Ben Hur movie poster
You might think that the 1950s was all about style and sophistication, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn, but according to this list of top 10 grossing movies* it was very much the decade of historical epics, Charlton Heston and Walt Disney! How many of these big screen blockbusters have you seen, and are you surprised by the movies that made the top 10?

10. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

US box office figure: $27.2m
The critically acclaimed story of British POWs in World War 2 starred William Holden, Jack Hawkins and Alec Guinness and won a staggering 7 Academy Awards. A cracking movie and not forgetting a great theme tune which I bet we can all whistle!

9. Cinderella (1950)

US box office figure: $34.1m
Walt Disney’s technicolor masterpiece Cinderella was a huge critical and commercial success for the studio and managed to pull the troubled studio out of debt.

8. The Robe (1953)

US box office figure:$36m
The Robe is the first of the big biblical epics in this list. It starred Richard Burton as a drunk and disillusioned Roman who wins Jesus’ robe in a dice game after the crucifixion and Victor Mature as his slave.

7. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

US box office figure:$36m
This Cecil B. DeMille film was a true extravaganza. Set in a circus it starred Charlton Heston as the ringmaster, James Stewart as a (creepy) clown, and Betty Hutton and Cornel Wilde as competitive trapeze artists.

6.  Around the World in Eighty Days (1956)

US box office figure: $42m
Produced by Mike Todd (Elizabeth Taylor’s husband who died tragically young) Around the World in Eighty Days was an adventure comedy starring David Niven as Phileas Fogg and (amongst others) Shirley MacLaine.

5. Sleeping Beauty (1959)

US box office figure: $51.6m
One of the four Walt Disney musical animations to make it into the top 10, Sleeping Beauty was the last of this type of movie to be made by Disney until they released The Little Mermaid in 1989.

4. Ben-Hur (1959)

US box office figure: $70m
Possibly the most epic movie ever made (more epic even than Cleopatra perhaps?) is Ben Hur. Another one of Charlton Heston’s bare-chested historical epics it is famous for it’s chariot race, and the fact that if you look carefully you can spot a VW beetle in the ancient Roman arena…

3. The Ten Commandments (1956)

US box office figure: $80m
Another 1950s religious epic directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner. According to the Guinness Book of Records this is the 7th most successful film of all time.

2. Peter Pan (1953)

US box office figure: $87.4m
What can I say about Walt Disney’s Peter Pan, whether you love or hate the story (I’ve always found Peter a quite annoying and thoughtless character personally) I bet you’ve seen the movie.

1. Lady and the Tramp (1955)

US box office figure: $93.6m
I’m not a fan of Walt Disney as a rule, but this movie I did like. Who can forget that iconic scene with the spaghetti?
*based on US box-office sales
Image source and copyright: This work is in the public domain in that it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1977 and without a copyright notice