While the special effects may leave a little to be desired by today’s standards, adventure movies from the 1950s were every bit as entertaining, suspenseful, exciting, and enjoyable as those from more modern times. And some might even say more so. They featured action, intrigue, and romance, often from some of the most beloved actors from the ’50s and actresses from the ’50s.
If you’re into classic films from Hollywood’s Golden Era, or you’re an adventure fan, or you just love timeless stories, we highly recommend watching all these popular adventure movies from the 1950s. And since you may very well have seen many of them, how long has it been? Maybe it’s time to revisit them, or introduce a loved one to them who has yet to experience them.
And for a caveat, yes, we know we’ve omitted some fine adventure movies from the 1950s. But we have to draw the line somewhere, right? These are all great films, but this is certainly not an exhaustive list. Happy viewing!
Top ’50s Adventure Films
- The African Queen – 1951; directed by John Huston; starring Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, and Robert Morley. A hard-drinking riverboat captain in Africa is convinced to use his vessel to attack a warship during WWI.
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – 1954; directed by Richard Fleischer; starring Kirk Douglas, James Mason, and Paul Lukas. This is a great film adaptation of the famous Jules Verne novel about Captain Nemo and his submarine, the Nautilus.
- Creature from the Black Lagoon – 1954; directed by Jack Arnold; starring Richard Carlson, Julie Adams, and Richard Denning. This iconic adventure-horror film tells the story of a strange prehistoric beast lurking in the depths of the Amazon jungle.
- Seven Samurai – 1954; directed by Akira Kurosawa; starring Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima, and Yukiko Shimazaki. Seven samurai warriors protect an impoverished village being raided by bandits.
- The Court Jester – 1955; directed by Melvin Frank and Norman Panama; starring Danny Kaye, Glynis Johns, and Basil Rathbone. To take down an evil ruler who’s overthrown the rightful king, a carnival performer poses as the court jester.
- Forbidden Planet – 1956; directed by Fred M. Wilcox; starring Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, and Leslie Nielsen. When a planet’s colony stops communicating, a space crew goes to investigate and finds only two survivors—one of whom has a dark secret.
- Moby Dick – 1956; directed by John Huston; starring Gregory Peck, Richard Basehart, and Leo Genn. This film adaptation of the classic novel by Herman Melville recounts the story of a whaling ship captain’s obsessive hunt for the white whale.
- The Ten Commandments – 1956; directed by Cecil B. DeMille; starring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, and Anne Baxter. This is the classic retelling of the Biblical story of Moses leading his people out of captivity in Egypt.
- The Hidden Fortress – 1958; directed by Akira Kurosawa; starring Toshirô Mifune, Misa Uehara, and Minoru Chiaki. Unbeknownst to them, a pair of greedy peasants lead a princess and general across enemy lines in pursuit of riches.
- A Night to Remember – 1958; directed by Roy Ward Baker; starring Kenneth More, Ronald Allen, and Robert Ayres. Long before Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet took their fateful trip on the Titanic, this classic adventure film from the 1950s told the tale of the doomed ship’s 1912 voyage.