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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 1959 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 CoburnRide Lonesome
  • Mia Farrow – John Paul Jones
  • Richard Harris – Shake Hands with the Devil
  • Martin Landau – Pork Chop Hill
  • Martin Scorsese – Vesuvius VI
  • George C. Scott – The Hanging Tree
  • Steven Spielberg – The Lost Guy


Top-grossing Films

2.Sleeping Beauty*Disney$21,998,000
3.North by NorthwestMGM$12,703,000
4.Some Like It HotUnited Artists$10,128,000
5.Pillow TalkUniversal-International$9,670,000
6.Imitation of LifeUniversal-International$9.618,000
7.Suddenly, Last SummerColumbia$6,375,000
8.The Nun’s StoryWarner Bros.$5,750,000
9.Rio BravoWarner Bros.$5,650,000
10.Anatomy of a MurderColumbia$5,500,000
11.The Diary of Anne Frank20th Century Fox$5,014,000
12.On the BeachUnited Artists$4,803,000
13.Operation PetticoatUniversal-International$3,950,000
14.The Best of Everything20th Century Fox$3,500,000
15.Godzilla Raids AgainWarner Bros.$1,952,000

(*) After theatrical re-issue(s)

Academy Award Winners

Best Picture: Ben-Hur — Sam Zimbalist, Producer

Best Director: William Wyler — Ben-Hur  

Best Actor: Charlton Heston — Ben-Hur

Best Actress: Simone Signoret — Room at the Top

Best Supporting Actor: Hugh Griffith — Ben-Hur

Best Supporting ActressShelley WintersThe Diary of Anne Frank


Among Those Who Died In 1959:

The Greatest Films of 1959




Poster for the movie "Anatomy of a Murder"

© 1959 Columbia Pictures − All right reserved.

Anatomy of a Murder

D: Otto Preminger

Army officer Lt. Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara) was charged with the murder of the owner of Thunder Bay Inn, Barney Quill. Manion turned himself in after shooting and killing Quill, and was arrested for murder. Manion alleged that Quill had raped his attractive wife Laura (Lee Remick). Country-styled Paul Biegler (James Stewart), more interested in jazz piano and fishing than trying cases, was hired to represent and defend Manion. During questioning, the couple claimed that Quill beat and raped Laura – and afterwards, under an “irresistible impulse,” calmly strode to the tave