20 Great Movies of the 1940's.

Judy Garland in "Meet Me In St Louis".
Judy Garland in "Meet Me In St Louis".

The Big Screen

For many years I have had a long love affair with movies and a "thing" for black and white films. Lately, I have been watching some of my favorite old movies and thought it would be nice to share a list of my favorites. I have a keen interest in "film noir", which refers not to the genre but to the mood. These films are usually dark, with shadows, cynical in mood, and dealing with crime. One example and one of my all time favorites is "Laura" with Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews. Another reason I like the older black and whites movies is there's a simple beauty about them. I am going to write about some of my favorites and maybe gain a new fan of the older movies. Or maybe renew an old acquaintance that has been forgotton.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

film noir: Pronunciation: \-ˈnwär\ Function: noun Etymology: French, literally, black film a type of crime film featuring cynical malevolent characters in a sleazy setting and an ominous atmosphere that is conveyed by shadowy photography and foreboding background music; also :

Now, Voyager

This movie has a great cast with Bette Davis, Claude Rains and Paul Heinreid. Bette Davis plays Charlotte Vale the spinster daughter of a domineering mother played by Gladys Cooper. Poor Charlotte who is frumpy, overweight and depressed ends up having a breakdown. The movie takes a few turns with Charlotte getting help from a psychiatrist Dr Jaquith, played by Claude Rains. This leads to a cruise where she meets a married man, ends up befriending his depressed daughter. The story has other faucets but don't want to spoil for the viewer that has not seen this film.

If you like Bette Davis this is a good movie to see. Of course I am a big Bette Davis and Claude Rains fan. There is another of her movies on my top ten. Claude Rains also plays in the movie Casablanca with another favorite, Humphrey Bogart.

Directed by Irving Rapper


Citizen Kane

This movie is considered to be the best to ever come out of Hollywood. Directed by Orson Welles who also starts in this classic film. Also stars Joseph Cotton, Agnes Moorehead, Dorothy Comingore and many others. The movie opens with the famous word "Rosebud" which is uttered by the dying Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) newspaper tycoon. No one knows what is meant by this word. A newspaperman digs into Kane's past to find the meaning of that one word. This movie did have some controversy off the set. After Citizen Kane was released, William Randolph Hearst, newspaper magnate thought it was about him. Hearst thought there were unflattering parallels to his life. Hearst handled it by having his publications completely ignore the film. This move by Hearst fueled the interest in Citizen Kane and movie goers couldn't wait to see what all the fuss was about. The rest is film history.

Directed by Orson Welles.

Casablanca

What can one say about the movie Casablanca? This movie stars, three of my favorite movie actors: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains. The majority of the film centers around "Rick's Cafe" in Casablanca and its owner expatriate Rick Blaine played by Bogart. With a backdrop of Nazis, Vichy French, refuges and thieves. This makes an intriguing film, and is should be on everyone's list of must see movies.

At first Rick seems unmoved and rather cynical, but why? The reason why walks into Ricks with her husband. The plot thickens and we are taken for a ride through a great movie. The last scene between Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains is one of my favorites, which was almost cut from the film.

Directed by Michael Curtiz and was released in 1942.

Rebecca

This movie the first time I saw it was very mysterious. Of course you have to remember that I first saw this film when I was much younger. The second Mrs. Maxim de Winter feels that she is shadowed by the dead first wife Rebecca. There is the de winter mansion Manderlay and the creepy housekeeper that seems to be lurking in dark corners. Maxim is played by Laurence Olivier who still seems to be haunted by his dead wife and seems troubled by her death. The plot thickens and of course it would since it is directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Joan Fontaine plays the second Mrs. de Winter with supporting cast members, George Sanders, Judith Anderson and Nigel Bruce to name a few.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Notorious

Another Hitchcock movie that stars Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains. Ingrid Bergman's character Alicia Huberman is asked by US Agent T R Devlin played by Grant to spy on a group of her father's Nazi friends. This movie has it all with romance, intrigue, murder, and deception. It will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Mildred Pierce

Mildred Pierce has a cheating husband whom she leaves and is left to raise her daughters. The eldest daughter is an ungrateful, spoiled girl who is fixated on money. Mildred to prove she can make it on her own and make her daughter Veda happy opens a series of restaurants. Veda gives her mother troubles every step of the way. Mildred seems to pick the wrong men to marry and one thing leads to another. Joan Crawford delivers a great performance as Mildred Pierce and has a great supporting cast with Ann Blyth playing the snot Veda. Can you tell I don't like Veda?

Directed by Michael Curtiz

Meet Me In St Louis

This is one of my favorite musicals with one of my favorite actresses Judy Garland. The plot of this movie takes place on 1904 St Louis and centers on the Smith family. The family and even their housekeeper are all interesting characters. The youngest of the Smith family is Tootie and she is played wonderfully by Margaret O'Brien. If you like musicals this is a must watch movie.

Meet Me in St Louis is a family favorite especially around Christmas.

Directed by Vincente Minnelli.

Laura

Laura is one of my favorite movies. This has a great cast with Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Vincent Price, and Clifton Webb. A police detective is investigating a murder and falls in love with the dead woman's portrait. This is a start to a great movie that will have you going to the end. For me this movie embodies classic "film noir". It has murder, obsession, mistaken identity and jealousy all in a shadowy setting.

Directed by Otto Preminger.

The Letter

This movie starts with a murder by a wife of a plantation administrator. She claims it is self defense but there is the "letter". This is another Bette Davis movie and of course she does a great job as the wife.

Directed by William Wyler.

Gaslight

This movie has murder, things that go bump in the attic and the gaslight dims as if someone else in the house has turned one on but no one has. The movie starts with a famous female entertainer being strangled to death, and she is found by her niece Paula. Ten years go by and Paula returns with her new husband to live in her Aunt's house. This is when all the fun begins. Great cast line up with Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten, and Angela Lansbury.

Directed by George Cukor.

Great Gift Ideas

I know I am not the only one that puts movies down on my Christmas list. I will list some of the new movies that are out and some of the classics. This list gives some great classics that any classic movie aficionado would appreciate.

John Wayne

She Wore A Yellow Ribbon: can't forget John Wayne. No list is complete without at least one of his movies.

1949

More Movies

  • Jane Eyre: Orson Welles, Joan Fontaine, 1944.
  • The Heiress: Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson, 1946.
  • It's A Wonderful Life: James Stewart, 1946
  • The Grapes of Wrath: Henry Fonda, 1940.
  • The Maltese Falcon: Humphrey Bogart, 1941.
  • Double Indemnity: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, 1944.
  • Fantasia: animated, Disney, 1940.
  • The Ox-bow Incident: Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, 1943.
  • National Velvet: Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, 1944.

I could go on since there were some great movies made in the 1940's. I am a big John Wayne fan and probably would have listed all his moives he had done in the 1940's. Some of my favorite actors/actresses are in the movies I have listed. Such as, Elizabeth Taylor, Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Laurence Olivier, Judy Garland and so on. Many are no longer with us, with some having been gone for many years. The one thing with movies is that they will live on.

Hollywood, California

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