Salt of the Earth was written by Michael Wilson, directed by Herbert J. Biberman, and produced by Paul Jarrico, all of whom had been blacklisted during the Red scare of the 1950s. Its plot centers on a long and difficult strike, based on the 1951 miners’ strike against the Empire Zinc Company in New Mexico.
The movie was financed by the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers and denounced at the time by the United States House of Representatives for its communist sympathies. In 1992 the Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the US National Film Registry. Thanks to its 3½ (of 4) stars from Leonard Maltin and a solid IMDb user rating, it was also selected to be 46th in the Internet Archive Top 100.
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers is a film noir starring Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Lizabeth Scott and featuring Kirk Douglas in his film debut. Stanwyck is bound to husband Douglas by his knowledge of a crime she committed as a teenager. When an old flame comes back to town, the result is a web of noir melodrama.
While Stanwyck is the unquestioned star of the movie, check out Scott, whose next movie would be one of my favorite noirs, Dead Reckoning with Humphrey Bogart. All that star power is what put this movie at #47 in the Internet Archive Top 100.
This thoughtful, sentimental drama about a British air base and a neighboring town the effects of World War II on the people who live there. It was made in Britain just after the war and was well-received there, although US audiences mostly ignored its stateside release.
John Mills, who played the central character of Peter Penrose, would return in a top-10 Internet Archive Top 100 film in his next role. You can also see a couple of his earlier performances in Car of Dreams and Cottage to Let.
The Iron Mask has just enough talking to not be a silent movie, but it’s considered to be Douglas Fairbanks’ farewell to that swashbuckling era. It’s based on Alexandre Dumas’ sequel to The Three Musketeers, and has been repeatedly remade as The Man in the Iron Mask.
Although silent films aren’t eligible the Internet Archive Top 100 (they’ll get their own list later), it’s nice that this hybrid ranked high enough to provide a wider audience to Fairbanks’ signature film style.
Leonard Maltin wrote that Detour “is the quintessence of film noir.” (He also said it was shot in six days, but later research suggests it took about a month.) A New York nightclub pianist hitchhikes to Hollywood to join his girlfriend. After a lowlife driver dies mysteriously, the pianist takes his identity to avoid police investigation. Then a woman discovers the ruse and starts applying pressure.
In 1992, Detour was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. There are at least a half-dozen copies in the Internet Archive. I hope I picked the best copy from its Feature Films collection for this entry in the IA Top 100.