Dusting Off Celluloid 1940s: Which Old Movie Would You Like to See?

by rubyfruit76 | created - 17 May 2017 | updated - 28 Aug 2017 | Public

These are movies, released in the 1940s, widely considered to be one of the best decades in cinema, recommended by poll authors and commentators. Which of these relatively little-known but highly recommended films, all released during the 1940s, would you most like to see (again or for the first time)?

(Where there are comments next to a movie, they were provided by the poll board contributor who nominated the film.)

After voting, see the guidelines or discuss the poll here

Vote for movies released before 1940 here

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1. Ditte, Child of Man (1946)

99 min | Drama

Ditte grows up with her grandparents. When the mother moves with Lars Peter, Ditte is taken home to take care of her siblings. She comes to work at Bakkegården, but is thrown out as she awaits children.

Director: Bjarne Henning-Jensen | Stars: Tove Maës, Karen Poulsen, Rasmus Ottesen, Karen Lykkehus

Votes: 339

Ditte is a female counterpart to Pelle the Conqueror by the same author. The film is a humanist depiction of poverty and a young woman's struggle at the bottom of society. It was released around Europe and in America, but frequently censored. (Recommended by pbn/Peter)

2. Fort Apache (1948)

Not Rated | 128 min | Action, Adventure, Western

At Fort Apache, an honorable and veteran war captain finds conflict when his regime is placed under the command of a young, glory hungry lieutenant colonel with no respect for the local Indian tribe.

Director: John Ford | Stars: John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Shirley Temple, Pedro Armendáriz

Votes: 15,177

(Recommended by leavey-2)

3. Gaslight (1944)

Not Rated | 114 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Years after her aunt was murdered in her home, a young woman moves back into the house with her new husband. However, he has a secret that he will do anything to protect, even if it means driving his wife insane.

Director: George Cukor | Stars: Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, May Whitty

Votes: 21,658

Recommended by Kyle Perez, who writes: A little known film-noir gem called Gaslight (1944). Been waiting to see this one for a while as it boasts an impressive leading cast in Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotton and the same director who churned out classics like My Fair Lady, The Philadelphia Story and A Star is born, George Cukor.

4. 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: 3,932

An Oscar nominated film that won the Best Actress Award for Jane Wyman, and also has superb acting by Charles Bickford. It is a very interesting drama about a deaf/mute girl suffering a rape which complicates her education, while the guilty remains free and unknown. (Recommended by Pencho15)

5. 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: 18,552 | Gross: $7.57M

Recommended by Dan Dassow, stating that "the film provides a nostalgic view of the beginning of the Twentieth Century in the heartland of America. It also commemorates the 1904 World Fair and Olympics held in Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri. (The) Film also prominently displays Judy Garland’s vocal and acting talent."

6. Mildred Pierce (1945)

Passed | 111 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

A hard-working mother inches towards disaster as she divorces her husband and starts a successful restaurant business to support her spoiled daughter.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, Eve Arden

Votes: 20,715

Recommended by Dibyayan Chakravorty, who describes it simply as "the classic film noir," and, after seeing this film, one realizes that says an awful lot when it comes to this highly acclaimed film.

7. 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: 14,531 | Gross: $13.50M

(Recommended by Dibyayan Chakravorty)

8. The Ox-Bow Incident (1942)

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: 19,393 | Gross: $1.64M

A morality tale, starring Henry Fonda, that is as emotionally compelling as it is suspenseful and illuminating, this is the story of a posse who wants to lynch three murder suspects and the few that depart from the posse and oppose killing the suspects. It was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, won as 1943's best film by the U.S. National Board of Review, and was chosen by the U.S. National Film Preservation Board. (Recommended by rubyfruit76)

9. The Pirate (1948)

Approved | 102 min | Adventure, Comedy, Musical

A girl is engaged to the local richman, but meanwhile she has dreams about the legendary pirate Macoco. A traveling singer falls in love with her and to impress her he poses as the pirate.

Director: Vincente Minnelli | Stars: Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Walter Slezak, Gladys Cooper

Votes: 4,027 | Gross: $2.96M

Recommended by NDbportmanfan1, who explains, "The film is visually stunning. Presented in technicolor, the set design and costumes were great; The Pirate felt so ahead of its time in this regard."

10. Pride of the Bowery (1940)

Approved | 61 min | Comedy, Drama

New York City street principles get an East Side Kid in trouble at a Civilian Conservation Corps camp.

Director: Joseph H. Lewis | Stars: Leo Gorcey, Bobby Jordan, Kenneth Howell, Mary Ainslee

Votes: 510

(Recommended by rocky-o)

11. Red River (1948)

Passed | 133 min | Action, Adventure, Romance

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.

Directors: Howard Hawks, Arthur Rosson | Stars: John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Joanne Dru, Walter Brennan

Votes: 25,942

(Recommended by Hoekkie)

12. Repeat Performance (1947)

Approved | 91 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

On New Year's Eve 1946, Sheila Page kills her husband Barney. She wishes that she could relive 1946 and avoid the mistakes that she made throughout the year. Her wish comes true but cheating fate proves more difficult than she anticipated.

Director: Alfred L. Werker | Stars: Louis Hayward, Joan Leslie, Virginia Field, Tom Conway

Votes: 430

Recommended by The Movie Smith, who describes it as "a hybrid film-noir / sci fi film with philosophical implications."

13. Scarlet Street (1945)

Approved | 102 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller

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.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea, Margaret Lindsay

Votes: 12,833

This one starring noir regular Edward G. Robinson and the beautiful Joan Bennett and directed by Fritz Lang, a director who many coined to have pioneered the film-noir genre with his dark, German expressionist style with films like M (1931). (Recommended by Kyle Perez)

14. Shoeshine (1946)

Not Rated | 87 min | Drama

Two shoeshine boys in postwar Rome, Italy, save up to buy a horse, but their involvement as dupes in a burglary lands them in juvenile prison where the experience take a devastating toll on their friendship.

Director: Vittorio De Sica | Stars: Rinaldo Smordoni, Franco Interlenghi, Annielo Mele, Bruno Ortensi

Votes: 5,755

(Recommended by ElMaruecan82) ...Like in "Bicycle Thieves" or "Umberto D." the simplest things make the most inspirational statements about humanity (...) in "Sciuscia", the horse is the dream, the exhilarating feeling of freedom inhabiting (two children's) hearts and the cement of a seemingly unbreakable friendship. (...) The film demonstrates how authority, bureaucracy, order can annihilate the most beautiful aspects of humanity, and finally how fragile are the most beautiful virtues. (To read ElMaruecan's full review, go here)

15. The Window (1949)

Approved | 73 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller

To avoid the heat of a sweltering summer night a 9-year-old Manhattan boy decides to sleep on the fire escape and witnesses a murder, but no one will believe him.

Director: Ted Tetzlaff | Stars: Bobby Driscoll, Barbara Hale, Arthur Kennedy, Paul Stewart

Votes: 3,138

(Recommended by Madelyn Barrigan)

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