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DISCLAIMER: All film criticism is extremely subjective and there is no such thing as the definitive list of the Greatest (English-language) Films. Great Films can't be measured scientifically because greatness is extremely subjective. Just because we like a film doesn't mean that you will like it as well. Please feel free to leave us a comment with the films that you think are the greatest which we have not included on our list.

Not only was 1955 a big year for movies but it was also a big year for actors making their film debuts and the deaths of some truly great talent. Here is a snap shot of the American film industry.

Making Their Film Debuts:

  • James Cromwell Daddy Long Legs
  • Clint EastwoodRevenge of the Creature
  • Dennis HopperRebel Without a Cause
  • Shirley MacLaineThe Trouble with Harry
  • Jayne MansfieldFemale Jungle
  • Walter MatthauThe Kentuckian
  • Melina MercouriStella
  • Elizabeth MontgomeryThe Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell
  • Maximilian SchellChildren, Mother, and the General
  • Paul ScofieldThat Lady
  • Joanne WoodwardCount Three and Pray


Top-grossing Films

1.Cinerama HolidayCinerama Productions$10,000,000
2.Mister RobertsWarner Bros.$8,500,000
3.Battle CryWarner Bros.$8,000,000
 20,000 Leagues Under the SeaDisney$8,000,000
4.Not as a StrangerUnited Artists$7,100,000
5.Guys and DollsMGM$6,900,000
 The Country GirlParamount$6,900,000
6.Lady and the TrampWalt Disney Productions$6,500,000
8.Strategic Air CommandParamount Pictures$6,000,000
 To Hell and BackUniversal$6,000,000
 The Sea ChaseWarner Bros.$6,000,000
 The Tall Men20th Century Fox$6,000,000
9.Blackboard JungleMGM$5,200,000
10.East of EdenWarner Bros.$5,000,000
 Pete Kelly’s BluesWarner Bros.$5,000,000
 The Seven Year Itch20th Century Fox$5,000,000
11.A Man Called Peter20th Century Fox$4,500,000


Academy Award Winners

Best Picture: Marty – Hecht-Lancaster, United Artists

Best Director: Delbert MannMarty

Best Actor: Ernest BorgnineMarty

Best Actress: Anna MagnaniThe Rose Tattoo

Best Supporting Actor: Jack LemmonMister Roberts

Best Supporting Actress: Jo Van FleetEast of Eden


Top Ten Money Making Stars

1.James Stewart
2.Grace Kelly
3.John Wayne
4.William Holden
5.Gary Cooper
6.Marilyn Monroe
7. (tie)Dean Martin
Jerry Lewis
8.Marlon Brando
9.Humphrey Bogart
10.Clark Gable


Among Those Who Died In 1955:

  • February 11 – Ona Munson, 55, American actress, Five Star Final, Gone with the Wind
  • February 12

        Tom Moore, 71, Irish-American actor, Forever Amber, Road House

Z. Sakall, 72, Hungarian actor, Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy

  • April 7 – Theda Bara, 69, American silent film actress, A Fool There Was, Cleopatra
  • April 25 – Constance Collier, 77, British actress, Stage Door, Rope
  • May 13 – Betty Ann Davies, 44, British actress, My Old Duchess, The Man in Black
  • June 11 – Walter Hampden, 75, American actor, Sabrina, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • July 31 – Robert Francis, 25, American actor, The Caine Mutiny, The Long Gray Line,
  • August 5 – Carmen Miranda, 46, Brazilian singer and actress, Copacabana, The Gang’s All Here
  • August 6 – Janet Beecher, 70, American actress, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, The Mark of Zorro
  • August 10 – Jane Murfin, 70, American screenwriter, What Price Hollywood?, The Women
  • August 12 – Lynne Carver, 38, American actress, Everybody Sing, Young Dr. Kildare
  • September 20 –

        Robert Riskin, 58, American screenwriter, It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

        Noel M. Smith, 60, American director, Secret Service of the Air, Cattle Town

  • September 30 – James Dean, 24, American actor, Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden
  • October 1 – Charles Christie, 75, Canadian pioneer film studio owner
  • October 9 – Alice Joyce, 65, American actress, The Green Goddess, White Man
  • October 19 – John Hodiak, 41, American actor, Lifeboat, A Bell for Adano,
  • November 9 – Tom Powers, 65, American actor, Double Indemnity, The Blue Dahlia
  • November 14 – Robert E. Sherwood, 59, American screenwriter, The Best Years of Our Lives, Rebecca
  • November 15 – Lloyd Bacon, 65, American director, The Oklahoma Kid, Knute Rockne, All American
  • November 22 – Shemp Howard, 60, American actor, comedian of The Three Stooges, The Bank Dick, Pittsburgh
  • November 27 – William Nigh, 74, American director, Mr. Wong, Detective, The Gay Cavalier

The Greatest Films of 1955




Poster for the movie "All That Heaven Allows"

© − All right reserved.

All That Heaven Allows

D: Douglas Sirk

Predicated on a May-December romance. The difference here is that the woman, attractive widow Cary Scott (Jane Wyman), is considerably older than the man, handsome gardener-landscaper Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson). Throwing conventional behavior to the winds and facing social ostracism, Cary pursues her romance with Ron, who is unjustly perceived as a fortune-hunter by Cary’s friends and family — especially her priggish brother Ned (William Reynolds).

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Poster for the movie "Artists and Models"

© 1955 Paramount Pictures − All right reserved.

Artists and Models

D: Frank Tashlin

Eugene and Rick are two struggling artists who share apartment. However, Rick has problems with that, because Eugene is obsessed with pulp fiction comic books and has nightmares because of that. However, Rick soon finds that those nightmares could be excellent material for writing his own comic books.

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Poster for the movie "Bad Day at Black Rock"

© − All right reserved.

Bad Day at Black Rock

D: John Sturges

A suspenseful, powerful, 50’s, Western-like drama, a mystery-thriller set in an isolated, southwestern desert town in 1945, and based on Howard Breslin’s novel. A mysterious, one-armed veteran John J. MacReedy (Spencer Tracy) arrives in the tiny town of Black Rock by train, to fulfill a promise made to a Japanese-American soldier who died fighting in WW II. He searches for the whereabouts of the local Japanese-American father, Komoko, of his soldier/friend who saved his life, to bestow the deceased man’s posthumously-presented medal of honor to the family – but encounters only a conspiracy of silence. His awkward questions cause the uneasy, hostile local inhabitants to confront their guilty consciences and threaten his life , led by menacing, sinister town boss Reno Smith (Robert Ryan) and his henchmen – a racially-prejudiced Coley Trimble (Ernest Borgnine) and Hector David (Lee Marvin). They retaliate with violence, putting his life at risk. Some town members, including a drunken sheriff (Dean Jagger), a doctor (Walter Brennan), and gal in town (Anne Francis), become the stranger’s allies.

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Poster for the movie "Blackboard Jungle"

© 1955 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) − All right reserved.

Blackboard Jungle

D: Richard Brooks

Richard Dadier is a teacher at North Manual High School, an inner-city school where many of the pupils frequently engage in anti-social behavior. Dadier makes various attempts to engage the students’ interest in education, challenging both the school staff and the pupils. He is subjected to violence as well as duplicitous schemes.

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Poster for the movie "The Court Jester"

© 1955 Paramount Pictures − All right reserved.

The Court Jester

D: Melvin Frank and Norman Panama

Former carnival performer Hubert Hawkins (Danny Kaye) and maid Jean (Glynis Johns) are assigned to protect the infant royal heir from tyrannical King Roderick I (Cecil Parker). While Jean takes the baby to an abbey, Hawkins gains access to the court by impersonating the king’s jester, unaware that the jester is really an assassin hired by scheming Sir Ravenhurst (Basil Rathbone). When Princess Gwendolyn (Angela Lansbury), falls for Hawkins, a witch secretly aids him in becoming a knight.

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The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell

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The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell

D: Otto Preminger

This biographical war drama, a true story, was set in the mid-1920s. Stubborn but dedicated military airman Gen. Billy Mitchell (Gary Cooper), a WWI hero, was a prophetic visionary who proposed the expansion of airpower during future military combat, but his crusading recommendations to the US War Department were continually overlooked and ignored. He also argued for upgrading the fleet of airplanes left over from WWI. To make a firm political statement, in 1921, he deliberately violated military rules during a test of aircraft at an army test site off the coast of Virginia by using heavier bombs and flying at lower altitudes. He was demoted to Colonel and sent to a clerical army post in Fort Sam Houston (Texas). Meanwhile, outdated planes were continually crashing, and Mitchell lost some of his closest friends, including Lt. Cmdr. Zack Lansdowne (Jack Lord) of the Shenandoah dirigible. To publicize the problem and complain, Mitchell lobbied for a press conference, to accuse the military of criminal negligence, incompetence and treason. Predictably, he was court-martialed. Congressman Frank Reid (Ralph Bellamy) and military-appointed attorney Lt. Colonel White (James Daly) defended Mitchell, while the prosecutor was Colonel Moreland (Fred Clark), and the presiding judge was Gen. James Guthrie (Charles Bickford). Court-martialed Mitchell was tried for breaking Articles 133 and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice: conduct unbecoming an officer, and conduct that discredited the military. He had definitely disobeyed the articles, but questions were raised: why, and were his accusations justified? Lansdowne’s widow Margaret (Elizabeth Montgomery) testified that her husband’s aircraft was a death trap. When Mitchell took the stand, he was cross-examined by special prosecutor Major Allan Guillion (Rod Steiger). He stood up to the skilled prosecutor, arguing that with the current state of the air-force, Pearl Harbor could be attacked (as it was years later). At the conclusion of the trial, Mitchell was convicted of insubordination, and suspended from active duty for five years without pay.


Poster for the movie "East of Eden"

© 1955 Warner Bros. − All right reserved.

East of Eden

D: Elia Kazan

Director Elia Kazan’s updated re-telling of the Biblical story of rival brothers, Cain and Abel and a paradise lost. A brooding James Dean – as the unappreciated son (Cain), vies against his dull, but favored stuffy brother (Abel) for the affections of their father. The maligned, misunderstood Cain character, representing the unlikeable and outcast director himself (for naming names before the HUAC Committee in 1952), becomes the sensitive hero of this film. As the poster stated, “Sometimes you can’t tell who’s good and who’s bad!…” Writer Paul Osborn’s screenplay adapted John Steinbeck’s 1952 novel with the same title for this dramatic Warner Bros. film. [The film tells only a small portion of Steinbeck’s work, leaving out the childhood of the parents and the Chinese character of Lee.] The CinemaScopic film, set in 1917 at a time just before the US entry into World War I, portrays the relationship between insecure, tortured, neurotic loner Caleb “Cal” Trask (James Dean, in his first major role and film) and his dutiful, favored brother Aron (Richard Davalos) – twin sons. Their father is a stern, hardened, devoutly religious, self-righteous man named Adam (Raymond Massey), a lettuce farmer living with his family in Salinas, California. The plot becomes emotionally charged when Cal expresses a liking for his brother’s girlfriend Abra (Julie Harris), and then learns that his mother (Jo Van Fleet) is actually alive and operating a nearby brothel. One of the film’s posters exclaimed: “East of Eden is a story of explosive passions and Elia Kazan has made it into a picture of staggering power.”

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Guys and Dolls

© – All right reserved.

Guys and Dolls

D: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Gambler Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra) seeks to organize an unlicensed crap game but the police, led by Lieutenant Brannigan (Robert Keith), are “putting on the heat”. All the places where Nathan usually holds his games refuse him entry due to Brannigan’s intimidating pressure. Adding to Nathan’s problems, his fiancée, Miss Adelaide (Vivian Blaine), a nightclub singer, wants to bring an end to their 14-year engagement and actually tie the knot. She also wants him to go straight, but organizing illegal gambling is the only thing he’s good at.

Nathan meets an old acquaintance, Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando), a gambler willing to bet on virtually anything and for high amounts. Nathan proposes a $1,000 bet by which Sky must take a girl of Nathan’s choosing to dinner in Havana, Cuba. The bet seems impossible for Sky to win when Nathan nominates Sergeant Sarah Brown (Jean Simmons), a sister at the Save a Soul Mission which opposes gambling.

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Kiss Me Deadly

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Kiss Me Deadly

D: Robert Aldrich

A paranoid, suspenseful, noir, melodramatic crime film brimming with apocalyptic, Cold War paranoia. Based on Mickey Spillane’s pulp fiction novel. The nihilistic film opens on a dark night when flashy, sleazy, hard-hitting private eye Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) picks up an almost-naked, barefoot, trenchcoat-wearing hitchhiker Christina (Cloris Leachman), who is panting heavily and running down the highway. Villainous thugs force them off the road and gruesomely torture the mysterious girl to death (semi off-screen) as the detective lies semi-conscious. During his own brutal, pursuit of the criminals, recalling her haunting words “Remember me,” Hammer – with the help of his limber secretary Velda (Maxine Cooper) who frames men for infidelity – pursues the trail to a strange young lady named Lily (Gaby Rodgers), the key to an atomic, ‘glowing’ box containing the Great Whatsit, and a sinister conspirator Dr. Soberin (Albert Dekker). In the controversial, fiery melt-down climax at Soberin’s beach hideout, Lily greedily opens the Pandora’s Box, releasing the deadly secret and incinerating herself, as a wounded Hammer frees the kidnapped Velda and stumbles with her into the cooling ocean waters.


Lady and The Tramp

© – All right reserved.

Lady and the Tramp

D: Disney Studio

The 15th Disney animated feature film, it was the first animated feature filmed in the CinemaScope widescreen film process. Based on Happy Dan, The Whistling Dog by Ward Greene, Lady and the Tramp tells the story of a female American Cocker Spaniel named Lady who lives with a refined, upper-middle-class family, and a male stray mongrel called the Tramp. When the two dogs meet, they embark on many romantic adventures.


Poster for the movie "The Ladykillers"

© 1955 The Rank Organisation − All right reserved.

The Ladykillers (UK)

D: Alexander Mackendrick

A gang of five diverse oddball criminal types rent a two-room apartment in an old house on a London cul-de-sac from an octogenarian widow with three pet parrots. The group’s mastermind, Professor Marcus, tells her a cover story that they are members of an amateur string quintet and would like to use the rooms to hone their musical skills. In reality, they’re plotting to rob an armored bank van and plan to use Mrs. Wilberforce’s naiveté and her Victorian sensibilities to their advantage.

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Poster for the movie "The Man From Laramie"

© − All right reserved.

The Man From Laramie

D: Anthony Mann

Will Lockhart (James Stewart) becomes entangled in the happenings of Coronado, an isolated western town, after delivering supplies there. He is especially involved with the Waggomans, an influential ranching family, and begins his search for someone selling rifles to the local Apaches, only to find out it is the son of the most powerful man in the area. It is at this point that his troubles begin.

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Poster for the movie "The Man With the Golden Arm"

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The Man With the Golden Arm

D: Otto Preminger

Director Otto Preminger’s code-defying, ground-breaking, powerful drama was about heroin addiction – it was the first major Hollywood film about the subject. Frankie Machine (Frank Sinatra) (known for having “arms of pure gold”) as both a jazz drummer and a professional poker dealer (with a knack for lucrative card-dealing) – was also a rehabilitated prison-hospital ex-con returning to his slummy and squalid Chicago neighborhood. Determined to restore his life to order, he immediately began to fall back into old habits, including fixes of heroin from slimy dope pusher Louie (Darren McGavin), and late-night card-dealing for gambling boss Schwiefka (Robert Strauss). His greedy wife Sophia “Zosch” Machine (Eleanor Parker), faking being an invalid in a wheelchair after a car accident caused by Frankie, urged him to continue gambling, while he dreamed of being a jazz drummer. After returning to his addiction, Frankie lost all hope, but was helped by sympathetic bar hostess/mistress Molly (Kim Novak) to go “cold turkey.” In the twisting ending, when Louie discovered that Zosch wasn’t an invalid, she pushed him down a stairwell, then blamed Frankie for the crime. When Zosch was confronted again and revealed as a fraud, she committed suicide by jumping off a balcony to the street below, thereby freeing Frankie to possibly live a cleaner life.

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Poster for the movie "Marty"

© 1955 United Artists − All right reserved.


D: Delbert Mann

The poignant, simple character study of lonely, 34 year-old Marty Piletti (Ernest Borgnine in an Oscar-winning performance), an ordinary, burly, heavy-set Bronx butcher who still lives with his love-smothering, widowed Italian mother Theresa (Esther Minciotti). It was a very different role from Borgnine’s menacing, sadistic villains or murderous ‘heavies’ in From Here to Eternity (1953) and Bad Day at Black Rock (1955).

He drags himself to the Stardust Ballroom on a Saturday night and meets a kindred soul. By the touching film’s end, Marty and a homely, 29 year-old female wallflower and mousy high-school teacher Clara Snyder (Betsy Blair) are liberated – both are triumphant over their respective limitations. Its most famous line of dialogue, between Marty and friend Angie (Joe Mantell), emphasized Marty’s endlessly boring despair: Angie: “What do you wanna do tonight?” Marty: “I dunno, Angie. What do you wanna do?” The film’s screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky transformed his own original teleplay into a successful major motion picture. As a feature film, it was one of the biggest ‘sleepers’ in Hollywood history, from the independent production company of Harold Hecht and actor Burt Lancaster. A modest, black and white film in an era of widescreen color epics, its critical acclaim and box-office success were phenomenal. It was the second Best Picture Oscar-winning film to also win the top prize (known as the Golden Palm (Palme d’Or)) at Cannes.

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Poster for the movie "Mister Roberts"

© 1955 Warner Bros. − All right reserved.

Mister Roberts

D: John Ford

A hilarious and heartfelt military comedy-drama co-directed by John Ford and Mervyn LeRoy, Mister Roberts stars Henry Fonda as an officer who’s yearning for battle but is stuck in the backwaters of World War II on a non-commissioned Navy ship run by the bullying Capt. Morton (James Cagney). Jack Lemmon enjoys a star-making turn as the freewheeling Ensign Pulver, and William Powell stars as the ship’s doctor in his last screen role. Based on the 1946 novel with the same name, by Thomas Heggen, and the 1948 Broadway play, written by Thomas Heggen and Joshua Logan. Henry Fonda also starred in the original Broadway production. Warner Bros. didn’t want Fonda to star in the film, as they thought he was too old, and had been a stage player for so long (8 years), that he no longer was box office material. However, John Ford insisted on Fonda and the company eventually agreed.

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Poster for the movie "The Night of the Hunter"

© 1955 United Artists − All right reserved.

The Night of the Hunter

D: Charles Laughton

The only film directed by actor and stage director Charles Laughton. A stark, film noir, black-and-white thriller, with a haunting, chilling lead performance by Robert Mitchum as crazed psychopathic Preacher Harry Powell prowling the Ohio River Valley. He personifies one polar end of the struggle between good and evil The killer of rich widows, with tattoos of LOVE and HATE on the fingers of both hands, weds a dead condemned killer’s lonely widow (Shelley Winters), and then relentlessly hunts his own innocent step-children across the Depression Era Bible Belt to get at their father’s stolen fortune of $10,000. The final segment pits the Preacher against Lillian Gish as a symbol of protecting Goodness, rocking at night on a porch with a shotgun across her lap, while he sings his perverse hymn in counterpoint: “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” Unbelievably not nominated for any Academy Awards.

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Poster for the movie "Oklahoma!"

© 1955 Magna Corporation − All right reserved.


D: Fred Zinnemann

This joyous celebration of frontier life combines tender romance and violent passion in the Oklahoma Territory of the 1900’s, with a timeless score filled with unforgettable songs. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s hit Broadway musical.

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The Phenix City Story

© – All right reserved.

The Phenix City Story

D: Phil Karlson

In a corrupt Alabama town, the law can do little to stop the criminal activities of Rhett Tanner, particularly in the wide-open “red-light district” area. Most of the police don’t even try, being on Tanner’s payroll.

Albert “Pat” Patterson is urged to run for office and clean up Phenix City, but he wants no part of a thankless, impossible job. He is content to welcome home son John from military service. But soon violence breaks out, John getting caught in the middle when Clem Wilson, a thug who works for Tanner, and others assault innocent citizens.

Patterson finally agrees to get involved in reforming the town, but as soon as he is elected, he is killed. It is up to John to avenge his father, but his own family ends up at risk.


Poster for the movie "Picnic"

© 1955 Columbia Pictures Corporation − All right reserved.


D: Joshua Logan

The morning of a small town Labor Day picnic, a drifte blows into town to visit an old fraternity buddy who also happens to be the son of the richest man in town. Hal is an egocentric braggart – all potential and no accomplishment. He meets up with Madge Owens, the town beauty queen and girlfriend of Alan Benson.

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Poster for the movie "Rebel Without a Cause"

© 1955 Warner Bros. − All right reserved.

Rebel Without a Cause

D: Nicholas Ray

The classic, melodramatic film that made James Dean an anti-hero icon for generations to come – this was the second of his three films and the best 50s film of its kind regarding the generation gap. A story of rebellion and angst in the life of an unsettled, teenaged, new-kid-in-town Jim Stark (James Dean) who crosses paths with two other alienated, misfit youth – Judy (Natalie Wood) and Plato (Sal Mineo) – at a police station in the first sequence. The outcast trio of juveniles forms a strong bond against both their insensitive parents (completely unjust, dysfunctional, ineffectual, or callous) and their peers, and search for their identities. After a deadly drag race and a confrontation with his milquetoast father (Jim Backus), Jim spends the night with Judy and Plato in a deserted mansion. The adolescents find refuge and solace in their own company. In the tragic finale, Plato is killed by police when he foolishly brandishes an unloaded gun.

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Richard III

© – All right reserved.

Richard III (UK)

D: Laurence Olivier

King Edward IV of England (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) has been placed on the throne with the help of his brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester (Sir Laurence Olivier). After Edward’s coronation in the Great Hall, with his brothers George and Richard watching, he leaves with his wife and sons. Richard contemplates the throne, before advancing towards the audience and then addressing them, delivering a speech that outlines his physical deformities, including a hunched back and a withered arm. He goes on to describe his jealousy over his brother’s rise to power in contrast to his lowly position.

He dedicates himself to task and plans to frame his brother, George, Duke of Clarence (Sir John Gielgud), for conspiring to kill the King, and to have George sent to the Tower of London, by claiming George will murder Edward’s heirs. He then tells his brother he will help him get out. Having confused and deceived the King, Richard proceeds with his plans after getting a warrant, and enlists two ruffians (Michael Gough and Michael Ripper) to carry out his dirty work: George is murdered, drowned in a butt of wine. Though Edward had sent a pardon to Richard, Richard stopped it passing. Richard goes on to woo and seduce the Lady Anne (Claire Bloom), and though she hates him for killing her husband and father, she cannot resist and ends up marrying him.


Poster for the movie "The Rose Tattoo"

© − All right reserved.

The Rose Tattoo

D: Daniel Mann

Based on a play by Tennessee Williams, this classic drama centers on Serafina (Anna Magnani), a widowed Sicilian woman living in the American South who is left devastated by the death of her husband. Grief turns her into a recluse, however she is drawn back into the world when she learns of her late husband’s infidelities. Meanwhile, the arrival of a new lodger, handsome truck driver Alvaro (Burt Lancaster), offers hope of a new love in her life

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Poster for the movie "The Seven Year Itch"

© 1955 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation − All right reserved.

The Seven Year Itch

D: Billy Wilder

With his family away for their annual summer holiday, Richard Sherman decides he has the opportunity to live a bachelor’s life. The beautiful but ditzy blonde from the apartment above catches his eye and they soon start spending time together – maybe a little too much time!

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Poster for the movie "Summertime"

© 1955 London Film Productions − All right reserved.

Summertime (UK/US)

D: David Lean

Middle-aged Ohio secretary Jane Hudson has never found love and has nearly resigned herself to spending the rest of her life alone. But before she does, she uses her savings to finance a summer in romantic Venice, where she finally meets the man of her dreams, the elegant Renato Di Rossi. But when she learns that her new paramour is leading a double life, she must decide whether her happiness can come at the expense of others.

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Poster for the movie "To Catch a Thief"

© 1955 Paramount Pictures − All right reserved.

To Catch a Thief

D: Alfred Hitchcock

A delightful Hitchcock film about an ex-burglar who must catch a thief who’s been copying this style before he gets accused of the wrong crimes. His time is running out as the police are close behind him yet he finds time for a little romance of course. A classic masterpiece starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant.

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© – All right reserved.


D: Mark Robson

The film, set in the late 1940s, opened during a nighttime scene at a San Juno private beach, where – after a female’s scream, Mexican-American teenager Angel Chavez (Rafael Campos) was found standing over the deceased female, Marie Wiltse, who had died of heart failure. Chavez was arrested on suspicion of statutory rape, and charged with first-degree felony murder. Meanwhile, California law school professor David Blake (Glenn Ford) was threatened with losing his job unless he could acquire trial experience (a new prerequisite) over the summer. Blake was hired by communist shark/attorney Barney Castle (Arthur Kennedy) to take the Chavez case. Castle bribed racist courthouse jail-sheriff ‘Fats’ Sanders (Robert Middleton) with $20 to speak to the incarcerated Chavez (and his mother Consuela (Katy Jurado)). Although Chavez admitted making love to Willsey, angering Castle for his forthrightness, he claimed he was innocent of murder charges. The two were persuaded to retain him as their representative for the racially-charged felony murder case. During his preparation for the trial, Blake was aided by Castle’s secretary Abbe Nyle (Dorothy McGuire), a love interest. To raise funds for the defense (and for himself) in the sensationalist case, Castle held a successful New York fund-raising rally sponsored by the All Peoples Party – a Communist front, that raised $320,000. The San Juno trial was presided over by black Judge Theodore Motley (Juano Hernandez), and the DA was Jack Armstrong (John Hodiak). As the trial was commencing, process server Finn (Elisha Cook Jr.) subpoened Blake to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee the following Saturday for his involvement in the New York rally. A jury was finally selected after three weeks, when novice lawyer Blake had to throw out the original jury panel because they had been interrogated by the police before the trial. The atmosphere of the trial was tense, due to white supremacists and other lynch mob members who were rallying to put Latino Chavez away. The DA’s first witness was Marie’s physician from childhood, Dr. Schacter (Richard Gaines), who testified that Marie died of violent exertion to her heart, due to a history of rheumatic fever. Blake’s cross-examination revealed that she was at risk of dying at any time. Another witness’ testimony about clearly seeing the beach incident with his car’s spotlight was debunked. Blake fired Castle as defense attorney when he insisted that Angel take the stand. However, Angel was called to the stand, where his testimony under cross-examination was self-damning. He claimed he didn’t know about Marie’s ripped dress, why he left the scene, or how to have sex. The jury ruled against Angel and he was convicted of the crime of felony murder. During the sentencing hearing, the prejudiced Castle proposed a mandatory death penalty (to make Chavez a martyr for his political cause), while Blake found an obscure code statute requiring that the juvenile be sent to the state’s industrial reform school. The judge sentenced Castle to 30 days in jail for contempt of court.


Did your favorite make our list of the greatest films of 1955?

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