Screen Chronology: 1955 to 1959
compiled by John Kenrick
- **** - Sensational
- *** - Good entertainment
- ** - Beats a finger in the eye
- * - You'd rather mow a lawn
- (NO stars) - Run for your life
- Ain't Misbehavin' ** - Piper Laurie seeks love among the upper classes.
- Artists and Models ** - Cartoonist Dean Martin takes his
inspiration from the wild dreams of Jerry Lewis, with humorous results.
- Bring Your Smile Along * - Early Blake Edwards feature.
- Carolina Cannonball * - Judy Canova stars in a moronic story of
espionage in the sticks.
- Daddy Long Legs ** - Man about town Fred Astaire falls in love with
his ward, Leslie Caron. A few fine dance numbers, but weak overall.
- Fresh From Paris * - Tacky nightclub musical, wastes some talented
- Gentlemen Marry Brunettes * - Rudy Vallee escorts Lillian Russell and
Jeanne Craig around Paris in a moronic sequel to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
- Girl Rush, The (not seen)
- Glass Slipper, The *** - Leslie Caron stars in a lavish, pleasant
revision of Cinderella.
- Guys and Dolls *** - The Broadway hit about gamblers and their
ladies entertains despite Marlon Brando being painfully miscast. Frank Loesser's score is still wondrous.
- Hit the Deck ** - Mediocre naval musical with good cast and a fine
Vincent Youman's score.
- Interrupted Melody *** - Eleanor Parker is dubbed but effective in
this solid bio of Australian opera diva Marjorie Lawrence.
- It's Always Fair Weather *** - Underrated gem has Gene Kelly, Dan Dailey and Michael
Kidd as war buddies facing the challenge of civilian life. Highlight: the ash can tap sequence.
- Jupiter's Darling (not seen)
- Kismet ** - Howard Keel sings impressively, but cartoonish acting
plagues this uneven adaptation of Forrest & Wright's Broadway hit.
- Lady and the Tramp **** - Disney's animated classic about a suburban
cocker spaniel in love with a street mutt. Great score and an unforgettable
spaghetti dinner make this a joy.
- Love Me or Leave Me *** - Solid entertainment with Doris Day as
singer Ruth Etting, and James Cagney as her controlling gangster
husband. Highlight: "Shaking the Blues Away."
- My Sister Eileen *** - Betty Garrett stars in a fun musical version
of the same story that inspired the stage hit Wonderful Town.
- Oklahoma! **** - Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones star in this
excellent version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's landmark stage hit.
Agnes DeMille's choreography is sensational.
- Paris Follies of 1956 (not seen)
- Pete Kelly's Blues (not seen)
- Second Greatest Sex, The * - Boring musical version of Lysistrata
reset in the old West.
- Seven Little Foys, The ** - So-so movie about a legendary real-life vaudeville
family act, made memorable by a dazzling tabletop dance duet by Bob Hope
and James Cagney.
- Sincerely Yours* - Liberace as a heterosexual piano virtuoso who loses his hearing?
Oy! Only the most hardcore Liberace will enjoy the musical sequences.
- So This Is Paris * - Weak rip-off of On the Town.
- Song Of My Heart * - Tchaikovsky bio pic has almost no
connection to reality.
- Three for the Show ** - Betty Grable and the Champions offer some
good dance numbers in this tedious tale of a supposedly dead
husband turning up alive.
- Young At Heart ** - Doris Day marries songwriter Frank
Sinatra, but two great stars & a hit title tune can't enliven this
- Anything Goes ** - Bing Crosby, Mitzi Gaynor and Donald
O'Connor star, but all that's left of Cole Porter's classic musical are a few unevenly
- Benny Goodman Story, The (not seen)
- Best Things in Life Are Free, The *** - Gordon MacRae stars in this
fun bio of songwriters De Sylva, Henderson & Brown.
- Bundle of Joy ** - Debbie Reynolds adopts a baby, then tries to
date Eddie Fischer. Silly.
- Carousel *** - Somewhat stodgy version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's stage
hit still entertains thanks to Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones.
- Cha-Cha-Cha-Boom (NO stars) - Carrumba!
- Court Jester, The *** - Danny Kaye dazzles in this medieval
musical comedy. All fun, but the "vessel with the pestle" routine is a
- Don't Knock the Rock ** - Rock n' roll stars Bill Haley and
Little Richard are the only reason to sit through this yawner.
- Eddie Duchin Story, The ** - Tyrone Power as famous pianist good
music, but this is strictly for those in search of a tear jerker.
- High Society *** - Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and some swell Cole
Porter songs make this musical version of The Philadelphia Story a
treat. Highlights include Bing's "Now You Has Jazz" with Louis
Armstrong, and the Crosby-Sinatra duet "Well Did You Evah?"
- Hollywood Or Bust (not seen)
- Invitation To The Dance ** - Gene Kelly's tribute to serious
dance has moments of magic, but gets bogged down.
- King and I, The **** - Rodgers & Hammerstein's stage hit about a
British tutor at the royal court of Siam gets a classy screen
adaptation, starring Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr. Wow!
- Love Me Tender ** - Elvis Presley made his screen debut in this
turgid tale of brothers competing for the same girl during the Civil War.
- Meet Me in Las Vegas (not seen)
- Opposite Sex, The *** - MGM's amusing musical version of The Women
has all star cast, but can't quite match the grand bitchiness of the original.
- Rock Around the Clock * - Bill Haley's band seeks fame in New York
preserves some vintage rock performances, but otherwise dull.
- Rock, Rock, Rock * - Chuck Berry and other early rock stars sing in
this cheap teen flick.
- Serenade (not seen)
- Shake, Rattle and Rock * - Fats Domino in yet another weak teen rock
- Vagabond King, The ** - Miscast leading man ruins this half-hearted
but colorful remake of the Friml operetta.
- You Can't Run Away From It * - Oh, yes you can! Unnecessary
musical remake of It Happened One Night fails despite stars
Jack Lemmon and June Allyson.
- April Love (not seen)
- Beau James ** - Bob Hope is wildly miscast as New York's infamous
mayor Jimmy Walker. Songs are peripheral but numerous.
- Bop Girl (NO stars) - Calypso musical change channels immediately!
- Calypso Joe (NO stars) - Ditto.
- Funny Face **** - Photographer Fred Astaire turns Audrey Hepburn
into a star model in Paris. Wonderful comedy with vintage Gershwin songs.
- Girl Can't Help It, The (not seen)
- Girl Most Likely, The *** - Lots of fun as Jane Powell chooses
between three beaus.
- Helen Morgan Story, The * - Ann Blythe inexplicably miscast as the
legendary saloon singer.
- Jailhouse Rock *** - Elvis Presley rocks his way from prison to
stardom in one of his best musicals.
- Jamboree ** - Minor love story features a parade of rock and hillbilly stars
singing their specialties.
- Les Girls *** - This underrated Cole Porter musical has Gene Kelly as a nightclub
performer who trifles with each of his three female back-up singers.
So-so score, fun screenplay.
- Loving You ** - Elvis Presley
rocks his way from gas station attendant to stardom in what was already
becoming a familiar formula.
- Pajama Game, The **** - Doris Day and John Raitt star in top-notch
adaptation of the Broadway hit about labor-management issues in a pajama
factory. Great score, and Bob Fosse's ingenious choreography still
- Pal Joey ** - Frank Sinatra stars as a smarmy nightclub entertainer
in this blah adaptation of the Rodgers & Hart stage hit.
- Rock Baby, Rock It * - Real Texas rockers give some
period interest to a lousy film.
- Rockabilly Baby (not seen)
- Silk Stockings *** - Cole Porter's witty musical version of
Ninotchka offers Cyd Charisse as a Soviet diplomat romanced in
Paris by Fred Astaire.
- Ten Thousand Bedrooms *- Dean Martin as a romantically voracious hotel
manager. This bomb almost killed his post-Jerry Lewis career.
- This Could Be The Night (not seen)
- Country Music Holiday (not seen)
- Damn Yankees **** - Delightful (if slightly stagy) version of the
Broadway hit about a baseball fan who sells his soul to Satan to help
his team to victory. Gwen Verdon delightful, and shares a memorable mambo with
hubby Bob Fosse.
- Gigi **** - Collette's tale of a fledgling courtesan who finds
romance in Paris circa 1900, with a superb Lerner &
Loewe score. Leslie Caron and Maurice Chevalier head a magical cast. In
my opinion, the best original screen musical ever.
- Girl Most Likely, The (not seen)
- Go, Johnny, Go! * - A kid finds rock stardom poor plot but real
rockers like Chuck Berry are on hand singing their hits.
- Hot Rod Gang (NO stars) - Moronic racing tale.
- King Creole ** - Elvis Presley as nightclub singer dealing with the
New Orleans underworld.
- Joker Is Wild, The (not seen)
- Let's Rock * - Let's not. Pop singer Julius LaRosa refuses to
switch over to rock n' roll.
- Loving You ** - Country boy Elvis Presley rises to fame --
fun for his fans.
- Mardi Gras ** - Pat Boone is a cadet who wins a date with a movie
star. Cute moments.
- Merry Andrew ** - Danny Kaye as a British scholar in love with a
circus performer not his funniest, but some good bits.
- Rock-A-Bye-Baby (not seen)
- Senior Prom * - Lots of star cameos, but a dud is a dud.
- Seven Hills of Rome, The (not seen)
- Sing Boy Sing (not seen)
- South Pacific *** - Mitzi Gaynor is terrific as an American military nurse
finding love on a tropic island, but this Rodgers & Hammerstein
classic is marred by director Josh Logan's misguided
use of distracting color filters, and far too many of the singers are dubbed.
Even so, this is far superior to the ghastly 2001 TV version.
- St. Louis Blues (not seen)
- tom thumb *** - Russ Tamblyn stars in this delightful tale of
a tiny child who gets into fantastic adventures. A treat for the tots.
- Born Reckless * - A rodeo musical? Yee-haw.
- Five Pennies, The ** - Danny Kaye as jazz trumpeter Red Nichols.
Best moments in this so-so bio are Kaye's duets with Louis Armstrong.
- For the First Time ** - Mario Lanza plays an opera singer in his
last film - not his best.
- Gene Krupa Story, The (not seen)
- Hey Boy! Hey Girl! * - Louis Prima and Keely Smith star as pop
singers; otherwise, nothing to recommend in this one.
- Hound Dog Man (not seen)
- Juke Box Rhythm (NO stars) - Another bad vehicle for several 50s
rock and pop singers.
- Li'l Abner *** - Fun version of the Broadway musical based on Al
Capp's popular comic strip. Stubby Kaye steals it as Marryin' Sam.
Highlight: "Jubilation T. Cornpone."
- Never Steal Anything Small ** - James Cagney as a racketeer
dockworker out to grab control of his union. A bizarre idea for a musical few pleasures.
- Porgy and Bess ** - Most of the singers are dubbed in this
uneasy adaptation of the Gershwin folk opera. Exceptions: Pearl Bailey and Sammy Davis Jr.,
who offer the only real signs of life.
- Say One for Me * - Bing Crosby is a theatre district priest out
to help showgirl Debbie Reynolds. Talented cast can't overcome a
predictable script and forgettable score.
- Sleeping Beauty **** - Disney's visually ravishing animated classic has a
great Tchaikovsky-inspired score.
The Other Film Chronologies: