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


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

Animal Farm (1954, UK), 72 minutes, D: Joy Batchelor, John Halas

The Barefoot Contessa (1954, US/It.), 128 minutes, D: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

The Caine Mutiny (1954), 125 minutes, D: Edward Dmytryk
Young Princeton graduate ensign Willie Keith (Robert Francis) told how he was assigned to a dilapidated and rusty minesweeper named the Caine, sternly captained by Lt. Commander Philip Queeg (Humphrey Bogart). The eccentric Queeg reprimanded the crew for messy shirttails, haircuts, and other petty things, and soon it was apparent he might be paranoid and mentally unbalanced (evidenced by his rolling silver metal balls in his hand). The captain began to demonstrate how incompetent he was, during a beach-landing incident in which he was dubbed "Old Yellowstain." The question arose: Could the naval officers take control of the ship, without being accused of mutiny? The last straw was Queeg's mis-treatment of an incident involving leftover strawberries in the officer's mess, and when Queen mismanaged the ship during a typhoon and executive officer Lt. Steve Maryk (Van Johnson) stepped in and took charge. Maryk and Keith were court-martialed for mutiny, to be defended by Barney Greenwald (Jose Ferrer). Lt. Tom Keefer (Fred MacMurray), the true instigator of the mutiny idea, testified that taking the ship from Queeg was in error, to save himself.
The prosecution's case faltered when Queeg was cross-examined, and he became frantic, paranoid, and blamed everyone for the Caine's problems, while nervously rolling the clanking steel balls in his hand. The two officers were acquitted.

Carmen Jones (1954), 105 minutes, D: Otto Preminger

Chikamatsu Monogatari (1954, Jp.) (aka The Crucified Lovers, or A Story From Chikamatsu), 102 minutes, D: Kenji Mizoguchi

Dial M for Murder (1954), 105 minutes, D: Alfred Hitchcock

Johnny Guitar (1954), 110 minutes, D: Nicholas Ray

Journey to Italy (1954, It.) (aka Viaggio in Italia), 97 or 85 minutes, D: Roberto Rossellini

On the Waterfront (1954), 108 minutes, D: Elia Kazan
A compelling, evocative, gritty, Best Picture-winning drama about union corruption and violence on the New York waterfront and the struggle of an ex-prize fighter against it. Inarticulate ex-boxer champ Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) witnesses the murder of a fellow dock worker, a victim of gangster union boss Johnny Friendly's (Lee J. Cobb) oppressive hold over the longshoremen - punished for 'singing' to an investigation commission. When Terry begins to fall in love with shy and frail Edie (Eva Marie Saint), the dead man's sister, his allegiances are challenged. Contains the famous Brando "I coulda been a contender" speech in the back seat of a taxi with his crooked, scheming lawyer brother Charlie (Rod Steiger). After his brother's murder, he defiantly stands up against the hoodlums on the waterfront.

Rear Window (1954), 113 minutes, D: Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcock's voyeuristic masterpiece - a suspenseful, nail-biting thriller about a wheelchair-bound, immobilized photographer who believes he has witnessed a murder during his convalescence. During a hot New York summer, photo-journalist L. B. 'Jeff' Jeffries (James Stewart) recuperates in his apartment from a broken leg. He wiles away the time by observing - and spying on neighbors through his rear window (with binoculars and his telephoto camera), while being cared for by his fashionable girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) and nurse-therapist Stella (Thelma Ritter). He experiences all of life's extremes - a honeymooning couple, dancer Miss Torso, spinsterish Miss Lonelyhearts, and the bickering, intriguing Thorwalds. Dissuaded by his police detective friend, Lisa, and Stella, he persists with attentive observations and suspicions about Thorwald (Raymond Burr) killing his wife.

Sabrina (1954), 112 minutes, D: Billy Wilder

Salt of the Earth (1954), 94 minutes, D: Herbert J. Biberman

Sansho the Bailiff (1954, Jp.) (aka Sanshô Dayû), 124 minutes, D: Kenji Mizoguchi

Senso (1954, It.) (aka The Wanton Countess), 118 or 93 minutes, D: Luchino Visconti

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), 103 minutes, D: Stanley Donen

Seven Samurai (1954, Jp.) (aka Shichinin No Samurai), 207 minutes, D: Akira Kurosawa

Silver Lode (1954), 81 minutes, D: Allan Dwan

A Star is Born (1954), 176 minutes, D: George Cukor
A classic tearjerker, the first re-make of William Wellman's non-musical, classic 1937 film starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. It was inspired by What Price Hollywood? (1932) also directed by Cukor. The emotionally-intense psycho-drama also hinted at the real-life troubles and problems (five marriages) in the career of its female star - Judy Garland - a victim of the Hollywood studio system - during the film's making. It was Garland's comeback and self-referential film (after she had been dismissed from her lead role in Annie Get Your Gun (1950)), and then suffered from alcoholic binges and suicide attempts.
Young aspiring newcomer-star Esther Blodgett's (Judy Garland) singing career was launched in Hollywood - as Vicki Lester, by a fading, alcoholic film star Norman Maine (James Mason) whose popularity was on the decline. Their marriage was tested by the tragic consequences of his personal self-destruction, disintegration and loss of fame, especially in the Academy Awards Banquet Ceremony scene when Norman accidentally slapped her. His stunning suicidal demise was inevitable (he committed suicide by walking into the ocean), but duly honored by his wife onstage at the Shrine Theatre when she proudly introduced herself as Mrs. Norman Maine. Included Garland's memorable songs: "The Man That Got Away" and the main production number "Born In a Trunk."

La Strada (1954, It.) (aka The Road), 94 minutes, D: Federico Fellini

Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), 102 minutes, D: Jean Negulesco

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