At Cheshire Writing Services, we’re passionate about bringing forgotten artistic gems back to the fore. Here is our own selection of films from the 50’s which deserve to be cherished (and if you don’t agree with any selection, please let us know!):-
Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) click here
By many people’s reckoning, the greatest of the Ealing comedies and notable for being the film in which Alec Guinness played no less than eight members of the same family. Kind Hearts is a true black comedy as an embittered poor relation seeks to kill off an entire line one by one until only he remains to claim the inheritance. Set against all Guinness’s comic portrayals is the cold, calculating menace of the killer played superbly by Dennis Price. Added interest is provided by each of his intended victims occupying a distinct world of their own, be it the clergy, the army, the navy or the Law (amongst others). A powerful extra dynamic is provided by Joan Greenwood – who as the married-woman whom Price desires – is almost as ruthless and calculating as he is, quite prepared to see people who get in her way ‘disposed of’. The way the story moves from victim to victim is undertaken quite brilliantly with Dennis Price giving a running background commentary as he reads from his memoirs.
Night of the Demon (1957) click here
Not exactly a horror film but arguably more scary, Night of the Demon is a story about involvement with the occult and demonic powers. Based on an Edwardian short story called ‘The Casting of the Runes’, Night of the Demon juxtaposes a sceptical American, newly arrived in England, played by Dana Andrews against a genial children’s entertainer who is secretly heavily involved in the occult (played by Niall MacGinnis). There are some fine set-piece exchanges between the two and as the story unfolds, Andrews increasingly finds that the occult is both very real and that he is personally in great danger.
Our Man in Havana (1959) click here
This film was actually shot in Cuba, with the approval of the Castro regime, within months of the ’59 revolution. Based on a Graham Green novel, Our Man in Havana is beautifully filmed with the actual events in Cuba providing an enhanced dramatic background to the comedy. The premise is quite superb; a failing spy’s drawings of household appliances such as a vacuum-cleaner are accepted back in London is authentic images of advanced weapons and power systems. Bearing mind that this was also set during the Cold War, not long before the world came to the edge of destruction during the Cuban Missile Crisis and this film has added historical relevance in addition to being very funny and thought-provoking. Alec Guinness at his finest and a truly great British film.
Scaramouche (1952) click here
Stewart Granger at his finest as a debonair, swashbuckling hero in this adventure yarn set shortly before the French revolution. This movie invokes the Golden Age of Hollywood, with glamorous leading ladies played by Janet Leigh and Eleanor Parker and a fine villain in the shape of Mell Ferrer. Vibrant costumes, huge sets and a great storyline which culminates in what is claimed to be the longest sword-fight in cinema history, this is a fantastic two hours of entertainment that gives you a ‘feel-good’ vibe long after seeing it. The story moves across eighteenth century France as the illegitimate son of an aristocrat strives to discover his true identity and avenge the death of his best friend (at the hands of a callous nobleman whose hobby is duelling) whilst still finding time to pursue Janet Leigh and enjoy a tempestuous relationship with Eleanor Parker. Great fun throughout and full of thoughtful dialogue and gripping action scenes; a very fine film.