2020: Year In Review + Top 10 Movies Watched

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve, everybody, and it’s time to take a look back at the year 2020. First, I’ll take a look at some changes with the blog itself that have been going on. One of the big ones was me joining the Classic Movie Blog Association back in August, which has been a thrill for me. I also, early on in the year, debuted a new feature on various theatrical shorts (Coming Up Shorts!), with me adding my comments on individual shorts on every review. Over the last few months, I’ve also been changing up my review format a little, as I’ve tinkered with it to get things around to where I’d like them. It’s not something I’m doing for every post, but I’m having some fun doing it (and, I hope, entertaining all my readers in the process). After finally getting around to working on it, I debuted my new logo design a month ago, while simultaneously announcing my attempt at hosting various blogathons with my Stars Of The Month being planned throughout 2021 (starting off with Doris Day, Clark Gable and Gene Kelly, in that order).

Obviously, one big thing going on for the entirety of 2020 has been the pandemic, which, particularly for a lot of us movie fans, has resulted in us going back to our “comfort cinema.” For me, that has long been the various classic musicals I like, along with a lot of the comedies (not so much the dramas). But, I would say my plans, particularly with regard to movies I’ve been reviewing for the year, didn’t really change that much, as that was mostly determined between the movies I was given for Christmas last year, and my birthday this year. What did change a little was the movies I was willing to purchase on disc (but, then again, I already covered that in my Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2020 post last month). I started out the year by finishing up my run through of actress Ginger Rogers’ filmography (from among the films I own on disc, anyway). After that, I switched to the films featuring comedy team Bud Abbott and Lou Costello (and threw in a post on them as a screen team). I also went through a handful of the silent movies featuring Harold Lloyd, my usual noirs for November, and a few Christmas films to finish out the year. Throw in my special 200th post on the Top 10 Years At The Movies and my 250th on Top 5 Dance Routines I Would Love To Learn, and that should cover most of what I had to do this year!

And with all that said, here’s my list of the top 10 movies that I watched/reviewed for the year 2020, culled from the list of 2020 reviews, plus 2019 releases reviewed after January 1, 2020 and 2020 releases reviewed before December 31, 2020 (also a few films released on disc in 2018, but obviously they’re included in the 2020 reviews).  While I was able to enjoy watching a great many movies, some new and some I’ve seen before, the movies on this list are those I enjoyed the most, and would recommend to anybody that is interested!  And if any of these appeal to you, be sure to click on the movie titles to go to Amazon and support this site!

  1. An American In Paris (1951) (Warner Home Video, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Obviously, for the top spot for this year, I would choose the classic film musical starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. With great tunes from George and Ira Gershwin, including “‘S Wonderful,” “I Got Rhythm” and “Our Love Is Here To Stay,” plus a number of others, it’s worth seeing just to have that fantastic music stuck in your head! And that’s not even covering the dancing, which is great, and one of the best reasons to see this movie, especially on the big screen (which I was fortunate enough to do this year, before the pandemic hit)! Seriously, if you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and watch it first chance you get! Full review here.
  2. The Music Man (1962) (Warner Home Video, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Following close behind for the second spot would be the classic 1962 film musical The Music Man! This is another film with a memorable score, that’s sure to leave me with a number of fun songs stuck in my head! With a great cast including Robert Preston as the conman Harold Hill, plus Shirley Jones as “Marian The Librarian,” it’s hard not to have fun with this one! So be sure to give this one a chance, too! Full review here.
  3. Sergeant York (1941) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Gary Cooper stars as real-life WWI hero Alvin York in this film. Through his journey from a man prone to drinking and fighting to a man of faith, especially as he goes off to war, this is one of Gary Cooper’s best performances (and his first Best Acting Oscar). After years of not looking too great because of the available film elements, this movie has been carefully restored, which allows this wonderful film to shine again! Full review here.
  4. Show Boat (1936) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Currently occupying the fourth spot for one of the best movies I watched in 2020 would be the 1936 Show Boat. Featuring Irene Dunne as Magnolia Hawks and Allen Jones as Gaylord Ravenal, the story follows their romance through its ups and downs. Based on the Broadway show (and with a few new songs added for this movie by composers Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein), this is the best known version of the tale, and rightly so! Even better, this black-and-white film has been restored, and now looks magnificent! Full review here.
  5. In Person (1935) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Ginger Rogers stars as an actress in hiding after being mobbed by her fans, but she slowly gets past her fear of mobs. This romantic comedy is a bit of fun, and throws in a few musical numbers featuring Ginger herself. The film has long been “Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind,” but it’s a bit more available now, and well worth seeing (in my opinion)! Full review here.
  6. Love Me Tonight (1932) (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • This early pre-Code musical is the third of four pairings for Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald. He plays a tailor, and she a princess, and through some mistaken identity shenanigans, they fall in love. One of the first (if not the first) integrated film musicals, with music provided by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. In spite of its age, this movie still works quite well, and, with a new 4K remaster, it looks stunning to boot! Be sure to give it a shot if you can! Full review here.
  7. The Naughty Nineties (1945) (Shout Factory, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • It’s Bud Abbott and Lou Costello doing their complete “Who’s On First?” routine. In any normal year, that alone is good enough for it to make the list, never mind in a year with a pandemic that left me wanting good comedy more than ever! Sure, the plot of them facing off against a group of river gamblers who took over a showboat is nothing to write home about, but Bud and Lou make this movie well worth it! Full review here.
  8. In The Navy (1941) (Shout Factory, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Another Abbott and Costello film. This time, they’re In The Navy, and joined again by the Andrews Sisters, with an assist from Dick Powell! In this film, the boys help a famous singer stay out of the spotlight (although one female photographer is bound and determined to put an end to that)! The songs here are some of the more memorable ones (particularly the title tune), and with a plethora of comedy routines from Bud and Lou, it’s a fun film I enjoy watching every now and then! Full review here.
  9. Girl Crazy (1943) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland team up again for the last film in their “let’s put on a show” series. He is a girl crazy college student sent to a boys only western college, where he finds her as the only girl. Based on the original Broadway show, and making use of a number of big Gershwin hit tunes, this one is about as much fun as one could hope for! Throw in the newly restored picture, and this movie is well worth seeing! Full review here.
  10. Lost In A Harem (1944) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Hey Abbott! We’ve got another film featuring Bud and Lou, the second of three that they made for MGM. This one features them as a pair of magicians in the Mideast who help a prince overthrow his corrupt uncle. Bud and Lou work with Murray Leonard to pull off such fun comedy routines as “Slowly I Turned” (I’m still not mentioning the place!) and “Invisible Friend,” which for me are among some of their most memorable! Yep, Abbott and Costello continue to provide the laughs! Full review here.

Honorable mentions: Roxie Hart (1942) (20th Century Fox/Disney, DVD), The Freshman (1925) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray), Pat And Mike (1952) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray)

So thank you all for sticking with me in 2020, and I wish you a Happy New Year as we head into 2021! And please let me know what movies you’ve enjoyed this year as well (whether those you’ve seen or whatever movies I’ve reviewed, whatever works for you)!

Also, if you are interested in joining in on my month-long “Star Of The Month” blogathons for 2021, whether for next month, which starts tomorrow (Doris Day), February (Clark Gable) or beyond, please be sure to check out my Coming Soon In 2021: “Star/Genre Of The Month” Blogathons post to sign up!

Previous Years



What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… In Person (1935)

We’re back for some more fun with the 1935 Ginger Rogers movie In Person, also starring George Brent and Alan Mowbray!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Rocket To Mars (1946)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

(Length: 6 minutes, 35 seconds)

While touring a museum, Popeye and Olive accidentally start a rocket that takes Popeye to Mars. Fun little cartoon, possibly one of the first to feature an alien invasion (or so I’ve read). Admittedly, Olive’s presence is so quick, you almost wonder why they bothered. The fighting between Popeye and the Martian Bluto (and his troops), especially after Popeye has his spinach, is fun as always (even if it is a little one-sided). Obviously, realism goes down the drain here, but that’s the fun, and I definitely enjoyed this cartoon!

And Now For The Main Feature…

After being mobbed by a group of unruly fans, movie star Carol Corliss (Ginger Rogers) developed a fear of crowds and people. Wearing a disguise of a wig, glasses, buck teeth and a veil, she tries to go back out under the guise of “Clara Colfax,” with limited success. On one attempted outing, she is nearly in an accident, but is helped by Emory Muir (George Brent). When she later overhears him talking with his uncle Judge Thaddeus Parks (Grant Mitchell) about going to a mountain retreat, she tries to get in on the idea. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Aaron Sylvester (Samuel S. Hinds), a friend of the judge, reluctantly signs off on the idea, but doesn’t tell Emory who “Clara” really is. When they arrive, Emory lets “Clara” stay in the cabin by herself, while he goes to a nearby shack. In the morning, while bird-watching, he spies Carol swimming in the lake, and follows her wet footprints back to the cabin. Going into town for an errand, he finds a few pictures of Carol Corliss in the magazines and realizes who she is. Upon returning to the cabin, he finds that Carol has abandoned her disguise and decides to tell him who she is. He fakes a lack of knowledge of Carol Corliss, and has her work around the cabin, doing cleaning and cooking chores instead of letting her sit around doing nothing. As Carol tries to convince him of the truth, she starts getting through her fear, even taking him to a local screening of one of her movies, where she has to deal with another mob of fans. There, she also runs into her co-star, Jay Holmes (Alan Mowbray), who has come after her to bring her back to Hollywood. Emory threatens to leave, but Carol manages to con the local sheriff into forcing a marriage between the two. However, the sheriff catches Jay instead, resulting in some confusion until Emory shows up, and the two are reluctantly married, with plans to divorce before Carol goes back to Hollywood.

Based on a novel by Samuel Hopkins Adams (who wrote It Happened One Night), the movie was originally conceived as a potential Astaire-Rogers film. Fred Astaire turned it down, but Ginger decided in favor of it, and was joined by others who had worked on the Astaire-Rogers films, including director William A. Seiter (who had directed the 1935 Roberta), regular writer Allan Scott, choreographer Hermes Pan and lyricist Dorothy Fields. The new music was written by Oscar Levant. Honestly, the Astaire-Rogers connection makes it a bit more fun, with Easter Eggs such as the song “Lovely To Look At” playing on the radio when they first get to the cabin, or Alan Mowbray’s line of “I’ve co-starred in every picture that Carol Corliss has ever made” (which probably fit Ginger better, as she had had a movie career apart from Fred, but, outside of his small debut in Dancing Lady, she had co-starred with him in every movie he had done up to that point).

Now, I had first heard of the movie when I read the book Astaire And Rogers by Edward Gallafent most of fifteen years ago. According to that book, it was said to be a difficult movie to find, so when I found it listed on the schedule for the Turner Classic Movies channel a few years later, I jumped at the chance and recorded it on my DVR. I ended up enjoying it very much! With only three new songs, it really barely qualified as a musical (especially since the first song doesn’t really happen until more than halfway into the movie), but they were still fun! Admittedly, the song “Don’t Mention Love To Me,” sung by Ginger for the “movie-within-a-movie,” was rather forgettable. However, the song “Got A New Lease On Life” was fun, giving Ginger a chance to dance around the cabin while she was still preparing the food (and if I have any complaints about that one, it’s that the dance was too short). But I REALLY enjoyed the tune “Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind,” which starts with her walking on a revolving bar while she sings, before getting off to dance with the male chorus. While her dancing may not be as polished as it would be when she danced with Fred Astaire, it’s still a fun dance number! I do admit to having mixed feelings about George Brent’s character. On the one hand, Ginger’s character is a bit selfish and too proud to do work to start out, but then again, I do feel that his thing of making her do domestic chores is pushing it a little. Still, I will readily admit to enjoying this movie, and I very heartily recommend it!

So, as you can imagine, after seeing it that first time, I very patiently waited for this movie to be released on DVD, and finally, the Warner Archive Collection announced it for release on DVD on March 19, 2019, much to my happiness (and it certainly took long enough to come out)! Now, do I wish it could have been given a full restoration and released on Blu-ray? Yes. But I’m no fool. As I said before, this movie has been described as rare and hard to see, which makes me question what shape the film elements might be in or what’s available, and, since the movie has been (to quote my favorite song from this movie) “out of sight and out of mind,” it certainly wasn’t likely to be popular enough to warrant what might be a costly restoration, so I’m definitely glad to have it on disc, so that it is that much easier to see!

Film Length: 1 hour, 27 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #5 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2020

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Top Hat (1935)Ginger RogersFollow The Fleet (1936)

42nd Street (1933) – George Brent – Jezebel (1938)

Alan Mowbray – Rose-Marie (1936)

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