Movies – 1950s

Bad and the Beautiful, The (1952)

Still the best Hollywood-on-Hollywood movie, The Bad and The Beautiful is loosely based on the career of David O. Selznick, detouring to take in a few insider anecdotes about Val Lewton, Orson Welles, Raymond Chandler, Diana Barrymore, Alfred Hitchcock, and Irving Thalberg.  Three people with good cause to hate producer Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas) are gathered to(...)

Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)

It's 1945, just after World War II, and Spencer Tracy is a one-armed ex-army man who steps off the train in Black Rock, a remote California desert town. We don't know what he's come for, nor do the inhabitants, but they are hostile and it soon becomes clear that they are hiding something. Director John(...)

Bad Seed, The (1956)

Rhoda Penmark (Patty McCormack) has the adults in her life completely fooled, but when her uncontrolled hellishness leads her to murder a schoolmate in order to steal a medal, her mother Christine (Nancy Kelly) becomes tragically aware. Christine learns from her father that she herself was adopted and her real mother was a  conscienceless killer,(...)

Band Wagon, The (1953)

Fred Astaire and Michael Kidd choreographed this gem of a Hollywood musical produced by MGM. The Band Wagon began as a revue which opened in 1931 on Broadway starring Astaire and his sister Adele. In the film version Astaire plays Tony Hunter, a has-been Hollywood song and dance man, who heads to New York to try(...)

Barefoot Contessa, The (1954)

The surface appeal of The Barefoot Contessa is obvious: Ava Gardner at her most glamorous as the rags-to-riches star Maria Vargas alongside Humphrey Bogart at his most acerbic yet tender as filmmaker Harry Dawes; the flood of quotable quotes in the dialogue ("It's never too late to develop character"); and the intriguing allusions to real-life celebrities, including(...)

Battle in Outer Space (1959)

In 1965 bizarre phenomena cause disasters all over the world. The United Nations traces the destructive acts to alien forces called Natalians. At the Japanese space centre, a new weapon is being tested as twin SPIP moon ships are launched to investigate a suspected enemy base on the Moon. The expedition barely escapes from flying(...)

Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, The (1953)

Near the Arctic Circle, an atomic bomb is detonated. This fearsome experiment disturbs the sleep of a giant rhedosaurus encased in ice for more than 100-million years and sends it southward on a destructive, deadly rampage. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is a film of firsts. It spawned a new era of atomic-age creature features,(...)

Beat Generation, The (1959)

Any similarity between this Al Zugsmith tale and the artists/beatniks of the 1950s is purely coincidental. A psycho spends his time raping chicks until the cops catch on and track him down. The raunchy sets, lurid plot and jive talk make the whole thing eminently palatable though, and Mamie Van Doren is there to keep(...)

Beat The Devil (1953)

Easily one of the most irreverent, tongue-in-cheek movies made under Hollywood auspices, Beat The Devil stands out for many reasons. First, the amount and level of talent involved here is truly extraordinary. John Huston directs from a witty, bitter script on which he collaborated with none other than Truman Capote. Cinematographer Oswald Morris was assisted by future(...)

Bedtime For Bonzo (1951)

Future US president Ronald Reagan starred as Professor Peter Boyd, who becomes a surrogate parent to a chimpanzee named Bonzo. Disregard the political angle and what's left is a charming family film featuring a typically good-natured performance from Reagan. The sequel, Bonzo Goes To College (1952), is also worth a look. Ronald Reagan Diana Lynn Walter(...)

Behemoth The Sea Monster (1959)

The monster with the biblical name took the form of Palaeosaurus - and not only had the prehistoric monster become radioactive through atomic tests, it was also inherently charged with high tension electricity in the manner of electric eels! It tore a steamship to bits, cruised up the Thames, wrecked the Woolwich Ferry and smashed(...)

Belles of St Trinian’s, The (1954)

A rollicking British comedy based on Ronald Searle's cartoons of a terrifying girls' school known as St. Trinian's. Bookie Clarence (Alastair Sim) is the brother of Millicent Fitton (also Alastair Sim), the headmistress of St Trinian's School for Girls. Clarence sneaks his daughter into the school as a student to pick up racing tips from(...)

Ben-Hur (1959)

This vast fifteen-million-dollar epic was the most expensive film ever made to date. Shot in 70mm, the script was based on a 19th century novel by Civil War general Lew Wallace and set in the Roman Empire's province of Judea. Ostensibly a film about Jesus Christ, the story centres on the friendship between Messala (Stephen Boyd)(...)

Big Beat, The (1958)

Fresh out of college, John Randall (William Reynolds) tries to persuade his father into releasing rock and roll along with the other lame records he already produces. Dad relents and gives the kid a subsidiary company to be overseen by his A&R man. It's pure nonsense from then on as Reynolds almost blows the whole(...)

Big Heat, The (1953)

Big Heat, The (1953)

Glenn Ford stars as Dave Bannion, a cop who ditches his badge in order to take down a mob boss when his wife (Jocelyn Brando) is blown up by a car bomb meant for him. The action in The Big Heat is relentless, and brutal - from thug Vince (Lee Marvin) throwing a pot of(...)

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