The Best Movies of the 1940's

by Hohenstauffen | created - 14 Mar 2011 | updated - 14 Mar 2011 | Public
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1. The Third Man (1949)

Not Rated | 93 min | Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime.

Director: Carol Reed | Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard

Votes: 128,295 | Gross: $0.45M

2. Casablanca (1942)

PG | 102 min | Drama, Romance, War

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
100 Metascore

In Casablanca in December 1941, a cynical American expatriate encounters a former lover, with unforeseen complications.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains

Votes: 433,317 | Gross: $1.02M

3. Gilda (1946)

Not Rated | 110 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Romance

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A small-time gambler hired to work in a Buenos Aires casino learns that his ex-lover is married to his employer.

Director: Charles Vidor | Stars: Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready, Joseph Calleia

Votes: 22,806

4. Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Not Rated | 118 min | Comedy, Crime, Thriller

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A drama critic learns on his wedding day that his beloved maiden aunts are homicidal maniacs, and that insanity runs in his family.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, Raymond Massey, Jack Carson

Votes: 58,399

5. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

PG | 130 min | Drama, Family, Fantasy

8.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
89 Metascore

An angel is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell

Votes: 318,340 | Gross: $7.27M

6. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Not Rated | 126 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

8.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Fred Dobbs and Bob Curtin, two Americans searching for work in Mexico, convince an old prospector to help them mine for gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Director: John Huston | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt, Bruce Bennett

Votes: 89,601 | Gross: $5.01M

7. Key Largo (1948)

Not Rated | 100 min | Action, Crime, Drama

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A man visits his old friend's hotel and finds a gangster running things. As a hurricane approaches, the two end up confronting each other.

Director: John Huston | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore

Votes: 31,489

8. Mrs. Miniver (1942)

Not Rated | 134 min | Drama, Romance, War

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A British family struggles to survive the first months of World War II.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Teresa Wright, May Whitty

Votes: 12,894 | Gross: $13.50M

9. White Heat (1949)

Not Rated | 114 min | Action, Crime, Drama

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A psychopathic criminal with a mother complex makes a daring break from prison and leads his old gang in a chemical plant payroll heist. Shortly after the plan takes place, events take a crazy turn.

Director: Raoul Walsh | Stars: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien, Margaret Wycherly

Votes: 22,690

10. La Terra Trema (1948)

160 min | Drama

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

In rural Sicily, the fishermen live at the mercy of the greedy wholesalers. One family risks everything to buy their own boat and operate independently.

Director: Luchino Visconti | Stars: Luchino Visconti, Antonio Pietrangeli, Antonio Arcidiacono, Giuseppe Arcidiacono

Votes: 3,356

11. The Letter (1940)

Not Rated | 95 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The wife of a rubber plantation administrator shoots a man to death and claims it was self-defense, but a letter in her own hand may prove her undoing.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, James Stephenson, Frieda Inescort

Votes: 9,439

12. Citizen Kane (1941)

PG | 119 min | Drama, Mystery

8.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
100 Metascore

Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance.

Director: Orson Welles | Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead

Votes: 331,620 | Gross: $1.59M

13. Sergeant York (1941)

Not Rated | 134 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A marksman is drafted in World War I and ends up becoming one of the most celebrated war heroes.

Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Joan Leslie, George Tobias

Votes: 13,262 | Gross: $16.40M

14. Mildred Pierce (1945)

Not Rated | 111 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A hard-working mother inches towards disaster as she divorces her husband and starts a successful restaurant business to support her spoiled daughter.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, Eve Arden

Votes: 18,240

15. Phantom Lady (1944)

Passed | 87 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A devoted secretary risks her life to try to find the elusive woman who may prove her boss didn't murder his selfish wife.

Director: Robert Siodmak | Stars: Franchot Tone, Ella Raines, Alan Curtis, Aurora Miranda

Votes: 3,166

16. The Spiral Staircase (1946)

Approved | 83 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In 1916, a shadowy serial killer is targeting women with "afflictions"; one night during a thunderstorm, the mute Helen feels menaced.

Director: Robert Siodmak | Stars: Dorothy McGuire, George Brent, Ethel Barrymore, Kent Smith

Votes: 7,375

17. The Scarlet Claw (1944)

Approved | 74 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

When a gentlewoman is found dead with her throat torn out, the villagers blame a supernatural monster. But Sherlock Holmes, who gets drawn into the case from nearby Quebec, suspects a human murderer.

Director: Roy William Neill | Stars: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Gerald Hamer, Paul Cavanagh

Votes: 3,882

18. Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)

Approved | 89 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

While on the telephone, an invalid woman overhears what she thinks is a murder plot and attempts to prevent it.

Director: Anatole Litvak | Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Burt Lancaster, Ann Richards, Wendell Corey

Votes: 8,047

19. Laura (1944)

Not Rated | 88 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A police detective falls in love with the woman whose murder he is investigating.

Director: Otto Preminger | Stars: Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price

Votes: 35,432

20. Ossessione (1943)

TV-14 | 140 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Gino, a drifter, begins an affair with inn-owner Giovanna as they plan to get rid of her older husband.

Director: Luchino Visconti | Stars: Clara Calamai, Massimo Girotti, Dhia Cristiani, Elio Marcuzzo

Votes: 5,518

21. Germany Year Zero (1948)

Not Rated | 78 min | Drama, War

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A young German boy faces the problems of the tough life in the immediate post WWII Berlin.

Director: Roberto Rossellini | Stars: Edmund Moeschke, Ernst Pittschau, Ingetraud Hinze, Franz-Otto Krüger

Votes: 7,911

22. The Great Dictator (1940)

G | 125 min | Comedy, Drama, War

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

Dictator Adenoid Hynkel tries to expand his empire while a poor Jewish barber tries to avoid persecution from Hynkel's regime.

Director: Charles Chaplin | Stars: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Jack Oakie, Reginald Gardiner

Votes: 159,428

23. To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Not Rated | 99 min | Comedy, War

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

During the Nazi occupation of Poland, an acting troupe becomes embroiled in a Polish soldier's efforts to track down a German spy.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch | Stars: Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack, Felix Bressart

Votes: 21,281

24. Murderers Among Us (1946)

85 min | Drama, Romance, Thriller

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

After returning from a concentration camp, Susanne finds an ex-soldier living in her apartment. Together the two try to move past their experiences during WWII.

Director: Wolfgang Staudte | Stars: Hildegard Knef, Elly Burgmer, Erna Sellmer, Hilde Adolphi

Votes: 1,639

25. Liebe '47 (1949)

118 min | Drama, Romance

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Add a Plot

Director: Wolfgang Liebeneiner | Stars: Dieter Horn, Hilde Krahl, Sylvia Schwarz, Karl John

Votes: 50

26. The Stranger (1946)

Not Rated | 95 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An investigator from the War Crimes Commission travels to Connecticut to find an infamous Nazi.

Director: Orson Welles | Stars: Orson Welles, Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young, Philip Merivale

Votes: 15,086

27. The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Not Rated | 100 min | Film-Noir, Mystery

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
96 Metascore

A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.

Director: John Huston | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre

Votes: 126,705

28. The Woman in the Window (1944)

Not Rated | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

When a conservative middle-aged professor engages in a minor dalliance with a femme fatale, he is plunged into a nightmarish quicksand of blackmail and murder.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Raymond Massey, Edmund Breon

Votes: 10,558

29. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

Not Rated | 106 min | Comedy, Crime

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A distant poor relative of the Duke of D'Ascoyne plots to inherit the title by murdering the eight other heirs who stand ahead of him in the line of succession.

Director: Robert Hamer | Stars: Dennis Price, Alec Guinness, Valerie Hobson, Joan Greenwood

Votes: 30,127

30. Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)

Not Rated | 87 min | Drama, Romance

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A pianist about to flee from a duel receives a letter from a woman he cannot remember, who may hold the key to his downfall.

Director: Max Ophüls | Stars: Joan Fontaine, Louis Jourdan, Mady Christians, Marcel Journet

Votes: 9,125

31. Out of the Past (1947)

Not Rated | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.

Director: Jacques Tourneur | Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming

Votes: 26,405

32. Foreign Correspondent (1940)

Not Rated | 120 min | Action, Romance, Thriller

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

On the eve of World War II, a young American reporter tries to expose enemy agents in London.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall, George Sanders

Votes: 15,142 | Gross: $3.48M

33. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

PG | 108 min | Thriller

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A young woman discovers her visiting uncle may not be the man he seems to be.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotten, Macdonald Carey, Henry Travers

Votes: 49,842

34. Dark Passage (1947)

Not Rated | 106 min | Film-Noir, Thriller

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A man convicted of murdering his wife escapes from prison and works with a woman to try and prove his innocence.

Director: Delmer Daves | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Bruce Bennett, Agnes Moorehead

Votes: 14,366

35. Saboteur (1942)

PG | 109 min | Thriller, War

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Aircraft factory worker Barry Kane goes on the run across the United States when he is wrongly accused of starting a fire that killed his best friend.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Priscilla Lane, Robert Cummings, Otto Kruger, Alan Baxter

Votes: 19,472

36. Double Indemnity (1944)

Not Rated | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

8.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

An insurance representative lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator's suspicions.

Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Byron Barr

Votes: 111,659 | Gross: $5.72M

37. Notorious (1946)

Not Rated | 101 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Romance

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A woman is asked to spy on a group of Nazi friends in South America. How far will she have to go to ingratiate herself with them?

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Louis Calhern

Votes: 79,963 | Gross: $10.46M

38. Gaslight (1944)

Not Rated | 114 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Years after her aunt was murdered in her home, a young woman moves back into the house with her new husband. However, he has a secret that he will do anything to protect, even if it means driving his wife insane.

Director: George Cukor | Stars: Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, May Whitty

Votes: 18,991

39. The Lost Weekend (1945)

Not Rated | 101 min | Drama, Film-Noir

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The desperate life of a chronic alcoholic is followed through a four-day drinking bout.

Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, Phillip Terry, Howard Da Silva

Votes: 28,097 | Gross: $9.46M

40. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

Not Rated | 126 min | Biography, Drama, Musical

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The life of the renowned musical composer, playwright, actor, dancer, and singer George M. Cohan.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston, Richard Whorf

Votes: 12,064 | Gross: $11.80M

41. His Girl Friday (1940)

Not Rated | 92 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A newspaper editor uses every trick in the book to keep his ace reporter ex-wife from remarrying.

Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy, Gene Lockhart

Votes: 45,011

42. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

Not Rated | 99 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Two employees at a gift shop can barely stand each other, without realizing that they are falling in love through the post as each other's anonymous pen pal.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch | Stars: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan, Joseph Schildkraut

Votes: 22,506

43. To Have and Have Not (1944)

Not Rated | 100 min | Adventure, Comedy, Romance

8.0
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During World War II, American expatriate Harry Morgan helps transport a French Resistance leader and his beautiful wife to Martinique while romancing a sensuous lounge singer.

Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan, Dolores Moran

Votes: 25,792

44. The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

Not Rated | 87 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Fascinated by gorgeous Mrs. Bannister, seaman Michael O'Hara joins a bizarre yachting cruise, and ends up mired in a complex murder plot.

Director: Orson Welles | Stars: Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, Everett Sloane, Glenn Anders

Votes: 21,391 | Gross: $0.01M

45. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)

Not Rated | 75 min | Drama, Western

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

When a posse captures three men suspected of killing a local farmer, they become strongly divided over whether or not to lynch the men.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Mary Beth Hughes, Anthony Quinn

Votes: 17,510

46. And Then There Were None (1945)

Approved | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Seven guests, a newly hired personal secretary and two staff are gathered on an isolated island by an absent host and someone begins killing them off one by one. They work together to determine who is the killer?

Director: René Clair | Stars: Barry Fitzgerald, Walter Huston, Louis Hayward, Roland Young

Votes: 10,331

47. Stairway to Heaven (1946)

PG | 104 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A British wartime aviator who cheats death must argue for his life before a celestial court.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger | Stars: David Niven, Kim Hunter, Robert Coote, Kathleen Byron

Votes: 15,358

48. The Heiress (1949)

Not Rated | 115 min | Drama, Romance

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A young naive woman falls for a handsome young man who her emotionally abusive father suspects is a fortune hunter.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson, Miriam Hopkins

Votes: 10,892

49. The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Not Rated | 112 min | Comedy, Romance

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

When a rich woman's ex-husband and a tabloid-type reporter turn up just before her planned remarriage, she begins to learn the truth about herself.

Director: George Cukor | Stars: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, Ruth Hussey

Votes: 54,459

50. The Sea Hawk (1940)

Approved | 127 min | Action, Adventure, History

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Geoffrey Thorpe, a buccaneer, is hired by Queen Elizabeth I to nag the Spanish Armada. The Armada is waiting for the attack on England and Thorpe surprises them with attacks on their galleons where he shows his skills on the sword.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Errol Flynn, Brenda Marshall, Claude Rains, Donald Crisp

Votes: 7,685

51. The Big Sleep (1946)

Not Rated | 114 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a rich family. Before the complex case is over, he's seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love.

Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely, Martha Vickers

Votes: 69,447