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1940s Movies: A Baker's Dozen
Celebrate holidays and traditions with a vintage 1940s movie - one for each month of the year, plus one to weave the year together
Why films from the 1940s?
It's been nearly three years since I began to show weekly movies to residents of a retirement center. In an attempt to bring a sense of unity and interconnection to these programs, I began to pick out a dominant theme for each month and schedule movies around that subject. The popular holidays, naturally, were the easiest choices.
Of course, there are usually several movies released in a year and many types which fit the bill. As more residents started asking about films and stars popular in the 40s, I started looking and reviewing films popular in that decade.
The 1940s were the war years for the United States and films were patriotic, morale-boosters, musicals and significant films adapted from novels and Broadway plays. Choices are seemingly endless because hundreds of full-length features were produced and many stars became household names.
Of course, I still schedule films from other decades as well as the latest releases with popular appeal. This whole project is an imaginative and an intellectual challenge for me.
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Movies and Me: A Bit of Nostalgia - Why write about vintage films?
#1 January: New beginnings for relationships and projects
A great movie for Christmas and the New Year Holidays, but also fits into almost any month that needs bit of heavenly help. For instance, January brings the promise of new ways to accomplish big items - and this movie guarantees a push from above!
I've had a weakness for movies since I was old enough to receive a weekly allowance - 15 cents - in the late 40s and through the 50s. This worked out to a dime for the movie and a nickle for a bag of popcorn at the LaSalle theater on East 185th Street at Kildeer Avenue in the Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland, OH. Close enough to home to reach by walking, the theater was built in 1927 and closed sometime in the 1990s.
Not too long ago, I started showing weekly movies at a retirement community. The first few weeks were a little rough trying to figure out what my audience would like to watch. No group of people liked the same type of film except for films, mostly musicals. that we now call vintage.
That preference made sense to me...most of the community were old enough to be my parents. When they were as old as I was young in the 40s and 50s, a big night on the town for most of them was probably a movie and usually the newest and probably a musical. They were also buying records and sheet music.
My trip back into vintage films starts started with those of the 50s because these are the ones I remember the best. Now, I'm stretching my memory, as well as re-watching films of the 1940s. There are not many award winners among my lens selections. However, they are the ones I, or my audience, like the best. Please, let me know how you like my choices in this lens, and my others about 1950s musicalr
#2 March Selection - An Old Favorite, Not as Slick as Some Newer Versions, but Very Satisfying
An old favorite - one of many productions - that features June Allyson, Peter Lawford, and Margaret O'brien in the closing days of the 1940s.
For better viewing...
look for remastered editions of these old movies. Film editors use modern digital editing technology to create clean, artistically authentic printsof existing movies. They use special editing software to remove dust, fix damaged frames, improve color balance and improve the clarity and quality of the audio. Some vintage film enthusiasts feel that film restoration sometimes goes too far by taking away the imperfections of the filmed image that make it unique to its time.
#3 February: Cupid, Love and St. Valentine's Day
February brings affairs of the heart - and three, Tom, Dick or Harry - are just two, too many!
Find DVDs of remastered films...
by reading fine-print of online descriptions before purchasing, or catalog and item information in public library catalogs. Sometimes the word "remastered" is used, other times look for the date of DVD release or copyright.
#4 April Selection - Celebrate Easter with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire in The Easter Parade
April brings Easter with new outfits, songs, love where you'd least expect it and walking in the Easter Parade.
Movies through the Months
Which of these movies would be your first choice to to celebrate holidays and memories for the first five months of the year?
#5 May Selection - Fantasia: One of Disney's Most Enduring and Finest
May and Fantasia celebrate beginnings, spring, beliefs and wonderful music and animation.
Favorite movies of the 1940s... - for the first five months of the year.
Favorite Movies of the 1940s... - for the second five months of the year.
#6 June - Here is Mrs. Miniver Struggling to Keep Her Perspective during Wartime England. Additions to Your Own Collection of Vintage Movies - Here Are More of
June brings an award winning movie set in wartime England as a reminder of what British cousins across the Atlantic were facing.
A Grand Old 4th of July
#7 July - Here is a Great Sing-Along-Favorite that's Guaranteed to Please.
July and patriotic melodies help to celebrate the 4th of July. A musical look at the life of Broadway song writer and star George M. Cohan. He is considered by most critics to be the father of musical comedy.
Which of these movies would be your first choice to to celebrate holidays and memories in the summer and autumn months of the year?
#8 State Fair - Set in an Old-time Atmosphere of a State Fair, this Movie is a Winner.
August, harvests brings the romance and good times of this romantic musical.
An Early 20th Century School Room
#9 September - Back to School with this Wonderful Movie. It's Hard to Find, but Worthwhile When You Do.
September means back-to-school and another award-winning film based on an American novel of the same name by Betty Smith first published in 1943. Francie yearns with a desire for an American education, and overflows with love for her misunderstood father.
It was a Dark and Stormy Night
#10 October - Celebrate Halloween with a Light-hearted Cary Grant Tale of the Unusual.
October brings a great Halloween romp with all the ingredients of what one contemporary critic called "good macabre fun." A good plot that makes a good comedy that's not as terrifying or horrific as our contemporary Halloween-themed movies.
Favorite Movies of the 1940s... - for the Election / Thanksgiving and Christmas season.
So Many Movies to Choose From...
#11 November - Election Day and Thanksgiving with that Famous Movie Couple Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn
November means government, elections and Thanksgiving. Elections often mean shenanigans and this film lays out some good ones. A candidate for president becomes involved with political misdeeds, but decides at the last moment to apologize to his estranged wife and the public via a radio broadcast. A line from the broadcast was similarly used by Ronald Reagan at a 1980 New Hampshire debate.
Which of these movies would be your first choice to to celebrate holidays and memories for the Election / Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons of the year?
#12 December - Christmas and Hanukkah Seem to be on Everyone's Mind. Here's a Genuine Favorite from the 1940s to Help Celebrate Christmas.
December, Christmas and miracles bring Santa to a department store on 34th Street in NY City. This film is a heart-warming old favorite often viewed at gatherings and on TV during the American run-up to December 25.
And the Winner Is... - Oscar Winners and Nominations
The Winner Is...
- Best Picture - 1943: June - "Mrs. Miniver;"
- Best Actreess - 1942 - Greer Garson in "Mrs. Miniver;'
- Best Actor - 1942 - James Cagney in "Yankee Doodle Dandy;"
- Best Supporting Actor - 1945 - James Dunn in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn;"
- Best Supporting Actress - 1942 - Teresa Wright in "Mrs. Miniver."
Photo: By prayitno (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
And One More Addition to Add to Your Collection of Vintage Movies - Here is my selection for winter months and the favorite that ties the whole year together.
#13 Tying the Year Together with a Holiday for Each Month (Almost!).
The movie that ties all the holidays together features a former Broadway singer and dancer who leaves the Great White Way to open an inn in New England. The inn is open only for holidays and each is commemorated with a lavish production number featuring the holidays themes. My favorite is the beautiful Valentine production.
How is Your Memory?
Do you remember movies from the 1940s?
Do you ever rent and watch these oldies, but goodies?
Do you have any 1940s movies that you like better than my suggestions?
Do you have a favorite actor / actresses from the 1940s?
What is your favorite type of movie from this era.
Any and all comments about vintage movies appreciated.