We are out of the Mad Men era and into the Masters Of Sex time period. 1959 proved a solid year with epic classics, cult classics, good movies and enjoyably bad ones. There was something worthwhile it seems, in almost every genre.
WINNER - Ben-Hur
Anatomy Of A Murder
Room At The Top
The Diary Of Anne Frank
The Nun's Story
And now for my picks
I guess if comic superhero films are the fad now, the historical period epic was a fad of Hollywood yesteryear. Ben-Hur is one of the biggest and tops in the category. And the biggest star of the time of these proto-blockbusters was Charlton Heston. The man was larger than life and starring in movies that were larger than life as well. If you think about it, he really was the Arnold Schwarzenegger of his day.
House On Haunted Hill
The crown jewel for William Castle films and also one of Vincent's Price's most notable works. The scares may not be there, even though a respect can be given for their effort and idea behind the execution. But, I still think the mystery at the center of House On Haunted Hill is still fun and works today. More on this one HERE.
North By Northwest
One of cinema's all time great adventures. Referred to as "Ultimate Hitchcock", this film takes a prototype Hitch had been using since his early days in British cinema and nails it to perfect. This is the ultimate adventure, mystery, thriller and suspense movies Hollywood has ever scene. It even features one of Hollywood's greatest and most iconic action sequences. I love absolutely EVERYTHING about this movie, its an all timer for me (I believe in a recent listing, I had both it and Psycho in my Top 10). Cary Grant, James Mason, Eva Marie Saint and even a young Martin Landau are terrific here. I love the score as well. This movie just picks up and moves. When it first came out on Blu-ray, no joke, I think I watched it 4 times in 1 week.
Plan 9 From Outer Space
If you know me, I have a penchant for the "bad" as much as the good. I'd rather sit through a glorious failure than an average/safe/mediocre film any day of the week. I grew up on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and love "new discoveries" of this ilk. Here is the grandaddy film of that sort of genre, Ed Wood's masterpiece Plan 9 From Outerspace. This movie is incredibly charming, silly and a fun movie to watch especially in a group.
Howard Hawks' western wasn't one that was well received on arrival, but since has garnered some acclaim. This John Wayne & Dean Martin pair up western wasn't pleasing critics at the time, but many young filmmakers (including John Carpenter) were taking note and finding inspiration. The film has also been remade a few times as well. Its a story of defending while being holed up. And I'm not quite sure, but it may be a film that sort of introduced this concept. The complaints of it being slow may have been due to being "stuck" and an audience not being familiar with that.
Some Like It Hot
One of old Hollywood's greatest comedies (Still think its funny today, but ya never know...kids lol) and quite possibly (easily?) the best film from bombshell Marilyn Monroe. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis make a fine comedic pairing and throwing Marilyn in the mix with them helps enhance her performance as well. America has always loved comedies feature men in women's clothing or fat suits and this is one of the earlier success of such a thing!