Top 10 Most Influential Movies of the 50s


10) 12 Angry Men (1957) – this minimalist drama about the twelve men who make up the jury on a murder trial is one of the most riveting yet simplistic films ever produced. All taking place in the confines of a jury room, Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men is a subtle and proficient drama that will have you guessing every step of the way, which is supported by the entrancing performances from the wonderful cast, especially from the always incredible Henry Fonda.


9) Ben-Hur (1959) – to refer to Ben-Hur as epic is to be putting it mildly for William Wyler’s production was as grandiose as any Cecil B. DeMille production if not more. This four hour adventure, filled with exceptional performances and larger than life action spectacles, was worthy of the 11 Oscars it won and reminds filmmakers that anything, no matter how large or magnificent it is, can be accomplished.


8 Touch of Evil (1958) – the last of Orson Welles’ American films, Touch of Evil was an unconventional noir thriller that dealt with a variety of complex issues including racism, honor, and murder. Ingenious with its revolutionary cinematography and the understatement of the acting performances, especially from Charlton Heston and Orson Welles himself, Touch of Evil was an inspiration to filmmakers who aspired to step out of the normal filmmaking aesthetics.

some like it hot

7) Some Like it Hot (1959) – the delightful comedic tale of two struggling musicians on the run from the mob after witnessing the St. Valentine’s Day massacre, is one of Billy Wilder’s more lighthearted pieces of cinema that remains untouched in its originality and creativity as comedies are concerned. While Tony Curtis gives a great performance its Jack Lemmon’s brilliance as an actor that utterly lights up the screen with the help of Wilder’s fine direction.


6) On the Waterfront (1954) – methodical yet deeply emotional, Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront was a deep and lyrical representation of Kazan’s personal struggle in the blacklisting era of Hollywood. With a brilliant and heart wrenching performance from Marlon Brando and a script that is both powerful in dialogue and riveting in story, On the Waterfront is an example of exceptional drama in its most delicate form.

singin in the

5) Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – a project that was duel directed by the musical extraordinaire Stanley Donen and the charmingly talented Gene Kelly, Singin’ in the Rain is a delectable hodgepodge of cinematic genre being a lead influence of musicals, romantic comedies, and social critique films. Mocking the nature of Hollywood in an amiable fashion and having a variety of musical segments that are humorous as much as they are insightful, Singin’ in the Rain was as entertaining as they came but acted as a model for musicals and romantic comedies to follow.


4) Sunset Blvd. (1950) – the cynical and dauntingly sinister Sunset Blvd. is Billy Wilder’s artistically haunting critique of the relentlessly unforgiving nature of Hollywood. Timeless in subject matter and potent in delivery, Billy Wilder once again demonstrates his prowess as a master filmmaker bringing this noir mystery to the forefront of influential cinema, which is aided by brilliant performances from William Holden and the frightening iconic portrayal of Norma Desmond by the outstanding Gloria Swanson.


3) Seven Samurai (1954) – Akira Kurosawa’s beautiful and brilliant endeavor into the multi-layered tapestry which includes the complexly spiritual, the extensively cultural, and the in depth personal that spans throughout the artistic masterpiece Shichinin no Samurai (Seven Samurai) proving to be the finest piece of Japanese cinema to ever be created. Technically experimental and vastly profound, Seven Samurai breaks cultural barriers and uses its affectionate cast of characters as a catalyst for the audience which engages the mind, spirit, and heart.


2) The Searchers (1956) – probably the most elegant and grandiose western ever to be shown on the silver screen John Ford’s The Searchers is a mesmerizing and epic depiction of the beautiful and the barbaric nature that encompasses the west. Probably the embodiment of John Ford’s stunning film work, The Searchers creates a beautiful painting that is as deep and complex as its protagonist Ethan Edwards, which is John Wayne’s most memorable and intense performance.


1) Vertigo (1958) – Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo is a milestone in the mystery thriller genre that travels deep into the subjective psyche of its protagonist Scottie Ferguson, portrayed remarkably by Jimmy Stewart in a resilient performance of a flawed and crippled detective, and proves that Hitchcock is a true virtuoso of the cinematic art form. Sitting comfortably in the eighth position on the AFI top 100 movies list, Vertigo is spiraling mind engaging mystery that will test your limits and manipulate you at every turn.

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): Bridge on the River Kwai, The African Queen, Rear Window, High Noon, Ace in the Hole, A Streetcar Named Desire, Rio Bravo, Anatomy of a Murder, All About Eve, and Giant

5 Responses to “Top 10 Most Influential Movies of the 50s”
  1. Kayla Laws says:

    ive seen 10 and 5….wow i really need to watch some movies i feel pathetic

  2. Great list. Vertigo was brilliant, and I was led to thinking it was a Fantasy film in the first half!

    Something that puzzles me is that ‘The Night of the Hunter’ didn’t even get a mention. Not only is it a great film, but it’s a creepy and thrilling Film Noir (and, surprisingly, the only film Charles Laughton directed).

  3. Tanya Stinson says:

    I have seen all these movies in my lifetime except for Seven Sumari. AMC or TCM showed On the waterfront just on saturday. All of them were absolutely FANTASTIC. I do plan to watch the one i havent seen as soon as it comes on tv.

  4. fuck your couch says:

    yea but how were they influential?

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