Sometimes Chris and I discuss when something happened or where we were in a particular year. Sometimes we both marvel at how fast the time seems to go by. But, truthfully, we all know that days, months and years take the same amount of time as always and we can cram a lot of events into 12 months. We've been doing it for over 50 years, by the way. I believe the same thing happens when we talk about movies and, when and where we were while seeing a certain film. I just won two tickets to see a big screen event, showing The Godfather, Part 2, at our local multi-screen theatre. It's the 45th anniversary of its premier in December, 1974. 45 years! Yes, I guess it's true, we do measure the years by the movies we've seen and how many times we did that. Motion pictures can tell us not only great stories, and create memorable characters, but they can chronicle real events and the passage of time. Want to instantly step into the 18th Century? Watch Barry Lyndon from December, 1975. How about New York City in the 1840s? Watch Gangs of New York. Or the story behind the introduction of African-American soldiers into the Civil War? Re-visit the marvelous movie, Glory (1989), set in 1863.
I was still a little boy in 1949 but my parents would take me and my sister, Judy, to the movies – especially in New York City since we lived so close in New Jersey. Grand old movie palaces like the Paramount, the Roxy or Radio City Music Hall featured great films and stage shows. In my home town (West New York, N.J.) the local movie theatre, the Mayfair, was a veteran of vaudeville and burlesque, including a real stage and piano at its foot, just below the movie screen. I saw many pictures there in the dark.
Over 200 films premiered in 1949, dominated by the Hollywood studio system. Many became classics overnight and I can honestly say I still watch them. I won't attempt to list them all, just feature some of those movies that maintain their reputations for excellence and great performances. It was only 4 years from the end of World War II and everyone around the world wanted entertainment as well as drama, action and, of course, comedy. 1949 delivered in abundance on all counts.
Biggest films were All the Kings Men, a dramatization of Huey Long in Lousiana. The Heiress starred the great Olivia de Havilland. Samson & Delilah grossed almost $30 million, a lot of movie money 70 years ago. War movies like Sands of Iwo Jima, Twelve O'Clock High and Battleground discussed some tough times overseas. The most popular movie stars were 1.Bob Hope
3. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello
9.Humphrey Bogart and
Tracy and Hepburn continued to delight audiences with comedy and drama combined. Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Victor Mature, Gary Cooper, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Robert Mitchum, Montgomery Clift, Alec Guiness, James Cagney, Robert Ryan, Danny Kaye, Cornell Wilde, James Stewart, Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Van Johnson, Glenn Ford, William Holden and Van Heflin were heroes, villains and clowns, and, as always, wonderful leading men. Great female actresses were led by Judy Garland, Ella Raines, Shelley Winters, Jane Wyman, Elizabeth Taylor, Janet Leigh, June Allyson, Margaret O'Brien, Mary Astor, Ida Lupino, Jennifer Jones, Susan Hayward, Jeanne Crain, Vera Ellen, Ann Todd, Betty Hutton, Maureen O'Hara, Virginia Mayo, Joanne Dru, Cyd Charisse, Myrna Loy, Kathryn Grayson, Lisabeth Scott and Laraine Day.
The list of great movies is mind-boggling. Here are just a few:
The Barkleys of Broadway
East Side, West Side
I was a Male War Bride
The Inspector General
In the Good Old Summertime
Kind Hearts and Coronets
The Man From Colorado
On The Town
The Red Pony
The Secret Garden
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
The Stratton Story
The Third Man
White Heat (one of my favorite Cagney films)
They were still making movie serials in 1949 and Disney and Warner Brothers were turning out marvelous cartoons and full length movies. Here are some rather famous people who made their film debuts in 1949:
Julie Andrews in The Singing Princess
Yul Brynner in Port of New York
Richard Burton in Women of Dolwyn
Tony Curtis in City Across the River
Denholm Elliott in Dear Mr. Prohack
Jerry Lewis in My Friend Irma
Mercedes McCambridge in All the King's Men
Liza Minnelli in In the Good Old Summertime
Patricia Neal in John Loves Mary
Philippe Noiret in Gigi
Max von Sydow in Only a Mother and
James Whitmore – in The Undercover Man
I've given you a taste of a memorable year in movies. Some well-known and some lesser known pictures too, I might add. If you love the movies, as I do, then you'll find the ones that make you plunge right in, whether it's drama or comedy or musical. That's why it's always so much fun.
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My views on an eclectic mix of films and personalties, past and present; emotional interpretations; some laughs, some cries.
I am a former New Jersey native, living in Charlotte, N.C. for almost 30 years. I am a lifelong movie lover with lots of movie trivia knowledge and soundtracks in my CD collection. I enjoy sharing my love of films with everyone and have so many fond memories growing up in darkened movie theaters. I have been married 50 years (as of December 22, 2018) and we both share a passion for film (and each other of course).|
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