1940 Movies

Discover a world of classic films from 1940 through our Plex database. With an extensive collection of titles and convenient links for effortless browsing, this resource is perfect for both film enthusiasts and casual viewers. Look at the captivating world of 1940's cinema, where you'll discover a collection of timeless masterpieces and hidden cinematic gems.
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The Best Movies in 1940

The Bank Dick

"The Bank Dick," released in 1940 and starring W.C. Fields, stands out as a pinnacle of absurd comedy. In the film, Fields takes on the role of Egbert Sousé, a man whose life changes dramatically after he inadvertently stops a bank robbery, leading to a job as a security guard at the bank. The film is celebrated for Fields' exceptional humor and timing, making it a favorite among classic cinema enthusiasts. Through a series of comical misunderstandings and misadventures, "The Bank Dick" not only showcases Fields' talent but also serves as a masterclass in the construction of comedic narratives.

The Mark of Zorro

Continuing the journey through 1940s cinematic highlights, "The Mark of Zorro" offers a thrilling experience with its magnificent swordplay and engaging plot. Starring Linda Darnell and Basil Rathbone, the film depicts the story of Don Diego Vega, masquerading as the masked avenger Zorro. This action-packed adventure captivates audiences with its dedication to delivering enthralling fight sequences and the charismatic allure of its cast. "The Mark of Zorro" remains a definitive film within the action and adventure genre, praised for its direction, performance, and ability to transport viewers into a bygone era of heroism and romance.

My Favorite Wife

1940 also brought "My Favorite Wife," a film that skillfully merges comedy, farce, and romance. Cary Grant and Irene Dunne's undeniable chemistry drives the narrative, telling the story of Ellen Arden, who returns after being presumed dead, only to find her husband Nick on the verge of remarrying. The ensuing chaos and confusion create a playground for comedic exploration, with Grant and Dunne delivering performances that balance the film's humor with genuine emotional depth. This mixture of genres provides a unique viewing experience, where laughter and love coexist seamlessly, making "My Favorite Wife" a memorable addition to the cinematic landscape of its time.

Remember the Night

"Remember the Night" explores themes of redemption and love, set against the backdrop of the holiday season. The pairing of Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray offers a compelling look into the lives of two very different characters who find themselves drawn together through unexpected circumstances. The film balances its comedic elements with poignant drama, creating a richly layered narrative that resonates with audiences even decades after its release. The holiday setting amplifies the emotional stakes, making "Remember the Night" a timeless piece that explores the complexity of human connections.

They Drive By Night

Rounding out the list of 1940's standout films, "They Drive By Night" presents a gritty, realistic look at the trucking industry through the lens of crime drama. George Raft, Ann Sheridan, and Ida Lupino lead a cast that brings to life the story of two brothers striving to succeed despite the numerous obstacles they face. The film's exploration of ambition, betrayal, and the pursuit of the American dream adds layers of depth to the narrative, making it more than just a simple crime story. "They Drive By Night" is recognized for its strong performances, compelling plot, and its portrayal of the harsh realities faced by those working within the trucking industry.

Film & Industry Highlights of 1940

The Excellence of "Citizen Kane"

1941 witnessed the release of "Citizen Kane," a film that redefined the boundaries of cinema with its innovative storytelling and cinematography. Directed by and starring Orson Welles, the movie gets into the life of Charles Foster Kane, a character inspired by real-life figures. This narrative is pieced together through the eyes of reporters trying to decode his last word, "Rosebud." Despite its now legendary status and critical acclaim, showcasing Welles' directorial genius and the narrative's complexity, "Citizen Kane" did not emerge as the year's highest earner.

Box Office Champion "Sergeant York"

The top-grossing title of the year was "Sergeant York," with Howard Hawks at the helm and Gary Cooper leading the cast. This film, drawing from the true story of a World War I hero, garnered domestic rentals amounting to $6,075,000. Its success reflected the American audience's appetite for narratives that blend human drama with patriotic fervor, especially in the context of the ongoing global conflict.

The 13th Academy Awards: A New Tradition

The film industry's night of nights, the 13th Academy Awards, continued to honor the outstanding achievements of films released in 1940. The ceremony, held at the Biltmore Hotel, was notable for implementing a now-persistent tradition: keeping the winners' identities secret until the actual announcement. "How Green Was My Valley" emerged as the Best Picture winner, underscoring John Ford's directorial prowess and the film's emotive storytelling and richly painted scenes of Welsh life.

"The Maltese Falcon" and the Noir Genre

Also released in 1941 was "The Maltese Falcon," a seminal work in the film noir genre directed by John Huston and featuring Humphrey Bogart. This movie is heralded for its shadowy visual style and complex narrative, emblematic of noir's thematic and aesthetic sensibilities. Its influence extends beyond its immediate era, cementing its place as a critical piece in the development of film noir.

"Dumbo": A Triumph of Animation

In contrast to these dramatic offerings, 1941 also saw the release of "Dumbo" by Walt Disney Productions. This animated film tells the story of a young circus elephant ridiculed for his large ears, only to discover they enable him to fly. "Dumbo" stands out not only for its heartwarming narrative but also for its efficient use of budget, achieving widespread acclaim and enduring popularity among audiences of all ages.

Senate Investigation into Motion Picture War Propaganda

Amid these cinematic milestones, 1941 was also a year when the film industry's influence was scrutinized under the Senate Investigation into Motion Picture War Propaganda. This inquiry highlighted the power of movies in shaping public opinion and national sentiment, reflecting the growing tensions leading to the United States' involvement in World War II. It underscored the role that films and filmmakers could play in both reflecting and influencing societal perspectives during times of global upheaval.