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Written by: Sam Fragoso on June 24, 2012

June 24, 2012 | 16 comments | Featured

It has been nearly five months since our last addition to The History of Film. During our last occasion we ran through influential decade of the 60s. Now we’re going to continue on with this series.

This decision to commence with the listing was made for two reasons 1.) By popular demand and 2.) I attempt to finish everything I begin.

While I systematically figure out which films you readers felt were the essentials of the 60s, I ask you all to reminisce over the 1950s. As I suspected, conjuring up a list of my ten favorite 50s films was difficult.

Rummaging through droves and droves of detailed lists that kept rattling off the “greats”, I was a bit disheartened by the lack of films from this decade I’d seen. I apologize, Bergman, Kurosawa, Fellini, Ford, Kazan, and Wilder.

For now, until I wake up and most importantly catch up on the many films I need to see, I give you my watered down list:

1.) Vertigo (1958)

2.) 12 Angry Men (1957)

3.) Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

4.) Rear Window (1954)

5.) Harvey (1950)

6.) Ace in the Hole (1951)

7.) North by Northwest (1959)

8.) The Killing (1956)

9.) Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

10.) Scrooge (1951)


There are 16 comments for this post.

  1. James Ward on June 24, 2012 11:18 am

    1. Vertigo – (1958, Alfred Hitchcock) (James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes)
    2. The Bridge on the River Kwai – (1957, David Lean) (Alec Guinness, William Holden)
    3. Seven Samurai – (1954, Akira Kurosawa) (Takashi Shimura, Yoshio Inaba, Toshiro Mifune)
    4. Sunset Boulevard – (1950, Billy Wilder) (Gloria Swanson, William Holden)
    5. The Searchers – (1956, John Ford) (John Wayne, Natalie Wood, Jeffery Hunter)
    6. Touch of Evil – (1958, Orson Welles) Charlton Heston, Orson Welles)
    7. Rear Window – (1954, Alfred Hitchcock) (James Stewart, Grace Kelly)
    8. Singin’ in the Rain – (1952, Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly) Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds)
    9. A Streetcar Named Desire – (1951, Elia Kazan) Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh)
    10. Paths of Glory – (1957, Stanley Kubrick) (Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker)

    Honorable mentions:
    On the Waterfront – (1954, Elia Kazan) (Marlon Brando, Carl Malden, Rod Steiger)
    The Seventh Seal -(1957, Ingmar Bergman) (Max von Sydow, Bengt Ekerot)
    Rashomon – (1951, Akira Kurosawa) (Toshiro Mifune, Masayuki Mori, Machiko Kyo)
    All About Eve – (1950, Joseph L. Mankiewicz) Bette Davis, Anne Baxter)
    Some Like It Hot – (1959, Billy Wilder) (Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe)
    North by Northwest – (1959, Alfred Hitchcock) (Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint)
    The African Queen – (1951, John Huston) (Catherine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart)
    Ben-Hur – (1959, William Wyler) (Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd)
    High Noon – (1952, Fred Zinnemann) (Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Lloyd Bridges)
    The Night of the Hunter – (1955, Charles Laughton) (Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters)
    Shane – (1953, George Stevens) (Alan Ladd, Jack Palance, Jean Arthur)
    Strangers on a Train – (1951, Alfred Hitchcock) (Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Leo G. Carroll)
    Anatomy of a Murder – (1959, Otto Preminger) (James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara)
    East of Eden – (1955, Elia Kazan) (James Dean, Julie Harris, Raymond Massey)
    Giant – (1956, George Stevens) (Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, Rock Hudson)
    Marty – (1955, Delbert Mann) (Ernest Borgnine, Betsy Blair, Esther Minciotti)
    Lady and the Tramp – (1955, Clyde Geronimi) (Animated voices: Barbara Luddy, Larry Roberts
    Witness for the Prosecution – (1957, Billy Wilder) (Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich)
    Born Yesterday – (1950, George Cukor) (Judy Holliday, Broderick Crawford, William Holden)
    Stalag 17 – (1953, Billy Wilder) (William Holden, Otto Preminger, Robert Strauss)
    12 Angry Men – (1957, Sidney Lumet) (Henry Fonda, E.G. Marshall)

  2. Phil on June 24, 2012 2:03 pm

    James’ list is excellent, I would only disagree with Marty. Ranking films is an impossible task, but required viewing that’s not already mentioned:
    The Wages of Fear
    The 400 Blows
    A Streetcar Named Desire
    A Place in the Sun
    The Cranes Are Flying
    A Face in the Crowd
    Nights of Cabiria
    Throne of Blood

  3. Dan on June 24, 2012 2:08 pm

    Wow, there’s easily another 10 that deserve a spot on this list and would likely make it if I watched them again.
    1.North by Northwest
    2. The Searchers
    3. The Seven Samurai
    4. Rear Window
    5. Singin’ in the Rain
    6. Wild Strawberries
    7. All About Eve
    8. On the Waterfront
    9. Tokyo Story
    10. Sweet Smell of Success

  4. Kevyn Knox on June 24, 2012 3:41 pm

    1. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donan / Gene Kelly, 1952)
    2. Seven Smaurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)
    3. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
    4. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
    5. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
    6. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
    7. The seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)
    8. M. Hulot’s Holiday (Jacques Tati, 1953)
    9. Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954)
    10. Sunset Blvd. (Billy Wilder, 1950)

    Runners-up (in no particular order):
    Rear Window (Hitchcock, 54), Gun Crazy (Lewis, 50), 12 Angry Men (Lumet, 57), East of Eden (Kazan, 54), Some Like it Hot (Wilder, 59), Sweet Smell of Success (Mackendrick, 57), High Noon (Zinnemann, 52), Rebel Without A Cause (Ray, 55), Kiss Me Deadly (Aldrich, 55), North by Northwest (Hitchcock, 59), 400 Blows (Truffaut, 59), Paths of Glory (Kubrick, 57), Wild Strawberries (Bergman, 57), Strangers on a Train (Hitchcock, 51), The Furies (Mann, 50), tromboli (Rossellini, 50), An American in Paris (Minnelli, 51), Bigger Than Life (Ray, 56), Throne of Blood (Kurosawa, 57), Pick-Up on South Street (Fuller, 53), In a Lonely Place (Ray, 50), Ordet (Dreyer, 55), Senso (Visconti, 54), Gone to Earth (Powell/Pressburger, 50), Rio Bravo (Hawks, 59), On the Waterfront (Kazan, 54), Pickpocket (Bresson, 59), Pather Panchali (Ray, 55), Voyagio in Italia (Rossellini, 53), Lola Montes (Ophüls, 55), The River (Renoir, 51), and about 100 more…..

  5. James Blake Ewing on June 24, 2012 3:44 pm

    1. Ordet (1955)
    2. All About Eve (1950)
    3. Night and Fog (1955)
    4. Diary of A Country Priest (1951)
    5. Mon Oncle (1958)
    6. Vertigo (1958)
    7. Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959)
    8. Nights of Cabiria (1957)
    9. A Man Escaped (1956)
    10. The Red Balloon (1956)

    Honorable mentions:
    Rashomon (1950)
    Rio Bravo (1956)

  6. mommy dearest on June 24, 2012 4:32 pm

    Sam, If you haven’t watched All About Eve, the original do it. Noir classic. Also I am glad your commentor brought up Night and Fog. I thought about its’ haunting images so many times. Watch and understand that I saw it in 7th grade in a class. Nearly 40 years later the impression it left is still visceral. Have you watched it? Do so alone and rage. Mommy

  7. mommy dearest on June 24, 2012 4:33 pm


  8. SDG on June 24, 2012 7:46 pm

    Easily one of the most difficult lists I have done ever and like everyone else, I surely can add 10 more. So, Here is goes.

    1. 12 Angry Men
    2. Rashomon
    3. Vertigo
    4. Seven Samurai
    5. Wages of Fear
    6. A Streetcar Named Desire
    7. Wild Strawberries
    8. Pather Panchali
    9. The Seventh Seal
    10. Roman Holiday

  9. John on June 24, 2012 9:45 pm

    This is an almost impossible task, and a lot of what I’d recommend has already been named. I’m going to try to add some that haven’t been named.

    1. Ikiru (1952)
    2. Forbidden Games (1952)
    3. Night and Fog (1955)
    4. M. Hulot’s Holiday (1953)- you can flip a coin between this one and Mon Oncle. They’re both great.
    5. The Magician (1958)- I’d do Seventh Seal first, but The Magician would be my #2 Bergman film from that decade.
    6. Sunset Boulevard (1950)- I’d call this a “must” if you haven’t seen it already. The same goes for…
    7. Vertigo (1958)
    8. Sansho the Bailiff (1954)
    9. The Burmese Harp (1956)
    10. Touchez Pas Au Grisbi (1954)

    I’ll vouch for everything I’ve seen from either France or Japan from the 1950s that’s in the Criterion Collection. Some other honorable mentions: Some Like It Hot; The African Queen (another I’d consider a “must”); The Seven Year Itch; John Cassavetes’ Shadows; The Browning Version; La Strada; Auntie Mame; Gojira; Elevator to the Gallows; Father of the Bride… This could go on and on.

    Wilder, Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Resnais, Bergman, and Tati are great places to start.

  10. Tyler on June 24, 2012 11:24 pm

    In my mind, The Seventh Seal is the quintessential 50s film. It personifies the greatness that came from that revelatory decade, and is also wonderfully perfect, witty, beautiful, saddening and delightful. The other essential film of that decade, and perhaps a more important work than any other, is Night and Fog (1955), which I’m proud to proclaim the greatest documentary ever made. Why it is not on more lists is completely beyond me – I think it should be shown in schools, universities and to anyone with a passing interest in either history or film. So with those two essentials out of the way, here’s my top ten:

    1: Night and Fog (1955)
    2: The Seventh Seal (1957)
    3: The 400 Blows (1959)
    4: Ordet (1955)
    5: Paths of Glory (1957)
    6: Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)
    7: The Apu Trilogy (1955, 1957, 1959)
    8: Diary of a Country Priest (1951)
    9: Ace in the Hole (1952)
    10: Vertigo (1958)

    I could go on and on and on. There are a lot of great movies from this decade. Bergman for one never made a misstep – Summer Interlude (1951) is a seriously underrated film, and Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) is probably the best romantic comedy ever made. Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows (1957) and The Lovers (1958) are both brilliant, particularly the latter, whose sexual content caused outrage. Also Jacques Tati – he began to shine with Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (1953) and Mon Oncle (1959). Of the two, Mon Oncle is probably better but both are wonderful comedies. Kurosawa’s Ikiru is definitely a decade highlight, much better than The Seven Samurai or Rashomon, and Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria (1957) is such a wonderful, powerful movie. Robert Bresson’s Pickpocket (1959) and A Man Escaped (1957) are both powerful, well-made movies, and though the decade was relatively quiet for Luis Bunuel, Los Olvidados (1950) is an astonishing film. That’s about it off the top of my head, though if I thought for longer more would come to me. I’m quite satisfied with my top ten list above, though.

  11. Andy Buckle on June 25, 2012 12:30 am

    Honourable Mentions: Rashomon, Sunset Blvd., Rear Window, Wild Strawberries, All About Eve and Pickpocket.

    10. Mon Oncle (1958)
    9. North By Northwest (1959)
    9. The 400 Blows (1959)
    8. A Man Escaped (1956)
    6. The Seven Samurai (1954)
    5. Vertigo (1958)
    4. Paths of Glory (1957)
    3. Wages of Fear (1953)
    2. 12 Angry Men (1957)
    1. The Seventh Seal (1957)

  12. Squasher88 on June 25, 2012 6:30 am

    Here is my list:

    1. 12 Angry Men
    2. Singin’ In The Rain
    3. On the Waterfront
    4. Ben Hur
    5. Roman Holiday
    6. Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
    7. Auntie Mame
    8. Dial M for Murder
    9. A Star Is Born
    10. Lady and the Tramp

  13. Alex Withrow on June 26, 2012 10:26 am

    Bergman reigns supreme:

    1. The Seventh Seal
    2. 12 Angry Men
    3. A Place in the Sun
    4. Wild Strawberries
    5. A Streetcar Named Desire
    6. Night and Fog
    7. Rashomon
    8. Paths of Glory
    9. Rear Window
    10. Pickpocket

    PS, any idea when the 60s list will be updated? I’m really curious to see what everyone chose.

  14. Matt on June 26, 2012 11:20 am

    1. Singin’ in the Rain
    2. Rebel Without a Cause
    3. On the Waterfront
    4. 12 Angry Men
    5. The Wages of Fear
    6. Paths of Glory
    7. Sunset Boulevard
    8. The Bridge on the River Kwai
    9. Ace in the Hole
    10. Giant

    HMs to Anatomy of a Murder, Rashomon, All That Heaven Allows and The Bad and the Beautiful

  15. Jake Cole on June 26, 2012 3:11 pm

    1. Ordet
    2. Sansho the Bailiff
    3. Vertigo
    4. Seven Samurai
    5. Bigger Than Life
    6. Rio Bravo
    7. The Night of the Hunter
    8. Singin’ in the Rain
    9. Ace in the Hole
    10. The Searchers

    Possibly my most Hollywood-centric decade.

  16. Eric on June 27, 2012 2:55 pm

    I’m still working my way through the classics as well, but here is my tentative top ten list:

    1) Sunset Blvd.
    2) The Night of the Hunter
    3) Seven Samurai
    4) 12 Angry Men
    5) Touch of Evil
    6) Rear Window
    7) Vertigo
    8) The Killing
    9) Dial M for Murder
    10) The Day the Earth Stood Still

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