Tuesday, January 02, 2018

5 Off My Head: Siri Says 1940

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We're not dawdling in this here brand New Year - let's dive right in and continue our "Siri Says" series, in which we ask our telephone to give us a number between 1 and 100 and then choose a favorite list of films that correspond to whatever number she gives us. Today it was the number 40, and so we turn our eyes to The Movies of 1940. Glancing at the annual poll of Box Office Stars 1940 fell right square in the middle of Mickey Rooney's reign of cinematic terror, but no worries - no Mickey here! Well, there is one Mickey, but a different far better Mickey...

My 5 Favorite Movies of 1940

(dir. James Algar etc.)
-- released on November 13th 1940 --

(dir. Alfred Hitchcock)
-- released on April 12th 1940 --
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(dir. Garson Kanin)
-- released on May 17th 1940 --

(dir. Howard Hawks)
-- released on January 18th 1940 --

(dir. Ben Sharpsteen etc)
-- released on February 23rd 1940 --

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Runners-up: The Philadelphia Story (dir. Cukor), The Grapes of Wrath (dir. Ford), The Shop Around the Corner (dir. Lubitsch), Foreign Correspondent (dir. Hitchcock), Remember the Night (dir. Leisen), The Mark of Zorro (dir. Rouben Mamoulian)...

... They Drive by Night (dir. Raoul Walsh), The Thief of Bagdad (dir. Michael Powell), All This, and Heaven Too (dir. Anatole Litvak),  Black Friday (dir. Arthur Lubin), The Letter (dir. William Wyler), The Great Dictator (dir. Chaplin)

Never seen: Arizona (dir. Wesley Ruggles), Kitty Foyle (dir. Sam Wood), The Sea Hawk (dir. Michael Curtiz), The Bank Dick (dir. Cline), The Invisible Man Returns (dir. James Whale), Night Train to Munich (dir. Carol Reed), Our Town (dir. Sam Wood)

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What are your favorite movies of 1940?
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6 comments:

Pierce said...

Based, in part, on your list, Films of 1940:

Fantasia - A total masterpiece.
My Favorite Wife - A delightful comedy
His Girl Friday - Cary Grant and Roz Russell? What's not to like?
Grapes of Wrath - Outstanding film version of the novel.
Shop Around the Corner - The only thing I've ever thought Margaret Sullivan was good in.
Thief of Bagdad - If you're going to remake a silent classic, it better look like this!
The Letter - The version with Jeanne Eagels is on YouTube
Kitty Foyle - They gave Ginger Rogers and Oscar. She thought she could act.
The Sea Hawk - Olivia and Errol. Enough said.
The Bank Dick - W.C. Fields' best film
Waterloo Bridge - Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor. Remarkable romance
Broadway Melody of 1940 - Fred and Eleanor Powell!!
Hired Wife - Roz Russell's marvelous performance is worth it!

joel65913 said...

Good choices though they mostly wouldn’t be mine, several of my choices are in your honorable mentions. Sorry I hate Fantasia except for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice section, it gives me a headache. But that’s the beauty of film watching, something for everyone.

The 40’s are my favorite film period so every year contains many films that I love making a top 5 impossible and a top 10 nearly so. But I’ll attempt the latter with a bunch of honorable mentions.

Top 10:
The Shop Around the Corner-Gentle and beautiful with great performances by all but perhaps none more so than Frank Morgan’s. I have to disagree with Pierce strongly though Maggie Sullavan was absolutely fantastic in everything including this. None of the remakes even come close.

Waterloo Bridge-Heartrending romance with an amazing Vivien Leigh performance. This was her favorite as well as costar Robert Taylor’s of their respective filmography.

Escape-Trim little war drama with one of Norma Shearer’s last and best performances.

No Time for Comedy-What a good year Rosalind Russell had between His Girl Friday, the pleasant Hired Wife and this comic drama where she plays a famous Broadway actress in a troubled marriage to a tippling Jimmy Stewart.

They Drive by Night-So glad you mentioned this somewhat schizoid trucking drama which has a hypnotic turn from a truly unhinged Ida Lupino.

Remember the Night-Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray were so well suited as co-stars. This shows that the chemistry they created in Double Indemnity was no fluke.

Strange Cargo-Unusual drama with prisoner Clark Gable, prostitute Joan Crawford and a band of other escapees, one of whom might be Jesus, trying to get off Devil’s Island. Very gritty for an MGM picture.

Gaslight-Wonderfully atmospheric Victorian drama with Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer and Angela Lansbury all at their best.

Torrid Zone-Fun South of the Border comedy with Ann Sheridan marvelously flip telling off Jimmy Cagney and Pat O’Brien on a banana plantation.

The Letter-Nobody is as good as Bette when she’s bad! Throw in fantastic noir lighting and an unnerving Gale Sondergaard and it’s a great time at the movies.

Honorable Mentions:
Brother Orchid
Dance, Girl, Dance
Down Argentine Way
Dulcy
Foreign Correspondent
The Grapes of Wrath
The Great Dictator
Hired Wife
His Girl Friday
It’s a Date
Little Old New York
Lucky Partners
The Mark of Zorro
The Mortal Storm
My Favorite Wife
The Philadelphia Story
The Primrose Path
Rebecca
Strike Up the Band
The Thief of Bagdad
This Thing Called Love
Tin Pan Alley
Too Many Girls
Turnabout
Vigil in the Night
The Villain Still Pursued Her


There were also several decent B serials either starting this year:

The Michael Shayne films starring Lloyd Nolan

Or continuing:

Blondie with three entries including “Blondie on a Budget” with a very young Rita Hayworth & “Blondie Plays Cupid” with an equally green Glenn Ford.

But most of all The Saint played to perfection by George Sanders in The Saint’s Double Trouble and The Saint Takes Over.

That picture of Bill Holden in Arizona (an average Western) is swoon worthy. He still had a decade of seasoning to go before his mega stardom kicked in but he made many enjoyable smaller pictures during that period (The Remarkable Andrew from 1942 is a bit of a mind bender fantasy but fun) and looked so dreamy throughout that time.

larry said...

Above all, "His Girl Friday"

Forever1267 said...


"HIs Girl Friday" would probably top mine, too. "Kitty Foyle" was decent soap opera movie.

BTW, who is that hirsute gentleman at the top of this post? I'd like to ... research him....

JA said...

WILLIAM "BILL" HOLDEN of course! See more in our archive

Anonymous said...

Ooh, Fantasia is such a great choice. I'd think I'd also have to add:

Rebecca
The Philadelphia Story
The Letter
The Great Dictator