10 Great Films of the 1950s You Might Not Have Seen

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At Water's Edge of Lake Wales, we love movies, which is why we have a community movie theater featuring the latest releases and your favorite classics.

With this in mind, we wanted to take some time to look at a number of lesser-known films from different eras, and for our first post in this series we’ll be looking at films of the 1950s. 

  • Strangers on a Train
    Famed director Alfred Hitchcock made some of his best features during the 1950s, including Rear Window, Vertigo, and North by Northwest. While Strangers on a Train never quite reached the same levels of exposure as those titles, it’s every bit as good.

    The plot finds two strangers meeting by chance with one of them suggesting they “exchange” murders to get rid of people causing them trouble, giving each stranger an alibi. The results play out in typical Hitchcockian fashion, ending with a thrilling carousel sequence.
  • Rashomon
    Japanese director Akira Kurosawa produced a lot of memorable films, but Rashomon stands out as one of his best. Following an incident in the woods, four people recount their versions of events, with conflicting narrative details given as each version is shown in flashback. Though this multi-pov approach has been used many times since, Kurosawa was one of the first to utilize it.
  • Ace in the Hole
    Though it didn’t find its audience during its original 1951 release, Ace in the Hole has gone on to be considered a classic of its era. Starring Kirk Douglas and directed by Billy Wilder, the film focuses on a down-on-his-luck newspaperman who realizes the story of a man trapped in a cave can be his way back to the big leagues. To get the most out of his opportunity, Douglas’ reporter starts orchestrating events to prolong the man’s predicament.
  • The Night of the Hunter
    Another film overlooked upon its original release, The Night of the Hunter has significantly grown in status since, and is now regarded as a classic. In a fairy tale-like story, two children try to avoid a manipulative preacher, played by Robert Mitchum, who is after money their father stole. Featuring strong performances and gorgeous cinematography, this is without a doubt one of the greatest films of the 1950s.
  • A Christmas Carol/Scrooge
    In what many people believe to be the best and most faithful adaptation of the famed Dickens work, 1951’s A Christmas Carol is a tightly-paced, well-shot and superbly-acted version of the tale.

    Alastair Sim’s transformation from the bitter, curmudgeonly Scrooge to the bouncing, joyous one is reason alone to seek this out during the holidays.
  • The Killing
    Stanley Kubrick is best known for films like Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, but some of his lesser-known work is impressive as well. The Killing focuses on a group of thieves looking to make a “killing” from a $2 million job, and how their perfect plan spirals out of control. The always imposing Sterling Hayden stars.
  • The Naked Spur
    Director Anthony Mann and actor Jimmy Stewart made five westerns together, though perhaps their best film is this one, which has considerably grown in favor since its original release. Stewart plays a bounty hunter attempting to bring an outlaw to justice and claim the reward, but conflicts arise as Stewart takes on partners and the outlaw begins to sow doubt among the posse. 
  • Ikiru
    In this film by Akira Kurosawa, an ailing bureaucrat looks to make a mark on the world and be a force for good, cutting through the usual constraints of his job. Kurosawa’s frequent collaborator Takashi Shimura delivers a touching and heartfelt starring performance.
  • A Face in the Crowd
    Fans of Andy Griffith may be surprised at the type of character he plays in A Face in the Crowd, a near polar opposite to his loveable Sheriff Taylor. Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes is a drifter and folk singer who rapidly gains national prominence, only to see his empire fall before him due to his own character flaws. Elia Kazan, famed director of A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront, directs this biting satire. 
  • Paths of Glory
    Another of Stanley Kubrick’s worthwhile lesser-known works is this stirring World War I drama. After an unsuccessful military operation leads to three French soldiers being tried for cowardice, the soldiers’ commanding colonel, played by Kirk Douglas, steps in to defend them before a tribunal. With fine performances, powerful battle scenes and razor-sharp dialogue, Paths of Glory earns its status as one of the best war films ever made.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this breakdown of some of the finest films of the 1950s and hope you can track some of them down soon. Be sure to follow our blog for more entries in this series, along with great insights about Water’s Edge of Lake Wales and Florida senior living.

And if you’d like to know more about our on-site movie theater, along with all of our other amenities and services, feel free to contact us!