Top 20 of 1947


Some years are better than others. Maybe it is just me, but aside from some major heavyweights near the top of my list, 1947 seems like a subpar year. There are certainly some goodies. There are some wonderful British films on the list, many from Ealing Studios (which unfortunately are not readily available in the US). Aside from that, there are a handful of French and Japanese films, and of course some Hollywood fare.

It is no surprise that the majority of American films on my list are film noir. That may speak to my tastes or of the type of films that have endured after all these years. Some of the more traditional Hollywood films disappointed me this year, and practically all of my honorable mentions (The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Possessed, Miracle on 34th Street) are all from Hollywood studios. The Academy Award winners are seldom a barometer of important film, but aside from Kazan’s Gentlemen’s Agreement and Black Narcissus, virtually all of the major Academy nominees were shut out from my list.

I would say that 1947, at least to me, is a down year. Perhaps it is because the studios were comfortable with their post-war success (which wouldn’t last), or perhaps it was just a down year. 1946, for example, I consider a particularly strong year. The same is true for 1948 and 1949, which I look forward to visiting later this year. Even in a down year, there are some treasures, including three Criterion releases on the list.

1. Black Narcissus
2. Odd Man Out
3. Out of the Past
4. Lady from Shanghai
5. Quai des Orfevres
6. Brute Force
7. The Damned
8. Record of a Tenement Gentleman
9. Brighton Rock
10. It Always Rains on Sunday
11. Monsieur Verdoux
12. Ride the Pink Horse
13. Crossfire
14. Nightmare Alley
15. Born to Kill
16. One Wonderful Sunday
17. Dark Passage
18. Fireworks
19. They Made Me a Fugitive
20. Gentlemen’s Agreement

Posted on January 9, 2016, in Film, Lists. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Definitely a down year but that top five is very special. I haven’t seen many of the other movies on this list, actually, but I happen to think Gentlemen’s Agreement is one of the worst movies to ever win best picture, with The Lost Weekend being the only other movie from the 40s that comes close to being as bad. Not coincidentally, both are didactic message movies (as is Crash, my pick for the very worst).

    • What’s funny is I thought mostly the same thing after my initial viewing. It is definitely a message movie and far from subtle. After studying Kazan and the time, I camr to appreciate it a little more. I think it is well made, but also it was daring for the time. Lost Weekend is also divisive, but it made my list for its respective year for many of the same reasons, and I coincidentally also studied Wilder for a grad class.

      • I’m sure you read about Billy Wilder’s thoughts on the movie, then. He’s funny on all of his movies, but he’s especially funny on Lost Weekend. I can’t think of many movies where the filmmaker is as willing to trash their movie, especially one that won best picture.

      • Wilder was quite brash. I actually don’t remember those specific comments, but he was a perfectionist and critical of a lot of his films. What I remember is Wilder (and Bracket to a lesser extent) bullying the studio that didn’t want to put out a film about alcoholism. For the time that was a radical subject, and Milland’s performance was also vastly different. That said, I can see the arguments against it, but I do appreciate the film.

  2. Subpar? 1947 was a GREAT year for movies, esp. film noir. Here’s my list:

    20 great movies from 1947 (alphabetical order):


    And honorable mention:
    Bela Lugosi’s only color movie, SCARED TO DEATH

    A sampling of some of the directors from that list: Robert Rossen, Elia Kazan, Robert Wise, Jules Dassin, Edward Dmytryk, Otto Preminger, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Henry Hathaway, George Seaton, Jacques Tourneur, Raoul Walsh, Anthony Mann. Not a bad lineup, eh?

    I leave off LADY FROM SHANGHAI because Maltin has it as 1948, the year I’ve always seen cited for this film. (IMDB has strange criteria for years of release.) Maltin has BICYCLE THIEVES for 1947, while IMDB has it as 1948. So, if the list was 21 great movies from 1947, that would be on my list also.

    • Many of those made my list and others were honorable mentions. When I compare it to the other post-war years in the 1940s, I think this one is weak. There are certainly great films and directors working during this period, as you’ve noted, and some of the films I love (some on your list, some on mine) are lesser known.

      Of course every year is great for a film lover.

  3. I don’t know, I thought it was a pretty good year for noir, with those you mentioned as well as T-MEN, POSSESSED, HIGH WALL, and KISS OF DEATH. (And although it’s certainly not great, and maybe not even very good, I do like THE BRASHER DOUBLOON.) Maybe I’m putting too much weight on OUT OF THE PAST, ODD MAN OUT, and RIDE THE PINK HORSE, three of my all-time favorites.

    • I probably should have been more clear, but I agree with you that it was a strong year for noir. You’ll notice that I have a lot of noir on my list including all three of those all-time favorites. The rest of the year was not as strong.

  4. One more notable aspect of 1947: Roy Rogers began making his westerns in Trucolor that year, starting with APACHE ROSE and a film I watched last night, BELLS OF SAN ANGELO. He wound up making 21 Trucolor westerns, all directed by William Witney, from 1947-1951. The best were THE GOLDEN STALLION (1949) and TRIGGER JR. (1950).

    • The best of the nine I’ve seen, that is.

    • I’m actually not a Roy Rogers fan, but I’d say the post-war Hollywood period initiated a lot of transitions that led to some tremendous color films later. You mentioned Anthony Mann in a previous comment. You could say that the foundation was laid for him to make some brilliant color westerns in the 1950s.

      So yeah, maybe I should be careful using the words “subpar” to describe a year because there’s always something going on. Many directors were striving for (and would later achieve) their independence and the studio system was on borrowed time. I think that really paid off later.

    • Loved all the old Roy Rogers movies when I was a kid!

  5. I’d trade any of those movie for The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Okay, go ahead, flame me. I know, I’m asking for it!

    Love Black Narcissus too though! Best matte paintings ever!

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