Movies From The 40s

Updated
Movies From The 40s

Multiple directors have reported on Movies From The 40s. Here are 17 of our favorites.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

It's a Wonderful Life
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Frank Capra, starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell
Rated PG

It's a Wonderful Life is a classic Christmas drama directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore. The film tells the story of George Bailey, a small-town banker who has given up his dreams of seeing the world and resigns himself to a life of duty and responsibility. After a difficult year of struggling to keep his family's bank afloat, George becomes desperate and considers ending his life. But before he can, he is visited by an angel named Clarence, who shows him what life would have been like for his family, friends, and town if he had never been born. George's life is changed forever, and ultimately he learns to appreciate the life he has and to be thankful for the loved ones in his life.

Casablanca (1942)

Casablanca
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Michael Curtiz, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains
Rated PG

Casablanca is a classic romantic drama set during World War II. The film follows an exiled American expatriate, Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), who runs an upscale nightclub in the city of Casablanca. During the course of the story, Rick is drawn into a love triangle involving his former lover, Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), and resistance leader, Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid). As Laszlo and his wife attempt to escape the Nazi-occupied city of Casablanca, Rick is forced to choose between his personal feelings for Ilsa and helping Laszlo for the greater good. Complicating matters further is the presence of a ruthless Nazi officer, Major Strasser (Conrad Veidt). In the end, Rick makes a noble sacrifice that helps Ilsa and Laszlo escape to America.

Citizen Kane (1941)

Citizen Kane
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Orson Welles, starring Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead
Rated PG

Citizen Kane is a 1941 drama-mystery film directed by and starring Orson Welles. The film follows the life and career of Charles Foster Kane, a powerful newspaper magnate. It opens with a newsreel-style montage of Kane's life, from his birth to his death, as the reporter searches for the meaning of the last word uttered by Kane on his deathbed: "Rosebud". The story follows Kane's journey from his humble beginnings as an orphan to his rise as a newspaper baron, his marriage to a beautiful socialite and his struggles to maintain his power, wealth and influence. Along the way, he makes powerful enemies and suffers family tragedy. In the end, the meaning of "Rosebud" is revealed as a key to understanding Kane's life. The film won multiple Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and is seen as a landmark of American cinema, having influenced many filmmakers. It is recognized as one of the greatest films of all time.

Children of Paradise (1945)

Children of Paradise
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Marcel Carné, starring Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault, Pierre Brasseur, Pierre Renoir
Rated Not Rated

Children of Paradise is a 1945 French romantic drama film directed by Marcel Carné and written by Jacques Prévert. The film tells the story of a beautiful courtesan, Garance, and her four suitors - a mime, an actor, a criminal, and an aristocrat - in the Parisian theater of the 1840s. It follows the lives of the four men and Garance as they attempt to win her love, and explores themes of romance, love, social class, and morality. The film contains numerous enigmatic characters and scenes, and is often considered a masterpiece of French cinema.

Double Indemnity (1944)

Double Indemnity
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Billy Wilder, starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Byron Barr
Rated Passed

Double Indemnity is a classic film noir directed by Billy Wilder and starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck. The film follows the story of insurance salesman Walter Neff who falls in love with the seductive client Phyllis Dietrichson and they concoct a plan to murder her husband in order to claim his life insurance money. Neff's boss, Barton Keyes, suspects something is wrong and investigates the case. In the end, Neff is forced to confess his crime and is fatally shot in an exchange of gunfire with a police officer. The film's dark themes of betrayal, murder, and deception have made it one of the most iconic films of the genre.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From John Huston, starring Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt, Bruce Bennett
Rated Passed

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a 1948 American adventure-drama film directed by John Huston, starring Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt and Walter Huston (John's father). Set in the 1920s, the film tells the story of three prospectors searching for a fortune in gold in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. Along their journey, they face danger and temptation, ultimately having to confront their own greed and moral choices. The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Supporting Actor for Walter Huston. It remains a classic of American cinema.

To Be or Not to Be (1942)

To Be or Not to Be
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Ernst Lubitsch, starring Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack, Felix Bressart
Rated Passed

To Be or Not to Be is a 1942 classic dark comedy directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard. It tells the story of Polish actors who use their theater skills to outwit the Nazis occupying Warsaw during World War II. When Joseph Tura (Benny) discovers that his wife Maria (Lombard) is being pursued by the Gestapo, he must use his ingenuity to save her. Through a series of disguises, mistaken identities, and unexpected plot twists, the couple eventually succeeds in thwarting the Nazis' plot. Along the way, they also manage to make light of the grimness of war by providing some comic relief. The film is a tribute to the courage of the Polish people in the face of the Nazi occupation, and an exploration of the power of art and love.

The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

The Grapes of Wrath
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From John Ford, starring Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine, Charley Grapewin
Rated Passed

The Grapes of Wrath is a 1940 classic American drama film directed by John Ford. It tells the story of the Joad family, a poor family of tenant farmers, who migrate to California during the Great Depression from their Dust Bowl home in Oklahoma. The Joads travel west, hoping to find work and a better life. Along the way, they face numerous hardships, both natural and man-made, as they experience the struggles of the working class. At the end of their journey, the family must come to terms with the realities of their new life and find a way to persevere. The film stars Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell and John Carradine.

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

The Best Years of Our Lives
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From William Wyler, starring Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Fredric March, Teresa Wright
Rated Approved

The Best Years of Our Lives is a 1946 American drama film directed by William Wyler and starring Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, and Teresa Wright. Set in 1945, the film follows three veterans of World War II as they return home to Boone City and attempt to readjust to civilian life. The men and their families experience difficulty adjusting to the post-war changes, and they must each overcome their own struggles in order to find happiness. The film was a critical and commercial success, winning seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It is often cited as an example of a classic, realistic war drama.

The Third Man (1949)

The Third Man
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Carol Reed, starring Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard
Rated Approved

The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir directed by Carol Reed and starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard, and Orson Welles. It tells the story of an American novelist, Holly Martins (Cotten), who travels to Vienna to meet his friend, Harry Lime (Welles). After arriving, however, he discovers that Lime has been killed in a suspicious accident. Martins soon finds himself investigating the circumstances of Lime’s death with the help of Major Calloway (Howard), a British officer. During the course of his investigation, Martins encounters a variety of characters and eventually discovers that Lime was involved in a racketeer-like operation involving the sale of diluted penicillin. Ultimately, Martins finds himself in a moral dilemma when he discovers that Lime is still alive and that Lime is the titular "Third Man". The film is noted for its atmospheric cinematography and zither-based score by Anton Karas.

Rebecca (1940)

Rebecca
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Alfred Hitchcock, starring Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson
Rated Approved

Rebecca is a 1940 American psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock and based on Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel of the same name. The film stars Laurence Olivier as Maxim de Winter and Joan Fontaine as the second Mrs. de Winter. The story follows a young woman who is compelled to take the place of the dead first wife of Maxim de Winter, the owner of the estate Manderley. She struggles to win the approval of the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) and to live up to the memory of the first Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca. Meanwhile, Maxim and Mrs. de Winter are plagued by secrets and lies. In the end, it is revealed that Rebecca was killed by Maxim in a moment of rage, and he and Mrs. de Winter plan to start a new life away from Manderley.

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

The Maltese Falcon
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From John Huston, starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre
Rated Passed

The Maltese Falcon is a 1941 classic film directed by John Huston, starring Humphrey Bogart as private detective Sam Spade. The film follows Spade as he is hired by a mysterious woman to locate a valuable statuette known as the Maltese Falcon. As the story progresses, Spade finds himself embroiled in a web of intrigue and murder, as many characters are after the coveted item, including a rogue's gallery of dangerous criminals. In the end, Spade discovers the truth behind the Falcon, and the startling dark secrets that it holds.

Out of the Past (1947)

Out of the Past
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Jacques Tourneur, starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming
Rated Not Rated

Out of the Past is a classic noir film directed by Jacques Tourneur. It tells the story of Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum), a former private investigator who is trying to leave his dark past behind him and start a new life. However, his past catches up to him when a mysterious man named Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) appears and tasks him with finding his former employee and lover, Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer). Jeff reluctantly agrees, and embarks on a journey to uncover the truth about Kathie and the situation she is embroiled in. Along the way, he must contend with suspicious characters, dangerous criminals, and his inner turmoil as he realizes he still has feelings for Kathie. Out of the Past is a thrilling exploration of love and loyalty, set against a backdrop of lies and double-crosses.

Brief Encounter (1945)

Brief Encounter
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From David Lean, starring Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway, Joyce Carey
Rated Not Rated

Brief Encounter is a 1945 romantic drama film directed by David Lean. Set in 1938, the film follows the story of Laura (Celia Johnson) and Alec (Trevor Howard), two strangers who meet in a train station cafe and quickly develop an intense romantic attraction. Despite the strong connection they feel, both understand that they cannot act upon it due to their existing marriages and responsibilities. Over the course of a few meetings, they come to terms with their feelings and ultimately decide to part ways. The film is marked by its subtlety and emotional impact, with both Johnson and Howard delivering powerful performances.

Rope (1948)

Rope
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Alfred Hitchcock, starring James Stewart, John Dall, Farley Granger, Dick Hogan
Rated Approved

Rope is a 1948 suspense thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, based on the 1929 play by Patrick Hamilton. The film stars James Stewart, John Dall, and Farley Granger as two preppy college students who murder one of their classmates and hide the body in a chest of drawers. They then invite the dead boy's closest friends and family to a dinner party, where they serve the food on the chest of drawers. As their guests start to become suspicious, the two young men become increasingly daring, taunting the police and testing their own limits. The film is notable for its unique use of long takes, as well as its exploration of the themes of guilt, moral responsibility, and the psychological effects of murder.

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

The Philadelphia Story
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From George Cukor, starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, Ruth Hussey
Rated Not Rated

The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 romantic comedy starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart. It follows the story of socialite Tracy Lord (Hepburn), who is on the verge of getting married to a stuffy, pretentious businessman named George Kittredge (John Howard). However, when her ex-husband, the charismatic C.K. Dexter Haven (Grant), shows up along with tabloid reporters Mike Connor (Stewart) and Liz Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) to cover the wedding, Tracy must confront her feelings for both men and decide who she truly loves. The film is a witty, lighthearted, and ultimately uplifting exploration of relationships, family, and self-discovery.

How Green Was My Valley (1941)

How Green Was My Valley
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From John Ford, starring Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O'Hara, Anna Lee, Donald Crisp
Rated Passed

"How Green Was My Valley" is a 1941 drama directed by John Ford and starring Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O'Hara, and Roddy McDowall. It tells the story of the Morgans, a Welsh mining family living in the heart of the South Wales Valleys during the late 19th century. The story focuses on the youngest son, Huw, and the tribulations that he and his family go through as they face the changing times. The film follows the gradual decline of the mining industry, the struggles of its workers, and the effects of industrialization on the environment and culture of Wales. As the Morgans adjust to the changing world around them, they must also learn to cope with the death of a beloved family member. In the end, Huw is left with a greater understanding of the world and the importance of family.

 



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