor: Humphrey BogartThe African Queen

Best Actress: Vivien LeighA Streetcar Named Desire

Best Supporting Actor: Karl Malden – A Streetcar Named Desire

Best Supporting Actress: Kim Hunter – A Streetcar Named Desire


Top Ten Money Making Stars

1.John Wayne
2. (tie)Dean Martin
Jerry Lewis
3.Betty Grable
4. (tie)Bud Abbott
Lou Costello
5.Bing Crosby
6.Bob Hope
7.Randolph Scott
8.Gary Cooper
9.Doris Day
10.Spencer Tracy


Among Those Who Died In 1951:

  • Charles W. Goddard, American playwright, screenwriter, 72, The Exploits of Elaine
  • Jack Holt, American actor, 68, Flight, San Francisco
  • Ivor Novello, Welsh actor, singer, composer, 58, The Lodger, I Lived with You
  • Val Lewton, Russian-American director, 47, Cat People, The Body Snatcher
  • Oscar Micheaux, American director, author, 67, The Girl From Chicago
  • Al Christie, Canadian-born director, producer, 70, Charley’s Aunt
  • Stanley Ridges, British actor, 61, To Be or Not to Be, Sergeant York
  • Edwin L. Marin, American director, 52, Fort Worth, Maisie
  • Warner Baxter, American actor, 69, 42nd Street, Crime Doctor
  • Sylvan Simon, American director, 41, The Fuller Brush Man, I Love Trouble
  • Fanny Brice, American entertainer and actress, My Man, Everybody Sing
  • Ernst Pittschau, German actor, 68, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Olive Tell, American actress, 57, The Trap
  • Mayo Methot, American actress, 47, Marked Woman
  • Robert J. Flaherty, American documentary filmmaker, 67, Nanook of the North
  • Robert Walker, American actor, 33, Strangers on a Train, The Clock
  • Maria Montez, Dominican-born actress, 33, Arabian Nights, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves
  • Leon Errol, Australian-born actor, 77, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, Joe Palooka
  • Phil Rosen, Polish-American director, 75, Charlie Chan in The Chinese Cat, Roar of the Press
  • Richard Wallace, American director, 57, Tycoon, Framed

The Greatest Films of 1951




Poster for the movie "Ace in the Hole"

© 1951 Paramount Pictures − All right reserved.

Ace in the Hole

D: Billy Wilder

A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to re-jump start his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "The African Queen"

© 1951 United Artists − All right reserved.

The African Queen

D: John Huston

Based on the 1935 novel by C.S. Forester, the wonderful combination of Hepburn and Bogie makes this a thoroughly enjoyable blend of comedy and adventure. Forester’s story, Bogey’s Oscar®-winning performance, ‘odd-couple’ chemistry, and an exotic locale combine for classic adventure/romance. The boozing, smoking, cussing captain of a tramp steamer, Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart), saves prim, sober, and proper missionary Rose Sayer (Katharine Hepburn), “a crazy psalm-singing skinny old maid,” after her brother (Robert Morley) is assaulted by a German soldier at the beginning of World War I in German East Africa, and dies from insanity. After many quarrels, they survive a treacherous African river journey on a rattle-trap steamer, shoot the rapids, struggle with mosquitos and blood-sucking leeches, and set sail on the Ulonga-Bora in order to sabotage The Louisa, a German warship.

Learn more and watch the preview here.