Home / Remembering the Troubled Years – the Plaintive Fifties

Remembering the Troubled Years – the Plaintive Fifties

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The 1950s were a time of torment, searching, and rock ‘n roll. Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife” shared the spotlight with Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock,” and Paul Anka’s agonized prayer, “Oh, please, stay by me… Dianna.” Chuck Berry strode the stage with his “Johnny B. Goode. “

Well before hair that covered the tops of our ears, young seekers of the fifties roamed high school corridors in flat-tops, ducktails, or both. Vaseline was a hair groom, then. Rock and Roll reigned supreme. After school we sought fulfillment with American Bandstand; homework had a radio accompaniment.

James Dean, Sal Mineo, and Natalie Wood filled the big screen with Rebel Without a Cause, a motion picture devoted to tortured lives and daily suffering in the streets of 1955. Can we ever forget the 1953 motorcycle striding Marlon Brando, in The Wild One? Blackboard Jungle starred Glen Ford, Vic Morrow, and Sidney Portier. It was Portier, too, who compared a dream deferred to A Raisin in the Sun. 1958 Gave us Russ Tamblyn and Jan Sterling in High School Confidential.

The world was bored and looking for an answer. Add to that the air raid sirens and fallout shelters of the cold war era. The “H bomb” made matters unbearable. Was the answer written in the stars, or was that dream just an escape?

It Came From Outer Space was a defining film; and among the most popular, The Blob. The human race finally defeated the Jell-O like threat from above; we froze it in a meat locker. Steve McQueen starred; he was a young man, then.

It was during the fifties decade that Isaac Asimov wrote I, Robot ; Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles.

Maybe life was better then; much frustrated and bored, young people were looking for a new direction. I wonder; did we find it?


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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • I really enjoyed this, John. It Came from Outer Space scared me silly when I was a kid (later remade as Alien by James Cameron).

    I did not experience the 50s like you but instead through films and books about that time. One film you didn’t mention that I think defines that era best is The Day teh Earth Stood Still. Talk about all your greatest fears.

    Thanks for a great look back at the 50s.

  • John Lake

    Great! One outstanding author from those olden days was Robt. A. Heinlein. He wrote many great books, the top, his “Stranger in a Strange Land.”
    Movies were great then!

  • Might be nice, just for laughs, to spell the stars’ names correctly for Blackboard Jungle. You only got one out of three correct.

  • John Lake

    A. Kurtz,
    one out of three; outstanding. A real improvement!

    J. Lee,
    Thanks for the info!