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Best movie set in the 50's

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LUUUKE's Avatar
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whats the best movie you've seen set in the 50's?



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It was the first thing that came to mind.
A 1980s DeLorean venturing to 1955 still counts for a movie set in the '50s, right?
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LA Confidential . Top neo noir.



So many good movies, so little time.
I'll go with

North by Northwest
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Originally Posted by LUUUKE View Post
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.



Yeah, On the Waterfront doesn't suck.


There are lots and lots of '50s film set in the then-present day that I love, including In A Lonely Place (1950), Sunset Blvd. (1950), Harvey (1950), 12 Angry Men (1957), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), The Rose Tattoo (1955), Bigger Than Life (1956), Executive Suite (1954), A Face in the Crowd (1957), The Wrong Man (1956), Anatomy of a Murder (1959), Pickup on South Street (1953), Panic in the Streets (1950), Ace in the Hole (1951), The Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Night and the City (1950), Touch of Evil (1958), The Killing (1956), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), No Way Out (1950), Strangers on a Train (1951), Rear Window (1954) and on and on and on.




I suspect maybe Luuuke was going for movies not made in the decade but set there, Back to the Future (1985) being the most obvious among megahits of the past thirty years. Yes?


Among those, Barry Levinson's Diner (1982) is probably my favorite, set in 1959 Baltimore around a group of friends reuniting for one of their weddings (assuming his prospective wife can pass his football quiz, that is). Starring a great cast of mostly then-unknowns including Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Steve Guttenberg, Paul Reiser, Daniel Stern, Tim Daily and Ellen Barkin, the feel and ear for how guys bullsh!t with each other is both spot-on for the '50s time period and absolutely timeless in its universality. Studio executives told Levinson, who wrote the screenplay and characters based on experiences he and his friends had back in the day, that there was too much of guys just sitting around talking to each other at the diner, using the now classic "What is that, roast beef?" and the Mathis vs. Sinatra make-out debate as examples of scenes that did nothing to forward the plot and should be cut. Levinson replied, "That stuff is the movie!" This was his first film as director and he kind of got lucky that influential New Yorker critic Pauline Kael saw it at an early screening and raved about it in her column and to whoever else would listen, basically forcing the Studio's hand to release it as is. It wasn't any kind of box office hit, though Barry did get a well-earned Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, and most importantly it lived on as its director intended. If you've never seen it for some reason or haven't seen it in a very long time, get thee to a rentery!
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Last edited by Holden Pike; 10-09-07 at 04:45 PM.



Originally Posted by Holden Pike View Post
Yeah, On the Waterfront doesn't suck.

There are lots and lots of '50s film set in the then-present day that I love, including In A Lonely Place (1950), Sunset Blvd. (1950), Harvey (1950), 12 Angry Men (1957), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), The Rose Tattoo (1955), Bigger Than Life (1956), Executive Suite (1954), A Face in the Crowd (1957), The Wrong Man (1956), Anatomy of a Murder (1959), Pickup on South Street (1953), Panic in the Streets (1950), Ace in the Hole (1951), The Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Night and the City (1950), Touch of Evil (1958), The Killing (1956), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), No Way Out (1950), Strangers on a Train (1951), Rear Window (1954) and on and on and on.


I suspect maybe Luuuke was going for movies not made in the decade but set there, Back to the Future (1985) being the most obvious among megahits of the past thirty years. Yes?
Man, Pike, you and I could spend an interesting rainy Saturday sitting around comparing favorite film: Bogart's In a Lonely Place, Sterling Heyward dead-panning through The Killing and Asphalt Jungle (with that great bit of business with James Whitmore and the loud radio when the cops come in his joint); Holden's great turns in Sunset Blvd. and Executive Suite (which I think is the best--maybe the only--pro-business movie ever made); great acting, a great story and great jazz in Anatomy of a Murder; A Face in the Crowd, which is absolutely the best thing Andy Griffth ever did, the best casting against type, just the best! Panic in the Streets, with such a diverse cast as Richard Widmark, Jack Palance, and Zero Mostel (Wasn't Jackie Gleason also in that film? I keep remembering him in one scene as a drugstore soda jerk, but can't find any references to him in that or a similar movie in that period)! Widmark once said Palance, a former fighter, really slugged him in the fight scene and almost put his lights out. And Kirk Douglas chewing holes in all the scenery in Ace in the Hole (aka The Big Circus). Another great film about newspapermen from that era was -30- with Jack Webb as the editor of a city newspaper that is putting out its last edition. Webb did some really good film in that era, including The DI and his supporting role in The Men. Another of my favorite films from that period--the best that Kirk Douglas ever did, for my money--The Detective Story. Its grimey set also reminds me of The Naked City.

However, I suspect you're right about them wanting later films set in the 1950s. For that I have just one answer: My Favorite Year with O'Toole at his best.

Last edited by rufnek; 10-09-07 at 05:42 PM.



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If we're talking about movies made in the last decade or so that are set in the 50s, L.A. Confidential and Pleasantville come to mind.



I am half agony, half hope.
Best movie set in the 50s is West Side Story.

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You looked good, awful good.
I'm going to try to come up with a more unique answer, but for now, Back to the Future and West Side Story seem really strong, at least for films not released in the '50s.

I mean, a more unique answer would be James Bridges' 9-30-55, and although I recommend it, it's nowhere near the two above.
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How about Ed Wood? An excellent '94 film which really encapsulates the Hollywood scene in the '50s. One of Depp's best perfomances, and Burton's best film by far.

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After Diner, I guess my second favorite film set in the '50s would be The Last Picture Show (1971). Adapted from Larry McMurtry's novel and lovingly brought to the screen by Peter Bogdanovich, it is set in a small, dusty Texas town in the early 1950s and chiefly follows Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) as he learns about life and love in those tough late teen years. His best friend Duane (Jeff Bridges) and the prettiest girl in school, Jacy (Cybil Shepherd), also learn some lessons, and through the older characters in the town such as Jacy's bitter mother Lois (Ellen Burstyn), Ruth Popper (Cloris Leachman) the lonely wife of the High School football coach and especially wise old Sam "the Lion" (Ben Johnson) we see that those life lessons are hard worn and that those decisions can effect the rest of your life. Great movie, amazingly polished and a dozen subtle and layered performances under the watch of a film critic and historian turned writer/director who's only previous credit was for Roger Corman. If for some reason you've never gotten around to The Last Picture Show, do see it immediately, if not sooner.

Some other favorites of mine not yet mentioned include Badlands (1973), The Front (1976), Stand by Me (1986), Big Night (1996), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Angel Heart (1987), Next Stop, Greenwich Village (1976), Grease (1978), Mischief (1985) and the original The Manchurian Candidate (1962).

Then there are biopics and movies based on historical events that are set primarily or importantly in the 1950s. Some of my favorites among those would be Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), Hoosiers (1986), In Cold Blood (1967) and The Right Stuff (1983).

And I've also just been concentrating on American-based stories. And apart from the sequences in Manchurian Candidate, I haven't listed any movies set in The Korean War. Altman's M*A*S*H (1970) - though certainly not going for period authenticity - and Sam Fuller's The Steel Helmet (1951) are my favorites among those.


So...yeah.



You looked good, awful good.
Next Stop, Greenwich Village is easily one of my faves, especially since I showed it to my daughter recently for the first time. I have to agree with Holden's Diner and The Last Picture Show, also. I'd probably pick Diner, The Manchurian Candidate and Next Stop, Greenwich Village to join Back to the Future and West Side Story in my top five. Once again, I'm probably more reacting than mining my own feelings, but hey, I've only got a minute to post this. I'll be back when the light bulb comes on.



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I can't forget to add a few movies my mom turned me onto years ago that I love:
Dial M for Murder, 12 Angry Men, and Imitation of Life. Good stuff!



Originally Posted by Sinny McGuffins View Post
How about Ed Wood? An excellent '94 film which really encapsulates the Hollywood scene in the '50s. One of Depp's best perfomances, and Burton's best film by far.
I have to agree with this statement
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My favourite modern movies which are set in the 50's or have a 50's theme are "That night" with Juliette Lewis and "Delinduents" with Kylie Minogue. Two of my favs



My Top 2 Fave movies set in the 50's Are:



&



They are both sooooo different from each other the only thing they have in common are that they are set in the 50's. Both films are brillant in their own ways



Banned from Hollywood.
filmed in the 50s:


1954-On The Waterfront






1957-Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud






1953-Roman Holiday






1958-Vertigo










set in the 50s:


The Godfather part II-Released in 1974.Half of the movie takes place in the late 50s-






Back To The Future- Released in 1985. 2/3 of the movie take place in the mid-50s.

Last edited by regnif; 09-11-09 at 08:33 PM.











There are many reasons Angel Heart (1987) is a favorite of mine, but production design is at the top of the list. This movie is amazing to watch, an absolute feast for the eyes. Beautifully dressed sets and beautiful photography.
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