Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fave films: 1940s

Mostly wartime or recovering from wartime, so a strange decade - although only four of my choice 15 are about the war. Lots of good stuff, particularly Bogart and Noir, Hitchcock, and the beginnings of Ealing. Here they are, in chronological order:

- Pinocchio (Disney)
- The Maltese Falcon (Huston)
- Casablanca (Curtiz)
- Double Indemnity (Wilder)
- Spellbound (Hitchcock)
- Les Enfants du Paradis (Carne)
- Rome, Open City (Rosselini)
- The Lost Weekend (Wilder)
- Brief Encounter or Great Expectations (both Lean)
- It's a Wonderful Life (Capra)
- The Bicycle Thief (de Sica)
- The Red Shoes (Powell & Pressburger)
- Passport to Pimlico (Cornelius)
- Kind Hearts and Coronets (Balcon & Relph)
- Jour de Fete (Tati)

They're all fairly obvious. Could have gone for three other Disneys - Fantasia, Bambi and Dumbo - but I think Pinocchio's the best of them. And there are plenty more Bogeys, eg. High Sierra, or with Bacall in The Big Sleep and To Have and Have Not. And which Hitchcock? Suspicion, Rope and Notorious are all great too.

Of the European offerings, Les Enfants is a no-brainer, and Jour de Fete qualifies although I prefer his later ones. I saw Rome, Open City and The Bicycle Thief only recently - both wonderful. Have to be in the right mood for Cocteau's La Belle et la Bete and Orphee.

And the also-rans... Laurence Olivier in Henry V, or with Vivien Leigh in Lady Hamilton or with Joan Fontaine in Rebecca, all classic Sunday matinee stuff;  Ingrid Bergman in both Gaslight and Black Narcissus; Whisky Galore, Sinatra & Kelly in On the Town; The Third Man, Cat People, The Grapes of Wrath, The Thief of Baghdad; Jane Russell in The Outlaw; Chaplin's Great Dictator, The Killers (Burt Lancaster's screen debut)... And on the weirder side there's also P&P's The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp; and Fei Mu's Spring in a Small Town - one of China's last pre-Communist era films.

The glaring omission is of course Citizen Kane, 'The Best Film In The World Ever'. I saw it as a teen and more recently, but try as I might, I still don't know what all the fuss is about.


  1. I'd take two of my favourite 40s (or otherwise) films, "His Girl Friday" & "Arsenic & Old Lace" over any on your list or the also-rans. Both genius.

  2. I never saw HGF, but yes, A&OL is great - forgot about that!