21 Delightful 1950s Movies That Still Spark Happiness

The 50s was known as the golden age of cinema. Even now, 70 years later, the masterpieces we’ve listed here are a must-watch for every movie fan. So, let’s revisit these classic films. You’ll find there’s still much to love.

Sunset Boulevard

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Directed by Billy Wilder, Sunset Boulevard follows a struggling screenwriter who becomes entangled with a delusional former silent film star, Norma Desmond (played by Gloria Swanson). The film is considered a classic example of film noir and black comedy, winning 3 Oscars. IMDB: 8.4

All About Eve 

Photo Credit: 20th Century-Fox.

All About Eve delves into the competitive world of Broadway theater, focusing on the ambition of an aspiring actress, Eve Harrington. With its clever script and stellar performances by Bette Davis and Anne Baxter, the movie won 6 Oscars. IMDB: 8.2

Rashomon 

Photo Credit: Daiei Film.

Directed by Akira Kurosawa, Rashomon is a Japanese film that tells the story of a murder from multiple perspectives. By challenging the audience’s perception of truth and reality, and with its groundbreaking narrative structure and stunning cinematography, Rashomon has earned a revered place in cinema history. It’s often cited as a groundbreaking work that influenced filmmakers worldwide. IMDB: 8.2

Singin’ in the Rain 

Photo Credit: Loew’s Inc.

Directed and choreographed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly and starring Kelly in the lead role, this musical comedy celebrates the transition from silent films to “talkies” in 1920s Hollywood. Known for its catchy songs and fantastic dance sequences, Singin’ in the Rain is a joyous tribute to the golden age of cinema. Gene Kelly’s iconic dance in the rain is one of the most memorable moments in film history. IMDB: 8.3

Tokyo Story 

Photo Credit: Shochiku.

This Japanese drama follows an elderly couple as they visit their grown children in Tokyo. Understated and profound, Tokyo Story explores societal change, the generation gap, and the fragility of human relationships. It is now considered a masterpiece of world cinema. IMDB: 8.1

The Seventh Seal 

Photo Credit: AB Svensk Filmindustri.

Set in Denmark during the plague, this Swedish film follows a medieval knight who plays a game of chess with Death. With its haunting imagery and philosophical themes, The Seventh Seal is considered one of Ingmar Bergman’s greatest works and a landmark of European cinema. IMDB: 8.1

12 Angry Men 

Photo Credit: United Artists.

This courtroom drama unfolds as a jury deliberates the fate of a young man accused of murder. Shot almost entirely in one room, the film explores issues of justice, prejudice, and the power of persuasion. 12 Angry Men is a thought-provoking examination of the American legal system and, although it won no Oscars, is considered one of the greatest films ever made. IMDB: 9

The Bridge on the River Kwai 

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

This epic war film follows British prisoners of war forced to build a bridge for their Japanese captors during World War II. Known for its sweeping cinematography and tense drama, The Bridge on the River Kwai won 7 Oscars, including Best Picture. IMDB: 8.1

Vertigo 

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, this psychological thriller follows a retired detective who becomes obsessed with a mysterious woman. Vertigo is hailed as one of Hitchcock’s most influential works. IMDB: 8.3

Some Like It Hot

Photo Credit: United Artists.

This Oscar-winning crime comedy follows two musicians who disguise themselves as women to escape from gangsters. Marilyn Monroe’s iconic performance adds to the film’s long-lasting appeal. IMDB: 8.2

North by Northwest 

Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Another Alfred Hitchcock film, North by Northwest, is a suspense thriller about a man mistaken for a spy who goes on a cross-country chase to clear his name. Cary Grant plays the lead in a film full of classic set pieces, suspense, and dark humor. IMDB: 8.3

Ben-Hur 

Photo Credit: Loew’s, Inc.

This epic historical drama (at over three and a half hours, ‘epic’ seems a suitable term) tells the story of a Jewish prince who seeks revenge against the Roman friend who betrayed him. Renowned for its grand scale and action sequences, Ben-Hur won 11 Oscars. The film’s chariot race scene is particularly legendary. IMDB: 8.1

The 400 Blows 

Photo Credit: Cocinor.

Directed by François Truffaut, this French New Wave film follows a young boy’s struggles with school, family, and society. Autobiographical in nature, The 400 Blows is praised for its honesty, realism, and nostalgia-free portrayal of adolescence. IMDB: 8.1

Anatomy of a Murder 

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

This courtroom drama centers on a small-town lawyer defending a man accused of murder. Anatomy of a Murder is known for its provocative subject matter, sharp dialogue, Duke Ellington’s jazz score, and James Stewart’s portrayal of the defense attorney. IMDB: 8

The Night of the Hunter 

Photo Credit: United Artists.

Directed by Charles Laughton and starring Robert Mitchum, this atmospheric thriller follows a criminal disguised as a preacher and marries a widow in pursuit of stolen money. Laughton’s direction is influenced by German expressionism and gives the film an eerie, timeless quality. IMDB: 8

On the Waterfront 

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Corporation.

This gritty drama tells the story of a dockworker who takes a stand against corrupt union bosses, including his older brother. On the Waterfront won 8 Oscars, stars Marlon Brando as the conflicted protagonist Terry Malloy, and explores themes such as loyalty, redemption, and social injustice. IMDB: 8.1

A Streetcar Named Desire 

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

This adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ play follows a troubled woman who moves in with her sister and her abusive husband in New Orleans. Featuring solid performances by Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois and Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski, A Streetcar Named Desire won 4 Oscars and is considered a landmark of American cinema. IMDB: 7.9

Invasion of the Body Snatchers 

Photo Credit: Allied Artists Pictures.

This cult classic science fiction/horror film follows a small-town doctor who discovers that emotionless alien duplicates are replacing his community. It is a chilling allegory of conformity and McCarthyism praised for its eerie atmosphere and social commentary. IMDB: 7.7

The African Queen 

Photo Credit: United Artists.

Starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, this adventure film follows a prim-and-proper British missionary and a rough boat captain as they navigate dangerous waters in Africa during World War I. IMDB: 7.7

Touch of Evil 

Photo Credit: Universal-International.

Written and directed by Orson Welles, this film noir follows a Mexican narcotics officer investigating a bombing along the U.S.-Mexico border. Touch of Evil is one of Welles’ most daring and influential films with its dark and seedy portrayal of corruption and obsession. IMDB: 8

La Strada 

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

La Strada (The Road) is an Italian neorealist film following a carefree woman who is sold to a circus strongman and becomes his assistant. La Strada is a world cinema masterpiece with its poetic imagery, emotional themes, and Giulietta Masina’s heartbreaking portrayal of the vulnerable protagonist. IMDB: 8

 

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Matt Walker

Writer & Blogger

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