Cinema 1951: You Must Remember This–Facts, Trends, Movies, Stars

Cineliteracy: What You Need to Know about 1951 as a Movie and Pop Culture Year

Top-Grossing Films of 1951

Rank Title Studio Box-office gross rental

1 Quo Vadis, MGM, $11,143,000

2 Show Boat, MGM, $5,293,000

3 David and Bathsheba 20th Century Fox $4,720,000

4 The Great Caruso Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $4,309,000

5 A Streetcar Named Desire Warner; $4,250,000

6 The African Queen United Artists $4,100,000

7 That’s My Boy Paramount Pictures $3,800,000

8 An American in Paris Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $3,750,000

9 A Place in the Sun Paramount Pictures $3,500,000

10 At War with the Army $3,300,000


The highest-grossing 1951 films in countries outside of North America.

Country Title Studio Gross Ref

France: Samson and Delilah, Paramount 7,116,442 admissions
India Awaara R. K. Films $4,830,000 [n 2]
Italy Anna Lux Film 8,965,624 admissions [9]
Japan The Tale of Genji Daiei Kyoto ¥141,050,000 [10]
Soviet Union In Peaceful Time Dovzhenko Film Studios $1,470,000

UK: The Great Caruso, MGM; 12,400,000 admissions

Worldwide gross
The following table lists known worldwide gross figures for several high-grossing films that originally released in 1951. Note that this list is incomplete and is therefore not representative of the highest-grossing films worldwide in 1951. This list also includes gross revenue from later re-releases.

Title Worldwide gross Country Ref

Quo Vadis $30,028,513 United States


February 15 –

New management takes over at United Artists, with Arthur B. Krim, Robert Benjamin and Matty Fox in charge.

April –

French magazine Cahiers du cinéma is first published.

July 26

Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland premieres; while a disappointment at first and hardly released, it would later become one of the biggest cult classics in animation and become widely popular in TV viewings and subsequent releases.

September 10

Rashomon wins the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, bringing worldwide attention to Japanese film.


The House Un-American Activities Committee investigation into Communism in the film industry starts to wind up after four years. They report in February 1952 that Hollywood has not done enough against Communist employees and hearings and blacklisting continues.

December 29

The Wilhelm scream, one of the most frequently-used stock sound effects, makes its first use in the film Distant Drums. The scream would not get its name until The Charge at Feather River in 1953.


February 21, 1952 24th Academy Awards
March 20, 1952 9th Golden Globe Awards
Drama Comedy or Musical
Best Film A Place in the Sun An American in Paris
Best Director László Benedek
Death of a Salesman George Stevens
A Place in the Sun
Best Actor Fredric March
Death of a Salesman Danny Kaye
On the Riviera Humphrey Bogart
The African Queen
Best Actress Jane Wyman
The Blue Veil June Allyson
Too Young to Kiss Vivien Leigh
A Streetcar Named Desire
Best Supporting Actor Peter Ustinov
Quo Vadis Karl Malden
A Streetcar Named Desire
Best Supporting Actress Kim Hunter
A Streetcar Named Desire
Best Screenplay, Adapted Robert Buckner
Bright Victory Michael Wilson and Harry Brown
A Place in the Sun
Best Screenplay, Original Alan Jay Lerner
An American in Paris

Top Ten Money-Making Stars

The Top Ten Money Making Stars Poll was published by Quigley Publishing Company based on a poll of U.S. movie theater owners who were asked to name who they felt were the previous year’s top 10 moneymaking stars.

Rank Actor/Actress
1. John Wayne
2. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis
3. Betty Grable
4. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello
5. Bing Crosby
6. Bob Hope
7. Randolph Scott
8. Gary Cooper
9. Doris Day
10. Spencer Tracy

Western Stars Poll

Roy Rogers topped for the ninth year running.

Rank Actor/Actress
1. Roy Rogers
2. Gene Autry
3. Tim Holt
4. Charles Starrett
5. Rex Allen
6. Wild Bill Elliott
7. Smiley Burnette
8. Allan Lane
9. Dale Evans
10. Gabby Hayes

Best Actress:

Oscar: Vivien Leigh, A Steetcar Named Desire

N.Y. Film Critics Circle: Vivien Leigh

National Board of Review: Jan Sterling, The Big Carnival

Golden Globes: Jane Wyman, The Blue Veil

Cannes Film Festival: Bette Davis, All About Eve

Venice Film Festival: Vivien Leigh, A Streetcar Named Desire


Best Actor:

Oscar: Humphrey Bogart, The African Queen

N.Y. Film Critics Circle: Arthur Kennedy, Bright Victory

National Board of Review: Richard Basehart, Fourteen Hours

Golden Globes: Fredric March, Death of a Salesman

Cannes Film Festival: Michael Redgrave, The Browning Version

Venice Film Festival: Jean Gabin, La Nuit et Mon Royaun