The Fifty Worst Films of All Time

Last updated
The Fifty Worst Films of All Time
The Fifty Worst Films of All Time.jpg
First edition
AuthorHarry Medved
Randy Dreyfuss
Michael Medved
CountryUnited States
Publisher Popular Library
Publication date
1978 [1]
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)

The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (and How They Got That Way) is a 1978 book by Harry Medved with Randy Dreyfuss. [2] [3] It presents the authors' choices for the 50 worst sound films ever made. Each film's entry includes a story synopsis, the authors' opinions of its quality, and a selection of contemporary reviews of the film. [4]



In compiling their list, the authors divided films into several categories:


The authors also used egregious examples to represent less reputable film genres, such as blaxploitation films ( Trouble Man ), Japanese monster movies ( Godzilla vs. Hedorah ), Spaghetti Westerns ( Return of Sabata ) and jungle movies ( Daughter of the Jungle ) alongside anime ( Alakazam the Great ), disaster movies ( Airport 1975 ), sexploitation films ( Myra Breckinridge ), Elvis Presley vehicles ( Spinout ), and mainstream films like At Long Last Love , Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia , Hurry Sundown , King Richard and the Crusaders , Say One for Me .


The book intentionally excludes silent films because the authors consider them to be "a separate and unique art form and that judging them alongside talkies would be like weighing apples together with oranges". It limits the foreign films considered to only those distributed in the United States, judging it unfair to evaluate local obscurities denied an international release alongside mainstream Hollywood products, while realizing that it would not only be difficult for the authors to view the films, but unlikely that any readers would ever come across them.

From the book's many factual errors, it's clear that the authors did little or no original research, or their reviews were based on poor quality edited copies which were the only ones available at the time, such as with Jamaica Inn. [5]


Despite the popularity of the book among some members of the general public, film scholars and historians largely excoriated the book for its lack of understanding and perspective. Acclaimed film historian William K. Everson wrote a scathing review in Films in Review: "There are so many factual errors and sweepingly inaccurate generalizations that to list them all would take a volume of the same size.... The authors of the book are both teen-agers. This is hardly their fault. And some often remarkable writing has been done by teen-agers. But NOT in any field of historical research, where experience and the perspective that can ONLY come about by years in a chosen field, are absolute essentials.... If nothing else, The 50 Worst Movies Of All Time unquestionably qualifies as The Worst Movie Book Of All Time - and in view of the mediocrity being spewed forth these days, that in itself is a monumental achievement." [6] Critic Hal Erickson wrote, "How easy it is to tear something down. A child of four can do it." [7]


The Medveds continued the theme of "celebrating" bad cinema with the publication The Golden Turkey Awards , instituted in 1980 which again showcased bad and obscure films, and The Hollywood Hall of Shame which examined in some detail several major Hollywood financial disasters, focusing on both the artistic treatments coupled with the technical and organizational ineptitude in the mounting of these films.

It has been said that The Fifty Worst Films of All Time marked the beginning of an explosion of "worst in cinema" prizes nearly resulting in "a state of redundancy almost approaching that of ordinary prizes." [8]

The films

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>The Golden Turkey Awards</i> 1980 book about bad movies

The Golden Turkey Awards is a 1980 book by film critic Michael Medved and his brother Harry.

<i>Last Year at Marienbad</i> 1961 film by Alain Resnais

Last Year at Marienbad is a 1961 Left Bank film directed by Alain Resnais from a screenplay by Alain Robbe-Grillet. Set in a palace in a park that has been converted into a luxury hotel, it stars Delphine Seyrig and Giorgio Albertazzi as a woman and a man who may have met the year before and may have contemplated or started an affair, with Sacha Pitoëff as a second man who may be the woman's husband. The characters are unnamed.

<i>Eegah</i> 1962 film by Arch Hall Sr. (as Nicholas Merriwether)

Eegah is a 1962 American horror film directed by Arch Hall Sr. and starring Arch Hall Jr., Marilyn Manning and Richard Kiel.

<i>The Goldwyn Follies</i> 1938 film by George Marshall

The Goldwyn Follies is a 1938 Technicolor film written by Ben Hecht, Sid Kuller, Sam Perrin and Arthur Phillips, with music by George Gershwin, Vernon Duke, and Ray Golden, and lyrics by Ira Gershwin and Sid Kuller. Some sources credit Kurt Weill as one of the composers, but this is apparently incorrect. The Goldwyn Follies was the first Technicolor film produced by Samuel Goldwyn.

<i>Trouble Man</i> (film) 1972 film by Ivan Dixon

Trouble Man is a 1972 blaxploitation crime thriller film directed by Ivan Dixon and produced and released by 20th Century Fox. The film stars Robert Hooks as "Mr. T.", a hard-edged private detective who tends to take justice into his own hands. It is still of note today for its soundtrack, written, produced and performed by Marvin Gaye.

<i>Spinout</i> (film) 1966 film by Norman Taurog

Spinout is a 1966 American musical film and comedy starring Elvis Presley as the lead singer of a band and part-time race car driver. The film was #57 on the year-end list of the top-grossing films of 1966. It was titled California Holiday in the UK.

<i>Jamaica Inn</i> (film) 1939 film by Alfred Hitchcock

Jamaica Inn is a 1939 British adventure thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and adapted from Daphne du Maurier's 1936 novel of the same name. It is the first of three of du Maurier's works that Hitchcock adapted. It stars Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara in her first major screen role. It is the last film Hitchcock made in the United Kingdom before he moved to the United States.

<i>The Horror of Party Beach</i> 1964 film by Del Tenney

The Horror of Party Beach is a 1964 American horror film in the beach party genre, directed and co-produced by Del Tenney. The film, described as "a take-off on beach parties and musicals," is considered to be one of the worst films of all time.

<i>Three on a Couch</i> 1966 film by Jerry Lewis

Three on a Couch is a 1966 American comedy film directed by Jerry Lewis and starring Jerry Lewis and Janet Leigh.

<i>Solomon and Sheba</i> 1959 film

Solomon and Sheba is a 1959 American epic historical romance film directed by King Vidor, shot in Technirama, and distributed by United Artists. The film dramatizes events described in The Bible—the tenth chapter of First Kings and the ninth chapter of Second Chronicles.

<i>That Hagen Girl</i> 1947 film by Peter Godfrey

That Hagen Girl is a 1947 American drama film directed by Peter Godfrey. The screenplay by Charles Hoffman was based on the novel by Edith Kneipple Roberts. The film focuses on small-town teenaged girl Mary Hagen, whom gossips believe is the illegitimate daughter of former resident and lawyer Tom Bates. Lois Maxwell received a Golden Globe award for her performance.

<i>The Trial of Billy Jack</i> 1974 film by Tom Laughlin

The Trial of Billy Jack is a 1974 Western action film starring Delores Taylor and Tom Laughlin. It is the sequel to the 1971 film Billy Jack and the third film overall in the series.

<i>New Moon</i> (1940 film) 1940 film by Robert Zigler Leonard, W. S. Van Dyke

New Moon is a 1940 American musical film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and directed by Robert Z. Leonard, with uncredited direction by W. S. Van Dyke.

<i>The Assassination of Trotsky</i> 1972 film by Joseph Losey

The Assassination of Trotsky is a 1972 British historical drama film, directed by Joseph Losey with a screenplay by Nicholas Mosley. It stars Richard Burton as Leon Trotsky, as well as Romy Schneider and Alain Delon.

<i>Parnell</i> (film) 1937 film by John M. Stahl

Parnell is a 1937 biographical film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, starring Clark Gable as Charles Stewart Parnell, the famous Irish politician. It was Gable's least successful film and is generally considered his worst, and it is listed in The Fifty Worst Films of All Time. The movie addresses the sex scandal that destroyed Parnell's political career, but its treatment of the subject is highly sanitized in keeping with Hollywood content restrictions at the time.

<i>Invasion of the Star Creatures</i> 1962 film by Bruno VeSota

Invasion of the Star Creatures is an independently made 1962 black-and-white science fiction/comedy film, produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff and Berj Hagopian, directed by Bruno VeSota, that stars Bob Ball and Frankie Ray. The film was theatrically released by American International Pictures as a double feature with The Brain That Wouldn't Die.

<i>Jet Attack</i> 1958 film by Edward L. Cahn

Jet Attack is a 1958 American aviation war film set in the Korean War, featuring United States Air Force (USAF) aircraft.

<i>Twilight on the Rio Grande</i> 1947 film by Frank McDonald

Twilight on the Rio Grande is a 1947 American Western film directed by Frank McDonald, written by Dorrell McGowan and Stuart E. McGowan, and starring Gene Autry, Sterling Holloway, Adele Mara, Bob Steele, Charles Evans and Martin Garralaga. It was released on April 1, 1947, by Republic Pictures.

<i>Daughter of the Jungle</i> (1949 film) 1949 film by George Blair

Daughter of the Jungle is a 1949 American adventure film directed by George Blair and written by William Lively. The film stars Lois Hall, James Cardwell, William Wright, and Sheldon Leonard, with James Nolan, and Jim Bannon. The film was released on February 8, 1949, by Republic Pictures.

James Cardwell (actor) American actor

James Cardwell was an American actor who appeared in more than 20 Hollywood films in the 1940s.


  2. Google Books
  3. Greatest Box-Office Bombs, Disasters and Flops -
  5. "Alfred Hitchcock Collectors' Guide: Jamaica Inn (1939)". Brenton Film.
  6. Everson, William K., Films in Review, January, 1979
  7. Erickson, Hal, Everson v. Medved, Narkive Newsgroup Archive, retrieved September 2, 2022
  8. English, James F. (2008) The Economy of Prestige: Prizes, Awards, and the Circulation of Cultural Value, Harvard University Press p. 98

Further reading