50s Classic Movies

50's classic movies were originally made for reels, not TV's!

50's classic movies are popular with many people because of their cinematic feeling and production. Movies from this time period not only capture the image of the 1950's themselves but also defined genres that they were a part of. Many sci-fi classics as well as romance and western films were created in the 1950's and are strong markers of not only what makes a movie one of many 50's classic movies, but what makes a movie classic overall.

Major Themes In 50's Classic Movies

Like all decades of film, there are certain themes and major players that the 1950's are known for. These include:

  • Alfred Hitchcock
  • James Dean
  • Literary adaptions
  • Musicals
  • Science fiction

Alfred Hitchcock

A British filmmaker, Alfred Hitchcock is often credited as being one of the best producers in cinematic history. His films pushed the envelope and balanced thriller with mind games. The 1950's are often considered the strongest point of his career with many of his strongest films being released in the decade. Those interested in 50's classics or Hitchcock need to view popular films like Strangers on a Train, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Wrong Man, Vertigo, and North By Northwest. Though the film was made in 1960, Psycho is also often clustered with Hitchcock's 50's classics.

James Dean

A cultural icon, James Dean died in September of 1955. However, the three movies that defined his career in the 1950's are considered some of the best films of the era. East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant saw Dean earning Oscar nominations after his death. Dean himself is thought by many to be the quintessential 1950's actor due to his stunning acting performances and untimely death.

Literary Adaptations

Though adapting a successful book or play may seem commonplace now, the 1950's was the first era to adapt writing works into film. Famous movies such as A Streetcar Named Desire (based off the Tennessee Williams play), From Here to Eternity (based off the James Jones novel) and A Christmas Carol (based off of the Dickens classic) were all produced in the 1950's and help to define the era.


Many classic musicals were produced in the 1950's. The combination of music with dance was brought to fruition in films such as An American in Paris (based off of the Gershwin classic), Singing In the Rain, Guys and Dolls and Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. While the plots of 50's musicals may not have the seriousness that later musicals like The Fiddler on the Roof possessed, the films helped define the 50's film industry as enjoyable.

Science Fiction

The 1950's brought numerous movie classics in the genre of science fiction. While special effects weren't yet to the degree they are now, sci-fi of the time relied on early special effects. Popular films such as The Day the Earth Stood Still, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, Killers from Space, Forbidden Planet, The Thing from Another World, The Blob, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Angry Red Planet were early films that are still classics today for sci-fi fans.

50's Classic Films

Looking for a list of 1950's films that you should check out? Here are few of the most famous flicks to add to your Netflix cue: ''

  • Rear Window
  • The Spirit of St Louis
  • Some Like It Hot
  • Singing In The Rain
  • Mister Roberts
  • Touch of Evil
  • The Seventh Seal
  • All About Eve
  • The Wild One
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  • The Caine Mutiny
  • Up Periscope
  • On the Waterfront
  • Some Like It Hot
  • African Queen
  • Blackboard Jungle
  • The Searchers
  • The Quiet Man
  • The Thing
  • High Society
  • Ben Hur
  • High Noon
  • Shane
  • Roman Holiday
  • Born Yesterday
  • 12 Angry Men
  • The Joker Is Wild
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • Night of The Hunter''

Final Thoughts

You may notice that many 1950's films are considered classic in the grand scheme of cinema. Not only did the decade start the transition from black and white to color but it also brought some of the best known films of all time. When looking at 50's films, it is most important to remember that they are a crystallized view of the era itself.

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50s Classic Movies