Forgotten 50s Film Classics

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 Sir Alec Guinness played no less than eight members of the same family. The plot is gripping yet offbeat: an embittered poor relation seeks to kill off a noble bloodline until only he remains to claim the inheritance. Behind 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 – 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 that Price desires – is almost as ruthless and calculating as he is. The story moves quite brilliantly from victim to victim, 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 the occult and demonic powers. Based on an Edwardian short story called ‘The Casting of the Runes’, Night of the Demon pits a sceptical American played by Dana Andrews against a genial children’s entertainer with occult leanings (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 in great danger.

Our Man in Havana (1959) click here

This film was actually shot in Cuba, within months of the ’59 revolution. Based on a Graham Green novel, Our Man in Havana is beautifully filmed with real events providing a dramatic backdrop to the comedy. The premise is quite superb; a failing spy’s drawings of household appliances such as a vacuum-cleaner are accepted as authentic images of advanced weapons and power systems. Bear in mind that this was set during the Cold War, not long before the world came to the edge of destruction during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Alec Guinness at his finest and a truly great British film.

Scaramouche (1952) click here

Stewart Granger is at his finest as a debonair, swashbuckling hero in this adventure yarn set just before the French Revolution. This movie invokes the Golden Age of Hollywood, with glamorous leading ladies played by Janet Leigh and Eleanor Parker, plus a fine villain in the shape of Mell Ferrer. With vibrant costumes, huge sets and a great story-line which culminates in the longest sword-fight in cinema history, this is a fantastic two hours of entertainment that leaves you with 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. Great fun throughout and full of thoughtful dialogue and gripping action scenes – all in all, a very fine film.