Best 20 Films of the 40's

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  • The same rules apply as to the other lists, but with one exception; here I have two films from the same director (Howard Hawks). And before I get comments, yes, I’ve seen both Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948) and Bicycle Thief (1948). Neither makes the cut.
  • 1. Arsenic and Old Lace (1944). Cary Grant is hilarious, Peter Lorre rocks as usual, and it’s a lot more fun to watch repeatedly than Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).
  • 2. Beauty and the Beast (1946). Fascinating and truly a spectacle (in the best sense of the word), with some great film work.
  • 3. Black Narcissus (1947). The two most unheralded British directors, Powell and Pressburger, scored a big hit with this passionate film set in the Himalayas.
  • 4. Brief Encounter (1946). Before he directed his successful series of epics, David Lean put together this quiet and touching film about repressed feelings.
  • 5. Casablanca (1942). What can be said that hasn’t already?
  • 6. Citizen Kane (1941). It’s hard to imagine how different cinema would be if this had been a commercial success upon its release.
  • 7. Double Indemnity (1944). Just edges out The Lost Weekend, but how can you deny Fred MacMurray’s performance?
  • 8. Fantasia (1940). This one, Bambi, or Pinocchio. Any one of them could make this list.
  • 9. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949). Alec Guinness playing 8 roles. Enough said.
  • 10. The Lady Eve (1941). Barbara Stanwyck is pretty underrated in my opinion.
  • 11. The Maltese Falcon (1941). Huston’s debut is one of my favorite five films.
  • 12. Odd Man Out (1947). James Mason is better known as a heavy in films, but here, he takes a tragic lead character and imbues him with humanity.
  • 13. Out of the Past (1947). Perhaps Robert Mitchum's greatest role, with good support from his great friend Kirk Dogulas. This is low budget film noir at its best.
  • 14. The Philadelphia Story (1940). Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and Katherine Hepburn. Simply amazing, and maybe the best example of screwball comedy.
  • 15. Red River (1948). The first of the Hawks’ films, this has great visual sequences (the stampede, in particular), good acting from Wayne and Clift, and a good story.
  • 16. Shadow of a Doubt (1943). You might rather have Notorious (1946), or even Spellbound (1945), but the fact that Hitch considered this his personal favorite shows through and through.
  • 17. Stray Dog (1949). That opening shot of the dog is inspired, and Kurosawa rushes this one along until you’re completely sucked into the action.
  • 18. They Were Expendable (1945). Maybe not the best war film of the period, but it captures the essence of the whole period.
  • 19. To Have and Have Not (1944). The other Hawks entry. Bacall and Bogie at their best.
  • 20. The Uninvited (1944). Truly scary film with the perfectly suave Ray Milland.

Including "To Have and Have Not" but not "The Big Sleep?! *high-five*

Great list! Have you seen Children of Paradise?

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

No, I haven't. I know it's a particular favorite of yours. It's on my list of films to see.