Best 1950s Movies

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Best 1950s Movies

Thinking about Best 1950s Movies, there is no limit to the movies who explored this idea. We gathered 25 of the top ones.

12 Angry Men (1957)

12 Angry Men
★★★★
★★★★
3.6 out of 4 stars

From Sidney Lumet, starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler
Rated Approved

12 Angry Men is a classic courtroom drama about a jury deliberating the fate of a teenage boy accused of murdering his father. Led by juror number 8 (Henry Fonda), the jury must decide whether the boy is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. As the deliberations progress, the jurors find themselves increasingly divided, with 8 emerging as the voice of moderation and reason. Through an intense examination of the facts and evidence, 8 gradually convinces the other jurors that the case is not as clear-cut as it seemed at first. In the end, all but one of the jurors agree that the boy is innocent. 12 Angry Men is an excellent exploration of human nature, prejudice, and justice.

Rear Window (1954)

Rear Window
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Alfred Hitchcock, starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter
Rated PG

Rear Window is a classic 1954 Alfred Hitchcock thriller starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly, and Raymond Burr. Stewart plays a wheelchair-bound photographer who spends his days spying on his neighbours in the courtyard of his apartment complex. He becomes obsessed with a murder mystery involving a salesman who has disappeared. As Stewart's character investigates the mystery, he is aided by his girlfriend and his visiting nurse. Together they unravel the truth of what happened to the missing man, leading to a nail-biting climax. Along the way, Stewart's character learns the value of trust and friendship, as well as the consequences of over-stepping boundaries. The film is considered one of Hitchcock's best works, and has been praised for its innovative use of the camera, its suspenseful plot, and its exploration of voyeurism.

Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

Witness for the Prosecution
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Billy Wilder, starring Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester
Rated Approved

Witness for the Prosecution is a 1957 courtroom drama film directed by Billy Wilder and based on the play of the same name by Agatha Christie. It stars Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, and Charles Laughton. The film follows Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power), a poor man who is accused of murdering a wealthy older woman, Emily French (Elsa Lanchester), for her money. Vole's defense attorney, Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton), is determined to prove his client's innocence, despite having a weak case. In a surprising twist, Vole's mysterious German-born wife, Christine Vole (Marlene Dietrich), is called as a witness for the prosecution. She testifies that Leonard had admitted to her that he killed Emily. Despite his lawyer's best efforts, Leonard is found guilty. However, during the trial, Sir Wilfrid discovers evidence that was thought to have been destroyed which reveals that Christine was the real killer. With this new evidence, Leonard is set free. Witness for the Prosecution is a suspenseful crime drama full of twists and turns that keeps the audience guessing until the very end.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Singin' in the Rain
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly, starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen
Rated G

Singin' in the Rain is a classic musical comedy set in Hollywood in the late 1920s, starring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds. The film follows Kelly and Reynolds as they navigate the transition from silent films to talkies and their own budding romance. Along the way, the pair must confront a jealous costar and a tyrannical studio head who will do anything to make a hit movie. With memorable musical numbers and witty dialogue, Singin' in the Rain is a timeless classic of the musical genre.

All About Eve (1950)

All About Eve
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Joseph L. Mankiewicz, starring Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm
Rated Passed

All About Eve is a 1950 American drama film written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. It stars Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Thelma Ritter, and Marilyn Monroe in her first major film role. The film follows ambitious young actress Eve Harrington (Baxter), who insinuates herself into the life of aging Broadway star Margo Channing (Davis). She then begins manipulating Margo and stealing her spotlight, eventually replacing her on stage. As the plot unfolds, the manipulative and ambitious Eve takes Margo's place in her life, and she soon finds herself at odds with her new "best friend". The story is narrated by a theatre critic, Addison DeWitt (Sanders). The film explores themes of ambition, manipulation, power, and fame. It was a commercial and critical success, winning six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It was also selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Rashomon (1950)

Rashomon
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Akira Kurosawa, starring Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura
Rated Not Rated

Rashomon (1950) is a classic Japanese film by legendary director Akira Kurosawa. It follows the story of a samurai who has been killed and four different people who give conflicting accounts of the event; a woodcutter, a priest, a bandit, and the samurai's wife. Through the different perspectives of the characters, the audience is given a complex look at truth, justice, and morality. The film is celebrated for its groundbreaking use of nonlinear storytelling and its exploration of the human condition.

The Wages of Fear (1953)

The Wages of Fear
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Henri-Georges Clouzot, starring Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Peter van Eyck, Folco Lulli
Rated Not Rated

The Wages of Fear is a 1953 French-Italian thriller film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot. Set in a South American town, the film follows a group of men who are hired to transport a volatile shipment of nitroglycerin across dangerous terrain. The men face hazardous conditions, personal conflicts, and the constant threat of death as they attempt to deliver the nitroglycerin to an oil well that is on fire. Through a gripping and suspenseful story, the film explores themes of greed, survival, and human courage in the face of danger.

Dial M for Murder (1954)

Dial M for Murder
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Alfred Hitchcock, starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings, John Williams
Rated PG

Dial M for Murder is a 1954 classic thriller from director Alfred Hitchcock. The movie stars Ray Milland as Tony Wendice, a former British tennis pro who concocts a plan to murder his wife, Margot (Grace Kelly), for her infidelity and her large inheritance. Tony hires a former acquaintance, C.A. Swann (Anthony Dawson), to carry out the deed and provides him with a key to their apartment. On the night of the murder, Tony learns that Margot has a plan of her own, leading to an unexpected and thrilling climax. The film is full of suspense with a tense musical score and Hitchcock's signature use of camera angles and editing.

Ace in the Hole (1951)

Ace in the Hole
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Billy Wilder, starring Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Robert Arthur, Porter Hall
Rated Approved

Ace in the Hole is a 1951 film directed by Billy Wilder and starring Kirk Douglas as a down-on-his-luck reporter, Chuck Tatum, who, after being fired from his job, finds himself stuck in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Desperate for a story to get him back on top, he stumbles upon a cave-in at a nearby Indian reservation, trapping a man inside. Seizing the opportunity to make a name for himself, Tatum manipulates the situation for his own gain, leading to a far-reaching media circus and a devastating aftermath. The film is a cynical look at the power of the press and the depths people will go to for fame, money and power.

On the Waterfront (1954)

On the Waterfront
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Elia Kazan, starring Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger
Rated Approved

"On the Waterfront" is a classic American crime drama film directed by Elia Kazan and released in 1954. It stars Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy, a dockworker living in Hoboken, New Jersey who is embroiled in a battle against corruption and mob violence on the waterfront. With the help of his brother Charley (Rod Steiger), Father Barry (Karl Malden), and Edie Doyle (Eva Marie Saint), Terry takes a stand against the mob and their corrupt leader Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb), risking his life in the process. Through his courage and determination, Terry ultimately succeeds in exposing the truth and restoring justice to the waterfront.

Rififi (1955)

Rififi
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Jules Dassin, starring Jean Servais, Carl Möhner, Robert Manuel, Janine Darcey
Rated Not Rated

Rififi is a 1955 French crime film directed by Jules Dassin, and is considered one of the greatest heist films ever made. The film follows four criminals who plan and execute a daring burglary of a jewelry store. Tony le Stéphanois, Jo le Suédois, Mario Farrati, and César le Milanais plan out an elaborate scheme and use their skills to pull off the robbery without violence. However, complications arise when their pasts catch up to them, leading to a thrilling climax. Rififi is renowned for its meticulous planning and its suspenseful and realistic portrayal of the heist, and it was praised upon its release and has become a classic of the French New Wave.

High Noon (1952)

High Noon
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Fred Zinnemann, starring Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Thomas Mitchell, Lloyd Bridges
Rated PG

High Noon is a 1952 American Western film directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. The film tells a fictional story of a sheriff (Cooper) who must face a gang of killers alone. The film is set in the town of Hadleyville, where the retiring lawman Will Kane (Cooper) is preparing to marry his Quaker bride, Amy (Kelly). Just as they are ready to leave, Kane learns that Frank Miller, an outlaw Kane had sent to prison, is returning to town on the noon train with his brothers and their gang. The townspeople refuse to help Kane, so he is forced to take matters into his own hands. As time passes, Kane faces his enemies alone in a suspenseful climax. High Noon is an iconic Western film that has become an enduring classic, praised for its acting, directing, screenplay, and moral complexity.

The Night of the Hunter (1955)

The Night of the Hunter
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Charles Laughton, starring Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, James Gleason
Rated Not Rated

The Night of the Hunter is a 1955 American film directed by Charles Laughton and starring Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, and Lillian Gish. The film tells the story of a sinister, cynical and wickedly charismatic preacher-turned-serial-killer who attempts to charm and manipulate his way into the lives of a naive widow (Winters) and her two children (Billy Chapin, Sally Jane Bruce). When she refuses to give him the fortune of her late husband, the preacher begins a deadly hunt for the children, who have the money hidden away. The film is a classic example of film noir, combining elements of horror, drama, and suspense with a striking visual style. It is widely regarded as a classic of the genre, and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1992.

The Killing (1956)

The Killing
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Stanley Kubrick, starring Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, Jay C. Flippen
Rated Approved

The Killing is a classic crime noir directed by Stanley Kubrick and released in 1956. It stars Sterling Hayden as Johnny Clay, a seasoned criminal with a plan to rob a racetrack on the day of a big race. He assembles a ragtag team of criminals, each assigned to a specific task, and the plan seems to be going off without a hitch. But a mysterious figure called Marvin, played by Elisha Cook Jr., appears out of nowhere and shakes things up. As the stakes grow higher and the situation becomes more complex, Clay must confront the consequences of his actions and attempt to stay one step ahead of the law.

Strangers on a Train (1951)

Strangers on a Train
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Alfred Hitchcock, starring Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman, Leo G. Carroll
Rated PG

Strangers on a Train is a classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller. It follows two men, Guy Haines and Bruno Anthony, who meet by chance on a train. Guy is a professional tennis player who is struggling with his unhappy marriage, while Bruno is a pathological liar who takes an interest in Guy's situation. He proposes an outlandish plan to Guy—Bruno will murder Guy's wife, and in return, Guy will murder Bruno's father. Despite his initial shock, Guy refuses the offer. However, after his wife is murdered, Guy comes under suspicion and finds himself embroiled in a complex and dangerous game of cat-and-mouse. Throughout the film, the audience experiences thriller and suspense as the stakes become higher and the consequences become more dire. In the end, Guy must outwit the cunning and manipulative Bruno, or risk becoming the next victim.

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

A Streetcar Named Desire
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Elia Kazan, starring Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden
Rated PG

"A Streetcar Named Desire" is a classic 1951 drama film directed by Elia Kazan and based on Tennessee Williams' 1947 Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name. The film tells the story of Blanche DuBois, a troubled and neurotic woman from a broken aristocratic family who moves to New Orleans to live with her sister Stella and Stella's husband Stanley. As Blanche's fragile mental state begins to unravel, she clashes with Stanley, as well as her own feelings of insecurity and fear of the future, and the story culminates in a tragic and heartbreaking ending. The film stars Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden, and is considered a landmark of American film and one of the greatest films of all time.

The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

The Asphalt Jungle
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From John Huston, starring Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore
Rated Passed

The Asphalt Jungle is a 1950 American film noir directed by John Huston and starring Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, and Marilyn Monroe. The film follows a group of criminals who plan a daring jewelry heist in an unnamed Midwestern city. The members of the gang include a mastermind criminal named Doc Riedenschneider, a safe-cracker named Cobby, a getaway driver named Gus, and a corrupt lawyer named Alonzo Emmerich. Despite their best efforts, the heist ultimately unravels, leading to a dramatic conclusion. The film is noted for its bleak, realistic depiction of crime and its consequences, and its exploration of themes of loyalty and betrayal within a criminal underworld.

The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)

The Bad and the Beautiful
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Vincente Minnelli, starring Lana Turner, Kirk Douglas, Walter Pidgeon, Dick Powell
Rated Passed

The Bad and the Beautiful is a 1952 melodrama directed by Vincente Minnelli. The film tells the story of Jonathan Shields, a powerful and manipulative film producer whose ruthless ambition has earned him the disdain of his peers. In flashback, the story is revealed through three of Jonathan’s former collaborators: an actress, a director, and a writer. Despite their varying levels of bitterness, the trio all have one thing in common—they were all seduced, then abandoned, by Jonathan’s icy charm and powerful ambition. As they come to terms with the pain of their pasts, they must decide whether or not to work with Jonathan again, even as it becomes clear that his latest project holds the potential to be his greatest success. The Bad and the Beautiful is a powerful commentary on the nature of power, ambition, and the consequences of betrayal.

The Gunfighter (1950)

The Gunfighter
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Henry King, starring Gregory Peck, Helen Westcott, Millard Mitchell, Jean Parker
Rated Not Rated

The Gunfighter is a 1950 Western film starring Gregory Peck as a notorious gunslinger, Jimmy Ringo. After years spent on the run, Ringo returns to his hometown, hoping to find peace and a chance to start a new life. However, his past soon catches up with him, and he finds himself pursued by young gunslingers seeking to make a name for themselves by killing the legendary outlaw. With an old friend's help, Ringo is able to outwit his pursuers and make his escape, leaving behind a legacy that will live on in the pages of history.

A Place in the Sun (1951)

A Place in the Sun
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From George Stevens, starring Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters, Anne Revere
Rated Passed

"A Place in the Sun" is a 1951 American drama film based on the 1925 novel An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. Directed by George Stevens and starring Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and Shelley Winters, the film tells the story of George Eastman (Clift), a poor young man who falls in love with a beautiful socialite (Taylor) and finds himself torn between his desire for wealth and status and his love for her. When his love affair leads to an unexpected pregnancy, George must make a decision that will ultimately determine the course of his life. The film's visuals, music, and use of light and shadow help to create a tense atmosphere of tragedy and desperation.

The Caine Mutiny (1954)

The Caine Mutiny
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Edward Dmytryk, starring Humphrey Bogart, José Ferrer, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray
Rated Not Rated

The Caine Mutiny is a 1954 American drama film directed by Edward Dmytryk and starring Humphrey Bogart. The film is about a U.S. Navy officer who is court-martialed for relieving his unstable commanding officer during a typhoon. The story is based on the novel of the same name by Herman Wouk and revolves around a mutiny aboard the USS Caine, a fictional US Navy destroyer minesweeper in the Pacific theater of World War II. The court-martial is presided over by a compassionate, but firm judge and the film follows the trial as each character is forced to face the consequences of their actions. In the end, the officer is exonerated of all charges and is allowed to return to duty with his honor intact.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Don Siegel, starring Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates, King Donovan
Rated Approved

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) is a science fiction horror classic directed by Don Siegel. The film follows a small town doctor, Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy), as he discovers that alien "pod people" are replacing his friends and neighbors with emotionless duplicates. As Bennell races against time to save humanity, he finds himself struggling to convince others of the alien threat. With its timeless allegory about the fragility of identity, Invasion of the Body Snatchers has become an iconic classic of the genre.

Sabrina (1954)

Sabrina
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Billy Wilder, starring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, William Holden, Walter Hampden
Rated Passed

Sabrina (1954), directed by Billy Wilder, tells the story of the daughter of a wealthy Long Island family's chauffeur. Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn) is smitten with David, the younger son of the family. After Sabrina spends two years in Paris, she returns home a grown woman, and David is captivated by her newfound sophistication and beauty. Meanwhile, his older brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart) is determined to keep the relationship between Sabrina and David from blooming. In the end, Linus realizes that he is in love with Sabrina himself, and they get married.

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

Rebel Without a Cause
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Nicholas Ray, starring James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Jim Backus
Rated PG-13

Rebel Without a Cause is a classic 1955 film directed by Nicholas Ray and starring James Dean, Natalie Wood, and Sal Mineo. Set in 1950s America, the film follows teenage outcast Jim Stark as he navigates a confusing and tumultuous adulthood in a repressive and conformist society. After his family moves to a new town, Jim struggles to fit in, finding himself at odds with the popular kids at school and his parents. When he meets fellow outsiders Judy and Plato, the trio forms a bond and are forced to confront the social norms and pressures imposed upon them in order to prove their worth. With its complex themes of teenage rebellion and identity, Rebel Without a Cause has become a timeless cult classic, representing the struggles of young people and the need for understanding and acceptance.

Godzilla (1954)

Godzilla
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Ishirô Honda, starring Takashi Shimura, Akihiko Hirata, Akira Takarada, Momoko Kôchi
Rated Not Rated

Godzilla (Gojira) is a 1954 Japanese science fiction kaiju film directed by Ishirô Honda. The film is about a giant monster, Godzilla, which is awakened from the depths of the ocean and brought to Tokyo to wreak havoc in the city. After an initial period of fear and chaos, the military is mobilized to try to stop the monster and protect the citizens, but their attempts are futile. Godzilla eventually causes immense destruction in Tokyo before eventually being killed. The film speaks to the theme of the destructive power of nature and its potential consequences, as well as the fear of atomic weapons and their effects. The movie ends with a message of hope, as the survivors of Godzilla's rampage rebuild their city.

 



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