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A 20th Century Fox Retrospective Scrapbook: 1954


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The year began with Three Young Texans, a Western love triangle with Keefe Brasselle, Mitzi Gaynor, and Jeffrey Hunter.

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CinemaScope was next tried out in confined spaces with Hell or igh Water with Richard Widmark on a submarine.

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Horseplay came racing back in Racing Blood

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New Faces was a movie take on a Brioadway staple. Some would become well known, especially on TV: Eartha Kitt, Alice Ghostley, Paul Lynde, Carol Lawrence.

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Night People was a strong cold war drama with a nicely twisting plot and good work from Gregory Peck, Broderick Crawford, and Anita Bjork.

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The Rocket Man was a family comedy that was co-written by Lenny Bruce , and involved a child and a ray gun that solved all problems.

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Robert Wagner had the title part in Prince Valiant, perhaps one of the earliest A-list films inspired by a comic strip.....

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River of No Return was a good western with Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe sailing the rapids

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Murders, a rampaging gorilla, and Anne Bancroft were all elements of Gorilla at Large.

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Van Johnson took a a stab at a western in The Siege at Red River.

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Can't find any pictures for Out of This World. Suffice it to say it was a documentary involving Tibet.

Three Coins in the Fountain was a bubbly all-star romance, made with panache, and was Fox's only Best Picture nominee in 1954.

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Princess of the Nile was a B exotic adventure.

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Demitrius and the Gladiators was the very successful sequel to The Robe, about the continuing advenures of Victor Mature.

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Another documentary was in store when the Royals went on a grand adventure in The Royal Tour of Elizabeth and Phillip

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Gary Cooper, Susan Hayward, and Richard Widmark combined made for a starry western in Garden of Evil.

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Confederates were the ones making trouble in The Raid, a war set revenge tale.

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Dale Robertson was holding the cards in The Gambler from Natchez.

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The Egyptian was hugely expensive for an adventure film.....

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Broken Lance was a sterling western, well acted by everyone

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Woman's World was a delicious all-star comedy drama set in the world of high executive appointments as Clifton Webb invited three possible executives and their wives to see which one was right for the job.

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A dose of Persian adventure was next served starring John Derek.

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Carmen Jones was a groundbreaking musical in which Dorothy Dandridge became the first African-American ever up for a lead acting Oscar.

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Black Widow deserved to be in Black-and_White, but given this era, was in DeLuxe color. Still, not a bad noir with plenty of twists.

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Amid all these expensive CinemaScope DeLuxe confections, B westerns were still needed.

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And British B noirs too.

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Desiree was another big budget spectacle that went a little off. Marlon Brando was Napoleon.

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Hugo Haas came by for another noir.

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As did the British....

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And the year closed with the delightful musical There's No Business Like Show Business with a wonderful central turn from Ethel Merman.

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This year felt rather hit or miss for Fox. I think it did best in westerns. 

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My top 10:

1. BROKEN LANCE. A reworking of HOUSE OF STRANGERS, with Tracy taking over Robinson's role. Excellent cast, and one of the best directing jobs that Edward Dmytryk did after CROSSFIRE.

2. CARMEN JONES. A bit long but immensely entertaining. Dandridge and Belafonte are sensational.

3. GARDEN OF EVIL. Susan Hayward delivers. So do the others.

4. THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN. I don't quite buy the romance between McGuire & Webb (definitely no chemistry there) but the other pairings work well, and it's very scenic due to the on-location filming.

5. DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS. I like it more than THE ROBE. I think the main actors (Mature & Hayward) know their characters a little better this time around.

6. THE RAID. Van Heflin and Anne Bancroft give strong performances, and so does Richard Boone. It feels like a B-western that went above and beyond. 

7. BLACK WIDOW. I like seeing Ginger Rogers cast against type. I like seeing George Raft on the right side of the law for a change. The cast really couldn't be better.

8. THE SIEGE AT RED RIVER. One of Van Johnson's better pictures away from MGM. The cinematography is top-grade and the script is well-written.

9. WOMAN'S WORLD. An interesting cast makes this one work. June Allyson covered similar ground with EXECUTIVE SUITE, back at home studio MGM. 

10. NIGHT PEOPLE. Broderick Crawford always makes any film he appears in a hundred times better. 

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Garden of Evil has one of the finest musical scores you'll ever hear. I agree that Demetrius and the Gladiators is actually better than The Robe. Peggy Ann Garner convincingly showed in Black Widow that she wasn't sweet little Francie from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn any more, but maybe the contrast was too great for some audiences.

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