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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 1954 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

RankTitleStudioGross
1.Rear WindowParamount$36,764,313
2.White ChristmasParamount$30,000,000
3.20,000 Leagues Under the SeaWalt Disney Pictures$28,200,000
4.Demetrius and the Gladiators20th Century Fox$26,000,000
5.The Caine MutinyColumbia$21,800,000
6.Vera CruzUnited Artists$11,000,000
7.Carmen Jones20th Century Fox$9,812,000
8.The Country GirlParamount$7,963,000
9.The Barefoot ContessaUnited Artists$7,298,000
10.A Star Is Born
The High and the Mighty
Warner Bros.$6,850,000
11.River of No Return20th Century Fox$5,766,025
12.Magnificent ObsessionUniversal$5,200,000
13.The Long, Long TrailerMGM$5,000,000
14.On the Waterfront
Desirée
Columbia$4,500,000
15.SabrinaParamount$4,000,000
16.The Last Time I Saw ParisMGM$4,000,000
17.Dial M for MurderWarner Bros.$3,000,000
18.Living It UpParamount$2,495,000
19.Young at HeartWarner Bros.$2,500,000

 

Academy Award Winners

Best Picture: On the Waterfront – Horizon-American, Columbia

Best Director: Elia KazanOn The Waterfront

Best Actor: Marlon BrandoOn the Waterfront

Best Actress: Grace KellyThe Country Girl

Best Supporting Actor: Edmond O’BrienThe Barefoot Contessa

Best Supporting Actress: Eva Marie SaintOn The Waterfront

 

Top Ten Money Making Stars

RankActor/Actress
1.John Wayne
2. (tie)Dean Martin
Jerry Lewis
3.Gary Cooper
4.Marilyn Monroe
5.James Stewart
6.Alan Ladd
7.William Holden
8.Bing Crosby
9.Jane Wyman
10.Marlon Brando

 

Among Those Who Died In 1954:

The Greatest Films of 1954

 

***POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT FOR ALL***

 

 

Poster for the movie "Animal Farm"

© 1954 Halas and Batchelor Cartoon Films − All right reserved.

Animal Farm

D: Joy Batchelor, John Halas

In this animated film based on George Orwell’s novel, animals on drunken Mr. Jones’ (Maurice Denham) farm, led by prize hog Old Major (also Denham), gather to discuss their abuse. Old Major exhorts the animals to rebel. Boxer the horse, donkey Benjamin, pigs Snowball and Napoleon and the others agree, and when Old Major dies, they turn against Jones. But Napoleon secretly raises a group of puppies to do his bidding, and over time the efficiently run farm falters as Napoleon schemes to take over.

Watch preview and see where you can stream online here.

 

Poster for the movie "The Barefoot Contessa"

© − All right reserved.

The Barefoot Contessa

D: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

At Maria Vargas’ funeral, several people recall who she was and the impact she had on them. Harry Dawes was a not very successful writer/director when he and movie producer Kirk Edwards scouted her at a shabby nightclub where she worked as a flamenco dancer. He convinces her to take a chance on acting and her first film is a huge hit. PR man Oscar Muldoon remembers when Maria was in court supporting her father who was accused of murdering her mother. It was Maria’s testimony that got him off and she was a bigger star than ever. Alberto Bravano, one of the richest men in South America, sets his sights on Maria and she goes off with him – as much to make Edwards angry as anything – but he treats her badly. When she meets Count Vincenzo Torlato-Favrini they fall deeply in love. They are married but theirs is not to be a happy life.

Watch preview and see where you can stream online here.

 

Poster for the movie "The Caine Mutiny"

© 1954 Stanley Kramer Productions − All right reserved.

The Caine Mutiny

D: Edward Dmytryk

Young Princeton graduate ensign Willie Keith (Robert Francis) told how he was assigned to a dilapidated and rusty minesweeper named the Caine, sternly captained by Lt. Commander Philip Queeg (Humphrey Bogart). The eccentric Queeg reprimanded the crew for messy shirttails, haircuts, and other petty things, and soon it was apparent he might be paranoid and mentally unbalanced (evidenced by his rolling silver metal balls in his hand). The captain began to demonstrate how incompetent he was, during a beach-landing incident in which he was dubbed “Old Yellowstain.” The question arose: Could the naval officers take control of the ship, without being accused of mutiny? The last straw was Queeg’s mis-treatment of an incident involving leftover strawberries in the officer’s mess, and when Queen mismanaged the ship during a typhoon and executive officer Lt. Steve Maryk (Van Johnson) stepped in and took charge. Maryk and Keith were court-martialed for mutiny, to be defended by Barney Greenwald (Jose Ferrer). Lt. Tom Keefer (Fred MacMurray), the true instigator of the mutiny idea, testified that taking the ship from Queeg was in error, to save himself. The prosecution’s case faltered when Queeg was cross-examined, and he became frantic, paranoid, and blamed everyone for the Caine’s problems, while nervously rolling the clanking steel balls in his hand. The two officers were acquitted.

Watch preview and see where you can stream online here.

 

Poster for the movie "Carmen Jones"

© − All right reserved.

Carmen Jones

D: Otto Preminger

At an all-black army camp, civilian parachute maker and “hot bundle” Carmen Jones is desired by many of the men. Naturally, she wants Joe, who’s engaged to sweet Cindy Lou and about to go into pilot training for the Korean War. Going after him, she succeeds only in getting him into the stockade. While she awaits his release, trouble approaches for both of them. Songs from the Bizet opera with modernized lyrics.

Watch preview and see where you can stream online here.

 

Poster for the movie "Dial M for Murder"

© 1954 Warner Bros. − All right reserved.

Dial M for Murder

D: Alfred Hitchcock

In London, wealthy Margot Mary Wendice had a brief love affair with the American writer Mark Halliday while her husband and professional tennis player Tony Wendice was on a tennis tour. Tony quits playing to dedicate to his wife and finds a regular job. She decides to give him a second chance for their marriage. When Mark arrives from America to visit the couple, Margot tells him that she had destroyed all his letters but one that was stolen. Subsequently she was blackmailed, but she had never retrieved the stolen letter. Tony arrives home, claims that he needs to work and asks Margot to go with Mark to the theater. Meanwhile Tony calls Captain Lesgate (aka Charles Alexander Swann who studied with him at college) and blackmails him to murder his wife, so that he can inherit her fortune. But there is no perfect crime, and things do not work as planned.

Watch preview and see where you can stream online here. 

 

Poster for the movie "Johnny Guitar"

© 1954 Republic Pictures − All right reserved.

Johnny Guitar

D: Nicholas Ray

On the outskirts of town, the hard-nosed Vienna (Joan Crawford) owns a saloon frequented by the undesirables of the region, including Dancin’ Kid (Scott Brady) and his gang. Another patron of Vienna’s establishment is Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden), a former gunslinger and her lover. When a heist is pulled in town that results in a man’s death, Emma Small (Mercedes McCambridge), Vienna’s rival, rallies the townsfolk to take revenge on Vienna’s saloon — even without proof of her wrongdoing.

Watch preview and see where you can stream online here.

 

Poster for the movie "On the Waterfront"

© 1954 Columbia Pictures − All right reserved.

On the Waterfront

D: Elia Kazan

A compelling, evocative, gritty, Best Picture-winning drama about union corruption and violence on the New York waterfront and the struggle of an ex-prize fighter against it. Inarticulate ex-boxer champ Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) witnesses the murder of a fellow dock worker, a victim of gangster union boss Johnny Friendly’s (Lee J. Cobb) oppressive hold over the longshoremen – punished for ‘singing’ to an investigation commission. When Terry begins to fall in love with shy and frail Edie (Eva Marie Saint), the dead man’s sister, his allegiances are challenged. Contains the famous Brando “I coulda been a contender” speech in the back seat of a taxi with his crooked, scheming lawyer brother Charlie (Rod Steiger). After his brother’s murder, he defiantly stands up against the hoodlums on the waterfront.

Watch preview and see where you can stream online here

 

Poster for the movie "Rear Window"

© 1954 Paramount Pictures − All right reserved.

Rear Window

D: Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock’s voyeuristic masterpiece – a suspenseful, nail-biting thriller about a wheelchair-bound, immobilized photographer who believes he has witnessed a murder during his convalescence. During a hot New York summer, photo-journalist L. B. ‘Jeff’ Jeffries (James Stewart) recuperates in his apartment from a broken leg. He wiles away the time by observing – and spying on neighbors through his rear window (with binoculars and his telephoto camera), while being cared for by his fashionable girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) and nurse-therapist Stella (Thelma Ritter). He experiences all of life’s extremes – a honeymooning couple, dancer Miss Torso, spinsterish Miss Lonelyhearts, and the bickering, intriguing Thorwalds. Dissuaded by his police detective friend, Lisa, and Stella, he persists with attentive observations and suspicions about Thorwald (Raymond Burr) killing his wife.

Watch preview and see where you can stream online here.

 

Poster for the movie "Sabrina"

© 1954 Paramount Pictures − All right reserved.

Sabrina

D: Billy Wilder

Linus and David Larrabee are the two sons of a very wealthy family. Linus is all work — busily running the family corporate empire with no time for a wife and family. David is all play — technically employed in the family business but never showing up for work, spending all his time entertaining, and having been married and divorced three times. Sabrina Fairchild is the young, shy, and awkward daughter of the household chauffeur, who has been infatuated with David all her life, but whom David hardly notices till she goes away to Paris for two years and returns an elegant, sophisticated, beautiful woman. Suddenly, she finds she’s captured David’s attention, but just as she does so, she finds herself also falling in love with Linus, and she finds that Linus is also falling in love with her.

Watch preview and see where you can stream online here.

 

Poster for the movie "Salt of the Earth"

© 1954 Intl Union of Mine − All right reserved.

Salt of the Earth

D: Herbert J. Biberman

At New Mexico’s Empire Zinc mine, Mexican-American workers protest the unsafe work conditions and unequal wages compared to their Anglo counterparts. Ramon Quintero (Juan Chacon) helps organize the strike, but he is shown to be a hypocrite by treating his pregnant wife, Esperanza (Rosaura Revueltas), with a similar unfairness. When an injunction stops the men from protesting, however, the gender roles are reversed, and women find themselves on the picket lines while the men stay at home.

The only American film to be blacklisted by the HUAC.

Watch preview and see where you can stream online here

 

Poster for the movie "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers"

© 1954 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) − All right reserved.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

D: Stanley Donen

During the 1850s, Milly (Jane Powell), a pretty young cook, marries Adam (Howard Keel), a grizzled woodsman, after a brief courtship. When the two return to Adam’s farm, Milly is shocked to meet his six ill-mannered brothers, all of whom live in his cabin. She promptly begins teaching the brothers proper behavior, and most importantly, how to court a woman. But after the brothers kidnap six local girls during a town barn-raising, a group of indignant villagers tries to track them down.

Watch preview and see where you can stream online here.

 

Silver LodeSilver Lode

D: Allan Dwan

Dan Ballard, a respected citizen in the western town of Silver Lode, has his wedding interrupted by four men led by Fred McCarty, an old acquaintance who, as a US Marshal, arrests Ballard for the murder of his brother and the theft of $20,000. Ballard seeks to stall McCarty while tracking down evidence that will prove his innocence: but the townspeople’s loyalty to him gradually begins to waver under McCarty’s accusations.

 

Poster for the movie "A Star Is Born"

© 1954 Transcona Enterprises − All right reserved.

A Star is Born

D: George Cukor

A classic tearjerker, the first re-make of William Wellman’s non-musical, classic 1937 film starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. It was inspired by What Price Hollywood? (1932) also directed by Cukor. The emotionally-intense psycho-drama also hinted at the real-life troubles and problems (five marriages) in the career of its female star – Judy Garland – a victim of the Hollywood studio system – during the film’s making. It was Garland’s comeback and self-referential film (after she had been dismissed from her lead role in Annie Get Your Gun (1950)), and then suffered from alcoholic binges and suicide attempts. Young aspiring newcomer-star Esther Blodgett’s (Judy Garland) singing career was launched in Hollywood – as Vicki Lester, by a fading, alcoholic film star Norman Maine (James Mason) whose popularity was on the decline. Their marriage was tested by the tragic consequences of his personal self-destruction, disintegration and loss of fame, especially in the Academy Awards Banquet Ceremony scene when Norman accidentally slapped her. His stunning suicidal demise was inevitable (he committed suicide by walking into the ocean), but duly honored by his wife onstage at the Shrine Theatre when she proudly introduced herself as Mrs. Norman Maine. Included Garland’s memorable songs: “The Man That Got Away” and the main production number “Born In a Trunk.”

Watch preview and see where you can stream online here.

 

Poster for the movie "Three Coins in the Fountain"

© − All right reserved.

Three Coins in the Fountain

D: Jean Negulesco

Three hopeful American secretaries visiting Italy — newcomer Maria (Maggie McNamara), romance-seeking Anita (Jean Peters) and the more mature Frances (Dorothy McGuire) — fling their coins into Rome’s Trevi Fountain, each making a wish. Soon, Maria is pursued by a dashing prince (Louis Jourdan), Anita finds herself involved with a forbidden coworker (Rossano Brazzi), and Frances receives a surprising proposal from her boss (Clifton Webb). All three women vow to one day return to Rome.

Watch preview and see where you can stream online here.

 

Did your favorite make our list of the greatest films of 1954?

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