BEST 1940s MOVIES

by mikegreco | created - 01 Feb 2018 | updated - 01 Feb 2018 | Public

The 1940s produced cinema classics that have withstood the changing taste of three generations of moviegoers and guilty pleasures that have withstood decades of assaults by high-tone critics. Challenged by war, social and economic turmoil, and changing values, 1940s nonetheless produced an extremely rich and diverse number of films among the best to ever come out of Hollywood.

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1. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Passed | 126 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

98 Metascore

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

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

Votes: 105,058 | Gross: $5.01M

2. The Lady Eve (1941)

Passed | 94 min | Comedy, Romance

A trio of classy card sharks targets the socially awkward heir to brewery millions for his money, until one of them falls in love with him.

Director: Preston Sturges | Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn, Eugene Pallette

Votes: 17,527

3. Casablanca (1942)

PG | 102 min | Drama, Romance, War

100 Metascore

A cynical American expatriate struggles to decide whether or not he should help his former lover and her fugitive husband escape French Morocco.

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

Votes: 483,769 | Gross: $1.02M

4. 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: 142,015 | Gross: $2.11M

5. Double Indemnity (1944)

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

95 Metascore

An insurance representative lets himself be talked by a seductive housewife into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses the suspicion of an insurance investigator.

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

Votes: 130,711 | Gross: $5.72M

6. Notorious (1946)

Not Rated | 102 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Romance

100 Metascore

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

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

Votes: 86,172 | Gross: $10.46M

7. Ball of Fire (1941)

Approved | 111 min | Comedy, Romance

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.

Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Oskar Homolka, Henry Travers

Votes: 9,771

8. The More the Merrier (1943)

Passed | 104 min | Comedy, Romance, War

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.

Director: George Stevens | Stars: Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea, Charles Coburn, Richard Gaines

Votes: 5,438

9. Sullivan's Travels (1941)

Not Rated | 90 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama

A director of escapist films goes on the road as a hobo to learn about life, which gives him a rude awakening.

Director: Preston Sturges | Stars: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick, William Demarest

Votes: 22,043

10. Citizen Kane (1941)

PG | 119 min | Drama, Mystery

100 Metascore

Following the death of publishing tycoon, Charles Foster Kane, reporters scramble to uncover the meaning of his final utterance; 'Rosebud'.

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

Votes: 368,803 | Gross: $1.59M

11. Foreign Correspondent (1940)

Passed | 120 min | Action, Romance, Thriller

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

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

Votes: 16,762 | Gross: $3.48M

12. The Devil and Miss Jones (1941)

Approved | 92 min | Comedy, Romance

A tycoon goes undercover to ferret out agitators at a department store, but gets involved in their lives instead.

Director: Sam Wood | Stars: Jean Arthur, Robert Cummings, Charles Coburn, Edmund Gwenn

Votes: 3,242

13. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)

Passed | 104 min | Western

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.

Director: John Ford | Stars: John Wayne, Joanne Dru, John Agar, Ben Johnson

Votes: 14,469

14. Out of the Past (1947)

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

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

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

Votes: 29,550

15. The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)

Approved | 95 min | Comedy, Romance

A high school girl falls for a playboy artist, with screwball results.

Director: Irving Reis | Stars: Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Shirley Temple, Rudy Vallee

Votes: 7,303

16. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

Passed | 129 min | Drama, History

96 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: 81,878 | Gross: $0.06M

17. Saboteur (1942)

PG | 109 min | Thriller, War

64 Metascore

An aircraft factory worker goes on the run after being wrongly accused of starting a fire that killed his best friend.

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

Votes: 21,368

18. 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: 363,138

19. Meet John Doe (1941)

Not Rated | 122 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

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.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward Arnold, Walter Brennan

Votes: 11,124

20. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Not Rated | 96 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

When a nice old man who claims to be Santa Claus is institutionalized as insane, a young lawyer decides to defend him by arguing in court that he is the real thing.

Director: George Seaton | Stars: Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Gene Lockhart

Votes: 37,141 | Gross: $2.65M

21. Laura (1944)

Passed | 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: 39,054 | Gross: $4.36M

22. Key Largo (1948)

Not Rated | 100 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A man visits his war buddy's family 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: 34,483

23. 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: 25,326

24. 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: 18,479 | Gross: $7.57M

25. White Heat (1949)

Not Rated | 114 min | Action, Crime, Drama

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

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

Votes: 24,937



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