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The Best 50s War Movies 

Ranker Film
Updated September 24, 2019 804 votes 164 voters 6.9k views 29 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite war films that were released in the 1950s.

As you’ll notice on this list of the best 50s war movies, the type of subjects Hollywood began to tackle between major conflicts shifted away from the gung-ho, patriotic films of the 40s and took a more introspective note. Do you have a favorite war movie from the 1950s? Vote for your favorites below.

Among the top 50s war movies, you’ll find stories of prisoners-of-war (Stalag 17, The Bridge on the River Kwai), stories of conflict between American troops (The Caine Mutiny, From Here to Eternity) and even stories about the enemy (The Desert Fox:The Story of Rommel). Also make sure to check out The African Queen, where Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn star in the story of two misfits who join forces and sink a German supply ship during World War I.

Enjoy this list of great war movies of the 50s, and feel free to add any of your favorites that might be missing.

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1
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Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins

Released: 1957

Directed by: David Lean

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 WWII epic film directed by David Lean, based on the novel Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai by Pierre Boulle. The film is a work of fiction but borrows the ...more

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#83 of 363 The Best Movies Based On Books #341 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Movies That Won Best Picture at the Oscars and Golden Globes

2
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John Wayne, Natalie Wood, Vera Miles

Released: 1956

Directed by: John Ford

The Searchers is a 1956 American Technicolor VistaVision Western film directed by John Ford, based on the 1954 novel by Alan Le May, and starring John Wayne as a middle-aged veteran who spends ...more

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#863 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #165 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

3
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Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Hugh Griffith

Released: 1959

Directed by: William Wyler

Ben-Hur is a 1959 American epic historical drama film, directed by William Wyler, produced by Sam Zimbalist for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and starring Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd, Jack Hawkins, Hugh ...more

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#41 of 363 The Best Movies Based On Books #431 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Movies That Won Best Picture at the Oscars and Golden Globes

4
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Kirk Douglas, Adolphe Menjou, Richard Anderson

Released: 1957

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Paths of Glory is a 1957 American film by Stanley Kubrick based on the novel of the same name by Humphrey Cobb. Set during WWI, the film stars Kirk Douglas as Colonel Dax, the commanding officer ...more

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#234 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #18 of 321 The Best Political Films Ever Made

5
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William Holden, Peter Graves, Otto Preminger

Released: 1953

Directed by: Billy Wilder

Stalag 17 is a 1953 comedy-drama war film which tells the story of a group of American airmen held in a German World War II prisoner of war camp, who come to suspect that one of their number is ...more

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#68 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #16 of 221 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

6
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Humphrey Bogart, Lee Marvin, José Ferrer

Released: 1954

Directed by: Edward Dmytryk

The Caine Mutiny is a 1954 American drama film set during World War II, directed by Edward Dmytryk and produced by Stanley Kramer. It stars Humphrey Bogart, José Ferrer, Van Johnson and ...more

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#98 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #30 of 221 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time

7
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Gregory Peck, Martin Landau, George Peppard

Released: 1959

Directed by: Lewis Milestone

Pork Chop Hill is a 1959 American Korean War film starring Gregory Peck, Rip Torn and George Peppard. The film, which was the final war film directed by Lewis Milestone, is based upon the book ...more
8
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Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, Don Rickles

Released: 1956

Directed by: Robert Wise

Run Silent, Run Deep is a 1958 film starring Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster, based on the novel of the same name by Commander Edward L. Beach, Jr.. The title refers to "silent ...more

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#3 of 50 The Best Submarine Movies Of All Time #9 of 78 The Best Burt Lancaster Movies

9
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Audie Murphy, James Whitmore, Andy Devine

Released: 1951

Directed by: John Huston

The Red Badge of Courage is a 1951 war film made by MGM. Directed by John Huston, it was produced by Gottfried Reinhardt with Dore Schary as executive producer. The screenplay is by John Huston, ...more

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#107 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #15 of 30 Movies Based On Books You Should Have Read In 7th Grade

10
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Katharine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Robert Morley

Released: 1951

Directed by: John Huston

The African Queen is a 1951 adventure film adapted from the 1935 novel of the same name by C. S. Forester. The film was directed by John Huston and produced by Sam Spiegel and John Woolf. The ...more

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#49 of 211 The Best Adventure Movies #37 of 75 50+ Quirky Romance Movies That Are Unique in Their Own Waylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

11
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Frank Sinatra, Burt Lancaster, Ernest Borgnine

Released: 1953

Directed by: Fred Zinnemann

From Here to Eternity is a 1953 drama film directed by Fred Zinnemann and based on the novel of the same name by James Jones. The picture deals with the tribulations of three soldiers, played by ...more

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#41 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made #27 of 221 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

12
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Richard Attenborough, John Mills, Bernard Cribbins

Released: 1958

Directed by: Leslie Norman

Dunkirk is a 1958 British war film directed by Leslie Norman and starring John Mills, Richard Attenborough and Bernard Lee. It was based on two novels: Elleston Trevor's The Big Pick-Up and Lt. ...more
13
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Audie Murphy, Denver Pyle, David Janssen

Released: 1955

Directed by: Jesse Hibbs

To Hell and Back is a CinemaScope war film released in 1955. It was directed by Jesse Hibbs and starred Audie Murphy as himself. It is based on the 1949 autobiography of the same name and is an ...more

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#37 of 80 The Most Patriotic Movies of All Time #28 of 221 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time

14
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Grace Kelly, Mickey Rooney, William Holden

Released: 1954

Directed by: Mark Robson

The Bridges at Toko-Ri is a film from 1954 that was directed by Mark Robson and was based on the novel by James Michener about a U.S. Navy pilot assigned to bomb a group of heavily defended ...more

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#192 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #136 of 304 The Best Military Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

15
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Robert Shaw, Patrick McGoohan, Michael Redgrave

Released: 1954

Directed by: Michael Anderson

The Dam Busters is a British Second World War war film starring Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd and directed by Michael Anderson. The film recreates the true story of Operation Chastise when ...more

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#48 of 221 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time #13 of 23 Great Movies About Inventors & Innovators

16
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Jessica Tandy, Cedric Hardwicke, Leo G. Carroll

Released: 1951

Directed by: Henry Hathaway

The Desert Fox is a 1951 biographical film about Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in the later stages of World War II. It stars James Mason in the title role, was directed by Henry Hathaway, and was ...more

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#64 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #183 of 304 The Best Military Movies Ever Made

17
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Richard Burton, Robert Newton, Robert Douglas

Released: 1953

Directed by: Robert Wise

The Desert Rats is a 1953 American war film about the World War II siege of Tobruk. It stars Richard Burton and was directed by Robert Wise.
18
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Lee Marvin, Jack Palance, Eddie Albert

Released: 1956

Directed by: Robert Aldrich

Attack, also known as Attack!, is a 1956 American war film. It was directed by Robert Aldrich and starred Jack Palance, Eddie Albert, Lee Marvin, William Smithers, Robert Strauss, Richard ...more

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#107 of 221 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time #28 of 47 The Best Lee Marvin Movies

19
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Marlon Brando, Dean Martin, Montgomery Clift

Released: 1958

Directed by: Edward Dmytryk

The Young Lions is a 1958 CinemaScope war drama film directed by Edward Dmytryk, based upon the 1948 novel of the same name by Irwin Shaw, and starring Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and Dean ...more
20
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John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Ward Bond

Released: 1957

Directed by: John Ford

The Wings of Eagles is a 1957 Metrocolor film starring John Wayne, based on the true story of Frank "Spig" Wead and the history of U.S. Naval aviation from its inception through World ...more
21
The Robe is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best 50s War Movies
RobLein added Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Harry Shearer

Released: 1953

Directed by: Henry Koster

The Robe is a 1953 American Biblical epic film that tells the story of a Roman military tribune who commands the unit that crucifies Jesus. The film was made by 20th Century Fox and is notable ...more
22
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Gene Evans, Richard Loo, Steve Brodie

Released: 1951

Directed by: Samuel Fuller

The Steel Helmet is a war film directed by Samuel Fuller and produced by Lippert Studios during the Korean War. It was the first film about the war, and the first of several war films by ...more
23
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John Gavin, Keenan Wynn, Erich Maria Remarque

Released: 1958

Directed by: Douglas Sirk

A Time to Love and a Time to Die is a 1958 American CinemaScope drama film directed by Douglas Sirk and starring John Gavin. It is based on the book by the German author, Erich Maria Remarque, ...more
24
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Lev Borisov, Nikolai Kryuchkov, Zhanna Prokhorenko

Released: 1959

Directed by: Grigory Chukhray

Ballad of a Soldier, is a 1959 Soviet film directed by Grigori Chukhrai and starring Vladimir Ivashov and Zhanna Prokhorenko. While set during World War II, Ballad of a Soldier is not primarily ...more
25
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François Leterrier, Jacques Ertaud, Maurice Beerblock

Released: 1956

Directed by: Robert Bresson

A Man Escaped or: The Wind Bloweth Where It Listeth is a 1956 French film directed by Robert Bresson. It is based on the memoirs of André Devigny, a member of the French Resistance held ...more