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Greatest Films of the 1950s
Greatest Films of the 1950s


Greatest Films of the 1950s
1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953 | 1954 | 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959

1950

Title Screen Film Genre(s), Title, Year, (Country), Length, Director, Description

All About Eve (1950), 138 minutes, D: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Much-loved, lengthy, acerbic drama of theatre life about a young actress who insinuates her way into Broadway stage star's life. Wit and sarcasm reign supreme (e.g., "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night") and George Sanders is perfect as Addison De Witt - a cynical, egotistical columnist/critic. The literate Best Picture-winning film features Bette Davis as aging, bitchy accomplished star Margo Channing who takes the seemingly-naive and innocent fan Eve (Anne Baxter) under her wing. As the film opens, the rising, unscrupulous star accepts an award for best newcomer on the Broadway scene. Then, in a flashback, we see the shameless starlet insinuating herself into the life of her idol, and scheming to steal her theatrical roles and her lover Bill (Gary Merrill). By ruthlessly exploiting the older woman's kindness and hospitality, she manages to achieve her present success while almost destroying the veteran star in the process. The ending of the film returns to the awards banquet to find the starlet clinging to her trophy, with another fan in the wings. Also with Marilyn Monroe in a bit part.

The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 112 minutes, D: John Huston
A classic noirish thriller, an adaptation based on a novel by W. R. Burnett, about a mastermind, aging, ex-convict criminal Doc (Sam Jaffe), who comes out of retirement (prison) for one last jewel robbery with an assemblage of underworld characters - Kentucky horse-farm loving Dix Handley (Sterling Hayden) with tough-girlfriend Doll (Jean Hagen), and sleazy lawyer partner Alonzo Emmerich (Louis Calhern) who plans to fence the jewels to support his expensive habits (e.g., an affair with seductive mistress Marilyn Monroe - in a cameo role). The heist unravels quickly and everything falls apart when an alarm accidentally sounds and the safecracker is mortally wounded by a stray bullet. While Emmerich commits suicide, and others are either jailed or wounded, Doc's creepy voyeurism for a young girl dooms him during his escape. Dix reaches his childhood Kentucky farm but expires in a field surrounded by horses.

Born Yesterday (1950), 103 minutes, D: George Cukor

Cinderella (1950), 76 minutes, D: Disney Studio

D. O. A. (1950), 83 minutes, D: Rudolph Mate

Father of the Bride (1950), 94 minutes, D: Vincente Minnelli

Gun Crazy (1949/1950) (aka Deadly is the Female), 87 minutes, D: Joseph H. Lewis
A cult, noirish love-on-the-run tale based on MacKinlay Kantor's story, pre Bonnie and Clyde, about a reckless couple fatally attracted to their firearms - and each other. One of the best B films ever made. After serving in the Army, gun-loving Bert Tare (John Dall) meets trick sharp-shooter femme fatale Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins), portraying Annie Oakley in a Wild West carnival side-show - they are perfect companions. The two wild, amoral lovers marry - when financially strapped, they turn to a series of exciting cross-country robberies. One unnerving sequence is shot non-stop from a camera planted in the back seat of their getaway car. Their amour fou ultimately leads to their tragic end in a foggy swamp, brought down by their violent, jarring, reckless natures.

The Gunfighter (1950), 84 minutes, D: Henry King

Harvey (1950), 104 minutes, D: Henry Koster

In a Lonely Place (1950), 94 minutes, D: Nicholas Ray
A mature, bleak and dramatic 1950 film noir from maverick director Nicholas Ray - from a complex script by Andrew Solt. World-weary, acerbic, self-destructive, hot-tempered, depression-plagued Hollywood screenwriter and laconic anti-hero Dixon Steele (Humphrey Bogart), while planning to adapt a trashy best-selling romance novel, becomes the prime suspect in a murder case of a night-club hat-check girl Mildred Atkinson (Martha Stewart). After he invites her to his apartment to provide a synopsis for the book that he hasn't read, she is found brutally murdered the next morning. His romantic relationship with a lovely neighbor/would-be starlet Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame) in the housing complex grows stronger when she confirms his alibi, but ultimately is put to the test as she becomes increasingly suspicious of his disintegrating self.

Los Olvidados (1950, Mex.) (aka The Forgotten Ones, or The Young and the Damned), 85 minutes, D: Luis Bunuel

Orphée (1950, Fr.) (aka Orpheus), 112 minutes, D: Jean Cocteau

Panic in the Streets (1950), 96 minutes, D: Elia Kazan

Rashomon (1950, Jp.), 88 minutes, D: Akira Kurosawa

Rio Grande (1950), 105 minutes, D: John Ford

Seven Days to Noon (1950, UK), 94 minutes, D: John Boulting and Roy Boulting

Sunset Boulevard (1950) (aka Sunset Blvd.), 110 minutes, D: Billy Wilder
Wilder's witty black comedy regarding a famed silent film star who refuses to accept the end of her stardom. Opens with a shocking flashback narrated in voice-over by a dead corpse - a victim floating face-down in a Sunset Boulevard mansion's swimming pool. Aspiring, debt-ridden screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) hides from creditors while hired to write a script for faded film queen Norma Desmond's (Gloria Swanson) impending comeback. He takes advantage, encouraging her false hopes and moving in as her gigolo. The once-great star lives in a secluded estate with butler/chauffeur Max (Erich von Stroheim). The ambivalent, 'kept man' scriptwriter balances his exploitative dependence upon the film star with romantic attention toward young script-reader Betty Schaefer (Nancy Olson), creating a lethal situation. The perverse, cynical film references Swanson's actual career, with excerpts from one of her unfinished films (Queen Kelly, directed by von Stroheim) and cameos by other forgotten silent film stars (e.g., Buster Keaton).



Winchester '73 (1950), D: Anthony Mann

Unique and classic, noirish black and white "psychological" western film based on a story by Stuart Lake - and the first of eight films pairing James Stewart with director Mann. An obsessed, hard-bitten man Lin McAdam (James Stewart) participates in a Fourth of July shooting contest in Dodge City to win back a prized 1873 Winchester repeating rifle. Although he wins, the rifle is stolen by his surly, runner-up opponent Dutch Henry Brown (Stephen McNally) (and the murderer of his father). The film follows the dogged, revenge-seeking search for the cursed weapon, as the gun passes through the hands of many new "owners'' and their stories are depicted.

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