All articles and pages may contain affiliate links. You can read our disclosure policy here. Edward G Robinson

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 19 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:

  • Claudia Cardinale – Goha
  • Patty Duke – Country Music Holiday
  • Ian Holm – Girls at Sea
  • Jack Nicholson – The Cry Baby Killer
  • Suzanne Pleshette – The Geisha Boy
  • Christopher Plummer – Stage Struck
  • Vanessa Redgrave – Behind the Mask
  • Oliver Reed – The Square Peg
  • Don Rickles – Run Silent, Run Deep

 

Top-grossing Films

RankTitleStudioGross rental
1.South Pacific20th Century Fox$16,300,000
2.Auntie MameWarner Bros.$9,100,000
3.Cat on a Hot Tin RoofMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer$7,800,000
4.No Time for SergeantsWarner Bros.$7,500,000
5.GigiMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer$6,700,000
6.The VikingsUnited Artists$6,000,000
7.VertigoParamount Pictures$5,306,000
8.The Young Lions20th Century Fox$4,480,000
9.Some Came RunningMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer$4,442,000
10.The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw20th Century Fox$4,410,000

 

Academy Award Winners

Best Picture: Gigi – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Best Director: Vincente MinnelliGigi

Best Actor: David NivenSeparate Tables

Best Actress: Susan HaywardI Want to Live!

Best Supporting Actor: Burl IvesThe Big Country

Best Supporting Actress: Wendy HillerSeparate Tables

 

Among Those Who Died In 1958:

  • January 11 – Edna Purviance, 62, American actress, The Kid, A Woman of Paris
  • January 13 – Jesse L. Lasky, 77, American producer, Wings, The Cocoanuts
  • February 13 – Helen Twelvetrees, 49, American actress, A Bedtime Story, Now I’ll Tell
  • February 15 – William Berke, 54, American director, Dick Tracy, FBI Girl
  • February 17 – Tala Birell, 50, Romanian actress, Women in the Night, Dangerous Millions
  • February 27 – Harry Cohn, 66, American film executive, co-founder of CBS Sales Association (Columbia Pictures), Platinum Blonde, American Madness
  • March 22
    • Mike Todd, 48, American producer, Around the World in 80 Days, This Is Cinerama
    • Art Cohn, 48, American screenwriter, The Set-Up, Ten Thousand Bedrooms
  • April 9 – Sol M. Wurtzel, 67, American producer, Charlie Chan in Rio, Bright Eyes
  • April 15 – Estelle Taylor, 63, American actress, Cimarron, The Ten Commandments
  • May 2 – Henry Cornelius, 44, South African director, Genevieve, I Am a Camera
  • May 19 – Ronald Colman, 67, British actor, Lost Horizon, Random Harvest
  • June 6 – Virginia Pearson, 72, American actress, The Phantom of the Opera, The Wizard of Oz
  • June 9 – Robert Donat, 53, British actor, The 39 Steps, Goodbye, Mr. Chips
  • July 11 – Evelyn Varden, 65, American actress, The Night of the Hunter, Ten Thousand Bedrooms
  • July 20 – Franklin Pangborn, 69, American actor, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, The Bank Dick
  • August 8 – Barbara Bennett, 51, American actress, Black Jack, Syncopation
  • August 18 – Bonar Colleano, 34, British actor, Eight Iron Men, Joe MacBeth
  • August 21 – Kurt Neumann, 50, German director, The Fly, Mohawk
  • August 27 – Priscilla Lawson, 44, American actress, Flash Gordon, Rose Bowl
  • October 4 – Ida Wüst, 74, German actress, Chamber Music
  • November 15 – Tyrone Power, 44, American actor, Witness for the Prosecution, The Mark of Zorro
  • December 1 – Boots Mallory, 45, American actress, Sing Sing Nights, Here’s Flash Casey
  • December 20 – Elisabeth Risdon, 71, British actress, Florence Nightingale, Five Came Back
  • December 21 – H. B. Warner, 83, British actor, Lost Horizon, It’s a Wonderful Life

The Greatest Films of 1958

 

***POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT FOR ALL***

 

Poster for the movie "Auntie Mame"

© − All right reserved.

Auntie Mame

D: Morton DaCosta

Ten-year-old orphan Patrick Dennis has come to live with his nearest relative and in the high times ahead, he’s not going to believe his luck. Nor will you, because Patrick’s relation is played by one of Hollywood’s grandest dames. Reprising her Broadway triumph, Rosalind Russell won her fourth Oscar nomination and third Golden Globe Award as the marvelous madcap who lives life to the hilt. Auntie Mame brings to bubbly life the mayhem Mame and her cronies create while guiding Patrick’s fortunes. “Life is a banquet,” Mame says, “and most poor suckers are starving to death!” With wit, style and a seasoned cast to dish humor and heart with gusto, Auntie Mame is a full-course meal of entertainment magic.

Learn more and watch the preview here

 

Poster for the movie "The Big Country"

© 1958 United Artists − All right reserved.

The Big Country

D: William Wyler

Retired, wealthy sea Captain Jame McKay arrives in the vast expanse of the West to marry fiancée Pat Terrill. McKay is a man whose values and approach to life are a mystery to the ranchers and ranch foreman Steve Leech takes an immediate dislike to him. Pat is spoiled, selfish and controlled by her wealthy father, Major Henry Terrill. The Major is involved in a ruthless civil war, over watering rights for cattle, with a rough hewn clan led by Rufus Hannassey. The land in question is owned by Julie Maragon and both Terrill and Hannassey want it.

Learn more and watch the preview here

 

Poster for the movie "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"

© 1958 Avon Production − All right reserved.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

D: Richard Brooks

The powerful, highly-charged, moving story of a neurotic, dysfunctional Southern family with its rivalries, tensions, and avarice. Its provocative screenplay by Richard Brooks and James Poe was adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name by Tennessee Williams.

Learn more and watch the preview here

 

Poster for the movie "The Defiant Ones"

© 1958 Stanley Kramer Productions − All right reserved.

The Defiant Ones

D: Stanley Kramer

A swift and exciting dramatic action-crime film, known for its symbolic and memorable image of two escaped convicts (Joker and Cullen), one white and one black. The two are tied together by 29 inch long shackles, and face a hostile posse of townspeople and authorities, a lynching mob, barking bloodhounds, and a swamp. As they struggle together, they slowly began to accept each other.

 

Poster for the movie "Gigi"

© 1958 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) − All right reserved.

Gigi

D: Vincente Minnelli

A home, a motorcar, servants, the latest fashions: the most eligible and most finicky bachelor (Louis Jourdan) in Paris offers them all to Gigi (Leslie Caron). But she, who’s gone from girlish gawkishness to cultured glamour before our eyes, yearns for that wonderful something money can’t buy

Learn more and watch the preview here

 

Poster for the movie "Horror of Dracula"

© 1958 Hammer Film Productions − All right reserved.

Horror of Dracula

D: Terence Fisher

After Jonathan Harker attacks Dracula at his castle (apparently somewhere in Germany), the vampire travels to a nearby city, where he preys on the family of Harker’s fiancée. The only one who may be able to protect them is Dr. van Helsing, Harker’s friend and fellow-student of vampires, who is determined to destroy Dracula, whatever the cost.

Learn more and watch the preview here

 

Poster for the movie "I Want to Live!"

© 1958 United Artists − All right reserved.

I Want to Live!

D: Robert Wise

A film-noir, low-budget, gritty biographical (yet heavily fictionalized) crime drama (with an original jazzy score) about capital punishment. Petty criminal (burglary, forgery, perjury), prostitute (“party girl”), and drug addict Barbara Graham (Susan Hayward) was also associated with West Coast low-life, underworld figures. She acted as a “shill” – bringing in unsuspecting men to be fleeced at a gambling parlor. Graham was charged by a grand jury with the brutal murder of crippled, 64 year-old widow Mabel Monahan during a robbery attempt in her Burbank, CA home in 1953, along with three known criminal accomplices: Emmett Perkins (Philip Coolidge), John R. ‘Jack’ Santo (Lou Krugman), and Bruce King (James Philbrook). Reportedly, the murder victim had $100,000 hidden somewhere in her home, but wouldn’t divulge where. Although Graham was questioned thoroughly, she claimed her innocence, but her sordid past would cause her to be regarded as guilty from the start (without presumption of innocence). For the trial, she was defended by attorney Richard Tibrow (Gage Clarke). During the trial, King had been granted immunity, and claimed that Graham was a partner in the crime (she was nicknamed “Bloody Babs”). She had no solid or credible alibi – it couldn’t be proved that she was home with her shifty, drug-addicted bartender-husband Henry/Hank and child on the evening of the crime. Wired undercover police detective Ben Miranda (Peter Breck) entrapped the desperate and anxious Graham (fearing the death penalty) into confessing, when she was falsely promised an alibi. She was convicted of the crime in 1954, and sentenced to death. During the torturously-long appeals process, she was represented by San Francisco newspaperman Ed Montgomery (Simon Oakland), and defended by psychologist Carl Palmberg (Theodore Bikel), who claimed she was anti-social, but not violent. However, her verdict could not be overturned ultimately, and she was not able to obtain clemency from the governor. After a few last-minute stays of execution were exhausted, 31 year-old Graham was sent to the gas chamber of San Quentin on June 3, 1955. The death scene was memorable. When strapping her in a chair, preparing the chemicals, and masking her, the prison guard added: “When you hear the pellets drop, count ten. Take a deep breath. It’s easier that way.” Graham quipped: “How do you know?”

Learn more and watch the preview here

 

Poster for the movie "Man of the West"

© 1958 Ashton Productions − All right reserved.

Man of the West 

D: Anthony Mann

Heading east to Fort Worth to hire a schoolteacher for his frontier town home, Link Jones is stranded with singer Billie Ellis and gambler Sam Beasley when their train is held up. For shelter, Jones leads them to his nearby former home, where he was brought up an outlaw. Finding the gang still living in the shack, Jones pretends to be ready to return to a life crime.

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Poster for the movie "Separate Tables"

© 1958 Hecht-Hill-Lancaster Productions − All right reserved.

Separate Tables

D: Delbert Mann

It’s the off-season at the lonely Beauregard Hotel in Bournemoth, and only the long-term tenants are still in residence. Life at the Beauregard is stirred up, however, when the beautiful Ann Shankland arrives to see her alcoholic ex-husband, John Malcolm, who is secretly engaged to Pat Cooper, the woman who runs the hotel. Meanwhile, snobbish Mrs Railton-Bell discovers that the kindly if rather doddering Major Pollock is not what he appears to be. The news is particularly shocking for her frail daughter, Sibyl, who is secretly in love with the Major.

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Poster for the movie "Some Came Running"

© − All right reserved.

Some Came Running

D: Vincente Minnelli

Hard-drinking novelist Dave Hirsh (Frank Sinatra) returns home after being gone for years. His brother (Arthur Kennedy) wants Dave to settle down, and introduces him to English teacher Gwen French (Martha Hyer). Moody Dave resents his brother, and spends his days hanging out with Bama Dillert (Dean Martin), a professional gambler who parties late into the night. Torn between the admiring Gwen and Ginny Morehead (Shirley MacLaine), an easy woman who loves him, Dave grows increasingly angry.

Learn more and watch the preview here

 

Poster for the movie "Touch of Evil"

© 1958 Universal International Pictures (UI) − All right reserved.

Touch of Evil

D: Orson Welles

An off-beat, twisted, dark and sweaty, film noirish thriller, with murder, police corruption, kidnapping, betrayal, perversion and more in a squalid Mexican-American border town. Opens with a daring, captivating single-take sequence, ending with the explosive, car-bomb murder of an American businessman on the American side of the border. A self-righteous narcotics agent ‘Mike’ Vargas (Charlton Heston) becomes snarled in the local investigation with a grotesque, police captain Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles), ignoring his honeymooning bride Susan (Janet Leigh) who is meanwhile being terrorized in an out-of-the-way motel by a menacing gang. The experienced, old-time cop Quinlan habitually fabricates evidence to convict the guilty (even though his instincts are usually correct) and frames a young Mexican for the murder, putting him into conflict with the narcotics detective. The corrupt, overweight police captain is finally brought down by Vargas’ persistent, perilous efforts with the cooperation of Quinlan’s long-time partner Sgt. Pete Menzies (Joseph Calleia).

Learn more and watch the preview here

 

Poster for the movie "Vertigo"

© 1958 Paramount Pictures − All right reserved.

Vertigo (1958), 128 minutes, D: Alfred Hitchcock

Arguably Hitchcock’s most complex, most analyzed, compelling masterpiece, involving a man’s compulsive obsession to exploitatively manipulate and transform a woman to match his fantasy. Vertigo-suffering, acrophobic detective John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson (James Stewart) trails an old college friend Gavin Elster’s (Tom Helmore) wife as she wanders around San Francisco – a cool, blonde named Madeleine (Kim Novak). Meanwhile, Scottie’s friend ‘Midge’ Wood (Barbara Bel Geddes) expresses unrequited love for him. Madeleine’s obsession with a tragic ancestor Carlotta Valdez intrigues Scottie, and after saving her from a suicidal jump into the Bay, he falls in love with her. When she falls to her death from a tower in an assumed suicide, he spirals down into a deep depression. Haunted and obsessed with the dead woman, he meets her lower-class double Judy (Novak again) and manipulates her into changing into the dead Madeleine’s image – with mad consequences in the uncompromising conclusion.

Learn more and watch the preview here

 

Did  your favorite film make our list of the greatest films of 1958?

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