Teens

20+ Great Movies About Teen Life in the 1950s 

Ranker Film
3.5k votes 637 voters 36.7k views 25 items

Teen movies set in the 1950s have a timeless feel that taps into universal childhood memories. The top 1950s teen movies feature stories about friendship, relationships, and becoming adults. This is a list of the top life in the 1950s films, featuring everything from The Outsiders to American Graffiti to Rebel without a Cause.

What movies will you find on this list of the best films about teenagers in the 1950s? John Waters directed two of the best with Cry-Baby and Hairspray. Both films stand out from the pack for their ability to highlight misfits, rebels, greasers, and outcasts from the era and make them the stars of the show. Peggy Sue Got Married is another great film about teens set in the 1950s. Young love is at the heart of the classic teen musical Grease, which is set in the summer and fall of 1958. Other good films featured on this best fifties teen movies list include Stand By Me, Back to the Future, and Pleasantville.

Do you have a favorite teen movie set in the 1950s? Vote your favorites up to the top, and add any great flicks that are missing.

list ordered by
1
Stand by Me is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 20+ Great Movies About Teen Life in the 1950s
Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, John Cusack
Stand by Me is a 1986 American coming of age comedy-drama adventure film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell. Based on the novella ...more

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#19 of 351 The Best Movies Based On Books #234 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Moviesfeaturing Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'Stand By Me' That Prove The Film Shaped The Child Actors

2
Back to the Future is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 20+ Great Movies About Teen Life in the 1950s
Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson
Back to the Future is a 1985 American science fiction film directed by Robert Zemeckis. Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent thirty years into ...more

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#2 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Moviesfeaturing 51 Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Back to the Futurelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
Grease is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 20+ Great Movies About Teen Life in the 1950s
John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing
Grease is a 1978 American musical romantic comedy-drama film directed by Randal Kleiser and produced by Paramount Pictures. It is based on Warren Casey and Jim Jacobs' 1971 musical of the same ...more

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#4 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #2 of 217 Musical Movies With the Best Songsfeaturing This Disturbing Fan Theory Will Completely Change How You See 'Grease'

4
Rebel Without a Cause is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 20+ Great Movies About Teen Life in the 1950s
Natalie Wood, James Dean, Dennis Hopper
Rebel Without a Cause is a 1955 American drama film about emotionally confused suburban, middle-class teenagers. The film stars James Dean, Sal Mineo and Natalie Wood. Directed by Nicholas Ray, ...more

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#4 of 34 Great Movies About Sad Loner Characters #87 of 199 The Biggest Tearjerker Movies of All Time

5
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Tom Cruise, Nicolas Cage, Diane Lane
The Outsiders is a 1983 American drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by S. E. Hinton. The film was released on March 25, 1983. Jo Ellen ...more

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#74 of 351 The Best Movies Based On Books #22 of 78 The Best Film Adaptations of Young Adult Novels #402 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

6
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Harrison Ford, Ron Howard, Suzanne Somers
American Graffiti is a 1973 American coming of age comedy-drama film directed and co-written by George Lucas starring Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Harrison Ford, Charles Martin ...more

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#414 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #40 of 217 Musical Movies With the Best Songs #218 of 1,196 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time

7
West Side Story is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 20+ Great Movies About Teen Life in the 1950s
Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, John Astin
West Side Story is a 1961 American romantic musical drama film directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. The film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn ...more

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#5 of 376 The Best Musical Movies of All Timefeaturing The Behind-The-Scenes Of 'West Side Story' Was Plagued With More Hatred Than The Movie Itselflisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

8
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Reese Witherspoon, Paul Walker, Tobey Maguire
Pleasantville is a 1998 American fantasy comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by Gary Ross. The film stars Tobey Maguire, Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, J. T. Walsh, and ...more

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#375 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #584 of 1,196 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #108 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies

9
Cry-Baby is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list 20+ Great Movies About Teen Life in the 1950s
Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, Iggy Pop
Cry-Baby is a 1990 American teen musical romantic comedy film written and directed by John Waters. It stars Johnny Depp as 1950s teen rebel "Cry-Baby" Wade Walker, and also features a ...more

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#265 of 376 The Best Musical Movies of All Time #165 of 217 Musical Movies With the Best Songs

10
Dead Poets Society is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list 20+ Great Movies About Teen Life in the 1950s
Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke, Lara Flynn Boyle
Dead Poets Society is a 1989 American drama film written by Tom Schulman, directed by Peter Weir and starring Robin Williams. Set at the conservative and aristocratic Welton Academy in the ...more

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#112 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #36 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

11
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Debbie Harry, Jerry Stiller, John Waters
Hairspray is a 1988 American romantic musical comedy film written and directed by John Waters, and starring Ricki Lake, Divine, Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono, Jerry Stiller, Leslie Ann Powers, ...more

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#144 of 376 The Best Musical Movies of All Time #352 of 1,009 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

12
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John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Amanda Bynes
Hairspray is a 2007 American musical romantic comedy film based on the 2002 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn was based on John Waters's 1988 comedy film of the same name. Set in ...more

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#21 of 376 The Best Musical Movies of All Time #32 of 217 Musical Movies With the Best Songsfeaturing Every Song in Hairspray, Ranked by Singability

13
Peggy Sue Got Married is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list 20+ Great Movies About Teen Life in the 1950s
Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Kathleen Turner
Peggy Sue Got Married is a 1986 American comedy-drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola starring Kathleen Turner as a woman on the verge of a divorce, who finds herself transported back to ...more

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#130 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #312 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made

14
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Linda Kusch added
Karen Allen, Olympia Dukakis, Ken Wahl
The Wanderers is a 1979 drama film about gangs and the greaser subculture, based on the novel "The Wanderers" by Richard Price. It marks the sixth feature film directed by American
15
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Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper, Barbara Hershey
Hoosiers is a 1986 sports film written by Angelo Pizzo and directed by David Anspaugh. It tells the story of a small-town Indiana high school basketball team that wins the state championship. It ...more

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#647 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #106 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

16
The Last Picture Show is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list 20+ Great Movies About Teen Life in the 1950s
Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Cloris Leachman
The Last Picture Show is a 1971 American drama film directed by Peter Bogdanovich, adapted from a semi-autobiographical 1966 novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry. Set in a small town in ...more

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#722 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #32 of 46 Every Single Movie On Rotten Tomatoes With 100% Approval, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

17
The Man in the Moon is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list 20+ Great Movies About Teen Life in the 1950s
Reese Witherspoon, Sam Waterston, Jason London
The Man in the Moon is a 1991 American coming of age drama film and was the final film of director, Robert Mulligan and is also Reese Witherspoon's debut role.

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#120 of 258 The Best Teen Romance Movies #138 of 199 The Biggest Tearjerker Movies of All Time #200 of 285 The Best Teen Movies of All Time

18
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Christopher Lee, Peter Sellers, Shelley Winters
Lolita is a 1962 comedy-drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick based on the novel of the same title by Vladimir Nabokov, about a middle-aged man who becomes obsessed with a teenage girl. The ...more

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#77 of 194 The Best Movies of the '60s #20 of 36 30+ Great Movies About Juvenile Delinquents

19
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Rhonda McCloughan added
Sylvester Stallone, Henry Winkler, Susan Blakely
The Lords of Flatbush is a 1974 American drama film about street teenagers in leather jackets from the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Directed by Martin Davidson and Stephen ...more
20
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Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Eliza Dushku
This Boy's Life is a 1993 film adaptation of the memoir of the same name by American author Tobias Wolff. It is directed by Michael Caton-Jones and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Tobias Wolff, ...more
21
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Linda Kusch added
Michelle Pfeiffer, Fran Drescher, Tony Danza
The Hollywood Knights is an American motion picture comedy written and directed by Floyd Mutrux depicting the crass and mischievous antics and practical jokes of the remaining members of a ...more
22
Streets of Fire is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list 20+ Great Movies About Teen Life in the 1950s
Linda Kusch added
Willem Dafoe, Diane Lane, Kathy Griffin
Streets of Fire is a 1984 film directed by Walter Hill and co-written by Hill and Larry Gross. It was described in previews, trailers, and posters as "A Rock & Roll Fable". It is ...more

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#69 of 302 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time #263 of 376 The Greatest Movie Themes

23
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Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek
Badlands is a 1973 American film written and directed by Terrence Malick, starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. Warren Oates and Ramon Bieri are also featured. Malick has a small speaking ...more

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#22 of 26 The Best Movies with a Psychotic Main Character #15 of 18 Great Movies That Have Almost No Dialogue

24
Liberty Heights is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list 20+ Great Movies About Teen Life in the 1950s
Misha Collins, Adrien Brody, Bebe Neuwirth
Liberty Heights is a 1999 comedy-drama by writer-director Barry Levinson. The film is a semi-autobiographical account of his childhood growing up in Baltimore in the 1950s. It is the fourth of ...more
25
Saint Ralph is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list 20+ Great Movies About Teen Life in the 1950s
Jennifer Tilly, Campbell Scott, Gordon Pinsent
Saint Ralph is a 2004 Canadian drama film written and directed by Michael McGowan. Its central character is a teenage boy who trains for the 1954 Boston Marathon in the hope a victory will be ...more