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Best Movies of the 1950s: Top 30 & Top 100 Films of the Fabulous Fifties

Welcome to the Cinema of the Fabulous Fifties

The 1950s may be a thing of the distant past, but thanks to an enthralling, good old invention called Film, it will never be really gone.

Whenever you feel like traveling back in time to relive the glamours of the decade, all you have to do, is to watch one (or more) of its movies.

But which ones should you watch?
Well, if that’s the very question lurking in your mind right now, then you came to the right place. We’re just about to present 30 of the greatest cinematic gems of the 1950s.

However, if you’re not a first-timer, then there’s a fair chance you already saw most movies of this Top 30 List, and you may want to dive a little bit deeper. No worries!

In that case, you should go and check out the Top 100 List at the end of this article.

If this is your first ride on the time-travelling FrameTrek Wagon, here’s what this is all about:

We choose a topic, in this case: “Best Movies of the 1950s”, and we set sail for a journey, where the bricks of the trek are made of movie frames, and each stop represents a magnificent achievement in Film.

The Best Movies of the 1950s is an episode of FrameTrek’s Best Movies of All Time. A mega-journey dedicated to identify the greatest films of each decade, chronologically. It starts with the Silent Era and goes all the way to our ever moving present.


So what was Cinema like in the 1950s?

The world of Cinema took off spectacularly in multiple directions during the 1950s. New approaches to acting and narrative storytelling were invented, and the world was amazed by towering performances and some unforgettable movies.

The 1950s is also the decade when television became mainstream, so the Cinema found itself in stiff competition with the networks. However, this didn’t stop the accelerated blossoming of movie making.

A few surviving genres of previous decades, like film noir, western and musicals were still popular in the 1950s, but the main focus of Cinema shifted to exciting new grounds.

The advancement of cinematic technology gave birth to a new generation of science fiction movies, including “outer space” and monster films. However, stark realism and an emphasis on teen culture also got their momentum.

So yeah, there’s is plenty to talk about, when it comes to the Cinema of the 1950s, but this article concentrates on its Top 30 and Top 100 Films, so let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

After all, a cinematic era is as good as its greatest achievements. Thus, the finest way to explore a decade in film history, is through watching its best movies as a marathon.

Ready? Buckle up then, and let the best movies of the 1950s carry you to the Cinematic era they came from!

See FrameTrek's definition of 'Best' and the story behind this List (click to expand) ↴

How to define ‘Best’?

That’s a pretty good question, since ‘Best’ is relative. A movie can be considered being among the best for multiple reasons, such as: Critical Acclaim, Audience Feedback, Box Office Performance, Awards and Nominations, Iconic Status, Popularity, Watchability, and even Personal Preference, or for being part of a famous list such as the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die or Roger Ebert’s The Great Movies list – or because that particular movie defined its era.

So how did we pick the Top 30 and Top 100 movies of the 1950s?

Well, it wasn’t simple, and it wasn’t easy! While composing the Best Films of the 1950s list, we tried to consider all of the factors mentioned in the ‘How to define Best’ paragraph above, and then some.

We believe that the movies that made the cut should not compete with one another any further, so we will just present them in the order they were released in.

We picked 10 movies from each year of the 1950s, thus created a Top 100 List, which can be found at the end of this article. We also highlighted three movies from each year of the decade, so there’s a Top 30 List too. Let’s start with that!



Presenting the Top 30 Films of the 1950s

Chronologically
– 3 movies from each year –


Cinderella (1950)

Disney's Classic Cinderella 1950 Best Movies of the 1950s list, Famous movies of the 1950s Cinema
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Animated musical fantasy film produced by Disney.

Story: When Cinderella’s cruel stepmother prevents her from attending the Royal Ball, she gets some unexpected help from the lovable mice Gus and Jaq, and from her Fairy Godmother. (IMDB)

The rich colors, sweet songs, adorable mice and endearing (if suffering) heroine make Cinderella a nostalgically lovely charmer.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Cinderella among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Ranked #9 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Animation”.
✓ Selected for preservation, in The National Film Registy by the Library of Congress, for being culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.
✓ One of the most popular movies of the 1950s Cinema and a timeless Disney classic.


Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Sunset Blvd. (1950), Billy Wilder, Gloria Swanson, Best Movies of the 1950s
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Dramatic film-noir directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, starring Gloria Swanson.

Story: A screenwriter develops a dangerous relationship with a faded film star determined to make a triumphant return. (IMDB)

Arguably the greatest movie about Hollywood, Billy Wilder’s masterpiece Sunset Boulevard is a tremendously entertaining combination of noir, black comedy, and character study.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Sunset Blvd. among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Heavily praised by critics and audiences, and widely considered to be among the greatest movies ever made.
✓ Deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the U.S. Library of Congress, it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.


Rashomon (1950)

Rashomon (1950), Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune, Best Films of the 1950s
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Japanese crime mystery film directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Toshiro Mifune.

Story: The rape of a bride and the murder of her samurai husband are recalled from the perspectives of a bandit, the bride, the samurai’s ghost and a woodcutter. (IMDB)

One of legendary director Akira Kurosawa’s most acclaimed films, Rashomon features an innovative narrative structure, brilliant acting, and a thoughtful exploration of reality versus perception.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Rashomon among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ The film is known for a plot device that involves various characters providing subjective, alternative, self-serving, and contradictory versions of the same incident.
Rashomon marked the entrance of Japanese film onto the world stage. It won several awards, including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, and an Academy Honorary Award, and it is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made.


A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

A Streetcar Named Desire 1951 Marlon Brando Best Movies of the 1950s list, Classic Films of the 1950s Cinema
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American drama film directed by Elia Kazan and starring Marlon Brando.

Story: Disturbed Blanche DuBois moves in with her sister in New Orleans and is tormented by her brutish brother-in-law while her reality crumbles around her. (IMDB)

A feverish rendition of a heart-rending story, A Streetcar Named Desire gives Tennessee Williams’ stage play explosive power on the screen thanks to Elia Kazan’s searing direction and a sterling ensemble at the peak of their craft.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is A Streetcar Named Desire  among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ The American Film Institute ranked this as the #47 Greatest Movie of All Time.
✓ Considered to be one of fifteen films that changed American cinema.
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.


Strangers on a Train (1951)

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Psychological thriller film-noir produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Story: A psychopath forces a tennis star to comply with his theory that two strangers can get away with murder. (IMDB)

A provocative premise and inventive set design lights the way for Hitchcock diabolically entertaining masterpiece.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Strangers on a Train among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Received positive reviews from audiences and critics, who praised its suspense, the performance of the principal cast and Hitchcock’s direction.
✓ The American Film Institute listed the film as #32 in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills.



The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

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Science fiction drama film directed by Robert Wise.

Story: An alien lands and tells the people of Earth that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets. (IMDB)

Socially minded yet entertaining, The Day the Earth Stood Still imparts its moral of peace and understanding without didacticism.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Day the Earth Stood Still among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ The film received positive reviews from audiences and critics, who praised its seriousness, moral relativism, and the performance of the principal cast.


Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Singin' in the Rain 1952, Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Most Popular Movies of the 1950s Cinema
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Musical romantic comedy film directed and choreographed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, starring Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds.

Story: A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound. (IMDB)

Clever, incisive, and funny, Singin’ in the Rain is a masterpiece of the classical Hollywood musical.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Singin’ in the Rain among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ The American Film Institute ranked this as the #5 Greatest Movie of All Time and voted it the #1 movie musical in American film history.
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Selected into the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.


High Noon (1952)

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Dramatic western thriller starring Gary Cooper.

Story: A town Marshal, despite the disagreements of his newlywed bride and the townspeople around him, must face a gang of deadly killers alone at high noon when the gang leader, an outlaw he sent up years ago, arrives on the noon train. (IMDB)

A classic of the Western genre that broke with many of the traditions at the time, High Noon endures – in no small part thanks to Gary Cooper’s defiant, Oscar-winning performance.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is High Noon among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ Winner of four Oscars, four Golden Globes, and widely considered an influential western classic.


Ikiru (1952)

Ikiru (1952), Akira Kurosawa, Takashi Shimura, Classic Films of the 1950s
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Japanese drama film directed and co-written by Akira Kurosawa and starring Takashi Shimura.

Story: A bureaucrat tries to find a meaning in his life after he discovers he has terminal cancer. (IMDB)

Ikiru is a well-acted and deeply moving humanist tale about a man facing his own mortality, one of legendary director Akira Kurosawa’s most intimate films.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Ikiru among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Received widespread critical acclaim, and is considered one of the greatest films of all time.
✓ In Japan it won awards for Best Film at the Kinema Junpo and Mainichi Film Awards.


Roman Holiday (1953)

Roman Holday 1953 Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, Best movies of the 1950s list, Top Films of the 1950s Cinema
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Romantic comedy film directed and produced by William Wyler, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.

Story: A bored and sheltered princess escapes her guardians and falls in love with an American newsman in Rome. (IMDB)

With Audrey Hepburn luminous in her American debut, Roman Holiday is as funny as it is beautiful, and sets the standard for the modern romantic comedy.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Roman Holiday among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Ranked #4 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Romantic Comedy”.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.



The Wages of Fear (1953)

Le salaire de la peur (original French title)

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French-Italian dramatic thriller film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot.

Story: In a decrepit South American village, four men are hired to transport an urgent nitroglycerine shipment without the equipment that would make it safe. (IMDB)

An existential suspense classic, The Wages of Fear blends nonstop suspense with biting satire; its influence is still being felt on today’s thrillers.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Wages of Fear among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Winner of both the Golden Bear and the Palme d’Or at the 1953 Berlin Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival, respectively.
✓ Widely considered to be one of the most suspenseful and influential thrillers of all time.


Stalag 17 (1953)

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Comedy-drama war film directed by Billy Wilder.

Story: When two escaping American World War II prisoners are killed, the German P.O.W. camp barracks black marketeer, J.J. Sefton, is suspected of being an informer. (IMDB)

Stalag 17 survives the jump from stage to screen with flying colors, thanks to Billy Wilder’s typically sterling direction and a darkly funny script.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Stalag 17 among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ A huge critical and commercial success, and one of the most popular movies of the 1950s.
✓ Widely considered to be among the best World War II Prisoner of War films of all time.


Rear Window (1954)

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Technicolor mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring James Stewart.

Story: A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbors from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder. (IMDB)

Hitchcock exerted full potential of suspense in this masterpiece.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Rear Window among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Added to the United States National Film Registry in the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ Considered by many filmgoers, critics, and scholars to be one of Hitchcock’s best and one of the greatest films ever made.


Seven Samurai (1954)

Shichinin no samurai (original Japanese title)

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Japanese epic samurai drama film co-written, edited, and directed by Akira Kurosawa.

Story: A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves. (IMDB)

Arguably Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece, The Seven Samurai is an epic adventure classic with an engrossing story, memorable characters, and stunning action sequences that make it one of the most influential films ever made.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Seven Samurai among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Since its release, it consistently ranked highly in critics’ lists of the greatest films, and considered to be one of the most “remade, reworked, referenced” films in cinema.


Dial M for Murder (1954)

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Crime mystery film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Grace Kelly.

Story: A tennis player frames his neglected wife for murder after she inadvertently foils his plan to have her murdered. (IMDB)

Dial M for Murder may be slightly off-peak Hitchcock, but by any other standard, it’s a sophisticated, chillingly sinister thriller – and one that boasts an unforgettable performance from Grace Kelly to boot.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Dial M for Murder among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Listed by American Film Institute in ‘100 Years…100 Thrills’ as #48, and AFI’s ’10 Top 10′ as #9 in the mystery genre.
✓ One of the most popular movies of the 1950s, and an influential thriller classic.



Lady and the Tramp (1955)

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Animated musical romance film produced by Disney.

Story: The romantic tale of a sheltered uptown Cocker Spaniel dog and a streetwise downtown Mutt. (IMDB)

A nostalgic charmer, Lady and the Tramp’s token sweetness is mighty but the songs and richly colored animation are technically superb and make for a memorable experience.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Lady and the Tramp among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ One of the most popular movies of the 1950s Cinema and an all-time Disney classic.
✓ Named number 95 out of the “100 Greatest Love Stories of All Time” by the American Film Institute.
✓ Time Magazine called it one of “The 25 All-TIME Best Animated Films”.


Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

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American drama film starring James Dean.

Story: A rebellious young man with a troubled past comes to a new town, finding friends and enemies. (IMDB)

Rebel Without a Cause is a searing melodrama featuring keen insight into ’50s juvenile attitude and James Dean’s cool, iconic performance.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Rebel Without a Cause among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ The film was a groundbreaking attempt to portray the moral decay of American youth, critique parental style, and explore the differences and conflicts between generations.
✓ Over the years, the film has achieved landmark status for the acting of cultural icon Dean.


The Night of the Hunter (1955)

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Thriller film-noir directed by Charles Laughton and starring Robert Mitchum.

Story: A religious fanatic marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid $10,000 he’d stolen in a robbery. (IMDB)

Featuring Robert Mitchum’s formidable performance as a child-hunting preacher, The Night of the Hunter is a disturbing look at good and evil.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Night of the Hunter among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
✓ The film’s lyrical and expressionistic style with its leaning on the silent era sets it apart from other Hollywood films of the 1940s and 1950s.


The Ten Commandments (1956)

The Ten Commandments 1956 Cecil B. DeMille, Best Movies of the 1950s List, Popular films of the 1950s Cinema
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Epic religious drama film produced, directed, and narrated by Cecil B. DeMille, starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner.

Story: Moses, an Egyptian Prince, learns of his true heritage as a Hebrew and his divine mission as the deliverer of his people. (IMDB)

Bombastic and occasionally silly but extravagantly entertaining, Cecil B. DeMille’s all-star spectacular is a muscular retelling of the great Bible story.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Ten Commandments among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ One of the most successful movies of all time, heavily awarded and vigorously praised by critics and audiences.
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and ranked #10 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest Epic films.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.


The Killing (1956)

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Crime film-noir directed by Stanley Kubrick.

Story: Crook Johnny Clay assembles a five man team to plan and execute a daring race-track robbery. (IMDB)

An expertly crafted noir with more on its mind than stylishly staged violence, The Killing establishes Stanley Kubrick as a filmmaker of uncommon vision and control.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Killing among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Featured in Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list and it is part of the Criterion Collection.
✓ Widely considered to be one of the most influential thrillers ever made, inspiring future directors, such as Quentin Tarantino.



The Searchers (1956)

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Technicolor VistaVision Western film directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne.

Story: An American Civil War veteran embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from the Comanches. (IMDB)

The Searchers is an epic John Wayne Western that introduces dark ambivalence to the genre that remains fashionable today.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Searchers among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Widely considered a masterpiece and one of the greatest and most influential films ever made.
✓ Deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress, and selected for preservation in its National Film Registry.


12 Angry Men (1957)

12 Angry Man 1957 Henry Fonda, Best Movies of the 1950s List, Top Movies of the 1950s Cinema
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Courtroom drama thriller starring Henry Fonda.

Story: A jury holdout attempts to prevent a miscarriage of justice by forcing his colleagues to reconsider the evidence. (IMDB)

Sidney Lumet’s feature debut is a superbly written, dramatically effective courtroom thriller that rightfully stands as a modern classic.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is 12 Angry Men among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Ranked #2 on the American Film Institute’s list of the ten greatest films in the genre “Courtroom Drama”.
✓ Selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.


The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), David Lean, Alec Guinness, Greatest Movies of the 1950s
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Epic war film directed by David Lean, and starring Alec Guinness.

Story: British POWs build a railway bridge across the river Kwai for their Japanese captors, oblivious of the Allies’ plans to destroy it. (IMDB)

This complex war epic asks hard questions, resists easy answers, and boasts career-defining work from star Alec Guinness and director David Lean.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Bridge on the River Kwai among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Winner of seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and widely praised ever since, considered to be one of the greatest British films ever made.
✓ Deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress.


Paths of Glory (1957)

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American anti-war film directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Kirk Douglas.

Story: After refusing to attack an enemy position, a general accuses the soldiers of cowardice and their commanding officer must defend them. (IMDB)

Paths of Glory is a transcendentally humane war movie from Stanley Kubrick, with impressive, protracted battle sequences and a knock-out ending.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Paths of Glory among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Winner of the prestigious Grand Prix of the Belgian Film Critics Association.
✓ Deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.


Vertigo (1958)

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Film-noir psychological thriller directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, starring James Stewart and Kim Novak.

Story: A former police detective juggles wrestling with his personal demons and becoming obsessed with a hauntingly beautiful woman. (IMDB)

An unpredictable scary thriller that doubles as a mournful meditation on love, loss, and human comfort.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Vertigo among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Ranked #1 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Mystery”.
✓ Added to the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress.
✓ Voted #2 in Total Film’s 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time list.



Touch of Evil (1958)

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Crime film-noir written, directed by and co-starring Orson Welles, also starring Charlton Heston.

Story: A stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in a Mexican border town. (IMDB)

Artistically innovative and emotionally gripping, Orson Welles’ classic noir is a visual treat, as well as a dark, sinister thriller.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Touch of Evil among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ One of the last examples of film noir in the genre’s classic period, its reputation has grown since its release, and it is now widely regarded as one of the best classic-era films noir.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.


Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Richard Brooks, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Classic Films of the 1950s
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American drama film directed by Richard Brooks, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman.

Story: An alcoholic ex-football player, drinks his days away and resists the affections of his wife. His reunion with his father, who is dying of cancer, jogs a host of memories and revelations for both father and son. (IMDB)

Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor are at the height of their glamour and performing prowess in this feverish adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ play, with a subtext of sexual repression providing an electric undercurrent.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Cat on a Hot Tin Roof among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Received positive reviews from audiences and critics, who praised Brooks’s direction and the performances of Taylor and Newman.
✓ Controversial at the time of its release, but its reputation has grown over the years, and now it is widely considered to be an influential classic.


Ben-Hur (1959)

Ben-Hur 1959 Charlton Heston, Best Movies of the 1950s List, Classic Movies of the 1950s
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Epic historical drama directed by William Wyler and starring Charlton Heston.

Story: When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge. (IMDB)

Uneven, but in terms of epic scope and grand spectacle, Ben-Hur still ranks among Hollywood’s finest examples of pure entertainment.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Ben-Hur among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ It is included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Winner of 11 Oscars, including the “Best Picture of the Year” Academy Award, and it became the second highest-grossing film in history at the time.
✓ Ranked #2 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Epic”.


North by Northwest (1959)

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Mystery adventure thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Cary Grant.

Story: A New York City advertising executive goes on the run after being mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies. (IMDB)

Gripping, suspenseful, and visually iconic, this late-period Hitchcock classic laid the groundwork for countless action thrillers to follow.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is North by Northwest among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Listed among the canonical Hitchcock films of the 1950s and is often listed among the greatest films of all time.
✓ Selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.


Some Like It Hot (1959)

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Romantic comedy film directed and produced by Billy Wilder, starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon.

Story: When two male musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all-female band disguised as women, but further complications set in. (IMDB)

Some Like It Hot: A spry, quick-witted farce that never drags.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Some Like It Hot among the best movies of the 1950s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ The film opened to critical and commercial success and it is now considered to be one of the greatest films of all time.
✓ Voted as the top comedy film by the American Film Institute on their list on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs.



…end of the reel…

So there you have it: The 30 Greatest Movies of the 1950s.

If you want to take a look at the movies listed above, without all that info between the titles, here’s a quick recap:

Top 30 Movies of the 1950s
Three film from each year, chronologically
- 1950 -
Cinderella 1950
Cinderella
*Part of the Collection: Disney’s Classic Cinderella Trilogy
Sunset Blvd. 1950
Sunset Blvd.
Rashomon 1950
Rashomon
- 1951 -
A Streetcar Named Desire 1951
A Streetcar Named Desire
Strangers on a Train 1951
Strangers on a Train
The Day the Earth Stood Still 1951
The Day the Earth Stood Still
- 1952 -
Singin' in the Rain 1952
Singin' in the Rain
High Noon 1952
High Noon
Ikiru 1952
Ikiru
- 1953 -
Roman Holiday 1953
Roman Holiday
The Wages of Fear 1953
The Wages of Fear
Stalag 17 1953
Stalag 17
- 1954 -
Rear Window 1954
Rear Window
Seven Samurai 1954
Seven Samurai
Dial M for Murder 1954
Dial M for Murder
- 1955 -
Lady and the Tramp 1955
Lady and the Tramp
*Part of the Collection: Disney’s Classic Lady and the Tramp Duology
Rebel Without a Cause 1955
Rebel Without a Cause
The Night of the Hunter 1955
The Night of the Hunter
- 1956 -
The Ten Commandments 1956
The Ten Commandments
The Killing 1956
The Killing
The Searchers 1956
The Searchers
- 1957 -
12 Angry Men 1957
12 Angry Men
The Bridge on the River Kwai 1957
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Paths of Glory 1957
Paths of Glory
- 1958 -
Vertigo 1958
Vertigo
Touch of Evil 1958
Touch of Evil
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 1958
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
- 1959 -
Ben-Hur 1959
Ben-Hur
North by Northwest 1959
North by Northwest
Some Like It Hot 1959
Some Like It Hot
*Click any Title for more Info and for Streaming / Disc Buying options.

Wait, there’s more!

If you’re a hardcore fan of the 1950s, and you already saw most of the movies in the Top 30 List above, than here’s the extended version for you:

TOP 100 FILMS OF THE 1950s
Click to reveal the List ↴

The 100 Greatest Movies of the 1950s

Ten films from each year, chronologically

Top 10 Movies of 1950
Cinderella 1950
Cinderella
*Part of the Collection: Disney’s Classic Cinderella Franchise
Sunset Blvd. 1950
Sunset Blvd.
Rashomon 1950
Rashomon
All About Eve 1950
All About Eve
Harvey 1950
Harvey
In a Lonely Place 1950
In a Lonely Place
The Asphalt Jungle 1950
The Asphalt Jungle
Los Olvidados 1950
Los Olvidados
Winchester '73 1950
Winchester '73
Rio Grande 1950
Rio Grande
*Click any Title for more info or for Streaming / Disc Buying options
Top 10 Movies of 1951
A Streetcar Named Desire 1951
A Streetcar Named Desire
Alice in Wonderland 1951
Alice in Wonderland
Strangers on a Train 1951
Strangers on a Train
The Day the Earth Stood Still 1951
The Day the Earth Stood Still
The African Queen 1951
The African Queen
An American in Paris 1951
An American in Paris
Ace in the Hole 1951
Ace in the Hole
The Thing from Another World 1951
The Thing from Another World
A Place in the Sun 1951
A Place in the Sun
Scrooge 1951
Scrooge
*Click any Title for more info or for Streaming / Disc Buying options
Top 10 Movies of 1952
Singin' in the Rain 1952
Singin' in the Rain
High Noon 1952
High Noon
Ikiru 1952
Ikiru
The Quiet Man 1952
The Quiet Man
Umberto D. 1952
Umberto D.
Limelight 1952
Limelight
Monkey Business 1952
Monkey Business
The Bad and the Beautiful 1952
The Bad and the Beautiful
Forbidden Games 1952
Forbidden Games
Bend of the River 1952
Bend of the River
*Click any Title for more info or for Streaming / Disc Buying options
Top 10 Movies of 1953
Roman Holiday 1953
Roman Holiday
Peter Pan 1953
Peter Pan
*Part of the Collection: Disney's Classic Peter Pan Franchise
The Wages of Fear 1953
The Wages of Fear
Stalag 17 1953
Stalag 17
From Here to Eternity 1953
From Here to Eternity
Shane 1953
Shane
The War of the Worlds 1953
The War of the Worlds
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes 1953
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
The Big Heat 1953
The Big Heat
I Confess 1953
I Confess
*Click any Title for more info or for Streaming / Disc Buying options
Top 10 Movies of 1954
Rear Window 1954
Rear Window
Seven Samurai 1954
Seven Samurai
Dial M for Murder 1954
Dial M for Murder
On the Waterfront 1954
On the Waterfront
Sabrina 1954
Sabrina
La Strada 1954
La Strada
White Christmas 1954
White Christmas
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea 1954
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Godzilla 1954
Godzilla
Creature from the Black Lagoon 1954
Creature from the Black Lagoon
*Part of the Collection: Creature from the Black Lagoon Franchise
*Click any Title for more info or for Streaming / Disc Buying options
Top 10 Movies of 1955
Lady and the Tramp 1955
Lady and the Tramp
*Part of the Collection: Disney’s Classic Lady and the Tramp Franchise
Rebel Without a Cause 1955
Rebel Without a Cause
The Night of the Hunter 1955
The Night of the Hunter
Diabolique 1955
Diabolique
To Catch a Thief 1955
To Catch a Thief
East of Eden 1955
East of Eden
The Seven Year Itch 1955
The Seven Year Itch
The Trouble with Harry 1955
The Trouble with Harry
The Ladykillers 1955
The Ladykillers
Rififi 1955
Rififi
*Click any Title for more info or for Streaming / Disc Buying options
Top 10 Movies of 1956
The Ten Commandments 1956
The Ten Commandments
The Killing 1956
The Killing
The Searchers 1956
The Searchers
The Man Who Knew Too Much 1956
The Man Who Knew Too Much
Forbidden Planet 1956
Forbidden Planet
Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Giant 1956
Giant
The Wrong Man 1956
The Wrong Man
Around the World in 80 Days 1956
Around the World in 80 Days
The King and I 1956
The King and I
*Click any Title for more info or for Streaming / Disc Buying options
Top 10 Movies of 1957
12 Angry Men 1957
12 Angry Men
The Bridge on the River Kwai 1957
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Paths of Glory 1957
Paths of Glory
The Seventh Seal 1957
The Seventh Seal
Witness for the Prosecution 1957
Witness for the Prosecution
Wild Strawberries 1957
Wild Strawberries
Throne of Blood 1957
Throne of Blood
The Nights of Cabiria 1957
The Nights of Cabiria
An Affair to Remember 1957
An Affair to Remember
Funny Face 1957
Funny Face
*Click any Title for more info or for Streaming / Disc Buying options
Top 10 Movies of 1958
Vertigo 1958
Vertigo
Touch of Evil 1958
Touch of Evil
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 1958
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
The Hidden Fortress 1958
The Hidden Fortress
The Blob 1958
The Blob
The Fly 1958
The Fly
*Part of the Collection: The Fly Franchise
Elevator to the Gallows 1958
Elevator to the Gallows
Gigi 1958
Gigi
The Big Country 1958
The Big Country
Horror of Dracula 1958
Horror of Dracula
*Part of the Collection: Christopher Lee’s Dracula Franchise
*Click any Title for more info or for Streaming / Disc Buying options
Top 10 Movies of 1959
Ben-Hur 1959
Ben-Hur
North by Northwest 1959
North by Northwest
Some Like It Hot 1959
Some Like It Hot
Sleeping Beauty 1959
Sleeping Beauty
Anatomy of a Murder 1959
Anatomy of a Murder
Rio Bravo 1959
Rio Bravo
Pickpocket 1959
Pickpocket
Pillow Talk 1959
Pillow Talk
House on Haunted Hill 1959
House on Haunted Hill
Journey to the Center of the Earth 1959
Journey to the Center of the Earth
*Click any Title for more info or for Streaming / Disc Buying options

Is there a movie on the list you’d replace with another one? Share your thoughts in comments section bellow.


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