Best History Movies of 1959




Judah Ben-Hur, a Palestinian Jew, is battling the Roman empire at the time of Christ. His actions send him and his family into slavery, but an inspirational encounter with Jesus changes everything. He finally meets his rival in a justly famous chariot race and rescues his suffering family.

Starring: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd, Hugh Griffith
Directed by: William Wyler
Release date: 1959-12-26

The Diary of Anne Frank

The Diary of Anne Frank
The true, harrowing story of a young Jewish girl who, with her family and their friends, is forced into hiding in an attic in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam.
Starring: Millie Perkins, Joseph Schildkraut, Shelley Winters, Richard Beymer, Gusti Huber
Directed by: George Stevens
Release date: 1959-03-18

The Devil's Disciple

The Devil's Disciple
The Devil's Disciple is a 1959 film adaptation of the George Bernard Shaw play of the same title. The Anglo-American film was directed by Guy Hamilton who replaced Alexander Mackendrick and starred Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, and Laurence Olivier. Mary Grant designed the film's costumes.
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Janette Scott, Eva Le Gallienne
Directed by: Guy Hamilton
Release date: 1959-08-20

The Horse Soldiers


A Union Cavalry outfit is sent behind confederate lines in strength to destroy a rail supply center. Along with them is sent a doctor who causes instant antipathy between him and the commander. The secret plan for the mission is overheard by a southern belle who must be taken along to assure her silence.

Starring: John Wayne, William Holden, Constance Towers, Judson Pratt, Hoot Gibson
Directed by: John Ford
Release date: 1959-06-11

Solomon and Sheba


Under the rule of King David, Israel is united and prosperous although surrounded by enemies including Egypt and its allies. The aging King David favors his younger son, Solomon, as his successor, but David's elder son Prince Adonijah, a warrior, declares himself King. When David learns of this, he publicly announces Solomon to be his successor. Adonijah and Joab, his general, withdraw in rage. Israel prospers under King Solomon's wise and benevolent rule and is seen as a threat to more tyrannical monarchs in the region. The Pharaoh of Egypt agrees to cede a Red Sea port to the Queen of Sheba in a plot to undermine Solomon's rule. Sheba is to seduce Solomon and introduce Sheban pagan worship into Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Prince Adonijah, now banished, also conspires with Pharaoh and is given an army to defeat Solomon. The film is a highly fictionalized dramatization of events depicted in The Bible -- First Kings chapter 10 and Second Chronicles chapter 9.

Starring: Yul Brynner, Gina Lollobrigida, George Sanders, Marisa Pavan, David Farrar
Directed by: King Vidor
Release date: 1959-12-25

The Stranglers of Bombay


In 1826 British-ruled India, the secret Cult of Thugee demonstrates their worship of their goddess, Kali, by the mutilation and mass murder of thousands of Indians while pirating the shipments of the British East-Indian Tea Company. As the British military leaders play down the implications of the piracy and disappearances, a lone captain realizes that they are not just coincidence and sets out to uncover the source of the deviltry, at the risk of his career. Based on history.

Starring: Guy Rolfe, Jan Holden, George Pastell, Andrew Cruickshank, Allan Cuthbertson
Directed by: Terence Fisher
Release date: 1959-12-04

Operation Amsterdam


Operation Amsterdam is a 1959 adventure film, directed by Michael McCarthy, and featuring Peter Finch, Eva Bartok, and Tony Britton. It is based on a true story as described in the book Adventure in Diamonds, by David E Walker. The action of the story covers a few days in May 1940 when the Germans invaded Holland.

Starring: Peter Finch, Eva Bartok, Tony Britton, Alexander Knox, Malcolm Keen
Directed by: Michael McCarthy
Release date: 1959-01-01

Thunder in the Sun


A band of Basque immigrants treks through the Old West toward California, where they hope to put down roots and open wineries. When the group's leader (Carl Esmond) dies, his widow Gabrielle (Susan Hayward) marries his brother (Jacques Bergerac) in accordance with Basque tradition. But it's a loveless union; Gabrielle is smitten with Lon Bennett (Jeff Chandler), the scout who's been hired to guide them on their journey. [netflix]

Starring: Susan Hayward, Jeff Chandler, Jacques Bergerac, Carl Esmond, Blanche Yurka
Directed by: Russell Rouse
Release date: 1959-04-08

Last of the Giants

Last of the Giants
A Union Pacific production outlining the Big Boy locomotive and the history of the last great steam engine to rule the rails
Directed by: Allan Krieg
Release date: 1959-01-01


Menken's 16mm, stop-motion tribute to the art of Dwight Ripley was filmed in 1959 in his apartment at 416 East Fifty-eighth Street in New York. She used his drawings as flats.The remarkably contemporary soundtrack for steel drum, guitar, flute, and voice was written for the occasion by Maya Deren's young husband, Teiji Ito, and is available in his album Music for Maya (Tzadik). Stan Brakhage called Dwightiana a pioneer example of the film portrait, abstract rather than narrative (the colored pencils represent Ripley's palette). Ripley was also a botanist, and Menken's unusual title alludes to botanical nomenclature as if Dwightiana might be the name of a species as well as a work "about" Dwight.
Directed by: Marie Menken
Release date: 1959-06-09

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