Cinerama Holiday was an unusual number one film. Hardly anyone has heard of it today, but it was a roadshow film specially designed to illustrate the benefits of the Cinerama format. The film depicted two couples on vacation- a Swiss couple touring the United States and an American couple touring Europe. While the format never really took off commercially, this film became 1955's number one film.
Friday, March 31, 2017
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
The Robe would further push the studios into the television era, making use of CinemaScope as a gimmick to show the sort of grandeur a television screen couldn't display. That the film showed a bible story was icing on the anti-Communist cake.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
1952 brought one of the most polarizing Best Picture winners ever- The Greatest Show on Earth. Widely believed to be the worst best picture winner ever, the schmaltzy film owed its success more to the anti-communism paranoia of the time than to its actual merit. Cecil B. DeMille was an outspoken proponent of the blacklist and made sure everyone knew it.
Monday, March 27, 2017
MGM further set foot into the world of the epic with Quo Vadis, a Roman historical epic based on a fiction novel. Originally starring Elizabeth Taylor and Gregory Peck, the film was recast with Deborah Kerr and Robert Taylor after the film found a new home at MGM. Quo Vadis would further cement MGM's newfound success in lavish epics.
Friday, March 24, 2017
The new realities brought about by television meant that the studios were increasingly looking for pictures that would dazzle audiences on the big screen. MGM was the most reluctant; its tried and true formula of assembly
line filmmaking was not conducive to making huge historical epics. The studio showed that it could hit it big with an epic in 1950's King Solomon's Mines. The hugely profitable film allowed the mighty lion to roar.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Samson and Delilah was a return to form for Cecil B. DeMille, who ventured into biblically themed epics. Mr. DeMille's formula was to cast less well known names, get thousands of extras and millions of dollars to produce the biggest films. The box office proved that audiences seemed to like what they saw.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
The Red Shoes was a departure; it was a British film that made it to number one. The British film industry saw a huge jump after World War II, fueled in large part by an embargo on film profits being removed from the country. Hollywood studios had to spend its British profits in Britain and The Red Shoes was one of the beneficiaries.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
With television on the horizon, Hollywood began making larger films that would best be viewed on a big screen. Enter Cecil B. DeMille who had proved to be capable of creating huge, audience pleasing movies with majestic, sweeping scenes. Unconquered would be one of his biggest hits, setting up an empire of movie with ever increasing budgets and casts, which would be breathlessly touted on each film's posters.
Monday, March 20, 2017
In 1946, Disney would release Song of the South, which catapulted its way to the top of the charts. Despite its box office performance and the attraction based on the film, (Splash Mountain) the film will likely never be released on DVD or Blu-Ray in the United States. Viewers who have never seen the film before widely believe that the film takes place during the slavery era, though it takes place after the Civil War. This misconception, plus the film's portrayal of Uncle Remus, makes the film's release problematic.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Friday, March 17, 2017
Bing Crosby would again get to number one by playing a priest in The Bells of St. Mary's. Performing alongside Ingrid Bergman playing an unconventional nun, Bing would croon his way to the top of the charts and cement his status as a top box office draw.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Possibly tiring of the war, Americans made the comedy/musical Going My Way the number one film in 1944. Starring Bing Crosby as an unconventional priest who takes over a parish from a hardline old fashioned leader. The Vatican enjoyed the film and was presented a copy of it from the movie's stars.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
For Whom the Bell Tolls was another war themed film. Based on Ernest Hemingway's novel set during the Spanish Civil War. The film proved, oddly enough, that the American public was eager to take its mind off of the war by watching films about other wars.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
By 1942, the United States was firmly entrenched in World War II. Mrs. Miniver was greenlit in 1940, well before the United States had dreamed of entering the war. MGM had carefully written the script to reflect the United States' neutrality, but as production wound on, it became more and more certain that the United States would enter the war on the side of the allies. By the time the film was released, the United States was firmly involved in the war and Mrs. Miniver was definitely what the U.S. audiences were looking for.
Monday, March 13, 2017
With World War II raging and the United States on the sidelines, Hollywood decided that the mood was right for patriotic films. Reminding the country about a time when it had taken a stand on the world stage seemed timely. The World War I drama Sergeant York, therefore, found a perfect storm that pushed it to the top.
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Saturday, March 11, 2017
Friday, March 10, 2017
Thursday, March 9, 2017
Based on Daphne Du Maurier's blockbuster novel and directed by the master of suspense, Sir Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca was a shoo-in for the top spot at the box office. Masterfully directed by Alfred Hitchcock and produced by David O. Selznick, the film would go on to win best picture at the Oscars.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
In a year of big films, Gone With the Wind was undoubtedly one of the biggest. While the other classics from 1939, like The Wizard of Oz, would not originally set the box office on fire, Gone With the Wind would break just about every record imaginable, including those set two years before by Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Based on a 1911 song written by Irving Berlin, Alexander's Ragtime Band was a return to live action success for Hollywood. The studios were embarrassed by the huge success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and they were happy that 1938's biggest film was a live action film. Walt Disney Productions was seen as barely better than the poverty row studios and its massive success in 1937 sent shockwaves through Hollywood. Alexander's Ragtime Band was a true return to form.