Top 10 Movies from the 50s


by Johnny Punish


Attention VT readers!  Its been a long haul of foreign policy, military affairs, and mid term election issues!  You deserve a break today!  In fact, it’s time for a little “sharpen the saw” relief.  So get on that cozy winter couch,  fire up some hot chocolate, and check this stuff out!  Roll em!

Oh but first, my criteria for top ten was simple. I just asked “What movies could I watch over and over and over again and still get amazing entertainment pleasure?” Now that’s easy!  Ok, now roll em!

1. The Court Jester (1955)

A hapless carnival performer masquerades as the court jester as part of a plot against an evil ruler who has overthrown the rightful king. This is outrageously too much fun. Danny Kaye’s is brilliant; best movie of fantastic amazing movie career. He was Jim Carrey before Jim Carrey. Fun songs, quotable, and silly fun. Love it! I could watch this move over and over again. Sweet! Director: Melvin Frank, Norman Panama. Starring Danny Kaye, Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone.

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2. Guys and Dolls (1955)

In New York, a gambler is challenged to take a cold female missionary to Havana, but they fall for each other, and the bet has a hidden motive to finance a crap game. Sinatra and Brando fought on set cause Sinatra wanted the lead. But you could not tell because this movie is pure fun musical magic. From start to finish, it’s just a super fun ride New York 50s style. Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra.

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3. The Ten Commandments (1956)

The Egyptian Prince, Moses, learns of his true heritage as a Hebrew and his divine mission as the deliverer of his people. Need a biblical epic? Here you go! Heston is Moses! The cast amazing! Big Movie! And don’t miss Edward G. Robinson with his ‘yeah see” swag as an Egyptian slave master. Super Movie Classic! Director: Cecil B. DeMille. Starring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter.

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4. Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

Aliens resurrect dead humans as zombies and vampires to stop humanity from creating the Solaranite (a sort of sun-driven bomb).
Voted worst movie of all time by almost everybody which makes it a super cool fun trip down WTF! I love this flick for all its crazyness. Ed Wood simply kicks ass! I love the hub-caps as flying saucers and the cheap plywood posing as a airplance cockpit. And what’s with the English Medieval costumes for the aliens? WTF! Come on! Classic! Funny! Love this flick! Director, writer: Edward D. Wood Jr. Starring Gregory Walcott, Tom Keene, Mona McKinnon, Bela Lugosi

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5. Ben Hur (1959)

When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge. Juda Ben Hur is probably the best sandal holy land classic of all time. So epic! Big huge honored movie! Must See Movie Experience! Director William Wyler. Starring Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd, Jean Simmons

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6. White Christmas (1954)

A successful song-and-dance team become romantically involved with a sister act and team up to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commanding general. What an ensemble of super fun. This is a true feel good movie for the holidays or any time. Sisters is such a great song! The whole movie is clever and sweet! Love the ladies in this. Of course, Kaye and Crosby are classic. Love it. Director Michael Curtiz. Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen.

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7. Godzilla (1954)

American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast. Is there anything better than the original Japanese Godzilla? Best monster ever! This is better than all the other 20 Godzilla movies. So check this one out and get some real 50s cinema kitch! Director: Ishirô Honda. Starring Takashi Shimura, Akihiko Hirata, Akira Takarada.

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8. Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

Leonard Vole is arrested on suspicion of murdering an elderly acquaintance. He employs an experienced but aging barrister as his defense attorney. Super well done thriller drama. High level acting from the great Charles Laughton and mysterious Marlene Dietrich! The huge twists and betrayals make this a must see movie. Compelling! Director: Billy Wilder. Starring Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton

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9. The Blob (1958)

An alien lifeform consumes everything in its path as it grows and grows. The blob represents the 50s decades long fetish with sci-fi horror that was bold, big, and packing the movie houses with crazed teens looking for a good time with a date. What a cool movie! Directors: Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. Starring Steve McQueen, Aneta Corsaut, Earl Rowe.

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10. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1954)

Singers Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw travel to Paris, pursued by a private detective hired by the disapproving father of Lorelei’s fiancé to keep an eye on her, as well as a rich, enamored old man and many other doting admirers. Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russel are a tour de force. What a fun ride into icon-o-ville! Director: Howard Hawks Writers: Charles Lederer (screen play), Joseph Fields (based on the musical comedy by), 1 more credit » Stars: Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe, Charles Coburn |

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What’s your favorite movies?  Post your comments below!

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ABOUT AUTHOR: Johnny Punish is a global citizen, visionary, musician, artist, entertainer, businessman, investor, life coach, and syndicated columnist. He is also the founder and President of the Middle East Union Congress; a non-profit global think tank dedicated to building a new Middle East for the 21st century.

Educated at University of Nevada Las Vegas and California State University Fullerton, his articles appear in Veterans Today, Money News Now and his Johnny Punish Blog. His art music is promoted by Peapolz Media Records and played on net radio at, and more.

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16 Responses to "Top 10 Movies from the 50s"

  1. 60sstreetpunk  November 17, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Anne Francis in Forbidden Planet- possibly the best legs in Hollywood.

  2. monkeylove  November 16, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    400 Blows (1959)
    The Seventh Seal (1957)
    Seven Samurai (1954)
    Diary of a Country Priest (1951)
    The Night of the Hunter (1955)
    Rashomon (1950)
    La Strada (1954)
    Tokyo Story (1953)
    Wild Strawberries (1957)
    Nights of Cabiria (1957)

    • GregDiablo  November 18, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      Great counterpoint list; great movies don’t have to be in English. I would add “Ikiru” (1952), “Touch of Evil” (1958), “Ugetsu” (1953), “Vertigo” (1958), and “Journey to Italy” (1954).

  3. wolf  November 15, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Love it.

    ‘With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound…
    He pulls the city high tension wires down

    He picks up a bus and he throws it back down…
    As he wades through the buildings toward the center of town’

    But I bet even a right hook from this reptilian behemoth could not have knocked WTC1 or 2 down…

  4. 60sstreetpunk  November 14, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    I mostly watched science fiction and some religious movies. I have to agree with John in choosing Forbidden Planet which was very popular with us neighborhood dumbbells. I watched Robby The Robot every chance I got. The Thing with James Arness was a big one what with the sounds of the arctic winds and the greenhouse.
    I like Johnny’s list and I will have to see some of these movies. But Iwatched Godzilla over 10 times. There were so many good science fiction movies. In line with Ben Hur, there were films like The Robe and Demetrius and the Gladiators.
    I always remember Saint Joan with Jean Seberg and the director was Otto Preminger. Even though I was a kid I was mesmerized by these dead people who looked back on things. Jean Seberg played Joan of Arc and Richard Widmark may have been the priest.
    The artwork especially the calligraphy for the movie titles on the movie posters is something I can always remember and was fantastic in the 1950s and decades prior to the 50s. I feel that the 60s and 70s and 80s what with pastels and big changes made movie posters boring if not terrible.

  5. Grampah  November 14, 2014 at 9:22 am

    I didn’t see any of the “top ten” but I do recall watching
    Shane (1953)
    The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
    One of my earliest movie experiences, Sergeant York turned me off to all movies. Except comedy, foreign films, French, Italian and Indian.

  6. mary  November 14, 2014 at 7:40 am

    you know, The Blob always stayed with me too.. I wonder why…

  7. mary  November 14, 2014 at 7:37 am

    yes, a nice break.. I forgot about The scared me

  8. Martin Maloney  November 14, 2014 at 2:07 am

    Your abbreviated description of Witness for the Prosecution was far too abbreviated, to wit;

    It was based on an Agatha Christie short story of the same name.

    Charles Laughton, not Tyrone Power, was the real star of the film.

    Marlene Dietrich, femme fatale of the 30s, cast against type and playing two characters, turned in a tour-de-force performance.

    Elsa Lanchester, Laughton’s real life wife, in a comic relief character, stole every scene in which she appeared.

  9. Not Clueless  November 13, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Back further still > 1939 & The Wizard of Oz! I’m still impressed w/ the movie magic/dazzling color of that film esp considering it WAS a 1939 movie! Best of all, fondly featured in A Christmas Story – our new Holiday classic and the TBS 24 hr marathon! (I prefer it over the televised burning Yule log – ha!) Now that one evokes the 50s for me even though the featured time period was slightly pre-40s! The snow, the boots, the school classrm – even the furnace – it all takes me back to what surely was a much simpler, happier time of security/home/homemakers – Moms were ‘in the house’ & Dads came home from work w/ the only family car! Our playground was the neighborhood w/ the neighborhood kids – except for Sat. morning cartoons!

    Thanx for the memories Johnny!

  10. Not Clueless  November 13, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    Oh, where to begin – my perspective now vs my perspective then! Somehow in my late middle age, men of the screen that I viewed in my youth look “different” in a way that just didn’t happen then – yeah, MEN! What can I say, my innocence hung on a lot longer than most! Geez, even Ed looks appealing now!!!

    Was probably 7 when I saw The Blob – that movie scared the crap out of me!!! And it never really left my mind – lingers in the recesses of my brain! What’s more disconcerting > blk sentient oil that’s contained by extreme cold/Falkland Islands + a bunch of mysterious deaths – connection?

    Burned into my mind are the very graphic torture/death scenes from the classic biblical movies of the period – people tied to a wheel that spun them over fire & the old slave woman whose clothing gets caught while applying grease for the pyramid blocks – she’s crushed. Thanks Mom! And how can anyone forget the chariot race of Ben Hur w/ the spiked chariot wheels! I was too young to really “get” the movie, but I remember that scene vividly! Otherwise, the Golden Calf/parting Red Sea/rods turning to snakes/the deadly grn mist that claims the firstborns/etc – The 10Cs was quite the movie! Sure helped to cement those bible stories into our Matrix reality consciousness!

  11. William St. George  November 13, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    In my estimation On The Waterfront most characterizes the 1950’s– a bleak materialistic time. For the 1940’s it would be To Have And Have Not. When it comes to the 1960’s Doctor Zhivago or Lawrence Of Arabia. Not necessarily the best but ones which somehow hold the feeling of that time well. Partly the actors like Brando and Bogart or Bacall and Christie. Partly the themes. Films do not escape the spirit of the times and later on are like maps of time.

    • jake gittes  November 13, 2014 at 7:19 pm

      Consider the movies of 1967…

      Cool Hand Luke, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, In the Heat of the Night, Bonnie & Clyde, The Graduate, In Cold Blood, Hombre, Hour of the Gun, the Flim-Flam Man, Wait Until Dark, Casino Royale, the Dirty Dozen, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

    • Not Clueless  November 13, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      In going thru the 50s list, I thought of To Kill A Mockingbird – wrong decade > 1962. However, sure seems like quite a cinematic leap from that classic early 60s movie to those listed by Jake – blk & wht vs color for one. But more than that – the “grown ups” weren’t the Lawrence Welk generation anymore! The times they were achangin!

  12. jake gittes  November 13, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Asphalt Jungle (1950)
    Shane (1953)
    Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
    The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
    On the Waterfront (1954)
    The Gunfighter (1950)
    The Naked Spur (1953)
    The Bravados (1958)
    Rio Bravo (1959)
    Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
    Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
    All About Eve (1950)

  13. Chandler  November 13, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    You’re right! A break was needed. Thanks!

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