1947 Ten Best Movies


Sister Ruth, out of habit

Hard to beat film noir in 1947? Nobody outpoints Bob Mitchum and Jacques Tourneur at their zenith, right?  How could it be that the British – the British! – could mount an assault on the top rungs of the Ten Best List this postwar year? Well, I didn’t see it coming myself. But I did watch Black Narcissus a few months ago, and I was once upon a time schooled by nuns, and somehow at the last list-making minute the lurid events at a Himalayan convent 9,000 feet above sea level took over the Ten Best.

And look upon the British presence in the top five: one other film classic, the Carol Reed-Graham Greene Odd Man Out, but also a less famous title that I first saw a couple of years ago at the Seattle International Film Festival, Robert Hamer’s It Always Rains on Sunday. This Brit-noir beauty, which has some plot similarities to Odd Man Out, is incredibly skillful at stitching together different plotlines around its central convict-on-the-lam story.

And Out of the Past? One for the ages. The ten best movies of 1947:

1. Black Narcissus (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger)

2. Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur)

3. It Always Rains on Sunday (Robert Hamer)

4. Quai des Orfevres (Henri-Georges Clouzot)

5. Odd Man Out (Carol Reed)

6. T-Men (Anthony Mann)

7. Boomerang! (Elia Kazan)

8. Monsieur Verdoux (Charles Chaplin)

9. Pursued (Raoul Walsh)

10. Daisy Kenyon (Otto Preminger)

That means there’s no room for The Paradine Case, one of Hitchcock’s “problem” films, a real cold fish of a movie that I happen to like. It’s such a year for noir that even the French have one (I love Quai des Orfevres) and even Pursued and Monsieur Verdoux could be described as noir, in their way. Pretty amazing roster: Body and Soul, Kiss of Death, Nightmare Alley (I know a lot of people love this one, but after the great first half-hour it gets awfully stodgy in the Fox style), Crossfire, Brute Force. The litany of titles alone is an index of noir. (Despite IMDb’s claim, I counted The Lady from Shanghai as a 1948 release.)

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Miracle on 34th Street.