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Top films of 1951

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  • Top films of 1951

    I was reading something about Brian Rix the other day and it mentioned that "Reluctant Heroes"(1951) was one of the most popular films in British cinemas when it was released. Does anyone have a source that could confirm this?

  • #2
    Bfi library or. Archive of cta


    • #3
      RELUCTANT HEROES wasn't released until 1952 on the ABC circuit. I'll have a look in the 1953 Film Review annual as they usually had a list of the previous years top films at the British box office.

      UPDATE: No list of British box office successes in that edition, but there is a Top Ten of British box office stars and in the number one position is Ronald Shiner, so that should tell us something.
      Last edited by darrenburnfan; 10th May 2017, 11:36 AM.


      • #4
        January 1951:

        Jack Raymond, head of Byron Films, has acquired filming rights of current Whitehall theatre hit, "Reluctant Heroes," as starring vehicle for George Formby, who makes his return to films after 12 years. Understood price paid for film rights is $15,000.


        • #5
          Reluctant Heroes was released by Associated British-Pathe and went out on ABC release in February 1952. It appears not have had a West End opening. In his cinema chain books Allen Eyles has lists of releases with an asterisk to indicate whether the film was in the top ten at the box office of that year: Reluctant Heroes has an asterisk. However, Eyles lists six ABC releases, three Odeon releases and four Gaumont releases as being in the top ten in 1952!
          The titles were:-
          ABC release
          Reluctant Heroes
          The African Queen
          The Quiet Man
          Angels One-Five
          The Sound Barrier

          Odeon Release
          The Greatest Show On Earth
          Son of Paleface
          The World in His Arms

          Gaumont release
          Where No Vultures Fly
          The Planter's Wife
          Road to Bali

          How many of these thirteen were actually in the top ten I don't know.


          • #6
            Oh that's brilliant information, thank you all so much. I was sure that there were answers out there somewhere but I was finding my own skills sorely lacking.

            One thing I should point out, is that the filmed version of the Whitehall farce did not, in the end, feature George Formby. It went with Brian Rix, who had been the star in the stage version for three years by that time. Sadly, the budget of this movie was very low, as Brian Rix described in one of his volumes of autobiography. The film itself would not bear comparison favourably with any of the other 12 top ten films of that year. Popular that year, but has not aged well. It was even cheaper than a "Carry On.." film and showed its stage roots like someone who couldn't afford a frequent dye job.