whats the best movie you've seen set in the 50's?
Two immediately leap to mind--On the Waterfront
(1954) and The Harder They Fall
(1956) both based on books by Budd Schulberg. The latter, an expose of the corruption in the fight business, was Bogart's last film but he proved that, even when sick, he was capable of stealing scenes from co-star Rod Steiger. Other members of that great cast, Nehemiah Persoff, Jack Albertson, Jan Sterling, along with "real-life" boxers Jersey Joe Wallcott and Max Baer (many of the younger participants in this forum probably are more familar with Baer's son, Max Jr., who played Jethro in the Beverly Hillbillys
TV sitcom). Although set in the 1950s, the large boxer from Argentina is based on another real boxer, Luis Firpo, who in 1921 lost the most controversal match ever to Jack Dempsy. I earlier cited this film in another discussion in this forum about films with the best beginnings and endings. The film opens with a voice-over by Bogart saying something to the effect of "Professional boxing should be should be outlawed if it takes an act of Congress to do it." It ends with Bogart, a disgruntled sports writer turned PR flak for shady boxing promoter Steiger, sitting down at his typewriter to write an expose of the business. Just before the screen fades to black, we see him typing, "Professional boxing should be outlawed if it takes an act of congress to do it."
The earlier On the Waterfront
is easily the best book and best movie of the two, about the corruption of the longshoremen's unions that control the flow of goods through all US ports. Directed by Kazan, this is one of the greatest movies ever filmed, and it is stuffed with stars--Brando, Steiger, Lee J. Cobb, Karl Malden, Eva Marie Saint, Martin Balsom, Fred Gwynne, Leif Erickson, and in uncredited roles Pat Hingle, Tiger Joe Marsh, and Persoff in what may have been his first movie role as the driver of the taxi in which Steiger and Brando play the famous "I cudda been a contender" scene. An interesting fact about Tiger Joe; in real life, he was required to join the Actor's Guild way before he ever appeared in movies. Why? His earlier career was as a professional wrestler!
Couple of other good films set back in the 1950s--The Men
and The Wild One
, both starring Brando; and Rebel Without a Cause
, James Dean's last film.