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Guest Blog: The Top Movies of the 50s

the second part of bill bodkins “movies in the 50s” series…this time he discusses his favorite movies from the decade.

I want to thank all the read and commented on my blog. I want to thank the editors who found a picture of my Loews American located in Parkchester in the Bronx, NY. We pronounced it Lo Ease, in the Bronx.

In my last blog a gave you a bit of historical background on how movies were made, what the movie theaters were like and the various genres that we had. I think there are less choices when it comes to selecting a type of movie today than back in the 50’s. Why that is I don’t know unless the feeling is that people don’t want to see pirate pictures or Knights of the Round Table or musicals. I know in 2000 we had Johnny Depp and his whole pirate series, Russell Crowe as the Gladiator, and Clive Owen in King Arthur and last but not least we had Mama Mia but that’s basically it. Now with CGI any film can become an epic. The greatest epic I have seen is Lord of the Rings, I marvel at how he held this thing so close to the book and how each continuation was absolutely seamless.

However I digress. Below are the films that I believe are essential movies from the 50s that you have to watch:

Here is my list of my top 10 movies of the 50’s:

1. King Solomon’s Mines (1950)
Starring: Stewart Granger, Deborah Carr & Richard Carlson
Alan Quartermaine leads an expedition into the unchartered territories of Africa for a woman who has paid an exhorbitant fee to help find her husband. She is driven by her guilt for she never really loved him and feels it was her fault that he undertook the task of trying to find King Solomon’s treasure. During the way you see the beauty of the land and its creatures. Even though Elizabeth and Alan are constantly arguing they fall in love while fighting and over coming the dangers of the land. They are lead to King Solomon’s mines where they are trapped. To find out the ending you must see this exciting movie. BTW none of the remakes can hold a candle to this version and this is actually a remake of an earlier version starring Paul Robeson.

2A. The Quiet Man (1952)
Starring: John Wayne, Victor McLaughlin, Mildred Fenwick, Maureen O’Hara and Ward Bond
You will notice in all John Wayne’s movies he has many of the same people: Ward Bond, Victor McLaughlin, Red Barry, Harry Carey Jr, Ben Johnson, Milded Fenwick,and later on his son Patrick Wayne and Robert Mitchum’s son..
The movie deals with an American prize fighter who moves back to Ireland to buy the land his family once owned. He runs into Mary Kate Danaher, who he falls in love with and wants to marry. However her brother Will, played by Victor McLaughlin becomes his enemy and will not allow the marriage. He keeps challenging Sean Thorton, John Wayne, to a fight but he won’t fight him and he is thought to be a coward. But in the end true love wins in a real knock down drag out battle of fisticuffs.

2B. Winchester ’73 (1950)
Starring: James Stewart, Dan Duryea, Shelly Winters, Steve McNally, Tony Curtis and Rock Hudson
Both Rock Hudson and Tony Curtis had bit parts in this movie since it was the start of their careers. Lin McAdam, James Stewart, rides into town on the trail of “Dutch” Henry Brown, Dan Duryea, and finds himself in a marks man contest with Brown, the prize being a Winchester ’73. McAdam wins but Dutch steals the rifle and McAdam is forced to chase him into the mountains to get the rifle back.

4. Rio Bravo (1959)
Starring: John Wayne, Angie Dickinson, Dean Martin, Walter Brennan, Ricky Nelson, Ward Bond, John Russell
As you can see we see John Wayne’s entourage again in this picture. It may be worth mentioning that Wayne made actors out of several up and coming singers and young actors in his string of movies; such as Frankie Avalon, Fabian, as mentioned Ricky Nelson, James Caan etc.
Rio Bravo is about the arrest of the younger brother of a powerful rancher, played by John Russell, who threatens to free his brother from jail and kill anyone who tries to stop him. The Sheriff, John Wayne, enlists the aid of a cripple, Walter Brennan, a drunk, Dean Martin, and a young gunslinger, Ricky Nelson to help prevent this from happening. Good shoot ’em up Western with some comedy and even a few song thrown in.

5. The Thing From Another World (1951)
Starring: James Arness, Keith Tobay
The movie title was shortened to fit on the theater marquees to simply The Thing. Producer Howard Hawks adaption of a John Campbell story of an Arctic expedition that discovers a space craft buried in the ice. While examining the the craft they see that there is a pilot who is, what appears to be frozen to death. When they bring him back to camp, he thaws out and causes all kinds of havoc and mayhem. A chilling, no pun intended, scary movie.

6. Gunfight At OK Coral (1957)
Starring: Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas
Wyatt Earp, Burt Lancaster. decides to quit being a lawman and to join his brothers in Tombstone, Arizona. When he arrives he finds his brothers embroiled in a feud with the Clantons who are thugs and cattle thieves amongst other things. Needless to say a showdown results and the Earps get help from the consumptive Doc Holliday, Kirk Douglas. The movie won two Oscars and Burt Lancaster received an award for best actor.

7. A Night to Remember (1958)
Starring: Kenneth Moore and Ronald Allen
In 1912 the prize of the White Star Line undertakes its maiden voyage from Southhampton, England to New York City. Touted as “unsinkable” because of its specially designed compartments the Titanic finds that the hype is ill founded when they hit an Ice berg. The designers of the ship never envisioned a major catastrophe and therefore the compartments didn’t hold up. Due to their arrogance of the designers, there weren’t enough life boats for all the people. So as they fight to keep the ship afloat they must determine how they are going to save the people; the drama becomes intense.

8. The African Queen (1951)
Starring: Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn
This is the story of a drunken sea captain and a puritanical missionary who get thrown together after her father’s mission has been burnt down by the Germans in World War I. As they try to escape, Rose Sayer, Catherine Hepburn, browbeats Charlie Allnut, Humphrey Bogart, into sailing up the Ulana River to try and exact some type of revenge on the Germans. What they do and how they do it is quite remarkable.

9. North by Northwest (1959)
Starring: Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint
An Alfred Hitchcock thriller where, Alfred Hitchcock makes his usual cameo appearance, pits a Madison Avenue Executive, Cary Grant, against a gang of spies who mistake him for a government agent. He is aided by the beautiful Eva Marie Saint in this action, spy thriller.

10. Shane (1953)
Starring: Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin and Jack Palance
For awhile many considered this the best Western ever made and it may still be. I thought it was very good having both seen it and receiving this as a video for a Christmas gift. Shane, Alan Ladd, rides into town and takes a hired hand job at the Starett’s Ranch, Van Heflin, Jean Arthur and little Brandon De Wilde. He finds that a land owner by the name of Ryker wants the Starretts and all the “squaters” out of this area so he can have it all. Needless to say this leads to a show down and Ryker hires a renown gunslinger named Wilson. Shane has grown very attached to the settlers and maybe to attached Marian Starrett and therefore figures its up to him to rid the town of Ryker and his gang before he rides off into the sunset. Come back Shane, come back Shane little Joey Starrett cries as he leaves town.

11. High Noon (1952)
Starring: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly and Lloyd Bridges
Will Kane, Gary Cooper, gets married and decides to hang up his badge and his guns. He is told a man he sent to prison Fred Miller, LLoyd Bridges is coming back with a gang to extract his revenge on him. Will realizes that he must make this danger go away so he decides to confront Miller but as he asks for help from the town’s people he finds no one will help him and it appears that he must face them alone.

I cheated those are my 11 favorites, but below are listed the rest of my favorites and/or classics that should not be missed.

Movies like: From Here to Eternity, Stalag 17, On the Waterfront, Blackboard Jungle, Wild One, East of Eden, A Place In The Sun, A star is Born, I Want to Live (featuring: Susan Hayward’s incredible performance.

Alfred Hitchcock was riding pretty strong in the 50’s with Rear Window, North by Northwest, which I mentioned before and Vertigo. Then there were the classics like Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, Around the World In 80 Days and Bridge Over the River Kwai. Of course we had our musicals like: Singing In The Rain, Gigi, Show Boat, The King and I and The Band Wagon. In animation there was only Disney doing his thing with Cinderella and The Lady and the Tramp.

Hope you find the blog informative and you find the time to see some of the movies I mentioned. You will enjoy them.

Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.


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