Best Rock Hudson Movies

Rock Hudson’s career spanned decades, and his influence on film is still felt today. From the 1950s to the 1980s, he starred in some of the biggest and most beloved films of their eras. Though his popularity was at its peak during the 1950s and 1960s, there are still so many timeless Rock Hudson movies worth revisiting.

If you’re a fan of classic Hollywood, no list would be complete without including some of Rock Hudson’s best films. In this list, we’ve collected the top 10 Rock Hudson movies from all periods of his dramatic and diverse career. These picks are sure to entertain any viewer whether they’re looking to explore the 50’s era or watch one of Hudson’s later works. So, don your favorite ’50s outfit, pop some popcorn, and get ready to dive into the best of Rock Hudson!

The Top 10 Best Rock Hudson Movies, Ranked

10. The Tarnished Angels (1957)

  • Genre: Action / Adventure / Drama
  • Starring: Rock Hudson, Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, Jack Carson
  • Directed by: Douglas Sirk

The movies Rock Hudson made with director Douglas Sirk are almost always his best — and you’ll see quite a lot of them on this list. At #10, we’ve got 1957’s The Tarnished Angels. Made with almost the same cast that also starred in Written on the Wind, this movie is wonderful.

In The Tarnished Angels, Hudson plays a journalist who becomes fascinated with a WWI pilot and hero (Stack) who has turned to work as an air show stuntman. The journalist also becomes fascinated with the pilot’s wife (Malone).

9. Man’s Favorite Sport (1964)

  • Genre: Romance / Comedy
  • Starring: Rock Hudson, Paula Prentiss
  • Directed by: Howard Hawks

Man’s Favorite Sport is a very fun, very enjoyable romantic comedy from the great director Howard Hawks. It also happens to be one of the very best Rock Hudson movies of all time. It’s fun!

In this romantic comedy, Hudson stars as a sporting goods salesman who is great at selling fishing supplies. However, when he’s pushed to enter an angling competition, things become problematic (and hysterical) as he has no idea how to fish!

8. Magnificent Obsession (1954)

  • Genre: Romance / Drama
  • Starring: Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson, Agnes Moorehead
  • Directed by: Douglas Sirk

Magnificent Obsession is considered one of the best melodramas ever made — and we can’t help but agree. In this romantic drama, Hudson plays a reckless playboy who gets in a boat accident and is saved with a resuscitator — though a doctor dies around the same time, as he needs the machine, too. When the playboy learns of the doctor’s widow (Wyman), he works to try to right things.

This movie is so wonderful, especially if you love Sirk’s melodramas. Magnificent Obsession is also a part of the Criterion Collection (spine #457)!

7. Lover Come Back (1961)

  • Genre: Romance / Comedy / Drama
  • Starring: Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Tony Randall, Edie Adams
  • Directed by: Delbert Mann

Lover Come Back is SO much fun, and that’s mainly thanks to the delightful collaboration between Doris Day, Rock Hudson, and Tony Randall. This is the second movie the trio did together and it’s fantastic!

In this 1960s romcom, Hudson plays an ad exec who uses alcohol and women to land clients. Day plays his rival who wants to hold him responsible for his unethical behavior. When she mistakes him for a potential new client, a romance blooms between the two.

Related — The Most Popular Doris Day Movies

6. Bend of the River (1952)

  • Genre: Action / Adventure / Romance
  • Starring: James Stewart, Rock Hudson, Arthur Kennedy, Julie Adams
  • Directed by: Anthony Mann

While Rock Hudson only has a small supporting role in this film, we had to include it on this list as it is a fantastic film. Plus, this was towards the beginning of Hudson’s film career — and his wonderful performance here would help pave the way for the stardom to come.

Bend of the River follows a reformed outlaw (Stewart) who leads a wagon train into Oregon Territory. When he learns that a trader is trying to scam the settlers, he sets out to get the provisions they were promised.

Related — James Stewart Essential Movies

5. Written on the Wind (1956)

  • Genre: Drama
  • Starring: Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, Dorothy Malone
  • Directed by: Douglas Sirk

Written on the Wind is both one of the best Rock Hudson movies AND one of the best melodramas of all time. There is so much to love about this film! The all-star cast, the gorgeous sets and clothes, the wild story. Truly, it’s such a good film, especially if you love a little (or a lot!) of melodrama.

In Written on the Wind, Hudson plays the best friend to the heir (Stack) to a Texas oil family. While Hudson’s character is in love with his best friend’s sensible wife (Bacall), his best friend’s wild sister (Malone) is obsessed with winning Hudson over herself.

This movie is wonderful. Written on the Wind is also a part of the Criterion Collection (spine #96)!

4. All That Heaven Allows (1955)

  • Genre: Romance / Drama
  • Starring: Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson, Agnes Moorehead, Conrad Nagel
  • Directed by: Douglas Sirk

All That Heaven Allows is the best movie that Rock Hudson made with director Douglas Sirk. It’s a marvelous romance that paired Hudson back with Jane Wyman. It’s also a part of the Criterion Collection (spine #95)!

In All That Heaven Allows, a widow (Wyman) begins a relationship with her gardener (Rock), who’s younger and not from her part of society. A scandal ensues, naturally. However, when her grown children push her to end the relationship, will she finally cave?

3. Pillow Talk (1959)

  • Genre: Romance / Comedy
  • Starring: Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Tony Randall, Thelma Ritter
  • Directed by: Michael Gordon

The best movie Doris Day and Rock Hudson made together is definitely Pillow Talk. Their first collaboration, this fun romantic comedy follows neighbors (Day and Hudson) who feud over their shared telephone line… but a mistaken identity plot point allows the two to fall in love in real life.

2. Seconds (1966)

  • Genre: Thriller / Sci-Fi
  • Starring: Rock Hudson, Frank Campanella, John Randolph
  • Directed by: John Frankenheimer

Seconds is an amazing thriller that is a part of the Criterion Collection (spine #667). It’s also, for many, a film that contains the best Rock Hudson performance ever. Hudson is amazing here, absolutely stunning, and the only reason this movie is not in the #1 place on this list is because an epic holds that spot.

In Seconds, Hudson plays a bored, rich banker who buys a new existence from a very weird, shady organization. He undergoes a procedure and becomes a painter who lives in Malibu, just like that. Except, of course, nothing is ever that easy.

1. Giant (1956)

  • Genre: Western / Drama
  • Starring: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Carroll Baker
  • Directed by: George Stevens

Giant is the very best Rock Hudson movie of all time. This movie is an epic in many ways and so enjoyable to watch. Plus, the film has an amazing cast that combines the talents of Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and Carroll Baker.

Giant follows a wealthy Texas rancher (Hudson) who brings home a new wife (Taylor) and introduces her to his family, to some drama. As the years pass, the family struggles to stay together — especially as the rancher’s rivalry with Dean’s character heats up.

Hudson was nominated for his first and only Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance here. However, he lost out to Yul Brynner (The King and I).

Related — Every James Dean Movie, Ranked

About Rock Hudson & Movies

Rock Hudson was an American actor who revolutionized the 1950s Hollywood scene with his captivating performances. Born Roy Harold Scherer Jr, he changed his name to Rock Hudson during his early career to stand out from the crop of actors at the time. His impressive physique and incredible charisma won over audiences, making him one of the most beloved leading men of the era. He made a total of 84 films between 1953 and 1986, including such classics as Giant, Pillow Talk, and The Undefeated.

On top of being one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood, he also crossed over to the small screen, appearing on dozens of television shows and specials throughout his career. Although largely a private life was no secret that Rock Hudson was gay, which was a taboo subject when he first started acting. Despite the pressure to not reveal his personal life, he ‘came out’ and used his newfound fame to speak out in support of LGBTQ rights. In 1985, he sadly passed away from complications related to AIDS, but his legacy still lives on today through his work in film and television.

What’s Your Favorite Rock Hudson Movie?

Comment below your own favorite Rock Hudson movie! Are any films not on this list that you feel should’ve been? Hit the comments below with all your thoughts and opinions — we’d love to hear them!

One Comment

  1. James mccourt said:

    It was Douglas Sirk who gave Rock Hudson the confidence needed to bring out the tenderness and sincerity in his ultra-masculine appearance.== from “Taza, Son of Cochise” through “Magnificent Obsession,” “All That Heaven Allows,” Written on the Wind” and “The Tarnished Angels” he found the wellspring of Hudson’s naturalness. Right from the beginning, Sirk knew
    Hudson was gay, and being a European, steeped in theater and art, he was able to bring that quality into the depiction of authentic heterosexual melodrama, :I used to read poetry to him, which he listened to attentively, absorbing the beauty of words and feelings.”

    November 30, 2023

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