Here is my list of what I believe to be the best films of the 1950’s. The films I have watched from the 1950’s went up exponentially compared to that of the films of the 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s. I have seen so many films that I had 33 films that I considered for this list, but I had to narrow down my list down to the best of the best making it the twenty best films. The 1950’s was the decade of my favorite director of all time in Akira Kurosawa, and Alfred Hitchcock who have a total of seven films on this list. I am going from 20 down to the best film of the 1950's
20. Vertigo: I first watched Hitchcock's Vertigo in a film class I took a couple of years ago, because our teacher wanted to show how opinion of art changes over time. When Vertigo first came out it was a critical failure, and now critics love the film, and some even believe Vertigo is one of the best films ever made if not the best film ever. I don't understand the love the film is getting today. Vertigo is far from Hitchock's best directed film. The psychological thriller is pretty well written, but the first half of the film going at a snails pace, and the acting outside of the great performances by James Stewart and Kim Novak were decent at best. Alfred Hitchock's Vertigo is a good thriller, but it's far from Hitchock's best film, and far from being one of the best films ever.
19. A Streetcar Named Desire: A Street Car Named Desire is my fourth favorite Brando film behind On the Waterfront, Apocalypse Now and the Godfather.
18. The Man Who Knew Too Much: The second Alfred Hitchcock film on the list. The Man Who Knew Too Much is a good film with a great score, a wonderful performance by actress and singer Doris Day.
17. Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Personally my favorite Invasion of the Body Snatchers film is the 1978 Donald Sutherland version, but the 1956 original is still a classic scf-fi thriller using the fear of losing ones identity and personal freedom in world with the real threat of Communism and McCarthyism.
16. Godzilla: In general I’m not a huge fan of King Kong or the Godzilla films except for the original Godzilla because of it’s originality and themes. Japan less than a decade had experienced a horror twice that is being struck by to atomic bombs that no one else has experienced since, and it left a scar on the Japanese people that lasts to this day, and that is what director Ishirō Honda beautifully showed in the original Godzilla that no other Godzilla film could match.
15. The Day the Earth Stood Still: The Day the Earth Stood Still is Robert Wise's second best film behind the 1966 war film Sand Pebbles.
14. Rear Window: Rear Window is my favorite Alfred Hitchcock film second only to North by Northwest. The film is expertly made with Hitchcock filming the entire inside the production studio, and building the life like neighbor hood that came to life in the film and felt alive. The story was thrilling with twists and turns, and Grace Kelly was a great actress and one of the most beautiful stars in Hollywood history.
12. On the Waterfront
11. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
10. Stalag 17: Stalag 17 is by far my favorite Billy Wilder film outside of Sunset Blvd. The film is near masterpiece war drama that masterfully directed by Wilder with Peter Graves best performance of his career, and an academy award winning performance by one of the best actors film history in the great William Holden.
9. Forbidden Planet: In my opinion Forbidden Planet is one of the best science fiction films of all time, and Leslie Nielsen best film until the mainly dramatic actor switched to comedy and starred in the classic Airplane!
8. North by Northwest: North by Northwest was a nice change from the darker films Hitchcock had been making, and what I believe is Hitchcock's best film.
7. Ikiru: The first of three Akira Kurosawa films on this list, and considered putting Ikiru in the number one spot as it is a masterpiece in writing, directing and acting, and all in all a essentially perfect film, but extremely hard for me to decide where to put the top 7 in what order. What makes Ikiru so great for me was the story and themes in the film dealing with mortality, death, and the yearning for life not yet lived. Watanabe's journey through the film is captivating with the sad yet inspiring playground scene bringing me to tears. Ikiru is simply one of the best films ever.
6. High Noon: One of the best westerns of all time up there with the likes of Tombstone, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and Unforgiven. I loved how it all took place in real time in that the film is a hour and a half long and the film takes place exactly or approximately in that time with no breaks. Gary Cooper was simply great as were the gorgeous actresses in Grace Kelly and Katy Jurado as well as what I believe was the first film of the long career of Lee Van Cleef.
5. The African Queen: Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn are brilliant in John Huston's masterpiece war film.
4. Rashomon: While Akira Kurosawa had some success in Japan as a director, Rashomon is the film that thrust Kurosawa onto the world stage in mad the world take notice. Besides Rashomon being an excellent samurai film it is the first film that has told four different character stories in one film that intersect, and would leave a lasting influence on film.
3. Sunset Blvd: Billy Wilder's Sunset Blvd is masterfully put together with no see-able flaws as the film effortlessly casts a light onto the dark side of Hollywood that along with Gloria Swanson as the delusional aging actress Norma Desmond leaves a lasting impact that extends to modern times.
2. The Bridge on the River Kwai: What can I say about the River Kwai that hasn't been already said before by many others. The Bridge on the River Kwai is best war film ever, but the River Kwai is more than just a war film studying the human spirit with an all star cast in Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, James Donald, and William Holden.
1. Seven Samurai: What more can be said about the Seven Samurai besides near that it is near perfection in film making, but the Seven Samurai is more than that as it showcased a tumultuous Japan and the class conflict it brought with it along with an excellent and original story with compelling characters, beautiful cinematography and wonderfully choreographed action. People were captivated by the samurai of Japan before the Seven Samurai, but with the Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai the samurai and their way of life were brought to the eyes of the world and the growing film audience in the United States and around the world. That is just one of many things that came out of the film along with the other points I talked about earlier, like the influence of the story as well as directing and film making. I know the Seven Samurai is one the most beloved films of all time, but for me it is the greatest film of all time, and if the Kurosawa had never made the film I don’t think we would have films like Star Wars, The Dirty Dozen, The Wild Bunch and The 13th Warrior, or at very least they would be very different from the films we have today. I without a doubt highly recommend the Seven Samurai, and is a must if you are a true fan of movies and the film making process.