MSNBC film critic John Hartl has made a good if obvious point, which is that regular audiences tend to embrace mediocre films that don’t tend to stand the test of time, and that the really good films tend to more celebrated by critics and, to a lesser extent, awards-giving orgs like the Academy. I’ve always maintained that the most popular films of any year always amount to a kind of portrait of where the mass audience is at deep down…a reflection of what they’re longing for, or how they would like to see themselves in some way. What does it say about a society that celebrates a film as bad as My Big Fat Greek Wedding? No one ever talks these days about the films directed by Mervyn LeRoy (Quo Vadis, Mr. Roberts, The FBI Story, No Time for Sergeants, Gypsy). They were enormously popular in the 1950s, but who talks about any of these films now with serious affection or respect? I’ve never even heard of 1947’s #1 box-office hit called Welcome Stranger , which costarred Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald. Who’s ever seen The Egyptian, one of the big box-office hits of 1954? (20th Century Fox wanted Marlon Brando to star in it and he refused, resuilting in a big brouhaha.) Samson and Delilah was 1950’s biggest hit, David and Bathsheba was 1951’s top-grosser, and The Ten Commandments ruled in 1957…and none of them play very well by today’s aesthetic standards. And Alfred Hitchcock‘s Vertigo , one of his very best and an undisputed classic, flopped when it opened in 1958.