1. Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu): The film about family, life, and death. Changed my life in so many ways, Can’t say more
2. Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock): Hitchcock’s greatest film, or at least the one I’ve seen the most of. I can’t really get tired of watching it, it’s endlessly entertaining and really a great commentary on cinema
3. Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks): My vote for best western ever made. John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Walter Brennan face some bad guys with a laid back attitude, and Angie Dickenson is the only woman ever to make John Wayne flustered.
4. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock): Hitchcock’s masterpiece of fear, obsession, death, and dreams. As hypnotic as the title suggests, basically his pinnacle of greatness.
5. Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa) My choice of greatest epic ever made, clocking in at over 3 hours yet it doesn’t feel its length while watching it. Kurosawa creates a masterful, deeply felt action epic that hasn’t aged a day.
6. Sunset BLVD. (Billy Wilder) Wilder’s greatest film a noirish look at a tarnished Hollywood, with a fading star, her screenwriter gigalo, and loyal butler. Bizarre in all respects, darkly funny and richly absorbing.
7. The Life of Oharu (Kenji Mizoguchi) Perhaps the saddest film I’ve ever seen in my life, but a deeply affecting tale of a woman who loses everything and driven to prostitution.
8. Tokyo Twilight (Yasujiro Ozu) Ozu’s underrated film of a family torn apart by the absence of a mother. It reflects on two sisters and how they cope and the father who is trying to hold everything together. A personal favorite of mine and one that deserves to be mentioned with the director’s greatest films
9. The Man From Laramie (Anthony Mann) The best in my opinion in the series of westerns directed by Anthony Mann and starring Jimmy Stewart. The finest of western noirs that became a bit of a sub genre in the 50s, this was dark violent and twisted as anything made today or before.
10. In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray) Ray’s film is a noirish love story with Humphrey Bogart giving his best performance, as a violent screenwriter who gets caught up in a murder case, and falling in love with Gloria Graham at the same time.
Honorable Mentions: “The Searchers” has never lost its appeal I may have just seen it too many times. “Singin in the Rain” has never lost its magic, nor has “The Bandwagon”. Orson Welles’ “Touch of Evil” is a nice finale of film noir of this era. French New Wave begain with “The 400 Blows”. “The Tall T” with Randolph Scott. Hawks’ “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” gave us a great musical comedy about women. Mizoguchi had “Ugetsu” and “Sansho the Baliff”, Bresson had “A Man Escaped” and “The Pickpocket”. Hitchcock’s “North By Northwest”. Fritz Lang’s “The Big Heat”, the original “War of the Worlds”, as well as “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “Forbidden Planet”. “East of Eden”, “Rebel Without a Cause”. “Man of the West”, “Rashomon”, “Throne of Blood”, “Good Morning”, “Floating Weeds”, “Umberto D”, “The Seventh Seal”, “Ace in the Hole”, “Roman Holiday”, “On the Waterfront”, “Anatomy of a Murder”, “A Streetcar Named Desire”, “Harvey”, “Winchester 73”, “Hiroshima Mon Amour”
Did I miss any? I probably did. Let me know what your favorite films of the 50s are.