Classic Film Adaptations in the 1950s

The film industry has been on a major rise ever since the 1950s probably because this was the era when many new actors and directors entered Hollywood. There were several film genres introduced while the arrival of colored films was also seen in this decade. There have been so many amazing books written during this era that they were also turned into films. Classic film adaptations in the 1950s were a source of inspiration for many. 

Classic Film Adaptations in the 1950s

12 Angry Men

One of the very well-known films of the 1950s is 12 Angry Men which was adapted from a play written by Reginald Rose of the same name. The movie was released in 1957, three years after the play was written by Reginald Rose. With a budget of only $337,000, the film was highly successful with earnings over $2 million in terms of rentals. Stars of the film include Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, and Ed Begley.

12 Angry Men is a story about 12 men from the jury who deliberate the conviction of an 18-year old defendant. The only thing behind this judgment is a reasonable doubt questioning the personality and moral values of the jury. The film was successful because it raised a major question on the process of consensus, jury system, and how a range of personalities could lead to a contradiction among the members. The film has been selected as the second-best courtroom drama film by American Film Institute. 


Gigi was a musical romance film released in 1958. The film director was Vincente Minnelli with stars such as Leslie Caron, Louis Jourdan, Maurice Chevalier, Hermione Gingold and Eva Gabor. The film has been adapted from the 1944 novella of the same name by Colette. The film was a huge success of the decade because it won all 9 nominations of the 31st Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. This record was held by the film up until 2004. 

Gigi is about a playboy named Gaston who is constantly shifting from one girl to another but also spends time with a younger friend named Gigi. Since the relationship isn’t proper and a more platonic one, the girl does not accept it. The movie is about the big question that Gaston faces whether he would choose to be with Gigi only or he can enjoy his carefree life. The movie is truly an interesting one that takes you on a joyride of emotions. 

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On the Beach 

On the Beach was a quite different film and we didn’t expect to be shown too much science in the 1950s but this film did. The 1959 film shows a post-apocalyptic situation and how the world looks after a nuclear war. The film has been based on the same-name novel by Nevil Shute which was written in 1957. What we found quite interesting is that the film questioned as to what could possibly happen in case of an accident, or a misjudgment from a nuclear plant or war weapons. 

The film ends in a sad gloomy world where no humans have survived but only the banner can be seen “There is still time… brother”. The film director was Stanley Kramer and had stars including Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Fred Astaire. In 1959, it was one of those films with a very high budget of $2.9 million. Several differences were observed between the novel and the film and one of the main ones was that the novel clearly highlighted why the nuclear war started and whose responsibility was it whereas the movie does not have any specific mention. 

Shake Hands with the Devil

As the name suggests, Shake Hands with the Devil is truly an interesting film based on battles between Irish Republican Army and Black and Tans who were the ex-British soldiers to suppress the rebels. The film showed a sad picture of the aftermath of war and how it could be cruel for so many families. The movie also records the war practices used at that time and the various strategies that are being used against the hostile forces. 

The main stars of this film included James Cagney and Don Murray. Dana Wynter and Glynis Johns are also featured in the film. Shake Hands with the Devil is for those who would want to learn more about warfare, weapons, and how the 1950s war films looked like. It has been based on the same name novel written by Rearden Conner in 1933. The film was produced in Dublin with the director being Micheal Anderson. IMDB has given the movie a score of 7 out of 10 which isn’t bad. 

If you are interested in horror movies, you should see some vintage ones as well. Find out more – Best Horror Movies of the 1950s.

A Night to Remember

Many of you might not know this but the historical account of Titanic was first filmed in this movie. A Night to Remember is a British disaster film showing the last night of the Titanic which sank in the Atlantic Ocean. The film has been based on the same name book by Walter Lord which was written in 1955. Film stars include Kenneth More, Charles Lightoller, Micheal Goodliffe, and David McCallum.

Most of us have seen the Titanic and for them, watching this one would be incredible because this film has been described as “definitive cinematic telling of the story”. It is considered more accurate than the modest version of Titanic. Back then, it was the most expensive film made in Britain costing around £600,000 but could not cover its budget from the film sales and rentals. We recommend all disaster film lovers to watch it over the weekend.

Treasure Island

Treasure Island was released in 1950 and was based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson which was written in 1883. The film has been produced by Walt Disney Productions and Directed by Byron Haskin. Film stars included Bobby Driscoll and Robert Newton. Treasure Island was a milestone film in the history of Disney because it was the first live-action film and first screen version made in colored form. Treasure Island is also a great movie to watch with the kids. 

The film shows that Jim Hawkins finds a map to a treasure of Captain Flint. The story is about a voyage on the Caribbean Sea aboard Hispaniola. The film is about this voyage and how the crew members are able to find the treasure with all the difficulties. Stream it online with your family and begin your voyage for the treasure hunt. The film was made with a budget of $1.8 million and was able to earn a sum of $4.1 million through worldwide rentals. The movie was filmed in England. 

Interested in learning about some of the top inventions of the 1960s? We have them listed over here – 1960s Technology News In Review.

A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire was one of the best films of the 1950s which was adapted from a play of the same name written by Tennessee Williams in 1947. The movie is about a troubled school teacher who leaves the town and moves with her sister. The problem arises when this schoolteacher has a flirtatious nature which causes problems between the sister and her husband. The film revolves around several personal issues that arise between the trio and how these issues increase and then resolve over time.

It is seen that those films which had a lot of emotional drama were quite popular in the 1950s and this one was definitely one of them. A Streetcar Named Desire was the fifth biggest hit of the year 1951 and earned a grand sum of $4.25 million. It has also been selected by the US National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being aesthetically significant. There were several changes between the film and the play by Broadway Productions. Stars of the film include Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando.  

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The 1950s has been an amazing decade for all kinds of movies. Hollywood was just undergoing a major change in this era mainly because of the transition between Black and White films and colored films. This decade introduced so many amazing actors and directors who created films adapted from several successful plays and novels. The above-mentioned films are truly some of the most astounding ones based on their unique storylines and some classy acting by the talented film stars.