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



Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… The Music Man (1962)

Around July 4th, I know one movie I enjoy watching is the classic 1962 film musical The Music Man with Robert Preston and Shirley Jones!

Coming Up Shorts! with… We Give Pink Stamps (1965)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 7 minutes, 1 second)

The Pink Panther wanders around a closed department store, periodically trying to avoid the “little man” working as a janitor. Fun little cartoon, with the Panther having adventures wandering around, dealing with an electronic folding chair, and a tiger-skin rug. Doesn’t feel quite as memorable as either of the previous two. Still, it’s not a strict formula of “The Pink Panther Vs. The ‘Little Man,'” so it still retains enough fun to make it worth seeing!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Traveling salesman and conman “Professor” Harold Hill (Robert Preston) comes to the town of River City, Iowa to sell his wares, which include band instruments, uniforms, etc., plus himself as a boys band leader (even though he himself knows almost nothing about music). However, he can’t find any interest in a boys band until he manufactures trouble regarding the town’s new pool table with the help of his former partner (and current town resident) Marcellus Washburn (Buddy Hackett). He has potential trouble brewing in the form of librarian/piano teacher Marian Paroo (Shirley Jones), so he starts trying to worm his way into her affections (without much success). At the town assembly, he successfully convinces the townspeople of the need for a boys band, although Mayor Shinn (Paul Ford) is slightly suspicious and tries to get his credentials (without any success). Meanwhile, Harold wins the confidence of many of the young people in town, including juvenile delinquent Tommy Djilas (Timmy Everett) and Marian’s younger brother, Winthrop Paroo (Ron Howard). When the band instruments arrive, Harold tries to lead the kids utilizing his “Think System,” whereby they think of the music in order to play it. Everything is going great for Harold until the night he planned to leave, when anvil salesman Charlie Cowell (Harry Hickox) comes to town, bringing his evidence against Harold to the Mayor and the authorities. But can Harold leave before he is caught (or at this point, does he even want to)?

Yep, I finally got around to this one! The movie that somewhat inspired my overall blog title! Admittedly, this is NOT my absolute favorite movie, but, as much as I like musicals (and I do REALLY like this one), why not reference it? Indeed, this is an absolutely wonderful film, and one I always enjoy getting a chance to watch! Robert Preston just seems so perfectly cast as Harold Hill (and yet, who can believe that this was his first musical, never mind the fact that Jack Warner didn’t originally want to cast him in spite of his success with the Broadway show)! But, it’s obviously not just him that makes this movie work, as the rest of the cast is equally wonderful, too! Paul Ford is so much fun as the constantly befuddled mayor Shinn, a type of comedy he seemed to do well, since he also played a similar character on the classic sitcom The Phil Silvers Show. And then there’s that barbershop quartet, the Buffalo Bills as the four members of the school board who start out constantly arguing, but end up as friends constantly singing together (even if they are generally prompted by Harold so that he can avoid them). Seriously, they act like people who know each other, and goof around a little with some of their singing. That’s only a few members of the cast, but, honestly, I could easily praise the whole group!

But this is a musical, so we can’t forget about the wonderful music (and some of the dancing too)! Right from the start, we’re treated to wonderful music by Meredith Wilson! With such toe-tapping songs as “76 Trombones,” “Ya Got Trouble,” “Wells Fargo Wagon” and “Pick A Little, Talk A Little,” among others, you just can’t go wrong! Obviously, “Til There Was You” has become one of the better known classics from this show, and I can’t disagree, as it’s such a wonderful song! But the dancer in me says, “give me the likes of ‘Marian The Librarian’ and especially the ‘Shipoopi!'” I just love both songs, and watching the “Shipoopi” in particular always makes me want to get up and dance! Seriously, there aren’t enough good things to be said about this movie! It’s one I always enjoy watching, whether around July 4th or any other time of the year (if you haven’t guessed already, yes, I do recommend it)!!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Home Video.

Film Length: 2 hours, 31 minutes

My Rating: 10/10 (after all that build-up did you expect any less?)

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*ranked #2 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2020

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Robert Preston – Mame (1974)

Never Steal Anything Small (1959) – Shirley Jones