My Favorite Films 1940-1949

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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
“ Pretty good.

So many of the visuals are so far ahead of their time, the acting is fantastic, and though the final conclusion about Kane may be a bit trite, it's still a powerful depiction of an iconic and definitive American character. ” - rfischer9100
 
2.
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. (170 mins.)
Director: William Wyler
“ Very well-acted and well-filmed stories of WWII soldiers readjusting to civilian life. Manages to take on a serious issue without becoming too dour itself; it's actually an entertaining three hours. I feel like Dana Andrews should have been a bigger star after seeing this. ” - rfischer9100
 
3.
Casablanca (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
In Casablanca in December 1941, a cynical American expatriate encounters a former lover, with unforeseen complications. (102 mins.)
Director: Michael Curtiz
“ Pulp masterpiece. ” - rfischer9100
 
4.
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
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. (130 mins.)
Director: Frank Capra
“ Everything Capra did before this was a dry run - here his visual flair, love of Americana, populism, and dedication to messages all pay off without the usual tics getting in the way. Just great. ” - rfischer9100
 
5.
His Girl Friday (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A newspaper editor uses every trick in the book to keep his ace reporter ex-wife from remarrying. (92 mins.)
Director: Howard Hawks
“ A great film with snappy dialogue, a sense of humor that has aged better than most, and a fantastic performance by Rosalind Russell as one of the first really strong, independent female characters in cinema.

There is a lot of casual racism, though I think you could argue that it's a reflection on the crassness of the newspaper culture the film is depicting. ” - rfischer9100
 
6.
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.)
“ Some elements of the central plot seem a bit cliched, and the villains are rather arch for a film so famous for starting the "neo-realism" movement...but it's not really those elements that make the film fantastic. The location shooting and naturalistic performances like Aldo Fabrizi's, and, of course, the immediacy of the subject matter, make this a very powerful piece of filmmaking. ” - rfischer9100
 
7.
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
“ This film is all about the cool of Sam Spade, in all senses of the word. The plot is ridiculously complicated, but Spade is always a few steps ahead, even when he's constantly getting drugged or double-crossed or pulled on. It is a testament to the direction, script, and, especially, Bogart, that Spade's coolness never grates, but rather makes for something fantastic.

As far as the visuals, not as "noir" as I remembered, but a pleasantly shadowy step in the right direction. ” - rfischer9100
 
8.
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
“ Some rough-edges show in the most "talkie" film Chaplin had made to that point - the verbal jokes are overshadowed by the slapstick, and some of the slapstick plays a little broad. The satire is cutting though, and the film is daring in its attempt to find comedy in tragedy. And much of the slapstick does work as well as Chaplin's brilliant silent work. In hindsight, it's probably too gentle with Hitler - he's more callous than monstrous here, and he doesn't seem much of a credible threat to anyone but his own people. The satire is much more detailed and specific than I remember it being though, with Goebbels getting a lot of attention as an even more sinister figure than the dictator. ” - rfischer9100
 
9.
Fantasia (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A collection of animated interpretations of great works of Western classical music. (125 mins.)
“ The visuals are imaginative and beautiful (for the most part), and they hold up still today. Considering this film in the context of its time, it is revolutionary. ” - rfischer9100
 
10.
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
“ A brilliant dark comedy - Chaplin's slapstick and scenarios are as inventive as ever and the edginess of the murderous plot sharpens the humor. At the same time, Chaplin is exploring interesting themes like the violence of capitalism and the nature of evil. He underlines those themes a little too much at the end, but otherwise, this is a thoroughly engaging and entertaining film. Chaplin is also underrated as a director.

Would make a great double feature with American Psycho. ” - rfischer9100
 
11.
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
“ I don't have a lot to add to the usual superlatives for Ozu, or to the descriptions of the slow rhythms of his narrative style. This is the best Ozu I've seen yet, and it's amazing how he can transport a viewer with a simple story of family life. ” - rfischer9100
 
12.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
    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. (126 mins.)
Director: John Huston
“ The quintessential adventure film with sharp direction by Huston and great black-and-white photography. Walter Huston is fun to watch, and Bogart's turn is very interesting considering the persona he'd spent most of the decade developing.

Adventure films are almost all about imperialism, so it's not surprising that there are plenty of awful caricatures of Mexicans and Indians... ” - rfischer9100
 
13.
How Green Was My Valley (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
At the turn of the century in a Welsh mining village, the Morgans, he stern, she gentle, raise coal-mining sons and hope their youngest will find a better life. (118 mins.)
Director: John Ford
“ Arguably the most beautiful black and white film ever made. The plot is an episodic look at a family in a Welsh coal-mining town, and I think the quality of the episodes vary a bit (some are quite moving, others rather cheesy), but the plot is so secondary to the visuals it hardly matters. A directing tour de force from John Ford. I wouldn't say it's better than Citizen Kane, but I can understand why it won, and that's saying a lot. ” - rfischer9100
 
14.
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 their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression. (129 mins.)
Director: John Ford
“ John Ford is at the top of his game, and the Steinbeck adaptation is a perfect fit for his style because it demands that the characters be oriented in the landscapes of the Dust Bowl and California's orchards, and that those landscapes signal the exploitation of the Joad family. Ford pulls all of this off marvelously. Henry Fonda is at the top of his game as well. ” - rfischer9100
 
15.
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.)
“ Between this film and Black Narcissus, it feels like Powell and Pressburger are moving away from grounded, realistic emotions and towards hyperbolic psychologies at the same time they're perfecting an amazing visual style and upping their ambitions. But that style and those ambitions are so astounding, the fact that the characters are losing relatability feels unimportant.

If the rest of this film were 120 minutes of paint drying, it'd still be four-and-a-half stars for the "Red Shoes" ballet sequence alone. ” - rfischer9100
 
16.
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.)
“ An excellent film noir that heightens the trappings of the genre by having a protagonist determined to escape them. Great performances and great direction by Tourneur. ” - rfischer9100
 
17.
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
“ Beautifully shot, well-acted, perfectly paced, a really interesting setting - it's easy to see why everyone loves this film. A bit more interested in establishing intrigue than in getting into its characters or this postwar world. ” - rfischer9100
 
18.
Double Indemnity (1944)
    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. (107 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
“ Compared to the exotic hijinks of the Maltese Falcon, this noir is a grounded and straightforward crime story, and it's quite powerful for it. Add a very slick production and great performances throughout, and it's easy to see why this film is legendary. ” - rfischer9100
 
19.
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
“ A great Hollywood satire with a lot of wonderful directorial touches by Sturges. The first two-thirds are sort of plot-less, but they're the better for it, as the imposition of conflict in the final third feels a bit forced. There are a lot of film directors today who could learn a lot from this film's message. ” - rfischer9100
 
20.
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
“ A screwball comedy where the characters' eccentricities are actually developed, coherent character traits and the snappy dialogue is actually a series of probing attacks to reveal those traits. The script is great and the three main performances are very charming. I think you could argue that the film is unfair to Hepburn's character, who has to change for her man, but it is made clear that Grant's character has dealt with his own demons before the film's start, and she doesn't seem to have to change that much. ” - rfischer9100
 
21.
The Palm Beach Story (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
An inventor needs cash to develop his big idea. His wife, who loves him, decides to raise it for him by divorcing him and marrying a millionaire. (88 mins.)
Director: Preston Sturges
“ A great, zany comedy from Preston Sturges. The A-plot delves into the power of sex and toys with adultery about as much as a Code film can. And, Sid Arno is doing some of the best physical comedy since the silent era on the side (paired brilliantly by Mary Astor). Plus, it has one of the best credit sequences in history. ” - rfischer9100
 
22.
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.)
“ John Wayne is Capt Ahab on a cattle drive (the first on the
Chisholm trail from Texas to Abilene). Montogomery Clift has an Oedipal complex against him. Big, epic, well-acted and directed. Clift is better than most of these handsome young sidekick characters. Maureen O’Hara is interesting as the female lead. Maybe a little too much going on. ” - rfischer9100
 
23.
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
“ Dennis Price gives a great performance and Alec Guinness gives several in this very fun and very dark comedy. I did have some problems with the ending - mainly how it drags on and on. ” - rfischer9100
 
24.
Rope (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Two young men strangle their "inferior" classmate, hide his body in their apartment, and invite his friends and family to a dinner party as a means to challenge the "perfection" of their crime. (80 mins.)
“ Even though he's basically just filming a live performance (or, at least, lengthy live segments) his set-ups are so perfect that they add an incredible cinematic dimension. The plot's certainly interesting enough to not be entirely overshadowed by the long takes, though I think Brandon comes on a little too strong - he just seems like a twerp rather than a brilliant young man with dangerous ideas. ” - rfischer9100
 
25.
My Darling Clementine (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The Earps battle the Clantons at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. (97 mins.)
Director: John Ford
“ One of the prettiest black and white movies ever made. Historical accuracy is not really a selling point - the Clantons' are just a force of violence. The film moves slowly, but I think that's intentional on Ford's part – the revenge plot is subsumed by civil and (mostly) domestic concerns. The one real problem is the treatment of the Mexican woman Chihuahua. ” - rfischer9100
 
26.
Henry V (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
In the midst of the Hundred Years' War, the young King Henry V of England embarks on the conquest of France in 1415. (137 mins.)
“ A fantastic spectacle with great Shakespearean acting. I love how Olivier blends stage and film, giving us a recreation of a Globe performance then moving into a Technicolor film world that highlights rather than hides the painted nature of the matte backgrounds. Influenced by Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky? ” - rfischer9100
 
27.
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.)
“ I didn't love this movie my first time through, and it was largely because of the way Grant's pride leads him to thoroughly mistreat and endanger the woman he supposedly loves. Now that I'm better versed in the films of the era, I've got to chock that up to the standards of the day - Grant's character acts like the male in almost every Hollywood romance (dramatic or comedic) of the '30s and '40s. Putting that aside for this viewing, I was really able to appreciate the grace of the film's craft and the depth of its emotion.

Bergman is amazing. Every camera movement is so perfect... ” - rfischer9100
 
28.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Encouraged by her idealistic if luckless father, a bright and imaginative young woman comes of age in a Brooklyn tenement during the early 1900s. (129 mins.)
Director: Elia Kazan
“ A moving look at tenement life in turn-of-the-century Brooklyn through the eyes of a young girl with big dreams...despite the rough situation, it never loses a basic warmth. The film perfectly balances its view of the mother, who perhaps goes to far in her prudence but clearly does it all with love. Kazan's pretty great at what he does from the start. ” - rfischer9100
 
29.
Cabin in the Sky (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A compulsive gambler dies during a shooting, but he'll receive a second chance to reform himself and to make up with his worried wife. (98 mins.)
“ It's fantastic to see all of this black talent on the screen here. Lena Horne is wonderful, but she takes a back seat to Ethel Waters and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson - I have to admit to not being too familiar with either of them, but they're absolutely amazing. Waters, especially, is a great singer and gives a wonderful performance. I'm running out of superlatives.

Minnelli's directing pulls it all together and elevates this movie over Stormy Weather, the other super-great showcase of black talent from 1943.

On the DVD, Warner Bros. slapped a lengthy apology to the front of the film for its racism. While there are a lot of stereotypes employed, from black religiosity to dice-throwing, the characters are actually quite nuanced. I just saw The Blind Side from 2009, and that film was several orders of magnitude more racist, in my opinion. ” - rfischer9100
 
30.
Meshes of the Afternoon (1943 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.)
“ A fascinating experimental film that plays with and against contemporary Hollywood film in interesting ways. Not the first of its kind, but it still seems way ahead of its time. ” - rfischer9100
 
31.
Colorado Territory (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
In Colorado territory, outlaw Wes McQueen escapes jail to pull a railroad robbery but, upon meeting pretty settler Julie Ann, he wonders about going straight. (94 mins.)
Director: Raoul Walsh
“ A great dark film (actually a remake of High Sierra), with one of Joel McCrae's best performances. Plus, Indians are sympathetic, skilled, and allies, and bits of the mission/pueblo past are used effectively in settings. The ending feels a bit more code-dictated then a real try at genuine tragedy. ” - rfischer9100
 
32.
Black Narcissus (1947)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
After opening a convent in the Himalayas, five nuns encounter conflict and tension - both with the natives and also within their own group - as they attempt to adapt to their remote, exotic surroundings. (100 mins.)
“ Just an absolutely gorgeous film. Unfortunately, the plot relies on a combination of orientalism and a misogynistic view of mischannelled female sexuality (Sister Ruth's madness is straight out of some late-nineteenth or early-twentieth century, horrible sexist psychological treatise). On the one hand, I want to ignore these flaws because the view of a sensuous east driving nuns crazy is so central to the film's astonishing technicolor beauty. On the other hand, if the Archers had played the repressed sexuality a little more subtly, and treated the Indian culture a little more respectfully, this could have been a near-perfect masterpiece that could age extremely well. As it is, I still adored the lush cinematography, but I was a little embarrassed for it at times. ” - rfischer9100
 
33.
Gilda (1946)
    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. (110 mins.)
Director: Charles Vidor
“ This film is gorgeous in so many ways - the production design it great, the camera always pushes in at just the right moment, the chiaroscuro lighting is perfect, and Rita Hayworth is on screen a fair amount of time. The plot is also intriguing and exciting for three-quarters of the film - it's only the ill-fitting Hollywood ending and a healthy dose of misogyny (remarkably tossed aside on behalf of said Hollywood ending) that keep this from being a masterpiece. ” - rfischer9100
 
34.
Stairway to Heaven (1946)
    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. (104 mins.)
“ Heavenly comedies were practically a sub-genre in this era, but Powell and Pressburger (not surprisingly) elevate the concept with beautiful color, some striking imagery, and their usual humanist touch. Here, they create a kinder, gentler universe for the audience to live in in the wake of World War II.

There were a few flaws that jumped out at me: the Archers' British patriotism is more heavy-handed than ever. Worse, very little is done to sell the central relationship after the initial radio conversation, which seems to be especially problematic considering how much of the plot hangs on it. That said, it's easy to ignore these problems in a film this great. ” - rfischer9100
 
35.
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.)
“ Eisenstein really came around on the whole Tsar thing, huh? There are a lot of propaganda films coming out in this era, but it's a little disturbing to see a film coming out of Stalin's Russia celebrating authoritarianism and ruthlessness. But, the compositions, the costumes and the sets are absolutely amazing. Eisenstein was a master of film.

Interestingly, there are some clear influences from Scarlet Empress. ” - rfischer9100
 
36.
49th Parallel (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A World War II U-boat crew are stranded in northern Canada. To avoid internment, they must make their way to the border and get into the still-neutral USA. (123 mins.)
Director: Michael Powell
“ Yes, it's a piece of propaganda, but it's a very skillfully made one that defies expectations - the protaganists are the villains, and they go on a journey that exposes why liberalism is a better society - didactic, yes, but in a clever and subtle way. The Nazi-centered storyline is also propulsive and exciting in a way that few of the adventures of the era are, propaganda or not. There were a couple of disappointing moments concerning First Nations people, unfortunately. ” - rfischer9100
 
37.
The 47 Ronin (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
In 1701, Lord Takuminokami Asano has a feud with Lord Kira and he tries to kill Kira in the corridors of the Shogun's palace... (241 mins.)
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
“ I'll be honest and say that parts of the first half really dragged for me. The focus on samurai ethics can be hard to relate to, and Mizoguchi doesn't really sell Oishi's facade.

Part II really blew me away though. The ethical questions keep building and compounding themselves, the samurais' sacrifice IS relatable in ways that the politics aren't, the mise en scene is dynamic and enthralling, and I love the decision to have what many would consider the climax of the story occur off-screen with an hour of run-time left. ” - rfischer9100
 
38.
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
From the Boer War through World War II, a soldier rises through the ranks in the British military. (163 mins.)
“ The film centers on a larger-than-life character who becomes realer and more sympathetic as the film goes on - a metaphor for the passage from the heroic Empire to a nation laid low by the Nazis. The celebration of Empire did grate a little though, even if there is plenty of subtle nuance for what is more-or-less a wartime propaganda film (though Churchill hated it).

Nice looking technicolor, and some inventive little bits, especially to convey passage of time or offer up exposition. ” - rfischer9100
 
39.
The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
    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. (75 mins.)
“ A very good, tragic film about lynching (though it's whites who are lynched). Very well done and affecting with some great character actor performances. Henry Fonda doing his thing and spelling out the morality too much keeps this from being perfect. Also, it’s not super fun. ” - rfischer9100
 
40.
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
“ Laura is an unusual noir character in that she's presented as sweet and pure (though obviously, she hung out with the wrong crowd). This makes for an interesting dynamic, but it also dulls the typical noir hard-edge. Still, overall, it is a very intriguing and stylish film. ” - rfischer9100
 
41.
The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
After an all-night send-off party for the troops, a small-town girl wakes up to find herself married and pregnant, but with no memory of her husband's identity. (98 mins.)
Director: Preston Sturges
“ A very funny film that's also quite edgy for the day - a big part of the fun is figuring out how various plot points got past the Hays Code.

Sturges does a fine job here of relying heavily on physical comedy and managing to keep it from playing too broad - oh, it's broad, but there's a cleverness and skillfulness that keeps it from feeling that way. Great performances by some less-well-known actors. ” - rfischer9100
 
42.
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 may not be the man he seems to be. (108 mins.)
“ Cotten and Hitchcock maybe overdo the menace of their villain, but everything around that central problem is amazing - it looks great, the secondary characters are very funny and well-acted, and there's some great, incestuous sexual tension. ” - rfischer9100
 
43.
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
“ Lubitsch successfully pulls off a farce in a time and place when that shouldn't be possible. ” - rfischer9100
 
44.
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
“ Since reading it in middle school, I haven't been a fan of this Dickens tale. It hangs on some massive contrivances and some misogynistic portrayals of women. Lean's production, however, is so gorgeous and moves at such a pleasant clip, that I've actually reconsidered my feelings about the book. ” - rfischer9100
 
45.
Now, Voyager (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A frumpy spinster blossoms under therapy and becomes an elegant, independent woman. (117 mins.)
Director: Irving Rapper
“ A melodrama I actually liked. For a film about a woman cured of mental illness, it's not very psychologically sophisticated, but it does introduce a lot of interesting and complicated relationships.

I watched All This and Heaven Too just before this. In that movie, the passive aggressive villainess and the protagonists' senseless guilt and moral perfection annoyed me to no end. Some of those elements are on display here as well, but they're given just enough nuance (and Charlotte Vale transgresses just enough) to make them much more tolerable, and even interesting. ” - rfischer9100
 
46.
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
“ I tend to roll my eyes at knee-jerk critiques of Hollywood stylization (see most of Mark Cousins' Story of Film), but this is a case where the subject matter and tone of a film are at war with the constraints of Hollywood. At times, this really works to the film's advantage - the bat scene is all the more shocking because this is a mainstream film. Other Hollywood bits, like the devoted girlfriend and the happy ending, strike glaringly wrong notes and mar an otherwise powerful film about the depths of alcoholism that really conveys the insistent drive of addiction. ” - rfischer9100
 
47.
Scarlet Street (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
When a man in mid-life crisis befriends a young woman, her venal fiancé persuades her to con him out of the fortune they mistakenly assume he possesses. (102 mins.)
Director: Fritz Lang
“ An excellent noir about a destructive circle of one-sided relationships.

Having seen La Chienne not that long ago, I was a bit preoccupied with comparisons - overall, I think Fritz Lang surpasses Renoir here and makes his best film since...M?...in the process. It's felt like Lang's style has been suppressed a lot in most of his Hollywood films, but this reminded me of old school Lang. I think the one disadvantage that film has against La Chienne is in the lead role: I love Edward G. Robinson, but Michel Simon brings an innate creepiness to the role (to all of his roles) that changes the tone - Robinson's protagonist is accessible and sympathetic, which makes the film's cynicism a little harder to take and plays up the misogyny (the terrible female characters were easier to handle when everyone was terrible). ” - rfischer9100
 
48.
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Captain Nathan Brittles, on the eve of retirement, takes out a last patrol to stop an impending massive Indian attack. Encumbered by women who must be evacuated, Brittles finds his mission imperiled. (103 mins.)
Director: John Ford
“ 2nd in cavalry trilogy and much lighter than the
first. Ends with non-violent solution to Indians with real grievances (and a generational conflict in leadership, though the elders are a little clownish). The silliness, especially unremitting Irish drunk humor, can go too far, but overall the film is better for the lighter tone. Also, the theme of aging (John Wayne’s officer is retiring) has aged better than the Cold War themes of the other two cavalry films. Most importantly, Ford works in color, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. ” - rfischer9100
 
49.
Mrs. Miniver (1942)
    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. (134 mins.)
Director: William Wyler
“ The film starts a little slow, and the inspiring propaganda aspect gets pretty heavy-handed at the end, but in between there are some very powerful and well-done blitz scenes. ” - rfischer9100
 
50.
The Stranger (1946)
    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. (95 mins.)
Director: Orson Welles
“ Welles has the horrors of World War II intrude on an idyllic small American town. It's a very fun, well-made thriller, and you get to see Welles and Edward G. Robinson spar on screen.

The only drawback is that a lot of the tension leans on Loretta Young trying to be a faithful wife - it might have been more tolerable if her gullibility had felt like it came from love rather than her gender role. She at least gets some redemption in the end. ” - rfischer9100
 
51.
Mildred Pierce (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A hard-working mother inches towards disaster as she divorces her husband and starts a successful restaurant business to support her spoiled daughter. (111 mins.)
Director: Michael Curtiz
“ Issues of class, materialism, and the changing economic position of women are all filtered through a sordid noir, that also happens to be quite nicely directed by Michael Curtiz. Joan Crawford gives a great performance.

Veda's character could've used some nuance and shading, and poor Butterfly McQueen gets some lousy comic relief bits. ” - rfischer9100
 
52.
Spellbound (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A psychiatrist protects the identity of an amnesia patient accused of murder while attempting to recover his memory. (111 mins.)
“ The psychoanalysis material is so patently absurd and has aged so poorly that it is hard to take this film seriously (also aging poorly: the rear projection in the skiing scene at the film's climax). However, if you can set the ridiculous science-magic psychiatry aside, this is an intriguing and well-paced mystery. Hitchcock is getting more visually inventive with some interesting POV shots and a Dali-advised surrealist dream sequence. Bergman gives a great performance; Peck is a little disappointing. ” - rfischer9100
 
53.
The Big Clock (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
When powerful publishing tycoon Earl Janoth commits an act of murder at the height of passion, he cleverly... (95 mins.)
Director: John Farrow
“ Alcohol gets Milland in trouble again! Will he never learn?

This is a very fun thriller that uses a plot about a man trapped in his office as his coworkers close in on pinning a murder on him as an allegory for dissatisfaction with white collar work in post-war America. ” - rfischer9100
 
54.
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.)
“ A moving portrait of a struggling father in post-war Italy. It deftly depicts all the labor it requires for someone in poverty just to get and keep a job, while also showing the emotions of longing, hope, and anger that all spawn out of this life.

I don't know if it's neorealism burn-out or a case of extremely high expectations, but I didn't like this quite as much as I feel like I'm supposed to. That said, the skill behind the film is evident, and non-professional Maggiorani's performance is incredible. ” - rfischer9100
 
55.
Hamlet (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Prince Hamlet struggles over whether or not he should kill his uncle, whom he suspects has murdered his father, the former king. (154 mins.)
“ It's not as playful as Henry V with the film/stage transition, but this production does have some nice camera moves, great set design, and wonderful expressionistic lighting. Still, it was a bit of a disappointment after seeing Henry V, especially since I like this source material so much more (yeah, I'm going to take a controversial stand and say that Hamlet is a pretty good play. Gutsy, I know). I'm not keen on the monologues as voice-over, even if it does make a certain amount of sense and provides Olivier the opportunity to do a different kind of acting. ” - rfischer9100
 
56.
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.)
“ I felt a little cheated by Welles' sub-par Irish lilt and Hayworth's blondeness. The film meanders through a middling noir plot with some good cinematography, but that ending really takes it to another level.

This is the first film in my big chronological movie watchthrough that touches on the existential dread of nuclear annihilation. ” - rfischer9100
 
57.
Foreign Correspondent (1940)
    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. (120 mins.)
“ The plot is a little too convoluted, I don't think McCrae quite sells his role, and there's a somewhat heavy-handed propaganda message, but this is a very exciting film that is, of course, quite well-made, and tries some action set-pieces that are ahead of their time (including a plane crash!). ” - rfischer9100
 
58.
Cat People (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
An American man marries a Serbian immigrant who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland's fables if they are intimate together. (73 mins.)
“ Effectively creepy horror movie about love and sex. Famously keeps its monster in the shadows. Actually, it keeps just about everything in the shadows, which does add to its charms.

To be honest, it probably has aged better as a text to be analyzed then as a horror film to be enjoyed, but it is such a rich text... ” - rfischer9100
 
59.
This Gun for Hire (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
When assassin Philip Raven shoots a blackmailer and his beautiful female companion dead, he is paid off in marked bills by his treasonous employer who is working with foreign spies. (81 mins.)
Director: Frank Tuttle
“ Maybe the darkest noir yet. The film works hard NOT to redeem Ladd, which is an unusual move during the Code. There are some nice flourishes to humanize his killer as well. ” - rfischer9100
 
60.
The Curse of the Cat People (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
The young, friendless daughter of Oliver and Alice Reed befriends her father's dead first wife and an aging, reclusive actress. (70 mins.)
“ Completely different from Cat People, but it ends up equaling that film in quality. This is a moody exploration of a child's imagination with a lot of ambiguity in the supernatural elements. It's plotless and the all the better for it; in fact, it's biggest flaw is the way that it forces a climax at the end. Shot very beautifully. ” - rfischer9100
 
61.
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
“ Cagney's huge performance keeps the film engaging through some early boilerplate cops and robbers stuff. Then, the film's climax is exciting and brilliant - really upping the ante on movie action sequences. ” - rfischer9100
 
62.
The Lady Eve (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A trio of classy card sharps targets the socially awkward heir to brewery millions for his money, until one of them falls in love with him. (94 mins.)
Director: Preston Sturges
“ Henry Fonda seems miscast, but Stanwyck is a force of nature...she really makes up for it. It's not entirely a comedy....but not really a tragedy - that odd mix is what makes this film so distinctive, but it does make for an odd viewing experience. ” - rfischer9100
 
63.
Bambi (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
The story of a young deer growing up in the forest. (70 mins.)
“ When I was a kid, I detested this movie: it was tedious, and then it was depressing.

Watching now, it's still a little slow, and it's certainly sentimental, but the animation's just so gorgeous. Mainlining '40s films helps with the appreciation...I mean, My God, the colors! ” - rfischer9100
 
64.
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
“ A dark film about a set of evil Southern siblings. Bette Davis is having the time of her life in her wicked role, and William Wyler elevates the material with some fine compositions. The first film that doesn't romanticize the South (there are a few gestures towards the antebellum South being better, but they don't come from reliable characters). ” - rfischer9100
 
65.
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
“ There's a lengthy sub-plot here about Bogie falling in love with a sweet, disabled little farm-girl. She represents the innocence he's left behind, and he hopes to sweep her away. The film foreshadows a rather cliched resolution that she'll reject him for being a bank-robber. He's become too tainted for the innocent world he longs to rejoin. But, no, she dumps him for a disrespectful drunk jerk and a life of partying! The world's not too innocent for him; he's too noble and wise for the world. The jerk sweet Velma ends up with is echoed in the young toughs in his crew, who don't have the honor of Bogart's generation. And Lupino, who looks and acts like the femme fatale, is actually the sweet loving girl that Bogart wanted all along. It's a dark, subversive theme, and the film plays it subtly.

There is some fat here that could be trimmed though - the pacing and structure drag it down a bit. ” - rfischer9100
 
66.
I Married a Witch (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A beautiful 17th-century witch returns to life to plague politician Wallace Wooley, descendant of her persecutor. (77 mins.)
Director: Rene Clair
“ A great supernatural comedy that's sort of a proto-Bewitched. Veronica Lake is beautiful and great. Directed very well by the French comedy auteur Rene Clair. ” - rfischer9100
 
67.
National Velvet (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A jaded former jockey helps a young girl prepare a wild but gifted horse for England's Grand National Sweepstakes. (123 mins.)
Director: Clarence Brown
“ Things that provoke the worst Hollywood sentimentality: animals, children, sports, Britain (London excluded), and young Mickey Rourke. This movie has all of that, and yet manages to not be a complete schlock-fest. The fun family dynamic, the light-hearted but sincere atmosphere, and early girl-power message make this film very endearing. I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. ” - rfischer9100
 
68.
Ministry of Fear (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Stephen Neale has just been released from an asylum during World War 2 in England when he stumbles on a deadly Nazi spy plot by accident, and tries to stop it. (86 mins.)
Director: Fritz Lang
“ A slick, Hitchcockian (or is Hitchcock Langian?) paranoid thriller. I'm not sure there's much under the surface, but it's highly entertaining and looks great. ” - rfischer9100
 
69.
Stormy Weather (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The relationship between an aspiring dancer and a popular songstress provides a retrospective of the great African American entertainers of the early 1900s. (78 mins.)
Director: Andrew Stone
“ Showcasing even more black talent than Cabin in the Sky, Stormy Weather, unfortunately lacks the plot and direction to equal the other black musical of '43. It's a fictionalized backstager biopic of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson - still my least favorite combination of genres. That said, who needs plot when you have Bojangles, Lena Horne, the Nicholas Brothers, Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, and others showing off. It might have been better as just a straight-up revue - it's a joy to watch. ” - rfischer9100
 
70.
Key Largo (1948)
    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. (100 mins.)
Director: John Huston
“ The thing that really puts this hostage thriller over the top (other than the great cast) is how all of the characters - both heroes and villains - have seen better days. Robinson is trying, weakly, to make a come-back in crime. Bogart is disillusioned. Bacall has lost her love. Barrymore is wheelchair-bound. The drama is heightened, rather than lowered as a result...

That said, the stand-off did get a little tiresome.

Huston seems to care more about Indians than most directors of the era, but he does lay on some stereotypes, though not as much as in Sierra Madre. ” - rfischer9100
 
71.
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
“ Lubitsch shows that he still has his touch. Mostly confined to one set, it should feel stagey, but it never really does. Margaret Sullivan and Jimmy Stewart's performances really make it work. Inspired You've Got Mail. ” - rfischer9100
 
72.
Battleground (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A squad of the 101st Airborne Division copes with being trapped in the besieged city of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. (118 mins.)
“ Battleground doesn't really do anything new or different in the field of war movies - it's the usually mix of bureaucracy, banter, and booms - but it manages to put these elements together better than any of the other war films of the '40s. ” - rfischer9100
 
73.
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
“ It's often remarked that, compared to the other two titans of mid-century Japanese cinema (Ozu and Mizoguchi), Kurosawa's style is the most Hollywood-influenced. That's fairly clear here, but I think it's important to note that, based on this film, Kurosawa would have been in the top tier of Hollywood directors even as early as '49. This film easily surpasses most of the American detective movies that inspired it, like Naked City. It's slick and exciting, but also layered with social commentary about post-war Japan. It's also interesting to see Mifune (the earliest I've ever seen him) doing something different from the roles that he will become famous for. ” - rfischer9100
 
74.
The Heiress (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A young naive woman falls for a handsome young man who her emotionally abusive father suspects is a fortune hunter. (115 mins.)
Director: William Wyler
“ A thoroughly unsentimental anti-romance set in mid-nineteenth-century New York. Fantastic direction and great performances. ” - rfischer9100
 
75.
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
“ Yeah, Bogart is Marlowe instead of Spade, but it feels like Hawks is following in The Maltese Falcon's footsteps here with Bogart cooly navigating his way through a ridiculously convoluted plot with lots of different people trying to kill each other (and him). Bacall is a nice addition (as are a bevy of attractive ladies; Marlowe is kind of Bond-esque here), but it just doesn't have the originality of Maltese Falcon. ” - rfischer9100
 
76.
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
In the year leading up to the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, the four Smith daughters learn lessons of life and love, even as they prepare for a reluctant move to New York. (113 mins.)
“ Marvelous colors, the best song line-up in a musical thus far, the madness of Tootie, and just oodles of charm make-up for a virtually-non-existent plot and some tedious bits. ” - rfischer9100
 
77.
Hangmen Also Die! (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
After the Nazi administrator of Czechoslovakia is shot, his assassin tries to elude the Gestapo and struggles with his impulse to give himself up as hostages are executed. (134 mins.)
Director: Fritz Lang
“ Lang at his most atmospheric since coming to Hollywood in the this film about the Nazi occupation of Prague. Brecht's screenplay has some interesting things to say about communal resistance, though it can get a bit heavy-handed. There are a lot of interesting-looking character actors chewing up scenery (especially as Nazis) in a way that is also reminiscent of earlier Lang work. Some of the central performances drag the film down a bit (especially Anna Lee; wikipedia says Theresa Wright was up for the part, and that casting alone would've made for a significantly better movie, I think).

This is a heavy-handed propaganda piece, but the Nazis managed to be even worse than Hollywood's version of them. ” - rfischer9100
 
78.
Beauty and the Beast (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A beautiful young woman takes her father's place as the prisoner of a mysterious beast, who wishes to marry her. (96 mins.)
Director: Jean Cocteau
“ The perfect realization of a fairy tale on film. ” - rfischer9100
 
79.
Meet John Doe (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A man needing money agrees to impersonate a nonexistent person who said he'd be committing suicide as a protest, and a political movement begins. (122 mins.)
Director: Frank Capra
“ It feels like Capra's movies are getting darker with time. This time, the characters don't start out as naifs, and there seems to be a recognition that there's a thin line between Capra-platitudes and fascist demagoguery. I think that this pessimism actually strengthens Capra's message...but, he has basically made this same film four or five times now. ” - rfischer9100
 
80.
Brief Encounter (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Meeting a stranger in a railway station, a woman is tempted to cheat on her husband. (86 mins.)
Director: David Lean
“ Certainly a well-made film, and one that is elevated by wonderful performances by the two leads, especially Celia Johnson. At the end of the day, however, I have a hard time sympathizing with the British middle class repression that drives the whole story, and so it didn't resonate with me as well as it could have. ” - rfischer9100
 
81.
The More the Merrier (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
During the World War II housing shortage in Washington, two men and a woman share a single apartment and the older man plays Cupid to the other two. (104 mins.)
Director: George Stevens
“ An interesting romantic comedy that tries to play up the wartime context for its D.C.-set plot. Charles Coburn has to play an anarchic character that throws Jean Arthur's life into chaos after becoming her roommate. Coburn doesn't seem like the best choice for this role, but there is some good comedy here.

There's something about Jean Arthur that seems to bring out very passionate performances in her male costars - I think the scene with McCrae on the steps is the most physical love scene I've seen since before the Code. ” - rfischer9100
 
82.
I Walked with a Zombie (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A Canadian nurse is hired to care for the wife of a sugar plantation owner, who has been acting strangely, on a Caribbean island. (69 mins.)
“ Dark and atmospheric (I think I use that word to describe every Tourneur film). Perhaps problematic racially, but it at least acknowledges that slavery is horrible and creates some nuanced rolls for some black actors, rare things before the '50s. ” - rfischer9100
 
83.
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A corrupt young man somehow keeps his youthful beauty, but a special painting gradually reveals his inner ugliness to all. (110 mins.)
Director: Albert Lewin
“ Could have, perhaps, been a little moodier, but it does go to some dark places eventually, and the presentation of the portraits is incredibly effective. ” - rfischer9100
 
84.
Major Barbara (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A young and idealistic woman, who has adopted the Salvation Army and whose father is an armament industrialist, will save more souls directing her father's business. A comedy with social commentary. (131 mins.)
Director: Gabriel Pascal
“ This film, based on a George Bernard Shaw play, winds around to get to a very ambivalent ending that is presented as triumphant. This is both a strength and a weakness - the story and characters perhaps lack consistency, but there is plenty to chew on (including very witty dialogue). The film brings some great performances into the mix as well. ” - rfischer9100
 
85.
Macbeth (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
In 11th century Scotland, nobleman Macbeth and his wife plot to murder the king and usurp the throne in order to fulfill an evil prophecy made by three witches. (92 mins.)
Director: Orson Welles
“ Olivier managed to bring striking cinematic visuals to filmed Shakespeare plays without sacrificing the language or performances. Welles certainly achieves the striking visuals here, really surpassing Olivier's Hamlet despite having much less to work with, but the performances do suffer. Also, for the second time in a row, a Welles production is somewhat hobbled by his own lackluster accent work. ” - rfischer9100
 
86.
A Walk in the Sun (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
During WWII, a platoon of American soldiers trudge through the Italian countryside in search of a bridge they have been ordered to blow up, encountering danger and destruction along the way. (117 mins.)
Director: Lewis Milestone
“ Cinema verite it ain't, but this film does offer a heightened, stylized vision of the typical war movie. The dialogue has the familiar rhythms of wartime camaraderie, but extra clever and layered...it can feel almost too affected, but I generally don't expect realism in movies framed by ballads. I was drawn into the film's world. Milestone also uses some interesting camera angles.

Feels like Spielberg drew a lot of inspiration from this one for Saving Private Ryan...or maybe it's just that they're both infantry films. ” - rfischer9100
 
87.
The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A nineteenth-century New Hampshire farmer who makes a compact with Satan for economic success enlists Daniel Webster to extract him from his contract. (107 mins.)
“ Moments of fantasy brilliance, directed with flair by Dieterle, are dragged down by a lot of aw shucks Americana and heavy-handed preaching for most of the film, especially the first two thirds. Huston's and Arnold's performances also help lift it out of these dull patches. ” - rfischer9100
 
88.
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
“ Bogart/Bacall, the well-filmed San Francisco setting, and the creative ways in which Daves obscures his star's face all make this film highly enjoyable, despite the rather clunky, contrivance-driven plot. ” - rfischer9100
 
89.
Five Graves to Cairo (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
During World War II, an undercover British soldier tries get word to the Allies that the Germans have tons of supplies buried in five excavations across Egypt. (96 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
“ You can feel the stageplay origins in the middle, but it is still rather tense and the performances are strong (and you see some of Wilder's work with lighting that would soon enliven Double Indemnity). The bookending sequences with tanks are especially strong too. ” - rfischer9100
 
90.
Western Union (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
When Edward Creighton leads the construction of the Western Union to unite East with West, he hires a Western reformed outlaw and a tenderfoot Eastern surveyor. (95 mins.)
Director: Fritz Lang
“ A very well-made though formulaic western, hitting the usual themes of civilizing the frontier (including a typical representation of the tensions in a love triangle). Randolph Scott is very good here, the technicolor looks nice, and, while I still prefer the madcap German work of Fritz Lang, it is quite well-directed.

I thought it might do something interesting with portrayals of American Indians for a second there, but it ended up using the typical stereotypes and put-downs for the most part. ” - rfischer9100
 
91.
Pursued (1947)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Brought up by a neighboring family in the 1880s, an orphan grows up haunted by nightmares of a childhood trauma in which his own family was killed. (101 mins.)
Director: Raoul Walsh
“ A great-looking noir-western with a well-cast Mitchum as the lead. Goes for mood over logic but achieves the desired effect. ” - rfischer9100
 
92.
Le Corbeau (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
French village doctor becomes target of poison-pen letters sent to village leaders, accusing him of affairs and practicing abortion. (92 mins.)
“ An interesting, twisty mystery with a dark ambiance and interesting conflicts. The characters can be a bit over-the-top, as is often the case in French cinema (at least, until Bresson shows up and takes things in the opposite direction). ” - rfischer9100
 
93.
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.)
“ I wanted to like this more than I did, but the comically evil villains, the constant Joan Fontaine put downs, and the fact that her character has so little agency in this whole story all kind of took me out of it.

That said, it looks fantastic, and the mysteries are compelling. ” - rfischer9100
 
94.
Pinocchio (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A living puppet, with the help of a cricket as his conscience, must prove himself worthy to become a real boy. (88 mins.)
“ High marks for surrealist imagery and shots that are just astounding in the context of the time. I can't say I connect with the plot (it's really just a series of strange incidents with simplistic morals) or the characters (other than Jiminy) ” - rfischer9100
 
95.
On the Town (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Three sailors on a day of shore leave in New York City look for fun and romance before their twenty-four hours are up. (98 mins.)
“ Anchors Aweigh 2: The Townening.

Actually, this film is toned down some from Anchors Aweigh - the plot's (what there is of it) more linear and there's no Tom and Jerry dance sequence...I can't quite decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Definitely a good thing: Ann Miller and Vera-Allen - the ladies here are a big upgrade over Kathryn Grayson. ” - rfischer9100
 
96.
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. (87 mins.)
Director: Max Opuls
“ This film seems old-fashioned even for 1948. I wanted Greta Garbo circa 1930 as the lead. That said, it perfects that early-30s Euroromantic melodrama formula. It also looks great.

There was a moment near the end where I thought the film might reject romanticism, but that certainly didn't pan out. For me, it would have been a more interesting film if it had. ” - rfischer9100
 
97.
A Canterbury Tale (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Three modern day pilgrims investigate a bizarre crime in a small town on the way to Canterbury. (124 mins.)
“ Powell and Pressburger know how to make a film, and there is a lot to like about this quiet, pastoral homefront film that mostly keeps the war in the background (though it is always present). What plot there is involves the investigation of a series of misogynist attacks that the film ultimately (and very annoyingly) shrugs off because, hey, the attacker loved British history. Another problem is the unfortunate acting of Sgt. John Sweet. ” - rfischer9100
 
98.
Sahara (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
After the fall of Tobruk in 1942, during the Allied retreat in the Libyan desert, an American tank picks-up a motley group of survivors but they face advancing Germans and a lack of water. (97 mins.)
Director: Zoltan Korda
“ A well-made but by-the-numbers war film elevated a bit by some very nice desert landscapes. There's an interesting multi-national angle, including a Sudanese Muslim, though I bet it grated that ahyper-competent American got to be a great hero of El Alamein (a British battle). ” - rfischer9100
 
99.
Ball of Fire (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A group of professors working on a new encyclopedia encounter a mouthy nightclub singer who is wanted by the police to help bring down her mob boss lover. (111 mins.)
Director: Howard Hawks
“ Nice, light fun, but fairly generic for a screwball. Wilder's script is quite good, especially with the slang. I like Cooper, but it seems like Jimmy Stewart or Cary Grant would have been better fits. ” - rfischer9100
 
100.
The Great McGinty (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Dan McGinty has great success in his chosen field of crooked politics. But endangers it all in one crazy moment of honesty... (82 mins.)
Director: Preston Sturges
“ Sort of the bizarro Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, as it is much more cynical. I think it ends up showing that Capra's approach, despite the cheesiness factor, is more effective. That said, there are some really interesting ideas in Preston Sturges's directorial debut, including almost showing a suicide attempt in a mirror, a non-linear structure, and some neat tracking shots. ” - rfischer9100