The 1950’s were in the heart of Hollywood’s golden age. Dozens of classic films were made during this time, both in Hollywood and around the world. Action films were no exception. The following are some of the best action movies of the 1950’s.
The 1950’s saw the release of many great Westerns. High Noon might be the best. The film is about a Marshall that must face a recently released man he had jailed. However, as he looks for help from the people of the town he’d served for years, he can find none. While the film features less gun play than a typical Western, when the action comes, it comes quickly and powerfully.
Another Western, this one staring John Wayne, is also considered one of the best films ever made. A Comanche raid captures his niece and leads to a long search to recover her. The film was shot on location in Monument Valley on the boarder of Arizona and Utah and features beautiful cinematography of the area. The suspense created during the search for the girl can be over powering.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Films
It’s hard to pick just one of Hitchcock’s films from the era. He was the master of suspense, but movies like Rear Window, North by Northwest and Vertigo have their fair share of action too. The 1950’s saw some of Hitchcock’s great works. In fact, Sight and Sound recently announced that Vertigo has replaced Citizen Kane on its list as the greatest film of all time.
Ben Hur stars Charlton Heston and is set in ancient Rome. It follows Judah Ben Hur, a Jewish prince living in Jerusalem. He is enslaved by political opponents, and he vows to return to take revenge for what was done to him. The film won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. That total was a record that was not matched until Titanic.
Touch of Evil
This film also stars Charlton Heston, as well as Janet Leigh and Orson Welles. Welles also directed. It is a story of police corruption in a Mexico border town that leads murder. The film was one of the final film noirs to be released during their golden era. At the time it was released, the film was considered a B movie, and now is widely called the greatest B movie ever made.
The Bridge on the River Kwai
This World War II film tells the story of British prisoners taken by Japan. The men are forced into building a bridge for the Japanese cause. Their leader becomes obsessive about the building bridge and is unaware of an Allied plot to destroy it. This film won seven Oscars, including wins for Best Actor for Alec Guinness and Best Director for David Lean.
Any list of the best action movies of the 1950’s would be incomplete without Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece, Seven Samurai. The film was remade in America as a Western, The Magnificent Seven. It was the first film to use a now common technique of showing the recruitment of several characters to achieve a common goal, used in films like Ocean’s Eleven and The Dirty Dozen. The film also features an innovative use of slow motion. It tells the story of a town facing the threat of bandits stealing their crops and seeking the aide of unemployed samurai warriors for protection.