By Amy Chesler
The fifties marked a time of great change in America. With World War II ending and the Cold War unfolding, America fostered a rather politically conservative and capitalistic environment. Thus, the films of the fifties tend to reflect this with their relatively flamboyant production value and indulgent themes. However, there were some truly thoughtful gems that came from the 1950s, films that were far beyond their years. Here are four of my favorites!
The Ladykillers is anything but conventional, and its all-star studded cast (which includes Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, & Herbert Lom) cons us wickedly. Guinness plays a bank robber who takes up residence in the home of an old busybody to easily access the neighboring, underground vault of a bank. He and his band of misfits pose as musicians, but when their landlord catches on, they plot to kill her. Of course, in true dark comedy fashion, everything goes awry. This version was so intriguing, The Coen Brothers decided to remake it in 2004! I highly recommend both versions.
There are fewer rawer commentaries on the film industry than Sunset Boulevard. When Joe Gillis, a failing screenwriter, gets a flat tire beside an extravagant Sunset Boulevard home, he soon realizes it belongs to Norma Desmond. Desmond is a former starlet-turned-has been who, in no time at all, has commandeered Joe’s time and writing skills. The movie will make your skin crawl, but Gloria Swanson’s portrayal of Desmond will also make you deeply think. What a combo!
Although Cinderella was by no means the first cartoon film, it was a turning point for Disney Studios. After several failed attempts at theater success post-Snow White, Walt was in major debt. But when Cinderella was released, it reaped enough sales to pull Disney Studios out from the red. It eventually went on to be nominated for three Academy Awards, a true rags-to-riches fairytale! Imagine how different all of our lives would have been if we hadn’t been gifted this beautiful twist on a much darker classic.
1957 brought us the film gem 12 Angry Men. Unique for many reasons, the film has been hailed as one of the very best courtroom dramas of all time. Its gritty storyline covers twelve jurors stuck within the confines of a jury room, discussing the fate of a young boy they are sentencing. It is star-studded and beautifully crafted, but more importantly, its timeless themes are still painfully pertinent today.
Amy Chesler is an author, content creator, blogger, and family woman from Los Angeles, California. Her most recent publications include four different contributions in six different Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, as well as her first solo children’s book, A Man and His Books. Follow her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ABCauthor1), Twitter (@abcauthor), or Instagram (@abc_author) for updates, giveaways, and much more!