From the black-and-white silent screen classics of the 1920’s to the glorious color productions of the 1950’s – these were Hollywood’s greatest decades.
Explore early Hollywood film history and the wonderful Hollywood Movie Memories that were created, as this was a time when both Hollywood and its stars were their most glamorous.
Continue reading for a brief primer of each of the featured film decades, with the films suggested for viewing those that I feel offer an accurate representation of each film genre for each year during this historic period in Hollywood.
Tagline – The Story Behind the Story of Lindbergh’s Incredible Flight to Paris!
Starring – James Stewart (Charles Lindbergh), Murray Hamilton (Harlan A. “Bud” Gurney), Patricia Smith (Mirror Girl).
Released – April, 1957
Directed By – Billy Wilder
Produced By – Leland Hayward Productions, Warner Brothers, Billy Wilder Productions
Distributed By– Warner Brothers
Description – Charles A. “Slim” Lindbergh flies mail across the country for a living. A dangerous living. During a winter run, the site of his landing in Chicago is closed due to the weather. Running out of fuel, he is forced to bail out.
Charles recovers as much of the mail as he can from the fallen plane and proceeds by train. On the train he meets a salesman who tells him of the recent deaths of two pilots who were trying to fly nonstop from New York to Paris.
Intrigued by the idea of the nonstop flight across the Atlantic, Lindbergh approaches a group of New York businessmen with the hope of obtaining the money needed to design and produce an airplane capable of the flight. While the businessmen are receptive of his idea, they want to hire their own pilot.
Not wanting this, Charles contacts another company who promises to build him the necessary aircraft in 90 days. The completed, bare-bones plane, dubbed The Spirit of St. Louis, is flown by Lindbergh from St. Louis to New York to prepare for the transatlantic flight.
This flight will not be easy as Lindbergh must deal with a stalled engine, ice on his wings, a malfunctioning compass that requires Lindbergh to navigate by the stars, and the shear exhaustion that will result in his falling asleep at the controls.
This ambitious and great achievement just may cost him his life.
NOTABLE: Originally, a box office flop The spirit of St. Louis has grown in popularity with the passing of time.
Producer Jack L. Warner was strongly opposed to the casting of James Stewart, which he believed caused the film to flop on its release in 1957. Warner felt a young and less well-known actor was needed to play Lindbergh.
The real Charles A. Lindbergh wanted Anthony Perkins for the role.
One of the replicas of “The Spirit of St. Louis” is displayed at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Another is at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Tagline – Hour by hour he gets smaller and smaller!
Starring – Grant Williams (Scott Cary), Randy Stuart (Louise Cary), April Kent (Clarice).
Released– April, 1957
Directed By – Jack Arnold
Produced By – Universal International Pictures
Distributed By – Ultra Pictures Corporation
Description – Scott and Louise Cary are relaxing on the deck of their small boat, off the coast of California, soaking up a little sun.
Louise goes below into the cabin just as a cloud of mist passes over the boat and Scott. Neither are sure of what caused the cloud and as quickly as it appeared, it disappeared. Nothing more is thought of it.
Six months go by and Scott finds his pants and shirt are a little large. He blames the laundry service for doing something wrong. However, it’s not just these two items of clothing. All Scott’s clothes no longer fit right.
Believing that he may be have some sort of illness that is causing him to get smaller, Scott goes to the doctor. After a thorough examination, Scott is said to be in perfect health and told that “people just don’t get shorter.”
The disturbing trend continues and Louise notices that she no longer has to get up on her toes to kiss her husband. Even more disturbing is the fact that Scott’s wedding ring falls off his finger. The couple return to the doctor for more tests and, sure enough, an x-ray confirms the fact that Scott is shrinking.
Additional tests find that Scott has been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. The only possible explanation for this would be his exposure to the strange cloud of mist while on their boat.
Will it be possible to stop the shrinking?
NOTABLE: The Incredible Shrinking Man is Included among the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”, edited by Steven Schneider.
The trailer for the film features the voice of Orson Welles.
The giant drops of water were created by filling condoms with the liquid and then dropping them.
Personal Note: This is a very entertaining example of the creative and wonderfully popular Science Fiction films made during the 1950’s.
Tagline – Life is in their hands… Death is on their minds!
Starring – Henry Fonda (Juror 8), Lee J. Cobb (Juror 3), E. G. Marshall (Juror 4), Martin Balsam (Juror 1), Jack Warden (Juror 7), John Fielder (Juror 2), Jack Klugman (Juror 5),Edward Binns (Juror 6), Joseph Sweeney (Juror 9), Ed Begley (Juror 10),George Voskovek (Juror 11), Robert Webber (Juror 12).
Released – April, 1957
Directed By – Sidney Lumet
Produced By – Orion-Nova Productions
Distributed By – United Artists
Description – In a New York City courthouse, an eighteen-year-old boy has just been tried for the stabbing murder of his father. Closing arguments have been presented, and the judge has instructed the jury to decide, beyond any reasonable doubt, the boy’s guilt or innocence.
Should the verdict be guilty, a mandatory death sentence is required.
This is an impatient jury. One which seems to have already made up its mind that the defendant is guilty as charged. That is, except for one. Juror 8. It is his belief that most of the evidence is circumstantial, that the two key witnesses are unreliable, and he refuses to vote “guilty” without first discussing the charges and evidence in detail.
This discussion will not be orderly and calm, but rather argumentative and bigoted against “slum children.”
This is no open-and-shut case, and the actions of the jury will reveal more than just the accused’s guilt or innocence. Each juror’s prejudices and pre-conceived notions, about the accused and each other, will come to the surface. Each must be realized and dealt with before justice can be served.
After all, a young man’s life is at stake.
NOTABLE: In 2007, 12 Angry Men was selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
12 Angry Men was nominated for Academy Awards in the categories of Best Director (Sidney Lumet), Best Picture, and Best Writing of Adapted Screenplay.
Included among the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”, edited by Steven Schneider.
12 Angry Men provided the directorial debut of Sidney Lumet.
The ethnic background of the teen-aged suspect was deliberately left unstated. For the purposes of the film, the important facts were that he was NOT Caucasian and that prejudice (or lack of it) would be a major part of the deliberations process.
Starring – Robert Ryan (Lieutenant Benson), Aldo Ray (Sgt. Joseph R. “Montana” Willomet), Robert Keith (The Colonel), Phillip Pine (Sgt. Riordan), Nehemiah Persoff (Sgt. First Class Nate Lewis), Vic Morrow (Corp. James Zwickley).
Released– March, 1957
Directed By – Anthony Mann
Produced By – Security Pictures
Distributed By– United Artists
Description – Korea, September 1950, a platoon from the 24th Infantry Division finds itself isolated and cut off in enemy territory. Radio contact is lost and the men find themselves being killed, almost one-by-one, by enemy snipers.
Lieutenant Benson commands the platoon and is following very vague instructions to get to Hill 465 where he hopes the rest of the Division are located. The men are on foot when a lone jeep approaches being driven by Sgt. Joe ‘Montana’ Willomet. His passenger is a shell-shocked Colonel.
Sgt. Willomet and the Colonel are fleeing the battle of Nakdong River where the Colonel’s men were virtually wiped out. Sgt. Willomet thinks of the Colonel as he would his own father and has no intentions of turning over his jeep to Lt. Benson.
However, Lt. Benson and his men force Sgt. Willomet to turn over the jeep and continue on with them to Hill 465. Battle-hardened Sgt. Willomet proves invaluable to Lt. Benson as he saves them from a captured Korean soldier with a hidden weapon.
The rest of the trip proves to be a long, treacherous journey. When the men finally arrive at Hill 465 they find that it has been captured by Korean soldiers and must try to get it back. The hill will run red with blood before this day is over.
NOTABLE: The Pentagon refused to cooperate with the production of Men in War due to its depiction of a US Army unit without discipline.
Director Anthony Mann made his mark with 1940’s Film’s Noir and early 1950’s Westerns. He used elements of both types of film in the making of Men In War.
February, 1957 – A new Hollywood sex symbol, Jayne Mansfield, has shot to stardom after her appearance in the rock ‘n’ roll comedy The Girl Can’t Help It. Everyone is taking notice of the sexual appeal of the young actress and with statistics that read 40-19-36 how could they not?
Mansfield’s early success has earned her a co-starring role opposite Tony Randall in the film WillSuccess Spoil Rock Hunter?
The beautiful Miss Mansfield offers a lot more than just surface beauty though, as she speaks five languages, and is a classically trained pianist and violinist.
It will be interesting to see just how Hollywood and 20th Century Fox plan to use the new starlet and how favorably, or unfavorably, she will compare with the reigning queen of screen sexuality MarilynMonroe.
Whatever the future holds for Jayne Mansfield, she will surely become one of the most iconic and recognizable blonde bombshells of the 1950’s.