Movies – 1950s

Trouble with Harry, The (1955)

A macabre comedy about a body that refuses to stay buried, The Trouble With Harry is an unusually rustic entry in the Hitchcock canon that’s reminiscent of his Shadow of a Doubt in its subversion of our image of the squeaky-clean American small town. In Highwater, Vermont, the tragedy of Harry’s death plays second fiddle to(...)

Untamed Youth (1957)

Mamie Van Doren and Lori Nelson star as hitchhiking chanteuses, Penny and Janey Lowe, who are arrested and brought before naive old woman Judge Steele (Lurene Tuttle). They are unfairly tried and sentenced to a Californian prison farm owned by the evil Russ Tropp (John Russell), who is secretly married to the judge. However, their(...)

Upstairs and Downstairs (1959)

It must have been very frustrating for the cast of accomplished British comedy performers, let alone for international stars Claudia Cardinale and Mylène Demongeot, to have watched all their efforts here being frittered away by such dull leads as Michael Craig and Anne Heywood. As the newlyweds searching for the perfect servant, they are the(...)

Vertigo (1958)

When his fear of heights starts to impinge on his effectiveness as a San Francisco cop, John "Scottie" Ferguson (Stewart) is compelled to leave the force. At a loose end, a friend asks a favour; he wants John to follow his wife as she's been acting strangely. Ferguson obliges but it doesn't take long for(...)

Vikings, The (1958)

Einar (Kirk Douglas) and Erik (Tony Curtis) are two Viking half-brothers. One is a great warrior, the other an ex-slave who makes a bitter enemy of Einar, but neither knows the identity of the other. When the throne of Northumbria becomes free, the brothers compete for it. "Mightiest of Men, Mightiest of Spectacles, Mightiest of(...)

Violent Playground (1958)

Featuring one of several police characters Stanley Baker played in the late 50s/early 60s, Violent Playground fuses a crime story with a social-realist tale of delinquent youth. Baker gives a nuanced performance as a macho cop transferred from criminal investigation to youth liaison with Liverpool’s street gangs and, in particular, one gang led by teen(...)

War and Peace (1956)

Produced by Dino De Laurentiis and shot on location in Italy at a cost of $6 million, War and Peace weighs in at 208 minutes. The money was certainly well spent on the battle scenes - notably Napoleon's retreat from Moscow - which are epic, authentic and visually spectacular, but the film's sprawling narrative fails to gel.(...)

War Of The Worlds (1953)

Loosely adapted from H.G. Wells' classic novel of the same name, this 1953 doomsday sci-fi was billed as a "mighty panorama of Earth-shaking fury as an army from Mars invades". Relocating the action of the book from Victorian England to 1950s southern California, and recycling stock World War II footage to depict scenes of mass(...)

When Worlds Collide (1951)

Before there was Deep Impact (1998) and Armageddon (1998), world destruction was done up in 1950s sci-fi style. The rights to Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer's 1932 doomsday novel When Worlds Collide belonged to Cecil B. DeMille for a time and languished on the shelves. In 1950, producer George Pal got his hands on the project, and eager for a follow-up to Destination(...)

White Christmas (1954)

White Christmas (1954)

In this tinselled Technicolor spectacular, old army buddies Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) are a song-and-dance team who travel to a New England ski resort (the Columbia Inn in Vermont) to stage a mammoth Christmas benefit and save their old army boss, General Waverly (Dean Jagger,) from bankruptcy. The show is(...)

Wild One, The (1954)

This is the original motorcycle gang film, and far and away the best. After being thrown out of a motorcycle event, the Black Rebels biker gang descend on a small American town igniting the passions and bigotry of the local inhabitants. Johnny, the leader, becomes interested in young waitress Kathie (Mary Murphy), the daughter of(...)

Winchester ’73 (1950)

Lin McAdam (James Stewart) arrives in Dodge City in hot pursuit of his father's killer. He wins a coveted Winchester '73 repeating rifle (known as "the gun that won the West") in the Fourth of July shooting contest, but the gun is stolen and McAdam sets about retrieving his prize. This is a fine, mature(...)

Wings of Eagles, The (1957)

U.S. Navy pilot Frank 'Spig' Wead (John Wayne) is a fun-loving and rowdy adventurer, but also a fierce proponent of Naval aviation. His dedication to the promotion of the Navy's flying program is so intense that his marriage and family life suffer. When an accident paralyses him, Spig finds a new means of expressing his(...)

Woman In A Dressing Gown (1957)

After 20 years of marriage, feckless and domestically untidy Amy Preston (Yvonne Mitchell) finds she cannot compete with an attractive younger woman for the affections of her husband. This painfully honest drama, based on a television play by Ted Willis, was light years ahead of its time in its treatment of women and their place(...)

Wooden Horse, The (1950)

The Wooden Horse tells the true story of the escape in Summer 1943 of three English prisoners from Stalag Luft III - a Luftwaffe-run prisoner of war camp for Allied aircrew during World War II - using a vaulting horse to hide their tunnel. The action only really becomes compelling outside Stalag Luft III as the escapees(...)

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