The B+ Movie Guide: The New List (Part XVI)

I gave Colin a giant list of 500 movies, and he finished it. Of course I’m gonna come up with another list.

This one is for everyone, though. Not specifically for Colin. This is raw material for everybody, should they choose, to go out and see more movies. Not all of them are essential. Most of them are just awesome. I told Colin that once he finished this list, I’d give him another one that was more fun than work. Geared toward cool stuff that he’d enjoy.

I went through and found 1,000 more movies that I think either need to be seen (leftover “essential” films) or are just really great and would be enjoyed by most who see them. Here they are:

1950-1954

Father of the Bride (1950)

Vincente Minnelli, Spencer Tracy, Elizabeth Taylor. She’s his daughter and gets engaged, and he has to deal with the fact that his daughter is now grown up and the insanity of planning a wedding. It’s good. It’s one of those enjoyable movies. This was actually a Best Picture nominee, too.

Gun Crazy (1950)

Noir. Very famous because it glorifies violence the way people would accuse later action movies like Bonnie and Clyde of doing. A guy and his wife go across country on a crime spree. It’s really good.

The Gunfighter (1950)

LOVE this movie. This one also takes place in real time, like High Noon. Gregory Peck is a weary gunfighter who comes to a small town. All the young guns want to challenge him, but he warns them not to, because they don’t understand all the pressures that come with such a title. He lives every minute, waiting for the gun that’s gonna kill him, and never gets to enjoy anything. We also, over the course of his stay at the town, see his real reasons for being there. It’s an incredible western, and if you haven’t seen it and like westerns, you need to.

House by the River (1950)

Fritz Lang noir. A guy lives by the river and one day makes a drunken pass at her. She freaks out and he accidentally kills her. So he weights the body down and dumps her in the river. Which only begets more problems and such, since the body is found, etc. It’s one of those movies that starts with an accident, and then things just get worse and worse and spiral out of control. Terrific.

The Men (1950)

Marlon Brando is a soldier who gets paralyzed in battle. And the rest of the movie is him dealing with… it’s kind of like Born on the Fourth of July. Let’s just make it easier. Mostly it’s about him learning to live in his new state rather than becoming a protestor. But it’s really good. Brando’s first movie. Fred Zinnemann directs. And we have Teresa Wright thrown in for good measure.

Mister 880 (1950)

This is a fun little movie. It’s about the search for a counterfeiter. A la Catch Me If You Can. Burt Lancaster looks for a guy who has counterfeited a lot of money over the years. But it’s only been $1 bills, so no one’s caught on. So half the movie is a procedural about him looking for who this person is, and the other half is following the actual guy — who is quiet, unassuming Edmund Gwenn. It surprised me how good this was.

No Way Out (1950)

Noir. Sidney Poitier and Richard Widmark. Poitier is the first black doctor in his hospital, and Widmark is a (racist) criminal brought in with his brother after being shot during a robbery. Widmark’s brother dies while Poitier is trying to stabilize him, and Widmark vows revenge. Things get tense. Race riot stuff. Really strong movie. Joseph L. Mankiewicz directs.

One Way Street (1950)

Noir. James Mason is a crime doctor who is brought in to operate on Dan Duryea after a big job. Only he has other plans — to run off with Duryea’s girl. Duryea can’t follow because there’s a lot of heat on him, so Mason and the girl manage to get all the way to Mexico. And the entire middle of the film is them in Mexico. It’s a weirdly disjointed kind of movie, but I like that. We just randomly sojourn in Mexico for a while, and things completely shift gears. But of course Mason has to go back to confront Duryea in the end. I really liked this. And anything with Dan Duryea, really, is worth it.

Panic in the Streets (1950)

GREAT movie. Elia Kazan. Do you like movies with infectious diseases? Outbreak, Contagion? Well, this is like that, only more of the procedural aspect. One guy gets killed in an alleyway after cheating at cards. At the morgue, they discover he has a case of the plague. So now they have to find out who killed him, because that person has it. That person is Jack Palance. And the guy out looking for him is Richard Widmark. This movie is incredible, and is essential. Trust me when I say it’s great.

Where Danger Lives (1950)

Noir. Robert Mitchum is a doctor who operates on a woman who attempted suicide. He starts to take an interest in her and falls for her. It gets him into a lot of trouble he wouldn’t have been in otherwise. Maureen O’Sullivan and Claude Rains are in it too. Good stuff.

Winchester ’73 (1950)

Western. Anthony Mann. Jimmy Stewart, Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea, and a really young Tony Curtis and Rock Hudson. Jimmy Stewart wins a great gun in a shooting contest, but has it stolen from him. And we follow as the gun keeps getting stolen from each person, and the bad luck that befalls each person who has it. It’s really great. And look at that cast! One of my favorite Anthony Mann westerns.

Angels in the Outfield (1951)

We’ve all seen the 90s version with Joseph Gordon Levitt. This is the first version. And it’s actually really good, albeit different. It’s more about the coach of the team (the Danny Glover part), of the foul-mouthed manager who has to clean up his act as these miracles happen that help his team. Paul Douglas is the manager, Janet Leigh is in this, Keenan Wynn. It’s a great 50s version of a story we all know.

Bright Victory (1951)

Arthur Kennedy got nominated for an Oscar for this. He’s a soldier who gets blinded by a sniper during the war. So we see him adjusting to his new life as a blind man. A big part of the movie is befriending a black man and not realizing he’s black until after they’re already friends. It’s really good.

Come Fill the Cup (1951)

James Cagney is an alcoholic newspaperman. This causes him to lose his job and his girl. He gets taken in by a recovering alcoholic (James Gleason) and gets help. He then finds out that his girl has married Gig Young (noted alcoholic). And he starts helping him stay sober. It’s actually a really good movie. I like when movies of this era openly deal with issues without censoring them. Oh, and there’s some subplots about gangsters here, but mostly it’s about the alcoholism.

Decision Before Dawn (1951)

Best Picture nominee. War drama. The Germans are losing the war. Everyone knows how this is going. So an American officer recruits German POWs to go back to Germany as spies. It’s a really compelling movie that has a couple of tense moments. It’s strong. It also portrays heroic Germans, which is something you don’t see a lot in war movies.

Detective Story (1951)

LOVE this movie. It takes place entirely in a police station over the course of one day. The only thing missing from this is the Grand Hotel monologue, “People come, people go, nothing ever happens.” It’s framed by a woman who shoplifted and is sitting in the precinct all day as all of this happens. There are a bunch of different stories interweaving throughout the day, some big some small. Kirk Douglas is your main character. It’s about him being obsessed with capturing a gangster, and how the gangster has some news about his wife (who it’s revealed had an abortion). It’s a great movie. I love that it takes place over a day and I love how William Wyler directed this. It gets melodramatic for a minute in the middle, but mostly it’s a crime movie and a noir. Also nominated for a few Oscars (but not Best Picture, sadly).

The Enforcer (1951)

Bogie! It’s a procedural, and takes place in sections. It’s about Bogie as a crusading DA determined to put a gangster behind bars. And he’s warned not to do it, because it’ll bring about trouble for him and his friends and family, but he goes for it anyway. A great Bogie movie. Very underrated.

Flying Leathernecks (1951)

Nicholas Ray directs. John Wayne and Robert Ryan star. John Wayne plays a similar character to Sands of Iwo Jima and has the same name (Kirby) as his cavalry leader in the Ford trilogy. It’s all over the place. It’s about Ford trying to get his pilots up to shape while also feeling sick that he’s sending them to their deaths. Good stuff.

Fourteen Hours (1951)

One of my favorite noirs. Henry Hathaway directs. You know the movie Man on a Ledge? This is that movie. But good. A guy stands out on the ledge of a hotel and threatens to jump. A bunch of police and psychiatrists show up, and they all try to talk him down. And they look into who he is and try to figure out how they can get him down and why he’s up there. It’s great. The entire movie is us getting more information about this guy, leading to the moment of whether or not he’s going to jump. Highly recommended, this one.

The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)

Another one of those really essential British comedies. Alec Guinness got nominated for Best Actor for this. He’s a bank clerk who is totally unmemorable to everyone. He’s been in charge of gold deliveries for years. And in all that time, he’s secretly hatched the perfect plan to steal a bunch of it and retire. So we watch as he puts this plan into action. This is all told in flashback, as he recounts his story in a restaurant. Terrific film.

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