My 10 Favorite Movies from the 1950s

I’ll admit, I stole this idea from Ben Domenech almost two years ago. His post has been bookmarked since that time. But not to worry, we appear to have a different taste in movies.

I start with the 1950s because that’s the era of my birth. Do not judge me. It was the late 1950s.

But here, in no particular order, are my top 10 favorite movies made in the 1950s.

Remember, these are my favorites, not necessarily a critic’s pick of the best. Your popcorn consumption may vary.


Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds
Originally only a moderate success this film is now a Hollywood legend and is Number One on AFI’s Greatest Movie Musicals list.


The King and I (1956)
Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr
I don’t know if this is really a favorite or if I listed it because I saw Yul Brynner do this in the 1977 Broadway revival.


Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives
The film version of the Tennesse Williams play tones down some of the dialogue and inferences in the play. Tennesse Williams and film star Paul Newman stated their disappointment with the film adaptation. But the Hays Code limited the homosexual themes and the relationship between Brick and Skipper. Nominated for several awards, it may have been too controversial to win. You have to love the trivia that Dame Judith Anderson was both “Big Momma” Pollitt and the Vulcan High Priestess in The Search for Spock (1984), her final feature length film.


The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
William Holden, Jack Hawkins and a young Obi-wan Kenobi, Alec Guinness
Based on the 1952 French novel by Pierre Boulle, this film won seven academy awards including Best Picture.


The African Queen (1951)
Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn
The relationship between a proper, strait-laced missionary and a riverboat captain who loves his gin is the real story of this movie. But we get the bonus of blowing up a German gunboat. That’s always a win. Bogart won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Hepburn was nominated but the award that year went to Vivien Leigh for A Streetcar Named Desire.


The Ten Commandments (1956)
A Biblical epic and unlike The Bible series, it’s not boring. This Hollywood epic was narrated by director Cecil B. DeMille and was the last film he directed. DeMille suffered a heart attack during the filming but, against doctor’s orders, went on to finish the film. The movie started Charlton Heston as Moses, but also featured Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson and Yvonne De Carlo. It remains one of the most financially successful films ever made. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, losing best picture to Around the World in Eighty Days.


Show Boat (1951)
Kathryn Grayson, Ava Gardner, Howard Keel
Call me politically incorrect, but I’m always partial to movies about the South. Thsi screen adaptation of the original 1927 stage musical is one of MGM’s most popular musicals.


Some Like It Hot (1959)
Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon
This romantic comedy is one of Hollywood’s classics from the 1950s. Many consider this to be one of the greatest films ever made. The Library of Congress has selected the film for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.


The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
Honestly, this may be one of my all time sentimental favorites. As a kid and teenager, I remember staying up to watch this on the late movie. It’s set in the world of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. Also directed by Cecil B. DeMille it begins with his opening remarks, “We bring you the circus — that Pied Piper whose magic tunes lead children of all ages, from 6 to 60, into a tinseled and spun-candied world of reckless beauty and mounting laughter; whirling thrills; of rhythm, excitement and grace; of daring, enflaring and dance; of high-stepping horses and high-flying stars.” The film stars Charlton Heston, Cornel Wilde and Betty Hutton. It also features Dorothy Lamour, Jimmy Stewart and Emmett Kelly, playing himself. In addition to the actors, the film features the real Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey’s Circus 1951 troupe. The film won the Best Picture at the Academy Awards beating out High Noon and Singin’ in the Rain. It has been considered one of the worst movies to ever have won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Steven Spielberg says that this was the first film he ever saw. He credits the movie as inspiratio for his career in film.


Mister Roberts (1955)
Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell, Jack Lemmon
Mister Roberts was based on the 1946 novel and 1948 play. Jack Lemmon won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. A 1964 sequel Ensign Pulver starred Robert Walker, Jr. Burl Ives, Walter Matthau, Larry Hagman and Jack Nicholson.

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  1. […] There’s a sense of déjà vu about this post. Something tells me I’ve written it, or at least started writing it, before. It’s a follow up on My Top Ten Movies of the 1950s. […]

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