Mike’s Top Tens of the Decade (1950-1959)

This has become, by far, my favorite part of this blog. These articles have introduced me to so many movies. Ones I needed to see but hadn’t, ones I’d wanted to see but never did, ones I had no idea about. They’re the perfect excuse to go out and see more things. Plus I get to uncover some real gems. I’m so excited to do these top tens lists that I’ve began starting them earlier and earlier each time. The last one, I finished with a month to spare. This one I started before that one even went up. That’s how much I love these lists.

I’ve done the 2000s, 1990s, 1980s, 1970s and 1960s already. The way I do them is — I list my favorite ten movies for each year, then put an 11-15 (or 11-20. This decade, we have all 11-20s, because it’s incredible) at the bottom, to both recommend more great films as well as make it easier on myself when I revisit these lists in the future to update them to account for the passage of time and my maturation of taste.

The other thing I do with each decade is, outside of the top 15-20, I include a “fun” list at the bottom. For the 2000s, it was the “Terrible Ten,” of films from each year that I hated. For the 90s, it was the “Films of My Childhood.” For the 80s, it was the “Awesomely 80s Movies.” For the 70s, it was the “70s Recommendations.” For the 60s, it was the “Out with the old, in with the new.” This time, I’m doing what I’m calling “Gems of the Studio System.” There were a lot of great films from the 50s, and I wanted to find a good way to describe all the extra films I included. And I noticed, while figuring out logistics for these lists, that almost all of them were films from major directors, and that a lot of them (the films) are relatively unknown (for the most part). So the idea behind the lists was to show some hidden gems that, because of the studio system and most directors making three, four pictures a year, got lost over time. (Not all of them are by famous directors, but 90% of them are.) I’ll also tell you which director did which one. I bet on more than a few you’ll go, “Really?”

Now that’s all explained, let’s get into the lists:

My Top Ten of 1959

The 400 Blows

Anatomy of a Murder


The Diary of Anne Frank

Imitation of Life

North by Northwest

Rio Bravo

Sleeping Beauty

Some Like It Hot

The Tingler

11-20: Ballad of a Soldier, The FBI Story, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Last Angry Man, The Nun’s Story, Ohayo, Operation Petticoat, Our Man in Havana, Pickpocket, Pork Chop Hill

Gems of the Studio System: Ask Any Girl (Charles Walters), Career (Joseph Anthony), Compulsion (Richard Fleischer), Day of the Outlaw (Andre De Toth), Hiroshima Mon Amour (Alain Resnais), House on Haunted Hill (William Castle), The Mouse That Roared (Jack Arnold), On the Beach (Stanley Kramer), Pillow Talk (Michael Gordon), Warlock (Edward Dmytryk)

+ Honorable (or should it be Dishonorable, to keep in the spirit of it?) Mention to: Plan 9 from Outer Space (Ed Wood)

My Top Ten of 1958

Ashes and Diamonds

Auntie Mame

The Blob

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

The Defiant Ones


Separate Tables

Touch of Evil


The Vikings

11-20: The Big Country, The Bravados, Elevator to the Gallows, Houseboat, I Want to Live!, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, Mon Oncle, A Night to Remember, Run Silent Run Deep, Some Came Running

Gems of the Studio System: Bell Book and Candle (Richard Quine), Damn Yankees(Stanley Donen (& George Abbott)), The Fly (Kurt Neumann), High School Confidential (Jack Arnold) (this film is amazing. It really taught me the dangers of those “marijuana cigarettes.”), The Last Hurrah (John Ford), Murder by Contract (Irving Lerner), The Old Man and the Sea (John Sturges), Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys! (Leo McCarey), The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (Nathan Juran. But really, it’s a Ray Harryhausen film), Teacher’s Pet (George Seaton)

My Top Ten of 1957

12 Angry Men

The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Cranes Are Flying

A Face in the Crowd

Paths of Glory

Peyton Place

The Seventh Seal

The Spirit of St. Louis

Sweet Smell of Success

Witness for the Prosecution

11-20: An Affair to Remember, Funny Face, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Jet Pilot, Love in the Afternoon, Man of a Thousand Faces, Nights of Cabiria, Silk Stockings, The Three Faces of Eve, The Tin Star

Gems of the Studio System: Desk Set (Walter Lang), Fear Strikes Out (Robert Mulligan), A Hatful of Rain (Fred Zinnemann), Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (John Huston), Les Girls (George Cukor), Nightfall (Jacques Tourneur), Sayonara (Joshua Logan), 3:10 to Yuma (Delmer Daves), Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa), The Wings of Eagles (John Ford)

My Top Ten of 1956

Baby Doll

The Bad Seed


The Girl Can’t Help It

A Man Escaped

The Rainmaker

The Searchers

The Ten Commandments

Written on the Wind

The Wrong Man

+ Honorable Mention to: The Red Balloon

11-20: Around the World in 80 Days, The Catered Affair, Friendly Persuasion, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Killing, The King and I, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Man Who Never Was, Somebody Up There Likes Me, War and Peace

Gems of the Studio System: Anastasia (Anatole Litvak), Attack (Robert Aldrich), Bigger Than Life (Nicholas Ray), The Bold and the Brave (Lewis R. Foster), High Society (Charles Walters), Lust for Life (Vincente Minnelli), Moby Dick (John Huston), The Mountain (Edward Dmytryk), There’s Always Tomorrow (Douglas Sirk), Trapeze (Carol Reed)

My Top Ten of 1955

All That Heaven Allows

East of Eden

Lady and the Tramp

The Man with the Golden Arm


Mister Roberts

The Night of the Hunter

Rebel Without a Cause


To Catch a Thief

11-20: Bad Day at Black Rock, Blackboard Jungle, The Desperate Hours, Les Diaboliques, Guys and Dolls, Kiss Me Deadly, The Ladykillers, Land of the Pharaohs, Trial, We’re No Angels

Gems of the Studio System: Daddy Long Legs (Jean Negulesco), The Glass Slipper (Charles Walters), I’ll Cry Tomorrow (Daniel Mann), Killer’s Kiss (Stanley Kubrick), Mr. Arkadin (Orson Welles), Not as a Stranger (Stanley Kramer), The Phenix City Story (Phil Karlson), Picnic (Joshua Logan), The Seven-Year Itch (Billy Wilder), The Trouble With Harry (Alfred Hitchcock)

My Top Ten of 1954

The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe

The Caine Mutiny

The Country Girl

Magnificent Obsession

On the Waterfront

Rear Window


Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Seven Samurai

A Star is Born

11-20: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Brigadoon, Dial M for Murder, Executive Suite, The Glenn Miller Story, Johnny Guitar, Phffft!, La Strada, Susan Slept Here, Vera Cruz

Gems of the Studio System: The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph L. Mankiewicz), The Bridges at Toko-Ri (Mark Robson), Carmen Jones (Otto Preminger), The Far Country (Anthony Mann), The High and the Mighty (William Wellman), Hobson’s Choice (David Lean), River of No Return (Otto Preminger), Them! (Gordon Douglas), Track of the Cat (William Wellman), White Christmas (Michael Curtiz)

My Top Ten of 1953

The Band Wagon

From Here to Eternity

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes


The Moon is Blue

Roman Holiday


Stalag 17

Trouble Along the Way

The Wages of Fear

11-20: The Earrings of Madame de…, Houdini, Island in the Sky, Julius Caesar, Little Fugitive, The Naked Spur, Pickup on South Street, The Robe, Titanic, Tokyo Story

+ Honorable Mention to: Peter Pan

Gems of the Studio System: Beat the Devil (John Huston), Dream Wife (Sidney Sheldon), Forever Female (Irving Rapper), House of Wax (André de Toth), How to Marry a Millionaire (Jean Negulesco), Jeopardy (John Surges), Mogambo (John Ford), Ugetsu (Kenji Mizoguchi), The War of the Worlds (Byron Haskin), The Wild One (Laslo Benedek)

My Top Ten of 1952

The Bad and the Beautiful

5 Fingers

The Greatest Show on Earth

High Noon

The Member of the Wedding

Monkey Business

Moulin Rouge

The Narrow Margin

The Quiet Man

Singin’ in the Rain

11-20: Carrie, Come Back Little Sheba, Deadline U.S.A., Forbidden Games, Has Anybody Seen My Gal, Ikiru, Ivanhoe, Limelight, O. Henry’s Full House, Springfield Rifle

Gems of the Studio System: Bend of the River (Anthony Mann), The Importance of Being Earnest (Anthony Asquith), The Sound Barrier (David Lean), The Sniper (Edward Dmytryk), Sudden Fear (David Miller), The Turning Point (William Dieterle), Viva Zapata! (Elia Kazan), We’re Not Married! (Edmond Goulding), Umberto D. (Vittorio De Sica), With a Song in My Heart (Walter Lang)

My Top Ten of 1951

Ace in the Hole

The African Queen

Alice in Wonderland

An American in Paris

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Detective Story

The Steel Helmet

Strangers on a Train

A Streetcar Named Desire

The Thing from Another World

11-20: Angels in the Outfield, The Blue Veil, Bright Victory, A Christmas Carol, Come Fill the Cup, Decision Before Dawn, The Lavender Hill Mob, A Place in the Sun, Quo Vadis, The Tales of Hoffmann

Gems of the Studio System: The Browning Version (Anthony Asquith), The Enforcer (Raoul Walsh (& Bretaigne Windust)), Flying Leathernecks (Nicholas Ray), Fourteen Hours (Henry Hathaway), The Magic Box (John Boulting), The Man in the White Suit (Alexander Mackendrick), The Mating Season (Mitchell Leisen), On Moonlight Bay (Roy Del Ruth), Operation Pacific (George Waggner), People Will Talk (Joseph L. Mankiewicz)

My Top Ten of 1950

All About Eve

The Baron of Arizona


Father of the Bride

The Gunfighter


Night and the City


Rio Grande

Sunset Boulevard

11-20: The Asphalt Jungle, Born Yesterday, The Breaking Point, Broken Arrow, Caged, D.O.A., In a Lonely Place, Mister 880, Panic in the Streets, Winchester ’73

Gems of the Studio System: Dark City (William Dieterle), Devil’s Doorway (Anthony Mann), Dial 1119 (Gerald Mayer), The Furies (Anthony Mann), Gun Crazy (Joseph H. Lewis), Madeleine (David Lean), The Men (Fred Zinnemann), No Way Out (Joseph L. Mankiewicz), Stage Fright (Alfred Hitchcock), Summer Stock (Charles Walters)


2 responses

  1. BlueFox94

    Perfection as always ^_^

    June 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm

  2. I’m so happy to see that A Night to Remember made it into your Top 20 for 1958. I think I like that movie almost as much as I like the 1997 Titanic film.

    December 22, 2014 at 12:17 pm

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