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 CLASSIC FIFTIES MOVIES

Movie classics stand the test of time

The telly –such as it was - did not have a lot to offer (just like now, really), but in the Fifties the movies most definitely did. Join us on a look-back to just some of those classics which are still enjoyed just as much today as they were then.

BEN HUR: Up it crops on TV every year, regular as clockwork at Easter and Christmas. This amazingly good epic starring Charlton Heston as Judah first hit the big screen in 1959 and was nominated for 12 Oscars, wining 11. Stephen Boyd co-stars as Judah’s old friend Messala who turns against him, sending him to the galleys and his mother and sister into prison, the pair eventually ending up in a leper colony. The classic sequence is the chariot race, which over 40 years later is a true cinema masterpiece. Directed by William Wyler. Great stuff.

ON THE WATERFRONT: Made in 1954 and still regarded as one of the most important films of its time. Starring Marlon Brando (in the days when you could more or less make out what he was saying) it took a look at the Communist scare which at that time swept America. Brando plays Terry, a longshoreman who can no longer make it in his job, but who turns to the mob and becomes involved in a killing. Further complications arise when he falls for the dead man’s sister. Lee J. Cobb, Karl Malden and Rod Steiger also star in the movie which was nominated for 10 Oscars and won eight.

HIGH NOON: In the list of great westerns this comes very near the top. Produced in 1951, well before the Spaghetti western era, it was filmed in black and white and stars Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly who was later to marry Prince Ranier of Monaco.
Cooper plays Marshall Kane who is about to Kelly – until the baddie, Frank (played by Ian MacDonald) arrives back in town who are about to get married until bad-boy Frank (Ian MacDonald) is said to be returning, the town clocks constantly reminding the Marshall that he will arrive at noon. Frank’s partners wait to help hi take the town back and the Marshall finds himself alone against a united enemy. The film received six Oscar nominations and Gary Cooper won for Best Actor and Fred Zinnemann Best Director.

THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI : Like Ben Hur this is a classic regularly trotted out on TV. Despite its years (it was first screened in 1957) it has stood the test of time well. Alec Guinness plays his finest role as Col Nicholson, determined to show strong British upper lip despite the efforts of the Japanese. His desire to build the bridge makes a classic war movie. William Holden plays escaped American prisoner Major Shears who is determined the project will not be completed. The film was directed by David Lean and received eight Oscar nominations winning seven including Best Picture.

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE: This early effort from Marlon Brando (it was made in 1951) is an emotional tale about Blanche (Vivien Leigh), a woman who has lost everything and goes to stay with her sister in New Orleans. A great screenplay and powerful performances.

REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE: This movie starring the late James Dean is one of the best loved (and remembered) film of the Fifties. (1955). Dean plays a juvenile delinquent (they didn’t call them yobs at that time) the son of constantly fighting parents and the new boy in town who tries to build an alternative family life with his girlfriend (Natalie Wood). The movie received no Oscar nominations but Dean has since developed a cult following as the “the first American teenager.” He died in 1955 after making only three films.

Written by The Editor - 26/04/2005 18:24:07

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