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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 1957 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:

  • Alan Arkin – Calypso Heat Wave
  • Alain Delon – Send a Woman When the Devil Fails
  • Catherine Deneuve – The Twilight Girls
  • John Fiedler12 Angry Men
  • Andy GriffithA Face in the Crowd
  • Lee RemickA Face in the Crowd
  • Liv Ullmann – Fjols til fjells
  • Adam West – Voodoo Island


Top-grossing Films

Rank Title Studio Gross rental
1. The Bridge on the River Kwai Columbia $17,195,000
2. Peyton Place 20th Century Fox $16,100,000
3. Sayonara Warner Bros. $10,500,000
4. Old Yeller* Walt Disney Productions $10,050,000
5. The Curse of Frankenstein Warner Bros $7,000,000
6. Raintree County MGM $5,963,000
7. Island in the Sun 20th Century Fox $5,550,000
8. Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? 20th Century Fox $4,900,000
9. A Farewell to Arms 20th Century Fox $4,865,000
10. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Paramount $4,700,000
11. Pal Joey Columbia $4,500,000
12. Jailhouse Rock MGM $4,474,000
13. The Prince and the Showgirl Warner Bros. $4,300,000
14. Jeanne Eagels Columbia $4,250,000
15. Fire Down Below Columbia $4,000,000
16. Funny Face Paramount $3,995,000
17. Loving You Paramount $3,990,000
18. Jet Pilot Universal $3,887,000
19. Witness for the Prosecution United Artists $3,883,000
20. An Affair to Remember 20th Century Fox $3,800,000
21. The Wayward Bus 20th Century Fox $3,776,000

(*) After theatrical re-issue(s)


Academy Award Winners

Best Picture: The Bridge on the River Kwai – Horizon, Columbia

Best Director: David LeanThe Bridge on the River Kwai

Best Actor: Alec GuinnessThe Bridge on the River Kwai

Best Actress: Joanne WoodwardThe Three Faces of Eve

Best Supporting Actor: Red Buttons – Sayonara

Best Supporting Actress: Miyoshi Umeki – Sayonara


Top Ten Money Making Stars

Rank Actor/Actress
1. Rock Hudson
2. John Wayne
3. Pat Boone
4. Elvis Presley
5. Frank Sinatra
6. Kim Novak
7. Gary Cooper
8. William Holden
9. James Stewart
10. Jerry Lewis


Among Those Who Died In 1957:

  • January 14 – Humphrey Bogart, 57, American actor, Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, Key Largo, The Caine Mutiny
  • January 19 – Sheila Terry, 46, American actress, The Sphinx, The Silk Express
  • January 26 – William Eythe, 38, American actor, The Song of Bernadette, The House on 92nd Street
  • February 19 – Marta Toren, 31, Swedish actress, Sirocco, One Way Street
  • March 31 – Gene Lockhart, 65, Canadian actor, Miracle on 34th Street, Algiers
  • April 8 – Dorothy Sebastian, 53, American actress, Spite Marriage, Our Dancing Daughters
  • May 12 – Erich von Stroheim, 71, Austrian actor, director, Sunset Boulevard, La Grande Illusion
  • May 29 – James Whale, 67, British director, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man
  • June 12 – Robert Alton, 51, American choreographer and director, White Christmas, Pagan Love Song
  • July 3 – Judy Tyler, 24, American actress, Jailhouse Rock, Bop Girl Goes Calypso
  • July 15 – George Cleveland, 71, Canadian actor, Carson City, Fort Defiance
  • August 7 – Oliver Hardy, 65, American actor, The Flying Deuces, Sons of the Desert
  • August 12 – Tim Whelan, 63, American director, The Thief of Bagdad, The Divorce of Lady X
  • September 1 – Helen Haye, 83, Indian-British actress, The 39 Steps, Richard III
  • October 20 – Jack Buchanan, 66, British actor, Auld Lang Syne, The Band Wagon
  • October 29 – Louis B. Mayer, 73, Russian-American producer and studio executive, Greed, That’s Entertainment!
  • November 17 – Cora Witherspoon, 67, American actress, The Bank Dick, Libeled Lady
  • November 30 – Fred F. Sears, 44, American director, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, Rock Around the Clock
  • December 15 – Alfonso Bedoya, 53, Mexican actor, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Big Country
  • December 24 – Norma Talmadge, 63, American actress, New York Nights, Secrets

The Greatest Films of 1957



Poster for the movie "An Affair to Remember"

© 1957 20th Century Fox − All right reserved.

An Affair to Remember

D: Leo McCarey

Nickie Ferrante’s (Cary Grant) return to New York to marry a rich heiress is well publicized as are his many antics and affairs. He meets a nightclub singer Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) who is also on her way home to her longtime boyfriend. She sees him as just another playboy and he sees her as stand-offish but over several days they soon find they’ve fallen in love. Nickie has never really worked in his life so they agree that they will meet again in six months time atop the Empire State building. This will give them time to deal with their current relationships and for Nickie to see if he can actually earn a living. He returns to painting and is reasonably successful. On the agreed date, Nickie is waiting patiently for Terry who is racing to join him. Fate intervenes however resulting in misunderstanding and heartbreak and only fate can save their relationship.

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The Bachelor Party

© – All right reserved.

The Bachelor Party

D: Delbert Mann

Scriptwriter Paddy Chayefsky adapted his own 1953 teleplay (airing on The Philco Television Playhouse) for this feature-length male angst drama – an ensemble film. The intimate film told about the loneliness, insecurities, anxieties and frustrations of five middle-class, co-working male bookkeepers. At first glance, they appeared to be debonair and carefree. They held a bachelor party in a restaurant for thirtyish, timid and virginal Arnold Craig (Philip Abbott), who was about to be married to a war widow. The group included: protagonist Charlie Samson (Don Murray), older married asthma-suffering Walter (E.G. Marshall), swinging bachelor Eddie Watkins (Jack Warden), and henpecked married man Kenneth (Larry Blyden). During the party and night-clubbing/bar-hopping later on in the evening, all the characters began to reflect on their lives, concerns and issues about love and marriage. Staid, hard-working, struggling married man Charlie had second thoughts about his own marital ties (with newly-pregnant wife Helen (Patricia Smith)) – he felt trapped, restless and bored, and maybe not ready for fatherhood. The troubled Charlie was tempted to have a one-night affair with a young, footloose ‘good-time-girl’ bohemian – credited as the Existentialist (Oscar-nominated Carolyn Jones), whom he met on the way to Greenwich Village. After a few drinks, Walter revealed himself as a pathetic, despairing and self-loathing hypochondriac, who was sacrificing his health to keep his boy in school. The nervous groom-to-be Arnold also became ambivalent and fearful about his impending marriage and called off the nuptials (although he sobered up and changed his mind), and desperate bachelor Eddie (who was initially envied for his carefree, lady-killing existence) was still alone and struggling to pick up a woman at the bar.


Poster for the movie "The Bridge on the River Kwai"

© 1957 Columbia Pictures Corporation − All right reserved.

The Bridge on the River Kwai

D: David Lean

Acclaimed, all-time great WWII epic drama about British P.O.W.’s forced to construct a railway bridge in the Asian jungle of Burma, based on an outstanding, psychologically complex adaptation of Pierre Boulle’s 1952 novel. In the Burmese jungle, British prisoner/solders, led by an obstinate commander Col. Nicholson (Alec Guinness), constructed a rail bridge – and unwittingly aided the war effort of their Japanese captors and the camp commander Col. Saito (Sessue Hayakawa). A tremendously antagonistic battle of wills ensued between the two Colonels. Nicholson supervised the bridge’s construction with a twisted sense of pride in his creation to show up the Japanese as inferior. In the climactic finale, British and American intelligence officers (Holden, Hawkins) conspired to blow up the structure. A Best Picture-winning film.

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Poster for the movie "A Face in the Crowd"

© 1957 Newtown Productions − All right reserved.

A Face in the Crowd

D: Elia Kazan

A Face in the Crowd” charts the rise of a raucous hayseed named Lonesome Rhodes from itinerant Ozark guitar picker to local media rabble-rouser to TV superstar and political king-maker. Marcia Jeffries is the innocent Sarah Lawrence girl who discovers the great man in a back-country jail and is the first to fall under his spell.

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Poster for the movie "Funny Face"

© 1957 Paramount Pictures − All right reserved.

Funny Face

D: Stanley Donen

A shy Greenwich Village book clerk is discovered by a fashion photographer and whisked off to Paris where she becomes a reluctant model.

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Poster for the movie "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral"

© − All right reserved.

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

D: John Sturges

Lawman Wyatt Earp (Burt Lancaster) and gunfighter John “Doc” Holliday (Kirk Douglas) find themselves together again in Tombstone, Ariz., despite the tumultuous history between them. Earp comes to Arizona on a mission to bring the Clayton clan to justice. Meanwhile, Holliday becomes incensed with the decision of Kate Fisher (Jo Van Fleet) to turn him down in favor of another gunfighter (John Ireland), ultimately leading Holliday to join Earp’s side in a confrontation with the Claytons.

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Poster for the movie "The Incredible Shrinking Man"

© − All right reserved.

The Incredible Shrinking Man

D: Jack Arnold

One of the best science-fiction films of the 50’s, The Incredible Shrinking Man is a gripping and thought-provoking classic. Scott Carey (Grant Williams) encounters a mysterious radioactive mist on a boating trip and soon finds his life taking on a bizarre and frightening twist. His physical size begins to diminish as he shrinks to a mere two inches. Suddenly ordinary household situations loom over him with lethal intensity: a playful cat becomes a demon and a spider a gargantuan monster. Carey finds he must rely on his wits to survive in his new oversized world in this fascinating film based on Richard Matheson’s riveting screenplay.

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Poster for the movie "Jailhouse Rock"

© − All right reserved.

Jailhouse Rock

D: Richard Thorpe

A great black and white B-film, and considered the best, most popular, and most famous of Elvis Presley’s musicals (his third film out of over 30 films from the late 50s through the 60s) – and slightly paralleling the rocker’s own life. Presley played cocky, quick-tempered Vince Everett, who was serving a one-year jail sentence for accidental manslaughter. While in jail, his cellmate Hunk Houghton (Mickey Shaughnessy), a former veteran country singer, mentored him to learn guitar and sing, and persuaded him to enter the prison talent show. After his release from incarceration, the budding rock star was introduced to the record business. Struggling to break into the music industry, he decided to form his own record label, and became an overnight sensation. After being seduced by the decadent lifestyle of a pop star, he became rebellious and unwilling to work with his former cellmate and Peggy Van Alden (Judy Tyler), his loyal and pretty girlfriend/talent scout/record promoter.  This pre-Army film was filled with Presley classics, especially the wonderfully-choreographed set piece for “Jailhouse Rock,” as well as the other memorable numbers including “I Want to Be Free,” “Treat Me Nice,” “Baby, I Don’t Care,” “You’re So Square,” and the two tender ballads: “Young and Beautiful” and “Don’t Leave Me Now.”

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The Pajama GameThe Pajama Game

D: George Abbott, Stanley Donen

The boss of an Iowa pajama factory hires superintendent Sid Sorokin (John Raitt) to help oppose the workers’ demand for a seven-and-a-half-cent raise. Sid’s handsome, affable presence stirs the jealousy of foreman Vernon Hines, who is dating bookkeeper Gladys Hotchkiss (Carol Haney), and attracts worker “Babe” Williams (Doris Day), a strong advocate for the pay increase. Despite liking Babe, Sid resists the workers’ sabotage attempt and must decide whether to fire activist Babe.



Poster for the movie "Paths of Glory"

© − All right reserved.

Paths of Glory (UK)

D: Stanley Kubrick

This classic, powerfully bleak, anti-war drama from Stanley Kubrick was about the hypocrisy of militarism and power was based on Humphrey Cobb’s factual novel. The film was an effective denouncement of self-seeking, pitiless WWI French military leaders whose strategy and mishandling of a failed mission were incomprehensible. In 1916 during horrendous trench warfare on the French front (filmed with realistic tracking shots) against the Germans, a vain and pompous French General Paul Mireau (George Macready) ordered his hapless group of soldiers to attack an obviously-impenetrable German stronghold, dubbed the Ant-Hill. Mireau had been promised a promotion – another military star – for his efforts by evil General George Broulard (Adolphe Menjou). The catastrophic attack was executed by infantry commander Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas). When they predictably failed in the ill-conceived attack, Mireau angrily commanded his own artillery to fire on the ‘cowardly’ troops. As a cruel example to others, three blameless men were arbitrarily and randomly picked as scapegoats to stand trial and be court-martialed for cowardice. The three were: Corporal Philippe Paris (Ralph Meeker), Private Pierre Arnaud (Joseph Turkel), and Private Maurice Ferol (Timothy Carey). Military commander and dissenting Army lawyer Colonel Dax, aware of the disgraceful cover-up and episode, volunteered to defend the condemned men. During the sham court-martial trial, held in a luxurious chateau, there were no prosecution witnesses, no indictment, and no stenographic record of the very unfair proceedings. After an unsuccessful yet eloquent defense by Colonel Dax, who claimed that the trial was a farce (“a mockery of all human justice”), the three faced execution by firing squad the next morning. Following the executions, Mireau was removed from command by Broulard, and the command job was offered to Dax – who refused to accept.

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Peyton PlacePeyton Place

D: Mark Robson

Based on the novel by Grace Metalious, PEYTON PLACE is about a peaceful New England town that hides secrets and scandals.



D: Joshua Logan

Stationed in Japan during the Korean War, U.S. Air Force Major Lloyd “Ace” Gruver falls for the beautiful Japanese actress Hana-ogi (Miiko Taka). However, he is hesitant to pursue the relationship due to the unfortunate example of his crew chief, Airman Joe Kelly (Red Buttons). Kelly, against official military advice and the prejudices of his commanding officers, married a Japanese woman, Katsumi (Miyoshi Umeki), and his military career has suffered ever since.


Poster for the movie "Sweet Smell of Success"

© − All right reserved.

Sweet Smell of Success

D: Alexander Mackendrick

A caustic, dark film noir based on the short story by Ernest Lehman titled Tell Me About It Tomorrow, and filmed on location in NYC. MacKendrick’s debut American film. Opportunistic, vicious, hustling, slimy press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) provided publicity for showbiz clients, hoping for exposure in the syndicated columns. Ruthless, sadistic, monstrously-manipulative newspaper columnist J. J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) unscrupulously plotted with Falco to disrupt and destroy the romantic relationship of his younger sister Susan Hunsecker (Susan Harrison) with a jazz musician Steve Dallas (Martin Milner). Unethical and immoral but desperate to please Hunsecker, Falco smeared Dallas as a drug addict and Communist by planting evidence, but caused Susan to become suicidal. Ultimately vengeful, she walked out on her ‘incestuous’ and obsessed, overprotective brother, while a raging Hunsecker had Falco beaten up.

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Poster for the movie "The Three Faces of Eve"

© 1957 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation − All right reserved.

The Three Faces of Eve

D: Nunnally Johnson

Dramatization of America’s best-known case of a woman suffering from multiple personality disorder, and her road to recovery.

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Poster for the movie "12 Angry Men"

© 1957 Orion-Nova Productions − All right reserved.

12 Angry Men

D: Sidney Lumet

Sidney Lumet’s debut directorial film, a taut courtroom drama, was based on Reginald Rose’s television play. In a hot summer courtroom in NYC after the trial, instructions by a Judge (Rudy Bond) were given to the jury, concerning the case of an 18 year-old, slum-dwelling Puerto Rican/Latino defendant (John Savoca), held on charges of murdering his abusive, ex-con father with a switchblade knife – he faced the electric chair if convicted. He had been defended by a poorly-paid, inept public defender. The entire film consisted of the deliberations of twelve male individuals (each un-named but with a number) held in a swelteringly-hot, bare-walled claustrophobic jury room, punctuated by flashbacks about the case and trial, to decide the fate of the minority defendant. They had been given instructions from the judge about ‘innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.’ One female witness testified that through her bedroom window and a passing elevated train, she had seen the murder. Another elderly witness claimed he heard the defendant say: “I’ll kill you” – after which he heard the body drop and saw the defendant running down the stairs. As evidence, the long switchblade murder weapon was similar to the one the defendant had purchased. On the witness stand, the defendant’s alibi was weak – he said he was at the movies during the night before returning to the scene of the crime, but couldn’t recall the movies that he had seen. The case required a unanimous vote (“beyond a reasonable doubt”) of 12 jurors to convict, and to send the defendant with a mandatory death sentence to the electric chair. It was a seemingly open-and-shut case. After the first rapid jury vote, it was eleven to one for conviction. Juror # 8 (Henry Fonda), an architect, was the sole doubting and dissenting vote. The tempers, prejudices and personalities of the cranky, smoking men were displayed as they examined the evidence and deliberated their verdict. After considerable deliberations and discussion, including # 8’s display of an identical switchblade knife he had bought, a second vote was taken – # 8 was joined by Juror # 9 (Joseph Sweeney) – and now it was ten to 2. Juror # 8 began to poke holes in the flimsy evidence, the inconsistent testimony of the unreliable witnesses, and the prejudices of some of the other jurors, especially Juror # 10 (Ed Begley). For one thing, the old male witness probably couldn’t have heard the defendant yell at his father as the noisy six-car train passed on the tracks. And the elderly man, who was lame, couldn’t have walked from his bedroom to his door in 15 seconds as he claimed. The woman who said she saw the crime through the passing train was not wearing her glasses. Eventually, revotes dwindled down the number of those calling for conviction. Only one Juror, # 3 (Lee J. Cobb) remained defiant, and he too changed his vote. The defendant was acquitted of the crime.

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Poster for the movie "Witness for the Prosecution"

© 1957 Edward Small Productions − All right reserved.

Witness For The Prosecution

D: Billy Wilder

Co-writer and director Billy Wilder’s brilliant film had crisp dialogue, a complicated and intriguing plot, unique characters and excellent acting performances. It was a convoluted, twisting courtroom mystery based on Agatha Christie’s 1933 four-character short story and celebrated 1947 stage play. It told about an aging, distinguished, near-retirement age London barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton), with his overbearing housekeeper/nurse Miss Plimsoll (Elsa Lanchester, Laughton’s real-life wife) tending to his near-failing health for a weak heart. The intelligently clever and incorrigible attorney was asked by solicitor Mayhew (Henry Daniell) to take on a perplexing case, the defense of the prime suspect – an unemployed, American expatriate inventor named Leonard Stephen Vole (Tyrone Power in his final film role). He was charged with the murder of wealthy widow Emily Jane French (Norma Varden), in order to inherit her property (80,000 pounds). The testimony — and true identity — of the mysterious, beautiful German-born ‘wife’ of the accused, Christine “Helm” Vole (Marlene Dietrich), held the key to solving the case involving marital infidelities and deceit. She was her husband’s only alibi – but she could not, as the defendant’s wife, be considered a credible witness. However, she WAS called as a ‘witness for the prosecution’ to damningly testify against him and cold-heartedly betray her husband. On the stand, she admitted that: (1) she wasn’t really legally married to Leonard (and could therefore testify against him), (2) she was forced by him to provide a false alibi, and (3) her husband had admitted the murder to her, after returning home with blood on his clothes. When a mysterious Cockney woman (also Dietrich) called Sir Wilfrid claiming that she had surprise information to help his client, the film set up the twist ending. She offered to supply the barrister with love letters that the perjuring Christine had written to a mysterious lover named Max. When the trial resumed, Sir Wilfrid confronted Christine with the letters (so she could get rid of Leonard and be with another man) to prove that she had lied. Having proven Christine to be a liar and unreliable witness, Leonard was declared ‘not guilty.’ After Leonard had been acquitted, Christine revealed that she was disguised as the Cockney woman who had devised the ploy of love letters to get Vole acquitted. Only by being an entirely uncredible witness could she get her husband declared innocent. The defendant had obviously been guilty all along, and had committed the crime. He also declared that he was unfaithful and philandering with Diana (Ruta Lee), who arrived in the courtroom to run away with him. Then, with furious and jealous anger, Christine shockingly stabbed him to death for his double-crossing philandering! This climactic murder was followed by Sir Wilfrid’s classic line when he corrected his nurse Miss Plimsoll about the killing: “Killed him? She executed him.” Sir Wilfrid would now serve as Christine’s defense lawyer.

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Did your favorite make our list of the greatest films of 1957?

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