50 Favorite Movies of the 1940s -- WMK

by williamkromer | created - 12 Jun 2012 | updated - 06 Jul 2015 | Public
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1. Lassie Come Home (1943)

Passed | 89 min | Adventure, Family

After her destitute family is forced to sell her, a collie named Lassie escapes from her new owner and begins the long trek from Scotland to her Yorkshire home.

Director: Fred M. Wilcox | Stars: Roddy McDowall, Donald Crisp, May Whitty, Edmund Gwenn

Votes: 4,279

2. 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: 103,576

3. 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: 36,101

4. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

Not Rated | 129 min | Drama, History

95 Metascore

A poor Midwest family is forced off their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression.

Director: John Ford | Stars: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine, Charley Grapewin

Votes: 75,848

5. Citizen Kane (1941)

PG | 119 min | Drama, Mystery

100 Metascore

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

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

Votes: 341,066 | Gross: $1.59M

6. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Not Rated | 113 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

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.

Director: Vincente Minnelli | Stars: Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien, Mary Astor, Lucille Bremer

Votes: 16,988 | Gross: $7.57M

7. 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: 7,448

8. Wake of the Red Witch (1948)

Approved | 106 min | Action, Adventure, Romance

During the 1860s in the South Pacific, Capt. Ralls, skipper of the Red Witch, has a series of adventures involving sunken gold bullion, pearls, natives, an unscrupulous ship owner and a giant octopus.

Director: Edward Ludwig | Stars: John Wayne, Gail Russell, Gig Young, Adele Mara

Votes: 2,054

9. Green Dolphin Street (1947)

Approved | 141 min | Adventure, Romance, Drama

Sophie loved Edmund, but he left town when her parents forced her to marry wealthy Octavius. Years later, Edmund returns with his son, William. Sophie's daughter, Marguerite, and William ... See full summary »

Director: Victor Saville | Stars: Van Heflin, Lana Turner, Donna Reed, Richard Hart

Votes: 1,108

10. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)

Not Rated | 75 min | Drama, Western

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

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

Votes: 17,830

11. The Red House (1947)

Unrated | 100 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery

An old man and his sister are concealing a terrible secret from their adopted teen daughter, concerning a hidden abandon farmhouse, located deep in the woods.

Director: Delmer Daves | Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Lon McCallister, Judith Anderson, Rory Calhoun

Votes: 2,472

12. State Fair (1945)

Approved | 100 min | Comedy, Drama, Musical

The Frake family attends the annual Iowa State Fair; each member of the clan has their own reason for doing so.

Director: Walter Lang | Stars: Jeanne Crain, Dana Andrews, Dick Haymes, Vivian Blaine

Votes: 3,068

13. 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: 444,669 | Gross: $1.02M

14. How Green Was My Valley (1941)

Not Rated | 118 min | Drama, Family

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.

Director: John Ford | Stars: Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O'Hara, Anna Lee, Donald Crisp

Votes: 17,855

15. The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Not Rated | 100 min | Film-Noir, Mystery

96 Metascore

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

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

Votes: 132,209

16. The Snake Pit (1948)

Approved | 108 min | Drama, Mystery

A detailed chronicle of a woman during her stay in a mental institution.

Director: Anatole Litvak | Stars: Olivia de Havilland, Mark Stevens, Leo Genn, Celeste Holm

Votes: 5,592 | Gross: $10.00M

17. 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: 98,885 | Gross: $1.60M

18. The Letter (1940)

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

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

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

Votes: 9,625

19. National Velvet (1944)

G | 123 min | Drama, Family, Sport

A jaded former jockey helps a young girl prepare a wild but gifted horse for England's Grand National Sweepstakes.

Director: Clarence Brown | Stars: Mickey Rooney, Elizabeth Taylor, Donald Crisp, Anne Revere

Votes: 5,600

20. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

PG | 108 min | Thriller

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

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

Votes: 50,739

21. The Story of Dr. Wassell (1944)

140 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

As the Japanese sweep through the East Indies during World War II, Dr. Wassell is determined to escape from Java with some crewmen of the cruiser Marblehead. Based on a true story of how Dr... See full summary »

Director: Cecil B. DeMille | Stars: Gary Cooper, Laraine Day, Signe Hasso, Dennis O'Keefe

Votes: 630

22. Mrs. Miniver (1942)

Not Rated | 134 min | Drama, Romance, War

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

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

Votes: 13,186 | Gross: $13.50M

23. Key Largo (1948)

Not Rated | 100 min | Action, Crime, Drama

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

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

Votes: 31,976

24. 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: 59,021

25. Gilda (1946)

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

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

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

Votes: 23,188

26. Random Harvest (1942)

Passed | 126 min | Drama, Romance

An amnesiac World War I veteran falls in love with a music hall star, only to suffer an accident which restores his original memories but erases his post-war life.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy | Stars: Ronald Colman, Greer Garson, Philip Dorn, Susan Peters

Votes: 5,869 | Gross: $10.14M

27. Intruder in the Dust (1949)

Approved | 87 min | Crime, Drama

In 1940s Mississippi two teenage boys and an elderly woman combine forces to prevent a miscarriage of justice and clear a black man of a murder charge.

Director: Clarence Brown | Stars: David Brian, Claude Jarman Jr., Juano Hernandez, Porter Hall

Votes: 1,563

28. Duel in the Sun (1946)

Unrated | 129 min | Drama, Romance, Western

Beautiful half-breed Pearl Chavez becomes the ward of her dead father's first love and finds herself torn between her sons, one good and the other bad.

Directors: King Vidor, Otto Brower, William Dieterle, Sidney Franklin, William Cameron Menzies, David O. Selznick, Josef von Sternberg | Stars: Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Gregory Peck, Lionel Barrymore

Votes: 6,978 | Gross: $20.41M

29. The House on 92nd Street (1945)

Approved | 88 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Bill Dietrich becomes a double agent for the F.B.I. in a Nazi spy ring.

Director: Henry Hathaway | Stars: William Eythe, Lloyd Nolan, Signe Hasso, Gene Lockhart

Votes: 2,311

30. All the King's Men (1949)

Approved | 110 min | Drama, Film-Noir

The rise and fall of a corrupt politician, who makes his friends richer and retains power by dint of a populist appeal.

Director: Robert Rossen | Stars: Broderick Crawford, John Ireland, Joanne Dru, John Derek

Votes: 11,196

31. The Little Foxes (1941)

Approved | 116 min | Drama, Romance

The ruthless, moneyed Hubbard clan lives in, and poisons, their part of the deep South at the turn of the twentieth century.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, Teresa Wright, Richard Carlson

Votes: 8,591

32. Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

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

A writer falls in love with a young socialite and they are married soon after, but her obsessive love for him threatens to be the undoing of both them and everyone else around them.

Director: John M. Stahl | Stars: Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain, Vincent Price

Votes: 8,972

33. The Jolson Story (1946)

Approved | 128 min | Biography, Drama, Music

This movie shows the idealized career of the singer Al Jolson, a little Jewish boy who goes against the will of his father in order to be in showbiz. He becomes a star, falls in love with a... See full summary »

Director: Alfred E. Green | Stars: Larry Parks, Evelyn Keyes, William Demarest, Bill Goodwin

Votes: 1,317

34. Dragon Seed (1944)

Passed | 148 min | Drama, History, War

The lives of a small Chinese village are turned Upside down when the Japanese invade it. And heroic young Chinese woman leads her fellow villagers in an uprising against Japanese Invaders.

Directors: Harold S. Bucquet, Jack Conway | Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Walter Huston, Aline MacMahon, Akim Tamiroff

Votes: 955

35. Since You Went Away (1944)

Approved | 177 min | Drama, Romance, War

With her husband away to fight in World War II, a housewife struggles to care for their two daughters - and a pair of lodgers who have moved in - alone.

Directors: John Cromwell, Edward F. Cline, Tay Garnett, David O. Selznick | Stars: Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Shirley Temple

Votes: 3,679

36. The Yearling (1946)

Approved | 128 min | Drama, Family

A boy persuades his parents to allow him to adopt a young deer, but what will happen if the deer misbehaves?

Director: Clarence Brown | Stars: Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman, Claude Jarman Jr., Chill Wills

Votes: 4,687 | Gross: $5.20M

37. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Not Rated | 170 min | Drama, Romance, War

92 Metascore

Three World War II veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Fredric March, Teresa Wright

Votes: 49,758 | Gross: $23.65M

38. The Human Comedy (1943)

Unrated | 117 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

Teenager Homer Macauley stays at home in small-town Ithaca to support his family while his older brother Marcus prepares to go to war.

Director: Clarence Brown | Stars: Mickey Rooney, Frank Morgan, James Craig, Marsha Hunt

Votes: 1,534

39. Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)

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

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

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

Votes: 8,192

40. Sitting Pretty (1948)

Not Rated | 83 min | Comedy

Tacey and Harry King are a suburban couple with three sons and a serious need of a babysitter. Tacey puts an ad in the paper for a live-in babysitter, and the ad is answered by Lynn ... See full summary »

Director: Walter Lang | Stars: Robert Young, Maureen O'Hara, Clifton Webb, Richard Haydn

Votes: 1,613

41. Reap the Wild Wind (1942)

Passed | 123 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

Florida ship salvager, Loxi, falls for Jack, captain of a ship wrecked on the Key West shore. However, their romance is complicated by the arrival of another suitor, and eventually leads to tragedy.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille | Stars: Ray Milland, John Wayne, Paulette Goddard, Raymond Massey

Votes: 2,441

42. Mr. Skeffington (1944)

Approved | 146 min | Drama, Romance

Popular and beautiful Fanny Trellis is forced into a loveless marriage with an older man, Jewish banker Job Skeffington, in order to save her beloved brother Trippy from an embezzlement charge, and predictable complications result.

Director: Vincent Sherman | Stars: Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Walter Abel, George Coulouris

Votes: 4,592

43. Watch on the Rhine (1943)

Approved | 114 min | Drama

A German-born engineer, his American wife and their children travel from Mexico to the United States to visit her family but their plans are complicated by a Romanian count.

Directors: Herman Shumlin, Hal Mohr | Stars: Bette Davis, Paul Lukas, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Lucile Watson

Votes: 3,160

44. Double Indemnity (1944)

Passed | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

95 Metascore

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

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

Votes: 117,315 | Gross: $5.72M

45. Tomorrow, the World! (1944)

Approved | 86 min | Drama, War

German boy Emil comes to live with his American uncle who tries to teach the former Hitler Youth to reject Nazism.

Director: Leslie Fenton | Stars: Fredric March, Betty Field, Agnes Moorehead, Joan Carroll

Votes: 525

46. Kings Row (1942)

Not Rated | 127 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

The dark side and hypocrisy of provincial American life is seen through the eyes of five children as they grow to adulthood at the turn-of-the-century.

Director: Sam Wood | Stars: Ann Sheridan, Robert Cummings, Ronald Reagan, Betty Field

Votes: 3,420

47. Our Hearts Were Young and Gay (1944)

Approved | 81 min | Comedy

In 1923, two young ladies depart unescorted for a tour of Europe, meeting two eligible men aboard ship. Their great naivity and efforts to seem grown-up lead them into many comic ... See full summary »

Director: Lewis Allen | Stars: Gail Russell, Diana Lynn, Charles Ruggles, Dorothy Gish

Votes: 130

48. The White Cliffs of Dover (1944)

Passed | 126 min | Drama, Romance, War

London based American nurse, Susan, Lady Ashwood, is at the hospital awaiting the imminent arrival of injured soldiers. She is hoping that her enlisted son, Sir John Ashwood, who resembles ... See full summary »

Director: Clarence Brown | Stars: Irene Dunne, Alan Marshal, Roddy McDowall, Frank Morgan

Votes: 1,221

49. Good Sam (1948)

Approved | 114 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Sam Clayton has a good heart and likes to help out people in need. In fact, he likes to help them out so much that he often finds himself broke and unable to help his own family buy the things they need--like a house.

Director: Leo McCarey | Stars: Gary Cooper, Ann Sheridan, Ray Collins, Edmund Lowe

Votes: 479

50. Streets of Laredo (1949)

Approved | 93 min | Western

An outlaw separates from his two partners in crime when they join the Texas Rangers, and he continues to commit daring robberies.

Director: Leslie Fenton | Stars: William Holden, Macdonald Carey, Mona Freeman, William Bendix

Votes: 462