UC Berkeley Library

1950-1959

Native Son (USA / Argentina, 1951)

Director, Pierre Chenal. Cast: Richard Wright, Jean Wallace, Gloria Madison, Nicholas Joy, Willa Pearl Curtiss, Charles Cane. Adaptation of the classic novel by Richard Wright. Set in Chicago, Native son tells the story of Bigger Thomas, a young black man who accidentally murders his employer's daughter while performing his duties as chauffeur. The combined forces of institutional racism and condescending white liberalism pursue Thomas to an unhappy end. The author plays the leading role in this film version. 90 min.

No Way Out (1950)

Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Cast: Richard Widmark, LindaDarnell, Stephen McNally, Sidney Poitier. When a youngAfrican-American doctor operates on two white brothers brought infor gunshot wounds, it sets off a chain of violent confrontationsbetween a vicious psychopath, his gang and the black community. 106min. ;Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
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Odds Against Tomorrow (1959)

Directed by Robert Wise. Cast: Harry Belafonte, Robert Ryan,Shelley Winters, Ed Begley, Gloria Grahame. One hundred and fiftythousand dollars, ready for the taking. It's too much to resist forEarl Slater, a bigoted ex-con slumming through life with apatronizing girlfriend and zero expectations. He agrees to be partof a bank job planned by former cop Burke. Until, that is, he findsout one of his partners will be a black man. Earl's desperate needfor cash, however, leads him to reconsider. For this job only,he'll put his racism aside ... until moments away from the score,hatred erupts.

Revenge (1952)

Director, Tony Scott. Cast: Kevin Costner, Anthony Quinn, Madeleine Stowe, Sally Kirkland. A Navy veteran decides to visit Tiburon Mendez, a powerful but shady Mexican businessman who he once flew to Alaska for a hunting trip. Arriving at the Mendez mansion in Mexico, he is immediately surprised by the beauty and youth of Mendez' wife Miryea. Their attraction to each other is undeniable, but Cochran is aware that Mendez is a powerful, vindictive, and very possessive man who does not tolerate betrayal. Based on the novella Revenge by Jim Harrison.100 min.

Romeo, Juliet and Darkness (Romeo, Julia a tma) (Czechoslovakia, 1959)

Directed by Jiri Weiss. Pavel, a young student living in Prague in 1942, hides a Jewish girl in his apartment building's attic. Amidst the brutality of the occupying German army, love blossoms between the two. He is her only link to the outside world. Then the two are discovered by Pavel's mother, who forces the residents of the apartment building to decide whether Hana can remain. 96 min. ; Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Salt of the Earth (1954)

Directed by Herbert J. Biberman. A semidocumentary of the year-long struggle by Mexican-American zinc miners in New Mexico. When an injunction is issued against the workers, the wives take up the battle with a fury, leaving the husbands to care for home and children. 1987. 94 min. ; Credits and information from the Internet Movie Database

Salt of the Earth. (1954)

Directed by Herbert J. Biberman. A semidocumentary of the year-long struggle by Mexican-American zinc miners in New Mexico. When an injunction is issued against the workers, the wives take up the battle with a fury, leaving the husbands to care for home and children. 94 min. ; Credits and information from the Internet Movie DatabaseSee also: A Crime to Fit the Punishment (documentary on the making of Salt of the Earth)
Awards & HonorsNational Film Registry Selection

Shadows (1959)

Directed by John Cassavetes. John Cassavetes' first film, tellsa gripping story of racism set against a New York background in the1950's. Lelia, a light-skinned black woman living in New York withher two brothers, has an affair with a white man. The relationshipsoon sours when he meets one of her brothers and discovers she isreally black. 87 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
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Show Boat (1951)

Directed by George Sidney. Cast: Kathryn Grayson, Ava Gardner,Howard Keel. A romantic musical of Magnolia Hawks who grew upon the riverboat, Cotton Blossom. When a snitch on board callsthe police the leading lady, Julie (who's halfAfrican-American) and her white husband are forced to leave theshow. Magnolia becomes the leading show boat attraction and agambler, Gaylor Ravenal, the leading man. They fall in love andmarry but soon Magnolia must face reality as she is left alonepenniless and pregnant. Based on the Jerome Kern-OscarHammerstein II musical play from Edna Ferber's novel.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Directed by Stanley Donen & Gene Kelley. A musical-comedy spoof of the turmoil that afflicted the motion picture industry in the late 1920's during the changeover from silent films to sound. Video disc 163 has special features: An audio essay by film historian, Ronald Haver; the original film versions of songs performed in Singin' in the Rain; a behind-the-scenes outtake from the making of the film; and "The Voice from The Screen", an early demonstration of talking movies. 103 min.

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