Thinking about Best Movies Of The 1950s, there is no limit to the creators talking about this feeling. We wrote about 25 of the best ones.
From Sidney Lumet, starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler
12 Angry Men is a 1957 courtroom drama film directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Henry Fonda. The film follows the deliberations of a jury in a murder trial, in which they must decide whether the defendant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. As the deliberations progress, each juror reveals his own personality and attitude towards the case. Through their differing opinions and heated debate, the jurors ultimately come to a unanimous decision. The film offers a powerful exploration of justice, morality, and the limits of reasonable doubt.
From Alfred Hitchcock, starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter
Rear Window is a 1954 suspense thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It stars James Stewart as professional photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jefferies, who is confined to a wheelchair after breaking his leg during a photographic assignment. While observing his neighbors from the rear window of his New York City apartment, Jeff becomes convinced that one of them, Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr), has murdered his wife. With the help of his girlfriend, Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly), and his insurance nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter), Jeff attempts to prove his suspicions. As Jeff attempts to uncover the truth, he puts himself in danger. In the end, Jeff's actions lead to Thorwald being brought to justice.
From Billy Wilder, starring Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester
Witness for the Prosecution is a 1957 courtroom drama directed by Billy Wilder and starring Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton, and Tyrone Power. The film follows a British barrister (Laughton) as he defends Leonard Vole (Power), a man accused of murdering a wealthy older woman who had recently named him as the beneficiary of her will. With the help of a key witness, Vole's wife, Romaine (Dietrich), the barrister manages to create reasonable doubt in the jury's minds. But as the trial progresses, the barrister uncovers a secret about Romaine that might mean the difference between life in prison... or freedom. Through the twists and turns of the trial, Wilder creates a gripping murder mystery that keeps the audience guessing until the very end.
Gene Kelly, starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen
Singin' in the Rain is a classic 1952 musical film directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, starring Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O'Connor. The film follows the story of a silent film production company and its attempts to make the transition to sound. Don Lockwood (Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are the film's biggest stars, but when Don falls for an aspiring actress, Kathy Selden (Reynolds), their relationship is jeopardized. In addition to its well-known musical numbers, the film also features slapstick comedy, break dancing, and humorous dialogues. The film is regarded as one of the greatest musicals of all time and won several awards, including an Academy Honorary Award for Kelly and Donen's work in the film.
From Joseph L. Mankiewicz, starring Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm
All About Eve is a 1950 American drama film written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and produced by Darryl F. Zanuck. It stars Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, Thelma Ritter, and Marilyn Monroe. It follows the career of aspiring actress Eve Harrington (Baxter) as she maneuvers her way into the lives of Margot Channing (Davis), a prominent theater star, and her director boyfriend, Lloyd Richards (Merrill). As Eve ingratiates herself into Margot's life and career, the lives of these three become intertwined and dark secrets are revealed. The film won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Mankiewicz), and Best Adapted Screenplay (also Mankiewicz). It has since been recognized as one of the greatest films ever made, and is regularly discussed in classes and seminars on film criticism.
From Akira Kurosawa, starring Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura
Rated Not Rated
Rashomon is a 1950 Japanese period drama film directed by Akira Kurosawa. It tells the story of a murder from the differing perspectives of four witnesses. The story is based on Ryūnosuke Akutagawa's two short stories "In a Grove" and "Rashomon". The film is set in 12th century Japan, during the Heian period in Kyoto. It focuses on a woodcutter and a priest who hear the story of a bandit and a samurai from a notorious criminal, played by Toshiro Mifune. The four characters tell their version of the events which differ drastically from one another. The film examines the notion of truth and perception as the truth becomes blurred and ultimately unclear. The film is widely acclaimed and has been recognized as one of the greatest films ever made by and international critics.
From Henri-Georges Clouzot, starring Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Peter van Eyck, Folco Lulli
Rated Not Rated
The Wages of Fear is a classic French-Italian thriller film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot. It follows the story of four desperate and down-on-their-luck European men who are hired to transport four trucks of nitroglycerine across treacherous terrain, in exchange for large sums of money. The film follows their arduous journey as they battle their fears and the hazardous conditions of the South American jungle, with their lives hanging in the balance. Along the way, their desperation and frustration with the situation leads to interpersonal tensions, as each man struggles to stay alive and make it to the other side. In the end, the men must confront their own mortality and decide how far they are willing to go to survive. The Wages of Fear is praised for its intense cinematography and complex characters and remains a classic of the suspense genre.
From Alfred Hitchcock, starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings, John Williams
Dial M for Murder is a classic thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1954. It tells the story of Tony Wendice, a former professional tennis player, who plots to murder his wife, Margot, for her infidelity and the large amount of money she stands to inherit. Tony hires an old acquaintance, C.A. Swann, to carry out the crime. However, when the murder is attempted, Margot is able to fight off her attacker and Tony’s plan falls apart. In a desperate attempt to cover up his failed attempt, Tony tries to frame Margot for murder, but in the end his own scheming and Margot’s courage and wit save her from conviction. In the final act of the film, Tony meets a fitting end for his ill-fated plot.
From Billy Wilder, starring Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Robert Arthur, Porter Hall
Ace in the Hole is a 1951 American drama film directed by Billy Wilder and starring Kirk Douglas as Chuck Tatum, a cynical, self-centered reporter who stops at nothing to get a story. Tatum is stuck in Albuquerque, New Mexico, working for a small-town newspaper when he stumbles upon a story about a man, Leo Minosa, trapped in a cave. He quickly realizes that this could be the big break he's been waiting for and makes a deal with the local paper to become the lead reporter on the story. He then exploits the situation and stirs up drama to make it a national sensation. Along the way, he endangers Minosa's life and ruins the lives of everyone else involved. In the end, his actions have dire consequences, showing that in the pursuit of a story, no one is safe.
From Elia Kazan, starring Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger
On the Waterfront is a 1954 American drama film written by Budd Schulberg and directed by Elia Kazan. The film follows the story of Terry Malloy, a former prize fighter and dockworker who confronts corruption and racketeering on the waterfronts of Hoboken, New Jersey. Terry's loyalty is tested when he must choose between his brother Charley, a mob-connected union boss, and Father Barry, an activist priest. Terry's decision leads to dramatic consequences and a battle between conscience and survival. The film won eight Academy Awards and was nominated for six more, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. In 1990, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
From Jules Dassin, starring Jean Servais, Carl Möhner, Robert Manuel, Janine Darcey
Rated Not Rated
Rififi is a 1955 French film noir crime drama directed by Jules Dassin and starring Jean Servais, Robert Manuel, and Carl Möhner. The film follows a group of four ex-cons—Tony le Stéphanois, Jo le Suédois, Mario Farrati, and César le Milanais—who plan and execute a daring and intricate heist of a jewelry store in Paris. The heist is executed with extreme precision and without any violence, which earns the four men the admiration of their peers. However, the success of their heist brings them unwanted attention from the police and rival criminal gangs as they attempt to keep their loot and stay alive. Rififi is a gritty and intense film that features one of the most iconic heist sequences in cinematic history.
From Fred Zinnemann, starring Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Thomas Mitchell, Lloyd Bridges
High Noon is a 1952 American western film directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. It tells the story of a small-town marshal who is torn between his sense of duty and his love for his new wife when he is faced with a deadly conflict with a gang of criminals in the town. The marshal must battle the gang alone, despite the town's refusal to help him, and the ticking clock of the noon train's impending arrival. High Noon was a critical and commercial success and won four Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Cooper. It is now widely considered a classic of the western film genre.
From Charles Laughton, starring Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, James Gleason
Rated Not Rated
The Night of the Hunter is a 1955 American thriller directed by Charles Laughton, starring Robert Mitchum as a sinister preacher named Harry Powell. The film follows a preacher with a criminal past as he attempts to steal $10,000 from two children, John and Pearl Harper, who are on the run from their mother's murderer. Along the way, Powell is pursued by a determined sheriff and an old friend of the kids' mother. In the end, Powell is exposed and defeated, allowing the children to escape and reclaim their inheritance. The film is considered a classic and is praised for its unique style and atmosphere, with powerful performances from Mitchum, Lillian Gish and Shelley Winters.
From Stanley Kubrick, starring Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, Jay C. Flippen
Stanley Kubrick's 1956 film The Killing is a noir crime drama following a small-time crook, Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden), as he assembles a team to pull off an ambitious robbery at a racetrack. With the help of a corrupt cop and a sharpshooter, the plan is to make off with the money and then split it between the members of the team. However, the robbery is complicated by a scheming racetrack owner and Johnny's former lover, who is also the wife of one of the other robbers. In the end, the team's plan goes awry and the money is lost, leaving them to face the consequences of their actions. The Killing is an intense and atmospheric exploration of betrayal, greed, and the consequences of crime.
From Alfred Hitchcock, starring Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman, Leo G. Carroll
Strangers on a Train tells the story of two men, Bruno Anthony and Guy Haines, who meet on a train and hatch a sinister plan. Bruno suggests exchanging murders – Bruno will kill Guy's estranged wife, and Guy will kill Bruno's father. Guy rejects this idea, but soon enough, Bruno has killed Guy's wife, and the police have arrested Guy for the murder. With the police closing in on him, Guy must work to prove his innocence while trying to track down Bruno, who is still determined to get his revenge. With suspense and intrigue, Strangers on a Train is a classic Hitchcock film that is sure to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
From Elia Kazan, starring Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden
A Streetcar Named Desire is a classic 1951 American drama film directed by Elia Kazan, and adapted from Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 play of the same name. The plot follows the story of Blanche DuBois, a fading Southern belle who is desperate to secure her future, but is instead led down a path of self-destruction when she moves in with her sister, Stella, and her brutish brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski. Blanche is ultimately unable to escape her past, and her life spirals out of control as she struggles to cope with the harsh realities of life in New Orleans. As the tension between Blanche and Stanley builds, the film culminates in an unforgettable confrontation that is both heartbreaking and darkly humorous. Despite its tragic elements, the film is ultimately uplifting as Blanche finds a measure of peace and acceptance at the end of her journey.
From John Huston, starring Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore
The Asphalt Jungle is a 1950 crime film directed by John Huston and starring Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, and Marilyn Monroe. The movie follows an aging criminal mastermind, Doc Riedenschneider (Calhern) who assembles a small group of criminals to pull off a daring and complex jewelry heist. The group is made up of a seasoned safecracker, a getaway driver, and a corrupt lawyer. The robbery is a success but when the group tries to sell the jewels, they face double-crossing and betrayal, which ultimately leads to tragedy. The movie is a classic heist film that explores themes of greed, loyalty, and redemption, and is noted for its strong performances and dialogue. The Asphalt Jungle received widespread critical praise and was nominated for four Academy Awards.
From Vincente Minnelli, starring Lana Turner, Kirk Douglas, Walter Pidgeon, Dick Powell
The Bad and the Beautiful is a 1952 melodrama directed by Vincente Minnelli. The film follows the story of a ruthless, ambitious and manipulative Hollywood movie producer, Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas), and his relationships with those who have been burned by his schemes. Throughout the movie, we witness the story of his relationships with an aspiring director, a fading star and a powerful studio executive, all of whom have been hurt by Jonathan's unscrupulous methods. As Jonathan is pursued for his past wrongs, he must decide whether to continue on his path of destruction or to try and make amends for his past actions. The film is a gripping drama that examines the struggles of those in the film industry, their ambition and drive and the consequences of their choices.
From Henry King, starring Gregory Peck, Helen Westcott, Millard Mitchell, Jean Parker
Rated Not Rated
The Gunfighter is a 1950 American Western film directed by Henry King and starring Gregory Peck as a legendary gunslinger trying to outrun his reputation. The film follows Jimmy Ringo, a notorious gunman who is trying to leave his violent past behind and settle down with his estranged family. He is constantly being challenged by younger gunslingers, who hope to make a name for themselves by killing the famous Ringo. When he finally finds peace with his family, Ringo is forced to take a job as a sheriff in a small town and face his enemies once again. As Ringo struggles to do right by both sides, he must make a choice between the gun that made him famous and his newfound peace.
From George Stevens, starring Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters, Anne Revere
A Place in the Sun is a 1951 American drama film directed by George Stevens, based on the novel An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. The film stars Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, and Shelley Winters in a story of an ambitious working-class young man who struggles to rise above his station in life, only to find that his attempts to better himself are thwarted by societal prejudice and false perceptions of his character. The film follows George Eastman (Clift) as he moves from his small town to the big city and attempts to gain a position in the business world. He falls in love with the beautiful and wealthy Angela Vickers (Taylor), and attempts to win her away from her fiance, which results in tragic consequences. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won five, including Best Director for Stevens.
From Edward Dmytryk, starring Humphrey Bogart, José Ferrer, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray
Rated Not Rated
The Caine Mutiny is a 1954 film directed by Edward Dmytryk and starring Humphrey Bogart. The story follows a U.S. Navy destroyer-minesweeper, the USS Caine, during the final days of World War II. The ship's commanding officer, Captain Queeg (Humphrey Bogart), begins to show signs of mental instability, leading his executive officer, Lt. Steve Maryk (Van Johnson), to question his authority. When the crew grows increasingly unhappy with the captain's erratic behavior and disregard for safety, they stage a mutiny and replace him with Maryk. The court-martial that follows tests the boundaries of military justice and the loyalty of the men involved.
From Don Siegel, starring Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates, King Donovan
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a 1956 American science fiction horror film directed by Don Siegel, and starring Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter. It tells the story of Dr. Miles Bennell, a physician in a small California town, who discovers that the citizens of his community have been replaced by emotionless duplicates, created by alien seed pods. As Bennell races against time to warn the remaining humans, he must also confront the deadly creatures before they take over the entire world. With its themes of paranoia and invasion of privacy, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a classic of the science fiction horror genre.
From Billy Wilder, starring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, William Holden, Walter Hampden
Sabrina (1954) is an American romantic comedy directed by Billy Wilder. It stars Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and William Holden. The film tells the story of Sabrina Fairchild, the daughter of a wealthy family's chauffeur, who falls in love with the man her family has forbidden her to marry. The two men in her life, wealthy playboy David Larrabee and his older brother Linus, both vie for her affections. Through a series of twists and turns, Sabrina must decide who she will choose. Ultimately, she finds her true happiness, but not without a few bumps along the way.
From Nicholas Ray, starring James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Jim Backus
Rebel Without a Cause is a 1955 American drama film directed by Nicholas Ray and starring James Dean, Natalie Wood, and Sal Mineo. It follows the story of teenager Jim Stark who moves with his family to a new city and has difficulty finding his place in the world, eventually leading him to befriend two troubled youths, Plato and Judy, and becoming involved in a criminal act. With his parents unable to provide him with the understanding he needs, Jim struggles to find his own identity in a world of frustration, delinquency, and rebellion. This classic film is considered to be one of the defining works of the teenage rebellion genre and has had a lasting impact on American culture.
From Ishirô Honda, starring Takashi Shimura, Akihiko Hirata, Akira Takarada, Momoko Kôchi
Rated Not Rated
Godzilla is a 1954 Japanese science fiction kaiju film directed by Ishirō Honda. The film tells the story of a giant prehistoric creature, Godzilla, that rises from the ocean and ravages Japan. After a series of horrific attacks, a group of scientists attempt to find a way to stop the monster before it destroys the entire country. Along the way, they discover the truth about the creature and its mysterious origins. The film was an immense success and has spawned an entire franchise of sequels, reboots, and spin-offs.