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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 1952 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:

  • Anne Bancroft – Don’t Bother to Knock

  • Brigitte Bardot – Crazy for Love

  • Julie Harris – The Member of the Wedding


Top-grossing Films


1.The Greatest Show on EarthParamount$14,000,000
2.The Bad and the BeautifulMGM$8,500,000
3.The Snows of KilimanjaroFox$6,700,000
5.Singin’ in the RainMGM$6,000,000
6.Sailor BewareParamount$4,300,000
7.Moulin RougeUnited Artists$4,252,000
8.Hans Christian AndersenRKO$4,100,000
9.Affair in TrinidadColumbia$4,000,000
10.Monkey BusinessFox$3,800,000


Academy Award Winners

Best Picture: The Greatest Show on Earth – DeMille, Paramount

Best Director: John FordThe Quiet Man

Best Actor: Gary CooperHigh Noon

Best Actress: Shirley Booth – Come Back, Little Sheba

Best Supporting Actor: Anthony Quinn – Viva Zapata!

Best Supporting Actress: Gloria GrahameThe Bad and the Beautiful


Among Those Who Died In 1950:

  • Curly Howard, comedian (born 1903), The Three Stooges
  • Polly Moran, actress (born 1883), Chasing Rainbows, Adam’s Rib
  • Gregory La Cava, director (born 1892), My Man Godfrey, Stage Door
  • P. McGowan, director (born 1880), Where the West Begins, Tarzan and the Golden Lion
  • Leslie Banks, actor (born 1890), The Most Dangerous Game, Jamaica Inn
  • John Garfield, actor (born 1913), Body and Soul, Nobody Lives Forever, Gentleman’s Agreement
  • Richard Rober, actor (born 1910), The Well, The File on Thelma Jordon
  • Elmo Lincoln, actor (born 1889), Tarzan of the Apes, The Adventures of Tarzan
  • Gertrud Wolle, actress (born 1891), The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • Ralph Byrd, actor (born 1909), Dick Tracy’s Dilemma, The Vigilante
  • Lamar Trotti, screenwriter (born 1900), The Ox-Bow Incident, The Ox-Bow Incident
  • Gertrude Lawrence, actress (born 1898), Rembrandt, The Glass Menagerie
  • Jack Conway, director (born 1888), Boom Town, Libeled Lady, Viva Villa!
  • Julia Dean, stage and screen actress (born 1878), A Society Exile, The Curse of the Cat People
  • Basil Radford, actor (born 1887), actor, Crook’s Tour, The Galloping Major
  • Susan Peters, actress (born 1921), Song of Russia, Random Harvest
  • Hattie McDaniel, actress (born 1895), Gone with the Wind, Saratoga
  • Dixie Lee, actress (born 1912), Manhattan Love Song, Love in Bloom
  • George H. Reed, actor, (born 1866), Huckleberry Finn, Green Pastures

The Greatest Films of 1952




Poster for the movie "The Bad and the Beautiful"

© 1952 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) − All right reserved.

The Bad and the Beautiful

D: Vincente Minnelli

A scathing melodrama and dark expose of sordid backstage Hollywood, with memorable performances by both Lana Turner and Kirk Douglas. An ambitious, cruel, driven, amoral, egotistical producer Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas), begins as a maker of low-budget westerns and horror films. His manipulative and ruthless victimization of others is seen, in flashback, from the viewpoints of three former associates that he betrayed, double-crossed, and caused emotional pain – a star actress and ex-lover Georgia Lorrison (Lana Turner), award-winning screenwriter James Lee Bartlow (Dick Powell) and his faithless, southern belle wife Rosemary (Gloria Grahame), and director Fred Amiel (Barry Sullivan). Now that they have furthered their careers, they tell their stories to film studio executive Harry Pebbel (Walter Pidgeon), who has been asked to convince the individuals to join the despised Shields on his next project – they all disown him and hope that he will fail. In the final scene, the three listen – with a phone to their ear – when the exiled Shields calls from Europe.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


The Big SkyThe Big Sky

D: Howard Hawks

Kirk Douglas stars as the determined leader of a band of Tennessee fur trappers who set out to explore the uncharted Missouri river in 1830 however their journey ends up focusing on keeping the Indian girl alive as well as themselves to complete a trade with the Blackfeet.



Poster for the movie "The Greatest Show on Earth"

© 1952 Paramount Pictures − All right reserved.

The Greatest Show on Earth

D: Cecil B. DeMille

To ensure a full profitable season, circus manager Brad Braden (Charlton Heston) engages The Great Sebastian (Cornel Wilde), though this moves his girlfriend Holly (Betty Hutton) from her hard-won center trapeze spot. Holly and Sebastian begin a dangerous one-upmanship duel in the ring, while he pursues her on the ground.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "High Noon"

© 1952 United Artists − All right reserved.

High Noon

D: Fred Zinnemann

A legendary classic Western about a lawman awaiting a suspenseful, fateful showdown with ruthless bandits returning to a small town to seek revenge. The stark, black and white 50s film is frequently interpreted as a parable about artists left to “stand alone” and face persecution during the HUAC Hollywood blacklisting. Hadleyville town marshal Will Kane (Best Actor-winning Gary Cooper), a hero figure, is newly-married to a beautiful, pacifist Quaker bride (Grace Kelly). With integrity and a principled sense of justice, duty, and loyalty, he puts everything on the line to confront a deadly outlaw killer set free by liberal abolitionists. The murderer arrives with his gang on the noon train – and he is left abandoned by an ungrateful town to face them alone. The film is enhanced by Dimitri Tiomkin’s ballad (sung by Tex Ritter), and the fact that it is virtually filmed in ‘real-time’ as the tense showdown approaches.

Learn more and watch the preview here.


The Quiet Man starring John Wayne and Maureen O'HaraThe Quiet Man

D: John Ford

John Ford’s Irish romantic comedy/drama about an American ex-prizefighter (John Wayne) who retires to his native, childhood Ireland (the greenish town of Inisfree) to begin a new life and find an Irish lass for a wife. Lushly filmed on location – a Taming of the Shrew tale in which Sean Thornton courts and subdues the fiery, red-haired, strong-willed Mary Kate (Maureen O’Hara), and fights an epic marathon brawl with her disapproving brother Will ‘Red’ Danaher (Victor McLaglen) to secure her dowry and precious heirlooms. Along the way, he is aided by the impish leprechaun-like matchmaker Michaeleen Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald).

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Poster for the movie "Singing in the Rain"

© − All right reserved.

Singin’ in the Rain

D: Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen

One of the all-time best Hollywood musicals that spoofs and satirizes the transitional chaos surrounding the end of the silent film era and the dawn of the ‘talkies.’ Vaudeville, silent film actor/dancer Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and co-star actress Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are at the height of box-office popularity, but with the advent of sound, shrill-voiced Lina’s first talkie The Dueling Cavalier with swashbuckling Lockwood is laughable before studio preview audiences. His aspiring ingenue girlfriend Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) is recruited to rescue their first film – remade as a musical re-titled The Dancing Cavalier, with Kathy secretly dubbing over Lina’s voice. The voice-dubbing deception is ultimately exposed, and love blossoms. With marvelous musical numbers including the title song “Singin’ in the Rain,” and “You Were Meant for Me,” “Make ‘Em Laugh,” “Broadway Melody,” and “All I Do Is Dream of You.”

Learn more and watch the preview here.


Did your favorite make our list of the greatest films of 1952?

Greatest Films from:

1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934 | 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939

1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943 | 1944 | 1945 | 1946 |1947 | 1948 | 1949

1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953 | 1954 | 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 |1959

1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 |1969

1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979