Greatest films of the 1940s

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1.
Citizen Kane (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance. (119 mins.)
Director: Orson Welles
 
2.
Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A suave but cynical man supports his family by marrying and murdering rich women for their money, but the job has some occupational hazards. (124 mins.)
Director: Charles Chaplin
 
3.
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette. (100 mins.)
Director: John Huston
 
4.
Day of Wrath (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The young wife of an aging priest falls in love with his son amidst the horror of a merciless witch hunt in 17th century Denmark. (97 mins.)
 
5.
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The spoiled young heir to the decaying Amberson fortune comes between his widowed mother and the man she has always loved. (88 mins.)
Director: Orson Welles
 
6.
The Big Sleep (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 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. (114 mins.)
Director: Howard Hawks
 
7.
Casablanca (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
In Casablanca, Morocco in December 1941, a cynical American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications. (102 mins.)
Director: Michael Curtiz
 
8.
The Little Foxes (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
The ruthless, moneyed Hubbard clan lives in, and poisons, their part of the deep South at the turn of the twentieth century. (116 mins.)
Director: William Wyler
 
9.
Rebecca (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A self-conscious bride is tormented by the memory of her husband's dead first wife. (130 mins.)
 
10.
The Red Shoes (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A young ballet dancer is torn between the man she loves and her pursuit to become a prima ballerina. (134 mins.)
 
11.
The Third Man (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime. (104 mins.)
Director: Carol Reed
 
12.
My Darling Clementine (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A Western retelling the tale of the Shoot-out at the OK Corral. (97 mins.)
Director: John Ford
 
13.
White Heat (1949)
    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 (114 mins.)
Director: Raoul Walsh
 
14.
The Lost Weekend (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The desperate life of a chronic alcoholic is followed through a four-day drinking bout. (101 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
 
15.
Ivan the Terrible, Part I (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
During the early part of his reign, Ivan the Terrible faces betrayal from the aristocracy and even his closest friends as he seeks to unite the Russian people. (103 mins.)
 
16.
Ivan the Terrible, Part II (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
As Ivan the Terrible attempts to consolidate his power by establishing a personal army, his political rivals, the Russian boyars, plot to assassinate their Tsar. (88 mins.)
“ The film was completed in 1946, but not approved by the government, and not released until 1958. ” - steptb
 
17.
The Set-Up (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Because aging boxer Bill Thompson always lost his past fights, his corrupt manager, without telling Thompson, takes bribes from a betting gangster, to ensure Thompson's pre-arranged dive-loss in the next match. (73 mins.)
Director: Robert Wise
 
18.
To Be or Not to Be (1942)
    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. (99 mins.)
Director: Ernst Lubitsch
 
19.
The Raven (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
French village doctor becomes target of poison-pen letters sent to village leaders, accusing him of affairs and practicing abortion. (92 mins.)
 
20.
Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
    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. (106 mins.)
Director: Robert Hamer
 
21.
There Was a Father (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Shuhei Horikawa, a poor schoolteacher, struggles to raise his son Ryohei by himself, despite neither money nor prospects. (94 mins.)
Director: Yasujirô Ozu
 
22.
Stray Dog (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
During a sweltering summer, a rookie homicide detective tries to track down his stolen Colt pistol. (122 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
 
23.
Out of the Past (1947)
    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. (97 mins.)
 
24.
Double Indemnity (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
An insurance representative lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator's suspicions. (107 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
 
25.
The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
    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. (87 mins.)
 
26.
Sullivan's Travels (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A director of escapist films goes on the road as a hobo to learn about life, which gives him a rude awakening. (90 mins.)
Director: Preston Sturges
 
27.
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A young woman discovers her visiting "Uncle Charlie" may not be the man he seems to be. (108 mins.)
 
28.
High Sierra (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
After being released from prison, notorious thief Roy Earle is hired by his old boss to help a group of inexperienced criminals plan and carry out the robbery of a California resort. (100 mins.)
Director: Raoul Walsh
 
29.
Murder, My Sweet (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
After being hired to find an ex-con's former girlfriend, Philip Marlowe is drawn into a deeply complex web of mystery and deceit. (95 mins.)
Director: Edward Dmytryk
 
30.
Red River (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Dunson leads a cattle drive, the culmination of over 14 years of work, to its destination in Missouri. But his tyrannical behavior along the way causes a mutiny, led by his adopted son. (133 mins.)
 
31.
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A poor Midwest family is forced off of their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression. (129 mins.)
Director: John Ford
 
32.
The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
When a posse catches up three men suspected of killing a local farmer, some of them become strongly divided on whether or not to lynch the men. (75 mins.)
 
33.
Heaven Can Wait (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
An old roué arrives in Hades to review his life with Satan, who will rule on his eligibility to enter the Underworld. (112 mins.)
Director: Ernst Lubitsch
 
34.
The Woman in the Window (1944)
    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. (107 mins.)
Director: Fritz Lang
 
35.
Notorious (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 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? (101 mins.)
 
36.
Suspicion (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A shy young heiress marries a charming gentleman, and soon begins to suspect he is planning to murder her. (99 mins.)
 
37.
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 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. (112 mins.)
Director: George Cukor
 
38.
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
    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. (99 mins.)
Director: Ernst Lubitsch
 
39.
Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 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. (86 mins.)
Director: Max Opuls
 
40.
The Murderer Lives at Number 21 (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Inspector Wens moves into a Paris boarding house to catch a serial killer. (84 mins.)
 
41.
The Spiral Staircase (1946)
    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. (83 mins.)
Director: Robert Siodmak
 
42.
Laura (1944)
    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. (88 mins.)
Director: Otto Preminger
 
43.
The Body Snatcher (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A ruthless doctor and his young prize student find themselves continually harassed by their murderous supplier of illegal cadavers. (77 mins.)
Director: Robert Wise
 
44.
The Letter (1940)
    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. (95 mins.)
Director: William Wyler
 
45.
Dark Passage (1947)
    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. (106 mins.)
Director: Delmer Daves
 
46.
The Killers (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Hit men kill an unresisting victim, and investigator Reardon uncovers his past involvement with beautiful, deadly Kitty Collins. (97 mins.)
Director: Robert Siodmak
 
47.
Detour (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Chance events trap hitch-hiker Al Roberts in a tightening net of film noir trouble. (67 mins.)
Director: Edgar G. Ulmer
 
48.
Phantom Lady (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A beautiful secretary risks her life to try to find the elusive woman who may prove her boss didn't murder his selfish wife. (87 mins.)
Director: Robert Siodmak
 
49.
Meshes of the Afternoon (1946 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A woman returning home falls asleep and has vivid dreams that may or may not be happening in reality. Through repetitive images and complete mismatching of the objective view of time and space, her dark inner desires play out on-screen. (14 mins.)
 
50.
Rome, Open City (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
During the Nazi occupation of Rome in 1944, resistance leader Giorgio Manfredi is chased by Nazis and he seeks refuge and escape. (103 mins.)
 
51.
Germany Year Zero (1948)
    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. (78 mins.)
 
52.
Paisan (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Six vignettes follow the Allied invasion from July 1943 to winter 1944, from Sicily north to Venice... (125 mins.)
 
53.
Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A writer meets a young socialite on board a train. The two fall in love and are married soon after, but her obsessive love for him threatens to be the undoing of both them and everyone else around them. (110 mins.)
Director: John M. Stahl
 
54.
Brute Force (1947)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
At a tough penitentiary, prisoner Joe Collins plans to rebel against Captain Munsey, the power-mad chief guard. (98 mins.)
Director: Jules Dassin
 
55.
Great Expectations (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A humble orphan suddenly becomes a gentleman with the help of an unknown benefactor. (118 mins.)
Director: David Lean
 
56.
Romance in a Minor Key (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A grieving husband tries to uncover the truth behind his wife's suicide, leading him to discover a tragic tale of infidelity and redemption. (98 mins.)
Director: Helmut Käutner
 
57.
H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A man who lived his life as he was was told he should, not as he would have chosen to, is brought out of his shell by a beautiful young woman. (120 mins.)
Director: King Vidor
 
58.
Secret Beyond the Door... (1947)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
When a lovely wife and her new husband, settle in an ancient mansion on the East coast, she discovers he may want to kill her. (99 mins.)
Director: Fritz Lang
 
59.
They Died with Their Boots On (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A highly fictionalized account of the life of George Armstrong Custer from his arrival at West Point... (140 mins.)
Director: Raoul Walsh
 
60.
The Shanghai Gesture (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A young woman, Poppy, out for excitement in Shanghai, enters a gambling house owned by "Mother" Gin Sling... (95 mins.)
 
61.
They Were Expendable (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A dramatized account of the role of the American PT Boats in the defense of the Philippines in World War II. (135 mins.)
 
62.
Objective, Burma! (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A platoon of special ops are tasked to parachute into the remote Burmese jungle and destroy a strategic Japanese radar station, but getting out isn't as easy. (142 mins.)
Director: Raoul Walsh
 
63.
The Great Dictator (1940)
    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. (125 mins.)
Director: Charles Chaplin
 
64.
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Three World War II veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed. (172 mins.)
Director: William Wyler
 
65.
Late Spring (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Noriko is twenty-seven years old and still living with her widowed father. Everybody tries to talk her into marrying, but Noriko wants to stay at home caring for her father. (108 mins.)
Director: Yasujirô Ozu
 
66.
Anni difficili (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Aldo Piscitello, a minor government clerk, is forced in 1934 to join the Fascist party. When the war comes... (113 mins.)
Director: Luigi Zampa
 
67.
Bicycle Thieves (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
In post-war Italy, a working-class man's bicycle is stolen. He and his son set out to find it. (89 mins.)
 
68.
Shoeshine (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Two shoeshine boys in postwar Rome, Italy, save up to buy a horse, but their involvement as dupes in a burglary lands them in juvenile prison where the experience take a devastating toll on their friendship. (93 mins.)
 
69.
Ossessione (1943)
    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. (140 mins.)
 
70.
The Fallen Idol (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A butler working in a foreign embassy in London falls under suspicion when his wife accidentally falls to her death, the only witness being an impressionable young boy. (95 mins.)
Director: Carol Reed
 
71.
Children of Paradise (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
The theatrical life of a beautiful courtesan and the four men who love her. (190 mins.)
Director: Marcel Carné