1959 Movies

The Plex database stands as a detailed catalog of 1959's cinematic offerings. It showcases a variety of films released in that year, providing movie enthusiasts with a focused and thorough resource for exploration.
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The Best Movies of 1959

Some Like It Hot

Directed by Billy Wilder, "Some Like It Hot" stands out as a unique blend of comedy, music, and romance. Starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon, the film presents a story of two male musicians who, after witnessing a mob hit, flee in disguise as women in an all-female band. The film's humor largely stems from the situations and complications arising from their disguise. Its enduring appeal lies in its witty script, remarkable performances, and its progressive take on gender roles for its time.

Anatomy of a Murder

"Anatomy of a Murder," directed by Otto Preminger, is a compelling drama and mystery. Featuring James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, and Arthur O'Connell, the film delves into the story of a Michigan lawyer who defends a soldier. The soldier claims temporary insanity after killing an innkeeper who allegedly raped his wife. Noteworthy for its courtroom drama and ethical quandaries, the film offers a gripping narrative and complex characters, making it a standout piece in the genre.

North by Northwest

Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest" is an action-packed adventure and mystery. Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, and James Mason bring to life a story about a New York City advertising executive mistakenly identified as a government agent. This leads to a perilous cross-country journey. The film is renowned for its iconic scenes and Hitchcock's masterful suspense-building, making it a must-watch for fans of the genre.

Pillow Talk

"Pillow Talk," directed by Michael Gordon, combines comedy and romance in a captivating manner. Starring Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Tony Randall, and Thelma Ritter, the film revolves around an interior decorator and a playboy songwriter who share a party line. Their initial animosity turns into romance, offering a charming narrative. The film is celebrated for its sharp dialogue, the chemistry between Hudson and Day, and its lighthearted take on romantic entanglements.

A Summer Place

Directed by Delmer Daves, "A Summer Place" is a drama and romance film starring Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee. It explores the story of a self-made businessman whose past resurfaces, impacting his family. The film is notable for its exploration of social issues and relationship dynamics, alongside its memorable score, which has become synonymous with the era's romantic dramas.

Hiroshima Mon Amour

"Hiroshima Mon Amour," a drama and romance film by Alain Resnais, features Emmanuelle Riva and Eiji Okada. It tells the story of a French actress and a Japanese architect who share their experiences of war while having an affair. The film is recognized for its narrative structure, blending past and present, and its profound exploration of memory and trauma.

I'm All Right Jack

John Boulting's "I'm All Right Jack" is a comedy that stars Ian Carmichael, Terry-Thomas, and Peter Sellers. The plot centers on a naive aristocrat navigating the class divide between his working-class uncle and high-class employer. The film's satire of industrial life and labor relations in Britain, along with Sellers' performance, has earned it a place as a notable film of its era.


"Ben-Hur," directed by William Wyler, is an epic historical drama featuring Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, and Haya Harareet. The film follows a Jewish prince who seeks revenge after being betrayed and enslaved by a Roman friend. Notable for its grand scale, including the famous chariot race scene, "Ben-Hur" is a cinematic landmark for its storytelling and technical achievements.

The 400 Blows

François Truffaut's "The 400 Blows" is a French drama starring Jean-Pierre Léaud. It portrays the life of a misunderstood adolescent in Paris, dealing with neglect from parents and teachers. The film is critical for its portrayal of youth and rebellion and is regarded as a key film in the French New Wave movement.

Rio Bravo

Howard Hawks' "Rio Bravo" is a traditional western starring John Wayne, Angie Dickinson, and Dean Martin. The story focuses on a small-town sheriff who collaborates with unlikely allies to hold a criminal in jail. Known for its character-driven plot and memorable performances, "Rio Bravo" stands out as a classic in the western genre.

1959 Movies & Industry Highlights

The Financial Scene of 1959 Films

In North American cinema, certain films stood out in 1959 for their remarkable financial success. "Ben-Hur," distributed by MGM, not only achieved a staggering box office revenue of $36,000,000 but also set a record with its 11 Academy Awards victories. This film's achievement in both financial and critical realms underscores its significant impact on the film industry of that era.

Other films also made notable financial impacts. "The Shaggy Dog," bringing in $9,600,000, and "Operation Petticoat," with earnings of $9,321,555, were significant contributors to the year's cinematic financial success. "Some Like It Hot" and "Pillow Talk" also garnered considerable box office receipts, with totals of $8,127,835 and $7,669,713 respectively. These figures reflect a diverse range of genres and styles resonating with audiences of the time.

Technological Advancements and Genre Innovations

1959 was a year marked by technological advancements and genre innovations in the film industry. Walt Disney's "Sleeping Beauty," the company's 16th animated film, stood out not only for its artistic style but also for being the first animated film presented in 70mm film and modern 6-track stereophonic sound. This technological leap forward represented a significant milestone in the evolution of animated filmmaking.

The sword and sandals genre gained momentum in the United States with the promotion of "Hercules," starring Steve Reeves. Promoted by Joseph E. Levine, this film played an essential role in popularizing a genre that would become a staple in cinematic offerings for years to come. Additionally, "The Big Fisherman" became the first film to be released in Super Panavision 70, marking another step forward in cinematic technology and presentation.

The French New Wave

The French New Wave, known as "La Nouvelle Vague," was a significant movement in cinema during 1959. This movement was highlighted by the release of François Truffaut's "The 400 Blows" and Marcel Camus' "Black Orpheus." These films were not just movies; they were statements of a new cinematic language, characterized by innovative storytelling, visual style, and a departure from traditional filmmaking norms. The French New Wave's influence extended far beyond France, impacting filmmakers and audiences worldwide, and redefining what cinema could be.

Marlon Brando's Landmark Achievement

Marlon Brando's career reached a significant milestone in 1959. He became the first actor to receive a $1 million paycheck for a single film role, for his performance in the screen adaptation of Tennessee Williams' play "Orpheus Descending," retitled "The Fugitive Kind." This financial milestone for an actor was indicative of the changing dynamics within the film industry, where star power began to command substantial financial recognition.

Critical Acclaim and Enduring Influence

The films of 1959 were not just financially successful; many also received critical acclaim, leaving a lasting impact on the film industry and audiences alike. "The 400 Blows" and "Some Like It Hot" were among these critically acclaimed films, along with "North by Northwest" and "Ben-Hur." These films showcased a range of genres and styles, from exciting suspense to historical epics, and are remembered for their artistic achievements and influence on future generations of filmmakers.