Mike’s Top Tens of the Decade (1940-1949)

It’s that time again. I love doing these lists.

The thing about them, though, is that they’ve been progressively more work each time. The first few, the 2000s and the 1990s, I saw most of those by just being alive. And then the 1980s, all I really had to do was watch the big movies I’d never seen, so it wasn’t that bad. Then the 1970s, I had just finished the Oscar Quest and was looking for things to watch, so it was a smooth transition. Then the 1960s and 1950s (see how smoothly I worked in the links this time?) went up while I was in the middle of finishing the Quest articles, so I just powered through them. This time, though — I had stuff going on. I was watching Disney movies and writing a script. I barely got started on watching all the movies (and there were a lot) until the end of July.

To recap how these lists work: I list my ten favorite films for each year. Underneath that, I list an 11-20 of films just outside the top ten. Then, under that, is a “fun” list. To give you more stuff to watch. The 2000s had the “Terrible Ten,” of films I really disliked. The 90s had the “Films of My Childhood,” films I loved when I was growing up. The 80s had the “Awesomely 80s Movies,” films I feel perfectly capture that decade. The 70s had the “70s Recommendations,” a list of quintessentially “70s” films that I recommend highly (many of which are hidden gems). The 60s had “Out with the Old, In with the New,” films that represent the crumbling studio system and coming of New Hollywood. And the 50s had the “Gems of the Studio System,” which were (mostly) films from major directors that have flown under the radar among their filmographies (and history). This year, it’s going to be pretty simple — just “More Great 40s Movies.” I doubt most people are versed in the 40s, so I’m not gonna get complicated. Just 10 more great movies from each year on top of the other 20. Plain and simple. Also, since it bears repeating — I haven’t seen everything. I can only watch so much within three months. The lists are only based on what I’ve seen. I’ll update them as I watch more stuff and like it.

All right… list time:

My Top Ten of 1949

All the King’s Men


The Hasty Heart

The Heiress

I Was a Male War Bride

A Letter to Three Wives

Sands of Iwo Jima

Thieves’ Highway

The Third Man

White Heat

11-20: Adam’s Rib, The Barkleys of Broadway, Holiday Affair, House of Strangers, On the Town, Pinky, The Small Black Room, The Stratton StoryTwelve O’Clock High, Under Capricorn

More Great 40s Movies: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful BendChampion, Home of the Brave, I Shot Jesse James, Kind Hearts and Coronets, Little WomenThe Reckless Moment, The Set-UpToo Late for Tears

My Top Ten of 1948

Bicycle Thieves

The Fallen Idol

Force of Evil

I Remember Mama

Johnny Belinda

Red River

The Red Shoes

The Snake Pit

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Unfaithfully Yours

11-20: Call Northside 777, A Foreign AffairHamlet, Joan of Arc, Key Largo, The Naked CityRope, The Search, Sitting Pretty, Yellow Sky

More Great 40s Movies: Blood on the MoonEaster Parade, Fort Apache, Letter from an Unknown Woman, Melody TimeMr. Blandings Builds His Dream HouseOliver Twist, On Our Merry Way, The Pirate, Sorry Wrong Number

My Top Ten of 1947

The Bishop’s Wife

Black Narcissus

Brute Force

Dark Passage

Gentleman’s Agreement

Kiss of Death

The Lady from Shanghai

Miracle on 34th Street

Out of the Past

Song of the Thin Man

11-20: The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, Body and SoulCrossfire, CynthiaA Double Life, The Farmer’s Daughter, The Ghost and Mrs. MuirLady in the Lake, Odd Man OutThe Paradine Case

More Great 40s Movies: Down to EarthFun and Fancy Free, The FugitiveIt Happened on Fifth Avenue, The Long NightMagic Town, Monsieur VerdouxMourning Becomes Electra, PursuedThe Secret Life of Walter Mitty

My Top Ten of 1946

The Best Years of Our Lives

Beauty and the Beast

The Big Sleep

Great Expectations

It’s a Wonderful Life

A Matter of Life and Death

My Darling Clementine

The Postman Always Rings Twice

To Each His Own

The Yearling

11-20: Anna and the King of Siam, Duel in the Sun, Gilda, The Jolson Story, The Killers, Make Mine Music, Notorious, The Spiral Staircase, The Strange Love of Martha IversWithout Reservations

More Great 40s Movies: Angel on My ShoulderBedlam, Diary of a ChambermaidDragonwyckThe Green Years, The Hoodlum SaintNight and Day, Sister KennySong of the South, Three Strangers

+ Honorable Mention to: Tomorrow is Forever (It’s not that great, but watch Natalie Wood in this. Holy shit is she good. And she’s 8! There’s a scene where she just slips into German out of nowhere.)

My Top Ten of 1945

And Then There Were None

The Bells of St. Mary’s

Brief Encounter


Leave Her to Heaven

The Lost Weekend

Mildred Pierce

The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Thin Man Goes Home

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

11-20: Along Came JonesAnchors Aweigh, Caesar and Cleopatra, The Clock, Isle of the Dead, Rome Open City, Spellbound, State FairThe Story of G.I. Joe, A Walk in the Sun

More Great 40s Movies: The Body Snatcher, Blood on the Sun, Children of Paradise, Christmas in ConnecticutFlame of Barbary Coast, ‘I Know Where I’m Going!’, Scarlet StreetThe Southerner, They Were Expendable, The Valley of Decision

+ Honorable Mention to: Mom and Dad (It’s a part-movie, part-instructional film about the dangers of venereal disease. It’s hilariously 40s.)

My Top Ten of 1944

Arsenic and Old Lace

Double Indemnity


Going My Way

To Have and Have Not


Meet Me in St. Louis

The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek

National Velvet

Since You Went Away

11-20: Between Two Worlds, Dragon Seed, The Fighting Sullivans, The Great MomentHenry V, Hollywood Canteen, The Keys of the Kingdom, Laura, Murder My Sweet, Wilson

More Great 40s Movies: Christmas Holiday, The Curse of the Cat People, Hail the Conquering Hero, I’ll Be Seeing You, Once Upon a TimeThe Seventh Cross, Passage to Marseille, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, The Way Ahead, The White Cliffs of Dover

My Top Ten of 1943

Five Graves to Cairo

Heaven Can Wait

The Human Comedy

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

The More the Merrier

The Ox-Bow Incident


The Seventh Victim

Shadow of a Doubt

The Song of Bernadette

11-20: Air ForceEdge of DarknessThe Gang’s All Here, A Guy Named JoeI Walked With a Zombie, Lassie Come HomeLe CorbeauMadame CuriePhantom of the OperaPrincess O’Rourke

More Great 40s Movies: Cabin in the SkyDestination Tokyo, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ghost Ship, A Lady Takes a ChanceThe Leopard Man, Mr. LuckyThe Outlaw (Who doesn’t like tits?), So Proudly We Hail!Tender Comrade

My Top Ten of 1942

Across the Pacific



The Magnificent Ambersons

Mrs. Miniver

Now, Voyager

The Pride of the Yankees

Random Harvest

To Be or Not to Be

Yankee Doodle Dandy

11-20: Cat People, The Major and the Minor, Larceny Inc.My Sister Eileen, Once Upon a Honeymoon, The Pied Piper, Saboteur, The Talk of the Town, Wake IslandWoman of the Year

More Great 40s Movies: The Big ShotHoliday Inn, Gentleman JimIn Which We Serve, Journey for MargaretKings Row, The Palm Beach StoryRoxie HartThe Black SwanTales of Manhattan

My Top Ten of 1941

Citizen Kane


The Devil and Daniel Webster

How Green Was My Valley

The Lady Eve

Love Crazy

The Maltese Falcon

Sergeant York

Shadow of the Thin Man

Sullivan’s Travels

11-20: 49th Parallel, Blossoms in the Dust, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, High Sierra, Man HuntMeet John Doe, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Penny SerenadeSuspicion, They Died With Their Boots On

More Great 40s Movies: All Through the Night, Ball of Fire, Blood and SandThe Bride Came C.O.D., Buck PrivatesThe Devil and Miss Jones, The Strawberry Blonde, That Hamilton Woman, Tom Dick and HarryThe Wolf Man

My Top Ten of 1940


The Grapes of Wrath

His Girl Friday

I Love You Again

Kitty Foyle

Our Town

The Philadelphia Story



The Shop Around the Corner

11-20: All This and Heaven Too, City for Conquest, Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet, Foreign Correspondent, Night Train to Munich, They Drive By NightThe Thief of Bagdad, Third Finger Left Hand, Waterloo Bridge, The Westerner

More Great 40s Movies: Abe Lincoln in IllinoisAngels Over BroadwayBoom Town, Christmas in July, The Great McGintyKnute Rockne All AmericanMy Favorite Wife, Pride and Prejudice, Santa Fe Trail, ‘Til We Meet Again


2 responses

  1. Mike, where’s Casablanca? It should be in 1943’s Top 10, shouldn’t it?

    February 13, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    • Oh, never mind. It’s in 1942’s Top 10. My bad.

      February 13, 2014 at 9:02 pm

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