Books Into Movies - The Books of the 1950s

Books and Movie Ratings

 Which best-selling books from the 1950s made the best movies?  In order to find the answer we took the Top Ten Selling Books from each year of the 1950s and checked to see what their movie viewer rating was at Internet Movie Database. The results are shown below for each year.

Best Selling Books of 1950 Made Into Movies

Out of the top ten best-selling books in 1950 there are only two that were made into movies. Ernest Hemingway, Daphne du Maurier, and Mika Walteri all have had books made into movies, but not their books from 1950. Here are the two books that were adapted into movies.

The Cardinal by Henry Morton Robinson has the top viewer rating (as reported at from the 1950 best sellers at a fairly low rating of 6.6. The book did not get made into a movie until 1963 and is about a young Catholic priest who rises to the office of Cardinal.

Jubilee Trail by Gwen Bristow was made into a B movie picture with a viewer rating of 5.9.

Books Into Movies - Best Selling Books of 1951 Made Into Movies
Books Into Movies - Best Selling Books of 1951 Made Into Movies

Best Selling Books of 1951

In 1951 four of the top ten best-selling books were adapted into movies. Three of the movies were from books that were written about the authors' experiences in the war. These movies are some of the most powerful type of books written in the early '50's. The fourth book, The Cardinal, was also on the best-selling list for 1950.

Here are the four 1951 books that were adapted into movies presented in viewer ranking order.

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk has an impressively high viewer rating of 8. The book won the Pulitzer Prize and the 1953 movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards. The iconic scene involved Humphrey Bogart and a paranoid rant during the court martial case.

From Here to Eternity by James Jones is another war picture, this one taking place in the time period leading up to Pearl Harbor. Closely ranked behind The Caine Mutiny, it has a viewer rating of 7.9. The best known scene is the romantic beach kiss between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr with the waves washing over them. This movie won Best Picture in 1953.

The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat is closely ranked to the other two movies with a viewer rating of 7.7. This locale is the Atlantic and the boat is on convoy duty.

Best Selling Books of 1952

Out of the top 10 best selling books of 1952 seven were adapted into movies. The Caine Mutiny makes the list for the second year. This year two of the movies starred James Dean, and the list also contains the movie that has the lowest viewer rating for all of the 1950s.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck ties the top viewer rating with an 8.1. Adapted in 1955 it starred James Dean. The book is still popular as it was one of Oprah's Book Club choices.

Giant by Edna Ferber has a viewer rating of 7.7 and was adapted in 1956. A blockbuster cast helped it to get 10 Academy Award nominations.

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier has a viewer rating of 7.2. The 1952 movie was a breakout for newcomer Richard Burton.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway was made twice - the first movie starred Spencer Tracy and had a viewer rating of 7.

The Saracen Blade by Frank Yerby has a low viewer rating of 5.2. This 1954 movie stars Ricardo Montalban as an avenger by evening.

The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Costain is tied with the lowest viewer rating of 4.6. Paul Newman starred in the movie and has publicly apologized for doing so.

Best Selling Books of 1953

Half of the 1953 top 10 best selling books list were adapted into movies. Interestingly, From Her to Eternity made it onto the 1953 best seller list after being on the list in 1951 - probably due to the release of the film. Another repeater for the year was The Silver Chalice- which shows the book was received much better than the movie. Here are how the rest of the movies faired with viewer ratings.

The High and the Mighty by Ernest K. Gann received a high viewer rating of 6.9. The 1954 movie starred John Wayne as a pilot on a plane with engine problems while flying over the Pacific.

Battle Cry by Leon M. Uris received a viewer rating of 6.5. The 1955 movie script adaption was done by the author.

Desiree by Annemarie Selinko receives a viewer rating of 6.1.  Marlon Brando stars as Napoleon.


Best Selling Books of 1954

Six out of the top ten books from the Class of 1954 were adapted into movies. No repeaters this year. One of the top funny military movies and James Bond made the list this year.

No Time for Sergeants by Mac Hyman tops off the list with a viewer rating of 7.6. The country bumpkin who narrates this story is Will Stockdale and was played by Andy Williams. The book was adapted into a stage play before the movie was released in 1958.

Lord of the Fiies by William Golding receives a viewer rating of 7.1. It has been adapted to the screen twice - once in 1963 and the other time in 1990. The 1963 version was faithful to the book and received high movie reviewer praise.

Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming comes in with a viewer rating of 6.8. This book was the second in the book series but was adapted into the eight movie in 1973.

Not as a Stranger by Morton Thompson receives a viewer rating of 6.7. The 1955 film of the drama of a medical student stars Robert Mitchum.

The Egyptian by Mika Waltarireceives a viewer rating of 6.2. This 1954 film was to star Marlong Brando, but ended up with a little known actor in the title role.

The View From Pompey's Head by Hamilton Basso rounds out this year's books with a viewer rating of 5.9. Racial and class prejudices are a topic of the 1955 film adaption.

Best Selling Books of 1955

There are eight of the 1955 top ten best selling books adapted into movies. Two books were on the top book list twice - Not as a Stranger and No Time for Sergeants. A major book topic is turning away from the war and starting to pick up the alienation with society that becomes the themes of many books in the rest of the decade.

Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis tops the most popular adapted movies with a viewer rating of 7.7. A ten-year-old orphan lives with his flamboyant aunt in this comedic novel that was adapted into a stage play, movie, and musical.

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit by Sloan Wilson has a viewer rating of 7. The book is about a soldier returning from war and handling the rat race and was adapted to film in 1956.

Ten North Frederick by John O'Hara has a viewer rating of 6.9. This political novel was adapted in in 1958.

Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan has a viewer rating of 6.8. Sagan was 17 when she wrote this novel and it was adapted into film in 1958. The title translates to "Hello Sadness".

Something to Value by Robert Ruark has a viewer rating of 6.5. The setting is the Mau Mau uprising in colonial Kenya and the 1957 movie stars Rock Hudson and Sidney Poiter.

Marjorie Morningstar by Henry Wouk has a 6.1 viewer rating. The 1958 movie stars Gene Kelly and Natalie Woods in the title role. The story is about a Jewish girl trying to defy tradition and become an actress.

Best Selling Books of 1956

In 1956 there were only five of the Top Ten Best Selling Books adapted into movies so far. Auntie Mame is on the list again. And, this is the year that the salacious Peyton Place makes it debut.

The Last Hurrah by Edwin O'Connor has a viewer rating of 7.4. The book about a mayoral campaign was adapted in 1958 and stars Spencer Tracy.

Payton Place by Grace Metalous has a viewer rating of 7.1. This ground breaking book covered topics of sex and incest that had not been covered before. It was made into a movie in 1957 and a successful, long-running television series in 1964 to 1969.

A Certain Smile by Francoise Sagan receives a viewer rating of 6.6.  This is the second time Sagan has been on this list in the 50's.  This book and movie was about a student's affair with a married man.

Don't Go Near the Water by William Brinkley comes in with a viewer rating of 6.2. This "service comedy" is about a group of Ad men who are pressed into service with the Navy.

Best Selling Books of 1957

Seven out of the Top 10 Best Selling Books of 1957 were adapted into movies. Peyton Place is the only repeater on the list from 1956 and two of the movies are due for release within the next year. There are two books with fictionalized accounts of actual trials.

Compulsion by Meyer Levin tops the list with a 7.4 viewer rating. The story is based on the Leopold/Loeb trial - where two University of Chicago students killed a boy to see what it would feel like.

On the Beach by Nevil Shute has a viewer rating of 7.3. Australia is the only continent that survives a nuclear war -- but the radiation is on the way.

The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier has a viewer rating of 6.9. This is a case of look-a-likes who change lives.

Rally 'Round the Flag Boys by Mac Shulman comes in with a viewer rating of 5.9. This comedy stars Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward and a town in Connecticut that is going to get a Nike Missile Base.

By Love Possessed by James Gould Cozzens has a viewer rating of 5.4. The leading lawyer in a small town deals with all aspects of love in a 49 hour period.

Eloise in Paris by Kay Thompson is due to be adapted in 2012. The story is about a precocious six-year-old who lives in the Plaza Hotel in New York.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand is due out in April of 2011 and has no ratings yet. The is the book that asked "Who is John Galt?".

Books into Movies - Bestselling Books of 1958 Made Into Movies
Books into Movies - Bestselling Books of 1958 Made Into Movies

Best Selling Books of 1958

Six of the Top Ten Best Selling Books of 1958 were adapted into movies. There are a wide variety of topics in this year's batch of books.

Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver has the highest viewer rating of 8.1. The books is based on an actual murder in Michigan and the author was the defense attorney in the real trial.

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak has a view rating of 8. The story is an epic of the life of Yuri Zhivago as it is defined by the Bolshevik Revolution and its aftermath.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov has a viewer rating of 7.8. The term Lolita has entered the American language due to this book about the obsession and eventual sexual relationship between a middle-aged man and a young girl.

From the Terrace by John O'Hara has a viewer rating of 6.5. Another movie starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward and it deal with a successful executive who has a loveless marriage.

Eloise at Christmastime by Kay Thompson has a viewer rating of 6.5. Eloise is back again and is trying to find presents from her mother. This was adapted into a TV movie.

Ice Palace by Edna Ferber has a viewer rating of 6. Edna Ferber's book follows Alaska's quest for Statehood.

Best Selling Books of 1959

Nine out of the Top Ten Best Books of 1959 were adapted to film. This is the highest for any year in this decade. Doctor Zhivago and Lolita appear on the list again this year. This year's topics range from Alaska to Hawaii with political drama thrown into the mix too.

Doctor Zhivago has the highest view rating for 1959 books with a 8 and Lolita is tied for second with 7.8. Please see the 1958 section for a summary.

Advice and Consent by Allen Drury is tied for second highest viewer rating with a 7.8. The President's nominee for Secretary of State is running into some problems with Senate confirmation hearings - where will the political pressures stop?

Exodus by Leon M. Uris has a viewer rating of 6.8. Paul Newman stars as Ari Ben Canaan, a man who is trying to transport Jewish refuges from Cyprus to Palestine.

The Ugly American by Gene L. Burdick and William J. Lederer has a view rating of 6.7. This novel is about American Imperialism and is based on actual events and people who were in Viet Nam.

Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico has a viewer rating of 6.5. The made-for-TV comedic movie has a London charlady going to Paris to purchase an evening gown.

Hawaii by James Michener has a viewer rating of 6.4. The novel covers the geographic development and immigration of people in Hawaii. The movie covers just one of Michener's chapters.

Dear and Glorius Physician by Taylor Caldwell is under development and due for release in 2012. It is the story of Lucanas and his research into the life of Jesus.

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Comments 4 comments

b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 5 years ago

Wonderful and informative walk down Books to Movies Memory Lane, Revybaby. As a kid in those times, we saw (not that we were always allowed...) many of these movies. Which now by today's standards, are so mild. By the early 60's I had read most of the books you mentioned. I look forward to following you and thanks for becoming a follower of mine.

revybaby profile image

revybaby 5 years ago from On the Road Author

Thanks b Malin -- I remember thinking some of these were really racy and some were really violent. Hah! It was fun to revisit this.

Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

Well done hub that was a trip down memory lane. I remember Payton Place as being very scandaous at the time and I loved it.

I saw most of these as movies when they eventually came out on TV as I was too young to view them when they were initially released. As a teenager in the 60's I read Payton Place, Desire, East of Eden, Doctor Zhivago and Exodus. I liked epic movies and books with a historical background.

Thanks for sharing this. I didn't remember how many great books and movies came out of the 50's.

ruffridyer 5 years ago from Dayton, ohio

If I remember right, Jack Hawkins was the actor that played the pharaoh in the movie The Egyptian, he did an excellent job.

As usual the book Exodus was a lot better than the movie because it could go into more detail.

Lord of the Flies was one of the few books our english class was required to read that I liked. Also liked both movies but the earlier version was better.

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