UC Berkeley Library

Movies Set In or About the 1950's

Pleasantville (1998)

Directed by Gary Ross. Cast: Tobey Maguire, Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, J.T. Walsh, Don Knotts, Reese Witherspoon. 90's teens David and Jennifer get zapped into the perfect suburbia of a black & white 50's sitcom, Pleasantville. 90's pop culture clashes with 50's family values and chaos ensues, turning the town of Pleasantville upside down and black and white into color. 132 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Pollock (2000)

Directed by Ed Harris. Cast: Ed Harris, Marcia Gay Harden, Tom Bower, Jennifer Connelly, Bud Cort, John Heard, Val Kilmer, Robert Knott. Fellow artists and lovers Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner are at the center of New York's 1940's art scene, but as Krasner neglects her work to push Pollock's career forward, Pollock begins to unravel emotionally. Pollock and Krasner escape to the country to marry, and soon, Pollock creates the work that makes him the first internationally-famous modern painter in America.

Quiz Show (1994)

Directed by Robert Redford. Cast: John Turturro, Rob Morrow, Ralph Fiennes, David Paymer, Paul Scofield. Fame and fortune become a hotbed of scandal when a Washington investigator uncovers corruption beneath the glittering facade of American television's hottest quiz show which implicates both the wildly popular champion and the disgruntled ex-champ. Based on true events in the late 1950s concerning the investigation of cheating in the quiz show "Twenty One." 133 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Ray (2004)

Directed by Taylor Hackford. Cast: Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Regina King, Clifton Powell, Harry Lennix, Bokeem Woodbine, Aunjanue Ellis, Sharon Warren, C.J. Sanders. Ray Charles went blind at the age of seven. Inspired by his mother who insisted he make his own way, he found his calling at the keyboard. 'Ray' follows as he overcomes drug addiction while becoming one of America's most beloved performers. 153 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Revolutionary Road (2008)

Directed by Sam Mendes. Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Michael Shannon, Kathryn Hahn, David Harbour, Kathy Bates. Frank and April Wheeler appear to have the perfect life living in the Connecticut suburbs with their two young children. Frank commutes to New York City where he works in an office job that he hates. April is a housewife who forgoes her dream of being an actress. Since neither are happy April suggests that they move to Paris as a means to rejuvenate their life. Initially skeptical, Frank ultimately agrees to April's plan.

Shutter Island (2010)

Directed by Martin Scorsese. Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Max Von Sydow. "In 1954, Federal Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, from Seattle travel to Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a patient there, Rachel Solando. She had been sectioned at the institution for dangerous criminals at Ashcliffe Hospital, because she drowned her three kids.

Stand By Me (1986)

Directed by Rob Reiner. Cast: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell, Kiefer Sutherland, Richard Dreyfuss. This film about friendship and the indelible experiences of growing up takes place in a small Oregon town as four boys set out on a two-day search for a missing teenager's body, a search that turns into an odyssey of self-discovery. Based on the novella The body by Stephen King.

The Front (1976)

Director, Martin Ritt. Performers: Woody Allen, Zero Mostel, Herschel Bernardi, Michael Murphy. A searing indictment of the McCarthy era blacklisting and Communist witchhunts of the 1950's. Woody Allen plays a hapless ghost writer fated to become a symbolic hero. Directed by Martin Ritt who experienced blacklisting firsthand. 94 min.
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The Good Shepherd (2006)

Directed by Robert De Niro. Cast: Martina Gedeck, William Hurt, Timothy Hutton, Gabriel Macht, Lee Pace, Joe Pesci, John Turturro. Edward, the only witness to his father's suicide and a member of the Skull and Bones Society while a student at Yale, is a morally upright young man who values honor and discretion. These are the qualities that help him become recruited for a career in the newly founded Office of Strategic Services (CIA). While working there, his ideals gradually turn to suspicion influenced by the Cold War paranoia present within the office.

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

Directed by Joel Coen. Cast: Tim Robbins, Charles Durning, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Newman, Jim True, John Mahoney. When Waring Hudsucker, head of a successful company commits suicide, the board of directors has a plan to make a lot of money, so they decide to appoint a moron to run the company. Mailroom clerk Norville Barnes is exactly what Hudsucker is looking for to be president. They hope that as soon as the stock falls low enough, the director and his friends will buy them up cheaply, take over the company and they will be successful again.

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