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The 10 Best Films of the 1950s

As the Golden Age of Hollywood faded, glorious old-school films like Ben-Hur began to give way to the grittier, wised-up work of those like Billy Wilder, creating a tension between impish youth and pompous elders. Don't miss the previous choices for the 1960s1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

by
Kyle Smith

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June 29, 2014 - 7:30 am
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10. Dial M for Murder (1954)

Alfred Hitchcock was in his prime, making Vertigo, Rear Window and North by Northwest this decade. None of them made this list. His lean, witty, sophisticated, expertly-plotted murder-mystery starring Ray Milland and Grace Kelly is his tightest, most focused film of the decade, suffering from none of the languors and excesses of the other three (particularly Vertigo). There isn’t a wasted moment in it, and the finish is a knockout. 

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Top Rated Comments   
The Day the Earth Stood Still should have found its way on this list.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't get how he could have left off Ben Hur. That movie was a masterpiece.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Harvey
Winchester 73
Quo Vadis
Strangers on a Train
An American in Paris
Singin' in the Rain
The Quiet Man
Shane
Stalag 17
Rear Window
The Caine Mutiny
Mister Roberts
The Searchers
A Face In the Crowd
The Bridge on the River Kwai
No Time for Sergeants
Vertigo
North by Northwest
Some Like It Hot
Anatomy of a Murder
Li'l Abner


Special Mention:
La Strada
Black Orpheus
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (38)
All Comments   (38)
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"Fans of Andy Griffith’s gentle country-boy act on the long-running sitcom named for him will be shocked by his hard-edged nastiness "

That "hard-edged nastiness" is the real Andy Griffith. The gentle country-boy act is brilliant acting.




24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
1 - Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock)
2 - The Searchers (John Ford)
3 - Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu)
4 - The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton)
5 - Diary of a Country Priest (Robert Bresson)
6 - The Man From Laramie (Anthony Mann)
7 - Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman)
8 - Wagonmaster (John Ford)
9 - On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan)
10 - Invasion of the Body Searchers (Don Siegel)
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
#10 should read "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"

And I should have included "The Seven Samurai" as a tie for #5.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
You left out the best movie of all time: The Searchers.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
These lists of yours are interesting; it's interesting to see how someone can be so uninformed about the past and so tasteless in their choices.

Yuck.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fun to compare the writer's choices with those of the readers.

You know what that proves to me? There were WAY more than ten really great films in the fifties. But should that be a surprise? America was really America then, stretching and yearning, but remaining largely true to herself -- doing what she does best. And film is our nations' greatest art form.

24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
NO JOHN WAYNE? You've got to be kidding.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Where is The Searchers?
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Surprising how much I agree with this list.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'll tell ya, the 1950s movies didn't much do it for me, but working down just the top 50 of the IMDB list:

http://www.imdb.com/search/title/?release_date=1950,1959&title_type=feature

Bridge on the River Kwai
Ten Commandments
Forbidden Planet
Seven Samurai
Any Hitchcock Movie or three
Any Disney animation or two
Guys and Dolls?
Godzilla
Rashomon?

... there are a lot of memorable movies, though maybe not that great - if that's possible ... ok let's look at the next 50

South Pacific?
The African Queen
Old Yeller
Harvey! that was 1950? I would have guessed 1930!
Invasion of the Body Snatchers ...
White Christmas
The Blob
Oooooooklahoma
The Caine Mutiny, definitely
Seventh Voyage of Sinbad
Journey to the Center of the Earth

hey where's Pajama Game?

Brigadoon ...

The thing is, if one chose the best movie of the 1950s in 1960, the list would be one thing, choosing them in 2014 is another thing entirely.

OMG: DAMN YANKEES!

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24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Keeping Shane off that list beggars belief. It is arguably the most important western of all time. The big fist fight scene is a film class for its editing alone, not to mention its odd verisimilitude.

Probably the best and most forgotten film is No Time For Sergeants, which makes the Lewis Martin army film look like crude garbage.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yep, when I saw that film with Andy Griffith mentioned I at once thought of No Time for Sergeants.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
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