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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 1953 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:

 

Top-grossing Films

RankTitleStudioGross
1.The RobeTwentieth Century Fox$17,500,000
2.From Here to EternityColumbia Pictures$12,500,000
3.ShaneParamount Pictures$8,000,000
4.How to Marry a MillionaireTwentieth Century Fox$7,500,000
5.Peter PanRKO / Walt Disney Productions / Walt Disney Feature Animation$7,000,000
6.Hans Christian AndersenRKO Radio Pictures$6,000,000
7.House of WaxWarner Bros.$5,500,000
8.MogamboMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer$5,200,000
9.Gentlemen Prefer BlondesTwentieth Century Fox$5,100,000
10.SalomeColumbia Pictures$4,750,000

 

Academy Award Winners

Best Picture: From Here to Eternity – Columbia Pictures

Best Director:  Fred Zinnemann – From Here to Eternity

Best Actor: William Holden – Stalag 17

Best Actress: Audrey HepburnRoman Holiday

Best Supporting Actor: Frank Sinatra – From Here to Eternity

Best Supporting Actress: Donna Reed – From Here to Eternity

 

Among Those Who Died In 1953:

The Greatest Films of 1953

 

***POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT FOR ALL***

 

Angel FaceAngel Face

D: Otto Preminger

Diane Tremayne (Jean Simmons) is a confused rich girl.  She idealizes her father (Herbert Marshall) and hates her wealthy stepmother (Barbara O’Neill).  Frank Jessup (Robert Mitchum) is a working stiff who can’t win.  His troubles begin when the ambulance he drives is called to the Tremayne house because of a gas leak in Mrs. Tremayne’s bedroom.  Frank consoles the weeping Diane and when she follows him to a coffee shop he steps out on his girlfriend Mary with her.  So begins the cycle that lands Frank on trial for a murder rap and married to pathologically lovelorn Diane.

 

Poster for the movie "The Band Wagon"

© 1953 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) − All right reserved.

The Band Wagon

D: Vincente Minnelli

A veteran dancer (Fred Astaire) signed up to star in a new stage production, written by his old friends Lily and Lester (Nanette Fabray and Oscar Levant, playing versions of Comden and Green), which sounds right up his alley – a humorous musical about a bestselling writer. However, things start to go wrong when theatrical man of the moment Jeffrey Cordova (Jack Buchanan in pompous overdrive) is brought in to direct the play. He decides to make sweeping changes, turning the comedy into a pretentious reworking of the Faust legend.

Lily and Lester soon realize they are the ones selling their souls, or at least their show – and on opening night they quickly descend into a hell of bad reviews. Then Tony steps in to save the day, in the best spirit of “the show must go on” – and The Band Wagon is turned back into a song and dance spectacular, wowing audiences on a tour around the country.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Beat the DevilBeat the Devil

D: John Huston

Four crooks (Humphrey Bogart, Robert Morley, Peter Lorre, and Marco Tulli) meet up with a British couple (Edward Underdown and Jennifer Jones) as they all make their way from Italy to East Africa in order to obtain, and exploit, uranium rich land.  Billy Dannreuther (Bogart) finds himself bouncing between the three crooks he’s traveling with, his wife (Gina Lollobrigida), and the con woman (Jennifer Jones) who continually feeds him lies while simultaneously professing her love for him.

 

Poster for the movie "The Bigamist"

© 1953 The Filmakers − All right reserved.

The Bigamist

D: Ida Lupino

Harry Graham leads a double life and is caught out when he and his wife Eve apply to adopt a baby. They live in San Francisco but in fact, Harry has a second wife Phyllis and a baby living in Los Angeles. When Mr. Jordan from the adoption agency finds his second home Harry tells him how it came about. He loves Eve but she seemed to be more interested in their family run business and they had grown apart over the years. While on a trip to Los Angeles he met Phyllis Martin and after spending time together, he realized that he had better break off the relationship before they go too far. Unfortunately, the relationship continued and when Phyllis became pregnant, he married her. Now that he’s been found out, he must face the consequences.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "The Big Heat"

© 1953 Columbia Pictures − All right reserved.

The Big Heat

D: Fritz Lang

A dark, very brutal and violent, classic, expressionistic film noir/melodrama and gangster film that explores the seamy underworld of American organized crime. Following the suicide of a guilt-stricken, supposedly-honest fellow cop, homicide Sgt. Dave Bannion (Glenn Ford) is determined to discover the truth. A car bomb meant for him accidentally kills his wife Katie (Jocelyn Brando). Suspended from duty on the force, he tenaciously avenges the mob’s murder of his wife, confronting the city crime ring to uncover the truth. A hard-hitting showdown is destined with ruthless, meglomaniacal kingpin Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby), aided by a sadistic, psychotic thug Vince Stone (Lee Marvin). One of the film’s most celebrated scenes is the coffee-scalding scene – an enraged Stone hurls his boiling coffee into the face of his moll girlfriend Debby Marsh (Gloria Grahame) – in retribution, she courageously aids Bannion’s search for the culprits and returns the coffee-scalding favor to Vince.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "From Here to Eternity"

© 1953 Columbia Pictures Corporation − All right reserved.

From Here to Eternity

D: Fred Zinnemann

Based on James Jones’ best-selling, hard-hitting novel of on-duty/off-duty military life among recruits in the pre-Pearl Harbor era of 1941 – on the eve of WWII. A Best Picture-winner – a combination romance, combat and melodramatic film set at the Schofield Barracks Army base on Oahu. Sensitive bugler Pvt. Robert E. Lee “Prew” Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) is dealt harsh treatment when he stubbornly refuses to fight for the company’s boxing team. The bored company commander’s wife Karen Holmes (Deborah Kerr) engages in a torrid affair with the good-guy Sgt. Milton Warden (Burt Lancaster) – their embrace in the pounding surf is indelibly imprinted in cinematic history. Pruitt falls in love with a nightclub “hostess” (prostitute) Alma (Lorene) (Donna Reed). Meanwhile, Prew’s Italian friend Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra) is tormented by sadistic stockade Sgt. “Fatso” Judson (Ernest Borgnine).

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"

© − All right reserved.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

D: Howard Hawks

Lorelei Lee is a beautiful showgirl engaged to be married to the wealthy Gus Esmond, much to the disapproval of Gus’ rich father, Esmond Sr., who thinks that Lorelei is just after his money. When Lorelei goes on a cruise accompanied only by her best friend, Dorothy Shaw, Esmond Sr. hires Ernie Malone, a private detective, to follow her and report any questionable behavior that would disqualify her from the marriage.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "House of Wax"

© 1953 Bryan Foy Productions − All right reserved.

House of Wax

D: Andre de Toth

Set in New York in the early 20th century, Vincent Price is wax sculptor Professor Henry Jarrod. He and his business partner, Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts) own a museum and Burke tries to encourage Jarrod to create more sensational waxworks so the museum will earn more money. Jarrod refuses and is nearly killed in a fire set by Burke as an insurance fraud. Badly hurt, Jarrod does survive and, aided by deaf-mute Igor (Charles Bronson), opens a new House Of Wax featuring a graphic Chamber Of Horrors – a gallery of notorious crime scenes. What visitors do not realize though is that each waxwork is actually a wax-covered human corpse!

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "I Confess"

© 1953 Warner Bros. − All right reserved.

I Confess

D: Alfred Hitchcock

In this film-noirish crime thriller/drama, humble Canadian (Quebec) priest Father Michael William Logan (Montgomery Clift), an ex-war hero, listened in the church booth to the confidential confessions of his church’s live-in handyman/caretaker Otto Keller (O.E. Hasse), a German refugee. Keller admitted that he had disguised himself as a priest, and in a failed robbery attempt killed lawyer Villette (Ovila Légaré), where he served as part-time gardener. Keller also told his wife Alma (Dolly Haas), the church’s housekeeper about his crime. Innocent, martyr-like Father Logan was implicated and became a prime suspect, after two schoolgirls testified that they saw a priestly figure leaving Villette’s home at the time of the crime. Father Logan was unwilling to reveal his knowlege or his whereabouts (at the time of the murder) to anyone, claiming rigid sanctity known as ‘priest-penitent privilege.’ He also refused to tell anything to Police Inspector Larrue (Karl Malden). During the investigation, Logan’s pre-priesthood lover Ruth Grandfort (Anne Baxter), married to respected Parliament member Pierre Grandfort (Roger Dann), attempted to help by providing Logan with an alibi. She stated that she was meeting with Logan just before the time of Villette’s murder. They were discussing Villette’s blackmailing attempt. [Note: About five years earlier, seen in flashback, Villette scandalously saw the married Ruth and Logan spend the night together during a storm – although they were chaste – and now threatened to divulge this information.] Police turned around her testimony, concluding that Logan had a clear motive to kill Villette. They also discovered (planted) bloody priest’s robes in the bottom of Logan’s chest, with a blood type that matched Villette’s. Father Logan was accused of the murder and went to trial, denying any involvement in the murder, while not revealing anything about Keller’s confession. Prosecutor Willie Robertson (Brian Aherne) insinuated (unfairly) that Logan and Ruth were having an ongoing affair. The jury ruled that Logan was not guilty, because of insufficient evidence. As Logan left the courtroom, the angry, suspicious and hostile crowd believed he was guilty. Knowing the truth of the murderer’s identity, Keller’s wife Alma attempted to tell a policeman that her husband was the real killer – she was silenced by a bullet from the panic-stricken Keller. The police went to arrest Keller, cornered in a hotel ballroom. The killer incriminated himself when he accused Logan of hypocrisy – by telling the police about his confession. When Father Logan approached Keller to plead with him to surrender, Keller attempted to shoot Logan, but was killed by a police sniper.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "Julius Caesar"

© 1953 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) − All right reserved.

Julius Caesar

D: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Based on Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar tells the story of a group of Roman conspirators who plot to murder Caesar (Louis Calhern) before his ambition for power turns to tyranny.  Brutus (James Mason) unites them under this cause for the greater good of Rome, but truthfully, Cassius (John Gielgud) and the other men murder out of their own envy of power.  Caesar is warned, “Beware the Ides of March!” by a blind soothsayer and Calpurnia (Greer Garson) warns him of an ominous dream she had, but Caesar has an image to maintain and he ignores both warnings only to be murdered by the men he trusted.  When Caesar’s right hand man, Marc Antony (Marlon Brando), learns of the conspiracy and murder, he cunningly proves his loyalty to Caesar and turns the Roman people against Brutus, drives the conspirators out of Roma and assembles a more powerful army to track them down and kill them.

 Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "The Naked Spur"

© 1953 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) − All right reserved.

The Naked Spur

D: Anthony Mann

James Stewart is a bounty hunter in Colorado territory after killer Robert Ryan. Stewart’s efforts to bring in Ryan and collect the reward are compromised by the presence of Ryan’s loyal girl friend Janet Leigh and Stewart’s two disreputable sidekicks, wily prospector Millard Mitchell and disgraced Union-officer Ralph Meeker.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "Niagara"

© 1953 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation − All right reserved.

Niagara

D: Henry Hathaway

Rose Loomis and her older, gloomier husband, George, are vacationing at a cabin in Niagara Falls, N.Y. The couple befriend Polly and Ray Cutler, who are honeymooning in the area. Polly begins to suspect that something is amiss between Rose and George, and her suspicions grow when she sees Rose in the arms of another man. While Ray initially thinks Polly is overreacting, things between George and Rose soon take a shockingly dark turn.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Pickup on South StreetPickup on South Street

D: Samuel Fuller

Jean Peters stars as tough girl Candy, who is unwittingly carrying microfilm for Communist spies when a pickpocket loots her purse on the subway. The thief turns out to be Skip McCoy (Richard Widmark), newly released from prison but already up to his old tricks. Jean’s ex-boyfriend, Joey (Richard Kiley), presses her to recover the film from Skip, which sends Candy to Moe (Thelma Ritter) for information. Meanwhile, the cops and government agents are tracking all of them in a desperate bid to keep the information from reaching its final destination.

 

 

Poster for the movie "The Robe"

© 1953 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation − All right reserved.

The Robe

D: Henry Koster

Marcellus is a tribune in the time of Christ. He is in charge of the group that is assigned to crucify Jesus. Drunk, he wins Jesus’ homespun robe after the crucifixion. He is tormented by nightmares and delusions after the event. Hoping to find a way to live with what he has done, and still not believing in Jesus, he returns to Palestine to try and learn what he can of the man he killed.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "Roman Holiday"

© 1953 Paramount Pictures − All right reserved.

Roman Holiday

D: William Wyler

An Oscar-winning story from Hollywood Ten blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who was fronted by Ian McLellan Hunter. The delightful, old-fashioned, dramatic, fairy-tale courtship film was shot on location and contains the first major starring role of the much-beloved Audrey Hepburn. A modern-day Princess (Audrey Hepburn) is quickly bored with ceremonial protocol during an official visit to Rome. After slipping away from her attendants and entourage, she goes ‘incognito’ and encounters an American newspaperman Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) who sees an opportunity for an exclusive scoop. However, romance blossoms between them during their ‘common people’ adventures throughout the city, as they are pursued by the journalist’s photographer friend Irving (Eddie Albert) who takes candid photos. The newspaperman’s intentions change when he realizes he’s falling in love.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "Shane"

© 1953 Paramount Pictures Corporation − All right reserved.

Shane

D: George Stevens

A classic adult Western based on the novel by Jack Schaefer, about a lone, handsome gunfighter Shane (Alan Ladd), who drifts into a beautiful 19th century Wyoming valley. As a hired hand for the pioneer homesteading Starrett family, Marion (Jean Arthur) and Joe (Van Heflin), Shane is goaded into valiantly defending them and other farmers from vicious threats made by ruthless cattle ranch baron Ryker (Emile Meyer), and hired, black-outfitted gunslinger Wilson (Jack Palance). The family’s young son Joey (Brandon de Wilde) worships the heroics and bravery of Shane, and is heartbroken when the nomadic loner rides off at the film’s conclusion.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Stalag 17 Stalag 17

D: Billy Wilder

It’s a dreary Christmas 1944 for the American POWs in Stalag 17. For the men in Barracks 4, all sergeants, have to deal with a grave problem – there seems to be a security leak. The Germans always seem to be forewarned about escapes and in the most recent attempt the two men, Manfredi and Johnson, walked straight into a trap and were killed. For some in Barracks 4, especially the loud-mouthed Duke, the leaker is obvious: J.J. Sefton, a wheeler-dealer who doesn’t hesitate to trade with the guards and who has acquired goods and privileges that no other prisoner seems to have. Sefton denies giving the Germans any information and makes it quite clear that he has no intention of ever trying to escape. He plans to ride out the war in what little comfort he can arrange, but it doesn’t extend to spying for the Germans.

 

Poster for the movie "The War of the Worlds"

© 1953 Paramount Pictures − All right reserved.

The War of the Worlds

D: Byron Haskin

 H.G. Wells science fiction classic The residents of a small town are excited when a flaming meteor lands in the hills, but their joy is short-lived when they discover it has passengers who are not very friendly.

Gene Barry stars as Dr. Clayton Forrester, an astrophysicist from the Pacific Institute of Science and Technology, whose fishing trip is interrupted when a meteor lands in a small California town. At the meteor site, Forrester meets Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson), an attractive USC library science teacher. She starts babbling about the great Clayton Forrester–unaware that she is talking with him.

The meteor, of course, turns out be one of many Martian spacecrafts sent as part of an epic invasion. In no time at all, cities like Paris are crumbling to the ground as the Earth’s weapons prove useless against the invaders’ most advanced technology. Can the Earth be saved?

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Poster for the movie "The Wild One"

© 1953 Stanley Kramer Productions − All right reserved.

The Wild One

D: Laslo Benedek

Johnny (Brando) is a leader of a motorcycle club known as The Black Rebels.  One day they crash a motorcycle race and steal the second place trophy for Johnny.  They then move on to a small town where they proceed to generally act up and scare the local citizenry.  Johnny is attracted to Kathie who works at the bar/cafe but backs off when he finds out that her father is the local sheriff.  Johnny hates cops.

Then a rival gang, The Beetles, shows up led by Chino (Lee Marvin).  He challenges Johnny and they have a fist fight.  Later, Johnny has to rescue Kathy from some gang members who have surrounded her and are scaring her to death.  Things get out of control and some of the locals decide to take matters into their own hands.  Johnny wants to pull out of the town but the gang isn’t cooperating.  Then a fatal accident gets him in even deeper.

Learn more and watch the preview here.

 

Did your favorite make our list of the greatest films of 1953?

Greatest Films from:

1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934 | 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939

1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943 | 1944 | 1945 | 1946 |1947 | 1948 | 1949

1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953 | 1954 | 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 |1959