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

The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), 116 minutes, D: Vincente Minnelli
A scathing melodrama and dark expose of sordid backstage Hollywood, with memorable performances by both Lana Turner and Kirk Douglas. An ambitious, cruel, driven, amoral, egotistical producer Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas), begins as a maker of low-budget westerns and horror films. His manipulative and ruthless victimization of others is seen, in flashback, from the viewpoints of three former associates that he betrayed, double-crossed, and caused emotional pain - a star actress and ex-lover Georgia Lorrison (Lana Turner), award-winning screenwriter James Lee Bartlow (Dick Powell) and his faithless, southern belle wife Rosemary (Gloria Grahame), and director Fred Amiel (Barry Sullivan). Now that they have furthered their careers, they tell their stories to film studio executive Harry Pebbel (Walter Pidgeon), who has been asked to convince the individuals to join the despised Shields on his next project - they all disown him and hope that he will fail. In the final scene, the three listen - with a phone to their ear - when the exiled Shields calls from Europe.

The Big Sky (1952), 140 minutes, D: Howard Hawks

Europa '51 (1952, It.), 113 minutes, D: Roberto Rossellini

Fanfan la Tulipe (1952, Fr./It.) (aka Fearless Little Soldier, or Fan-Fan the Tulip), 102 minutes, D: Christian-Jaque

Forbidden Games (1952, Fr.) (aka Jeux Interdits), 102 minutes, D: Rene Clement

The Golden Coach (1952, Fr./It.) (aka Le Carrosse D'or), 103 minutes, D: Jean Renoir

The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), 153 minutes, D: Cecil B. DeMille

High Noon (1952), 85 minutes, D: Fred Zinnemann
A legendary classic Western about a lawman awaiting a suspenseful, fateful showdown with ruthless bandits returning to a small town to seek revenge. The stark, black and white 50s film is frequently interpreted as a parable about artists left to "stand alone" and face persecution during the HUAC Hollywood blacklisting. Hadleyville town marshal Will Kane (Best Actor-winning Gary Cooper), a hero figure, is newly-married to a beautiful, pacifist Quaker bride (Grace Kelly). With integrity and a principled sense of justice, duty, and loyalty, he puts everything on the line to confront a deadly outlaw killer set free by liberal abolitionists. The murderer arrives with his gang on the noon train - and he is left abandoned by an ungrateful town to face them alone. The film is enhanced by Dimitri Tiomkin's ballad (sung by Tex Ritter), and the fact that it is virtually filmed in 'real-time' as the tense showdown approaches.

Ikiru (1952, Jp.) (aka To Live), 143 minutes, D: Akira Kurosawa

The Quiet Man (1952), 129 minutes, D: John Ford
John Ford's Irish romantic comedy/drama about an American ex-prizefighter (John Wayne) who retires to his native, childhood Ireland (the greenish town of Inisfree) to begin a new life and find an Irish lass for a wife. Lushly filmed on location - a Taming of the Shrew tale in which Sean Thornton courts and subdues the fiery, red-haired, strong-willed Mary Kate (Maureen O'Hara), and fights an epic marathon brawl with her disapproving brother Will 'Red' Danaher (Victor McLaglen) to secure her dowry and precious heirlooms. Along the way, he is aided by the impish leprechaun-like matchmaker Michaeleen Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald).

Singin' in the Rain (1952), 103 minutes, D: Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen
One of the all-time best Hollywood musicals that spoofs and satirizes the transitional chaos surrounding the end of the silent film era and the dawn of the 'talkies.' Vaudeville, silent film actor/dancer Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and co-star actress Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are at the height of box-office popularity, but with the advent of sound, shrill-voiced Lina's first talkie The Duelling Cavalier with swashbuckling Lockwood is laughable before studio preview audiences. His aspiring ingenue girlfriend Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) is recruited to rescue their first film - remade as a musical re-titled The Dancing Cavalier, with Kathy secretly dubbing over Lina's voice. The voice-dubbing deception is ultimately exposed, and love blossoms. With marvelous musical numbers including the title song "Singin' in the Rain," and "You Were Meant for Me," "Make 'Em Laugh," "Broadway Melody," and "All I Do Is Dream of You."

Umberto D. (1952, It.), 91 minutes, D: Vittorio De Sica

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