Best of the 1940s

by jewellrunner | created - 01 Sep 2011 | updated - 08 Feb 2017 | Public

My 50 favorite from the 1940s. This is easily my weakest decade and the one I need to expand upon the most.

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1. The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)

Approved | 107 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

A nineteenth-century New Hampshire farmer who makes a pact with Satan for economic success enlists Daniel Webster to extract him from his contract.

Director: William Dieterle | Stars: Edward Arnold, Walter Huston, Jane Darwell, Simone Simon

Votes: 3,832

2. Raw Deal (1948)

Approved | 79 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Joe Sullivan has taken the rap for Rick who double-crosses him with a flawed escape plan and other means intended to get rid of him.

Director: Anthony Mann | Stars: Dennis O'Keefe, Claire Trevor, Marsha Hunt, John Ireland

Votes: 3,232

3. Yellow Sky (1948)

Approved | 98 min | Crime, Western

A pistol-packing tomboy and her grandfather discover a band of bank robbing bandits taking refuge in the neighboring ghost town.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: Gregory Peck, Anne Baxter, Richard Widmark, Robert Arthur

Votes: 3,540

4. Deep Valley (1947)

Approved | 104 min | Drama, Romance

Uneducated and poor, Libby lives a sheltered life in a broken down shack with her unloving parents. When a work crew of San Quentin convicts arrives to put in a new road, she takes an ... See full summary »

Director: Jean Negulesco | Stars: Ida Lupino, Dane Clark, Wayne Morris, Fay Bainter

Votes: 448

5. Louisiana Story (1948)

Approved | 78 min | Adventure, Drama

The idyllic life of a young Cajun boy and his pet raccoon is disrupted when the tranquility of the bayou is broken by an oil well drilling near his home.

Director: Robert J. Flaherty | Stars: Joseph Boudreaux, Lionel Le Blanc, E. Bienvenu, Frank Hardy

Votes: 1,342

6. Border Incident (1949)

Passed | 94 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Mexican and American federal agents tackle a vicious gang exploiting illegal farm workers in southern California.

Director: Anthony Mann | Stars: Ricardo Montalban, George Murphy, Howard Da Silva, James Mitchell

Votes: 1,681

7. Cat People (1942)

Not Rated | 73 min | Fantasy, Horror, Thriller

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.

Director: Jacques Tourneur | Stars: Simone Simon, Tom Conway, Kent Smith, Jane Randolph

Votes: 15,743 | Gross: $4.00M

8. Blood on the Moon (1948)

Passed | 88 min | Western

Unemployed cowhand Jim Garry is hired by his dishonest friend Tate Riling as muscle in a dispute between homesteaders and cattleman John Lufton.

Director: Robert Wise | Stars: Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Preston, Walter Brennan

Votes: 1,622

9. The Long Voyage Home (1940)

Approved | 105 min | Drama, War

In 1940, the motley crew of the British tramp steamer SS Glencairn prepares the ship for its perilous voyage from the West Indies to Baltimore and then to England.

Director: John Ford | Stars: John Wayne, Thomas Mitchell, Ian Hunter, Ward Bond

Votes: 3,181

10. Portrait of Jennie (1948)

Approved | 86 min | Drama, Romance, Fantasy

A mysterious girl inspires a struggling artist.

Director: William Dieterle | Stars: Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Ethel Barrymore, Lillian Gish

Votes: 5,248

11. Moonrise (1948)

Passed | 90 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Danny is being despised by his schoolmates because his father was accused to have killed another man and is condemned to the death penalty.

Director: Frank Borzage | Stars: Dane Clark, Gail Russell, Ethel Barrymore, Allyn Joslyn

Votes: 1,253

12. Colorado Territory (1949)

Approved | 94 min | Western

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.

Director: Raoul Walsh | Stars: Joel McCrea, Virginia Mayo, Dorothy Malone, Henry Hull

Votes: 1,902

13. My Darling Clementine (1946)

Not Rated | 97 min | Biography, Drama, Western

The Earps battle the Clantons at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.

Director: John Ford | Stars: Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Victor Mature, Cathy Downs

Votes: 18,291

14. Johnny Belinda (1948)

Unrated | 102 min | Drama

In post-war Cape Breton, a doctor's efforts to tutor a deaf/mute woman are undermined when she is raped, and the resulting pregnancy causes scandal to swirl.

Director: Jean Negulesco | Stars: Jane Wyman, Lew Ayres, Charles Bickford, Agnes Moorehead

Votes: 3,639

15. Hollow Triumph (1948)

Approved | 83 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Pursued by the big-time gambler he robbed, John Muller takes a new identity, with ironic results.

Director: Steve Sekely | Stars: Paul Henreid, Joan Bennett, Eduard Franz, Leslie Brooks

Votes: 1,574

16. The Spiral Staircase (1946)

Approved | 83 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

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: 7,439

17. Hangover Square (1945)

Approved | 77 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

A promising classical musician finds his life poisoned by a music hall dancer -- and by the strange gaps in his memory.

Director: John Brahm | Stars: Laird Cregar, Linda Darnell, George Sanders, Glenn Langan

Votes: 1,898

18. Pinocchio (1940)

G | 88 min | Animation, Comedy, Family

A living puppet, with the help of a cricket as his conscience, must prove himself worthy to become a real boy.

Directors: Norman Ferguson, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, Ben Sharpsteen | Stars: Dickie Jones, Christian Rub, Mel Blanc, Don Brodie

Votes: 106,246 | Gross: $84.25M

19. Day of Wrath (1943)

Not Rated | 110 min | Drama, History

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.

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer | Stars: Thorkild Roose, Lisbeth Movin, Sigrid Neiiendam, Kirsten Andreasen

Votes: 7,669

20. Black Narcissus (1947)

Not Rated | 101 min | Drama

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.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger | Stars: Deborah Kerr, David Farrar, Flora Robson, Jenny Laird

Votes: 17,819

21. Pacific 231 (1949)

9 min | Short, Music

An engine moves from the roundhouse to a track where it couples with several passenger cars. At 2:10 in the afternoon, it starts a trip out of the station through the countryside to its ... See full summary »

Director: Jean Mitry

Votes: 259

22. Canyon Passage (1946)

Approved | 92 min | Drama, Western

Businessman Logan Stuart is torn between his love of two very different women in 1850's Oregon and his loyalty to a compulsive gambler friend who goes over the line.

Director: Jacques Tourneur | Stars: Dana Andrews, Brian Donlevy, Susan Hayward, Patricia Roc

Votes: 1,539

23. The Body Snatcher (1945)

Approved | 77 min | Horror, Thriller

A ruthless doctor and his young prize student find themselves continually harassed by their murderous supplier of illegal cadavers.

Director: Robert Wise | Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Henry Daniell, Edith Atwater

Votes: 6,837

24. Fallen Angel (1945)

Approved | 98 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery

A slick con man arrives in a small town looking to make some money, but soon gets more than he bargained for.

Director: Otto Preminger | Stars: Alice Faye, Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell, Charles Bickford

Votes: 3,724

25. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

Not Rated | 14 min | Short

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.

Directors: Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid | Stars: Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid

Votes: 8,469

26. The Mortal Storm (1940)

Passed | 100 min | Drama

The Roth family leads a quiet life in a small village in the German Alps during the early 1930s. When the Nazis come to power, the family is divided and Martin Brietner, a family friend is caught up in the turmoil.

Director: Frank Borzage | Stars: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Robert Young, Frank Morgan

Votes: 3,734

27. Dumbo (1941)

G | 64 min | Animation, Drama, Family

Ridiculed because of his enormous ears, a young circus elephant is assisted by a mouse to achieve his full potential.

Directors: Samuel Armstrong, Norman Ferguson, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Bill Roberts, Ben Sharpsteen, John Elliotte | Stars: Sterling Holloway, Edward Brophy, James Baskett, Herman Bing

Votes: 98,820 | Gross: $1.60M

28. Laura (1944)

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

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: 36,083

29. Quai des Orfèvres (1947)

Not Rated | 106 min | Crime, Drama

89 Metascore

Jenny Lamour wants to succeed in music hall. Her husband and accompanist is Maurice Martineau, a nice but jealous man. When he knew Jenny is making eyes at Brignon, an old businessman, in ... See full summary »

Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot | Stars: Louis Jouvet, Simone Renant, Bernard Blier, Suzy Delair

Votes: 3,935 | Gross: $0.01M

30. Le Corbeau (1943)

Not Rated | 92 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

French village doctor becomes target of poison-pen letters sent to village leaders, accusing him of affairs and practicing abortion.

Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot | Stars: Pierre Fresnay, Ginette Leclerc, Micheline Francey, Héléna Manson

Votes: 7,263

31. Donald's Snow Fight (1942)

7 min | Animation, Short, Action

Donald Duck, in a battleship made of ice, goes to war against his three nephews, who fight back from their ice fort.

Director: Jack King | Star: Clarence Nash

Votes: 1,474

32. Rope (1948)

PG | 80 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

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.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: James Stewart, John Dall, Farley Granger, Dick Hogan

Votes: 108,024

33. He Walked by Night (1948)

Approved | 79 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller

This film-noir piece, told in semi-documentary style, follows police on the hunt for a resourceful criminal who shoots and kills a cop.

Directors: Alfred L. Werker, Anthony Mann | Stars: Richard Basehart, Scott Brady, Roy Roberts, Whit Bissell

Votes: 3,811

34. Reign of Terror (1949)

Approved | 89 min | History, Romance, Thriller

Robespierrre, a powerful figure in the French revolution, is desperately looking for his black book, a death list of those marked for the guillotine.

Director: Anthony Mann | Stars: Robert Cummings, Richard Basehart, Richard Hart, Arlene Dahl

Votes: 1,024

35. Christmas Under Fire (1940)

10 min | Documentary, Short, War

How Britain coped with a Christmas during the war.

Directors: Charles Hasse, Harry Watt | Star: Quentin Reynolds

Votes: 60

36. The Third Man (1949)

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

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: 133,773 | Gross: $0.45M

37. I'll Be Seeing You (1944)

Approved | 85 min | Drama, Family, Romance

A soldier suffering from combat fatigue meets a young woman on Christmas furlough from prison and their mutual loneliness blossoms into romance.

Directors: William Dieterle, George Cukor | Stars: Ginger Rogers, Joseph Cotten, Shirley Temple, Spring Byington

Votes: 1,656

38. So Dark the Night (1946)

Approved | 71 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

A renowned and relentless Paris detective takes his first vacation in eleven years at a small inn in the French countryside. There he meets and falls in love with the hotelier's daughter, ... See full summary »

Director: Joseph H. Lewis | Stars: Steven Geray, Micheline Cheirel, Eugene Borden, Ann Codee

Votes: 476

39. Spellbound (1945)

Not Rated | 111 min | Film-Noir, Mystery, Romance

A psychiatrist protects the identity of an amnesia patient accused of murder while attempting to recover his memory.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov, Leo G. Carroll

Votes: 36,916 | Gross: $7.00M

40. At Land (1946)

15 min | Short

Silently, a woman wakes on a beach as the tides go in reverse. Her dreamscape unfolds as she tries to locate a chess piece traveling from the beach to a party to a country road and then back.

Director: Maya Deren | Stars: John Cage, Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid, Hella Heyman

Votes: 2,150

41. The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

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

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: 21,796 | Gross: $0.01M

42. The Leopard Man (1943)

Approved | 66 min | Horror, Thriller

A seemingly tame leopard used for a publicity stunt escapes and kills a young girl, spreading panic throughout a sleepy New Mexico town.

Director: Jacques Tourneur | Stars: Dennis O'Keefe, Margo, Jean Brooks, Isabel Jewell

Votes: 3,718

43. Kanzashi (1941)

70 min | Drama

At a rural spa, a soldier accidentally cuts his foot on a hairpin. Soon enough he tracks down its lovely owner and finds himself smitten.

Director: Hiroshi Shimizu | Stars: Shin'ichi Himori, Kanji Kawahara, Hiroko Kawasaki, Koji Matsumoto

Votes: 424

44. Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Not Rated | 118 min | Comedy, Crime, Thriller

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: 58,999

45. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

Not Rated | 99 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

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: 22,819

46. Rebecca (1940)

Not Rated | 130 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

A self-conscious bride is tormented by the memory of her husband's dead first wife.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson

Votes: 103,441

47. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

PG | 130 min | Drama, Family, Fantasy

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: 327,211 | Gross: $7.27M

48. Hemp for Victory (1943)

15 min | Documentary, Short

An informational film produced to encourage farmers to grow hemp for the war effort during WW2. The film details the many industrial uses of hemp, including cloth and cordage, as well as a detailed history of the plant's use.

Director: Raymond Evans | Star: Lee D. Vickers

Votes: 86

49. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949)

Approved | 34 min | Animation, Short, Comedy

In a small town, a brewing romantic rivalry with a local tough and a school-teacher culminates in a terrifying ride in the night.

Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kinney | Stars: Bing Crosby, Pinto Colvig, Jud Conlon's Rhythmaires, Clarence Nash

Votes: 3,186

50. Casablanca (1942)

PG | 102 min | Drama, Romance, War

100 Metascore

A cynical nightclub owner protects an old flame and her husband from Nazis in Morocco.

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

Votes: 444,178 | Gross: $1.02M