Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ranking the Nominated Pictures of the 1940's

Since I have seen all the films of the decade, time to rank them.  All seventy of them.

70. Wilson (1944) - Clearly the worst movie of the decade to be nominated.  A sad attempt to white wash (pun intended) a rather bad president.  It would be like making a movie about Pol Pot and only talk about his love of flowers.  Don't see it.

69. The Great Dictator (1940) - Charlie Chaplin was better when he did silent movies.  Personally I think this movie was a bit overrated, not his best work.  In a different decade, such as the 1950's it may have ranked higher, but this was a decade with lots of good movies.

68. Crossfire (1947) - Another muckraking type of film.  This one attacking anti-semtism, which is important and is good that they made a film about it.  But it came out the same year as Gentleman's Agreement, which did it much better.  Also falls into the trap of making the villain one dimensional and not have human emotions.

67. A Letter to Three Wives (1949) - A rather boring and confusing film about three wives who get a letter saying their husband will be running off with someone they know.  The film is shown through flashbacks and basically shows how each woman thinks her husband will be the one to leave.  And then none of them do and you wonder why did I watch this film.  Save time, watch the remake done on The Simpsons, much better.

66. Heaven Can Wait (1943) - An interesting film about a man waiting to get into heaven while his life is reviewed by the devil.  Through flashbacks you see he was a horrible person, but somehow still gets into heaven.  Thankfully never remade except for the title with Warren Beaty used to remake Here Comes Mr. Jordan.

65. 49th Parallel (1942) - Made during WWII about German pilots invading Canada.  Does have the great Laurance Olivier but he dies right after the opening credits and then becomes rather unwatchable.

64. The Letter (1940) - A remake of a 1920's film that was another negative effect of the Hays Code that decided to clean up movies.  Not one of the best films of the decade, Bettie Davis has been much better in other films.

63. The Pride of the Yankees (1942) - Gary Cooper is amazing as always.  A great bio-pic.  A classic movie.  But it is about the Yankees who I hate more than anything in the world since I am a proud Mets fan.  It is a good movie but my hatred of the worst team in any sport pushes it further down.

62. The Little Foxes (1941) - The issues in a southern aristocrat family from the early 20th century.  Bettie Davis is very good and it is well directed.  But it is slow and rather dull.

61. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) - A nice musical about George Cohan, except I don't like musicals and George Cohan was before my time, way before my time.  James Cagney is good and is one of his best known films.

60. In Which We Serve (1943) - A very depressing WWII movie about sailors trying to survive in the ocean after this ship is attacked by the German Army.  More propaganda than entertainment, still interesting to watch WWII movies made during the war.

59. Wake Island (1942) - Just like this one.  It was actually released before the battle was even over.  Spoiler alert, we lost this battle.  But made at the right time as propaganda to encourage people to get behind the war effort, another interesting film to watch.

58. The Song of Bernadette (1943) - Based on the alleged miracle in France in the 19th century where a young woman found a mineral spring where it was no where to be found.  She becomes a nun because she believes this is her calling after finding this spring.  Rather well done in that it doesn't get too religious but at the same time it holds to it's values.

57. One Foot in Heaven (1941) - A feelgood movie about a Methodist minister who travels all around the country building churches and the drama that ensues with his family and communities.  Not a great movie, but a wholesome family film that is enjoyable.  Fredric March is pretty much the entire film, but he was good at that.

56. Johnny Belinda (1948) - The one that finally got Lew Ayres an Oscar nomination, he got missed for All Quiet on The Western Front somehow.  A Canadian doctor teaches a deaf woman how to communicate after everyone in town treats her like an animal.  It gets very ugly and scandals, murder and trials ensue.  Jane Wyman won a hard earned Oscar for best actress.

55. All The King's Men (1949) - The last of the muckraking films of the decade to win.  Loosely based on the life of Huey Long former governor of Louisiana, it shows a hard working man becoming a corrupt politician.  A good film but if this happened today he would end up getting a reality show.

54. The Razor's Edge (1946) - The story of a WWI veteran who decides to drop out and travel the world to find himself.  Tyrone Powell, eyebrows and all, shun love and money in an attempt to understand life.  Think of it as an early Easy Rider without the scene where Jack Nicholson gets his head bashed in.

53. The Yearling (1946) - A family style movie of a boy who wants to take care of a deer that keeps eating their crops.  Does have Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman so it carries some weight.  Think of it as a Disney type of movie that is good for kids to watch.

52. Watch on the Rhine (1943) - Another of those WWII films made during the war, this time with Nazi spies.  Bettie Davis is great, as always.  The villains are a bit comical, but the film isn't too bad.  Since they didn't know how the war would end, the film ending is the unique style you would see from other war based films of this era.

51. Gentleman's Agreement (1947) - Another great muckraking film of the time, rather dated today.  Gregory Peck takes on anti-semitism by changing his last name and tries to get into hotels and other places where Jewish people were not allowed.  Dean Stockwell is his son who gets beaten up at school because the kids think he's Jewish.  In the late 1940's this was a big issue, not so much today.

50. The Grapes of Wrath (1940) - Oh the cheerful Joad family and their trek from Oklahoma to California.  The movie is much more cheerful than the novel, which isn't that hard if you have read the book.  Very good acting and does tell a powerful story, that it was not fun to be a migrant farmer in the 1930's.

49. Suspicion (1941) - Standard Hitchcock mystery, woman thinks her husband is trying to killer her, blah blah blah, life insurance, blah, blah, blah, poison milk, blah, blah, blah.  Does have Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine who won the Oscar for best actress, so it isn't that bad.

48. Foreign Correspondent (1940) - A slightly better Hitchcock film, one of two nominated in 1940.  Joel McCrea is an American journalist who gets caught up in a spy mystery.  Made while England was at war but just before the US got involved.

47. The Pied Piper (1942) - Another interesting film about WWII made during the war.  This one about an Englishman on vacation in France when Germany invades, great timing I know.  He is asked to take the children of the inn he is staying at with him to escape the war.  This soon grows into many more children.  Otto Preminger even has a small acting role.  Has a young Roddy McDowall years before he would play his greatest role as Cornelius in Planet of the Apes.

46. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) - Orson Well's follow up to Citizen Kane. Basically a dysfunctional family before the days of Arrested Development, and nowhere nearly as funny. Not a very memorial film but good enough to be nominated.

45. Random Harvest (1942) - Ronald Coleman and Greer Garson in a strange love story about a man who has a head injury and loses his memory. He starts a new life and his wife goes to work for him but doesn't tell him that she is his wife. Surprising you don't see more movies made about this since this is all you ever hear about on the news.

44. Our Town (1940) - The well known play turned into a movie. A bit more cheerful than the play but William Holden trying to be a teenager when he looks forty five does throw it off. Still a classic movie and one worth watching.

43. Hold Back the Dawn (1941) - Charles Boyer and Olivia de Hav├Člland in a love story about a man trying to get into the United States from Mexico after arriving from Europe. He meets a school teacher who he tricks her to fall in love with him to marry him so he can get across the border. Think Green Card fifty years earlier.

42. The Long Voyage Home (1940) - A great John Ford film of a bunch of short stories based on a plays written by Eugene O"Neill about sailors transporting explosives during WWII, although the original stories were about WWI.  Has John Wayne as well, so how can you go wrong?

41. The Philadelphia Story (1940) - Standard romantic comedy, but done very well with good actors.  Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart all are great and make the film a fun movie to watch.  Has been remade into a musical in the 50's (High Society) which I haven't seen, and probably won't.

40. Rebecca (1940) - A Hitchcock classic, the only one to win best picture, but not may favorite Hitchcock movie.  Laurence Olivier is great in this film, as he is in any film, but it seems rather mild compared to other mysteries.  Rare occurrence for a director to have two of their films nominated in one year, the only other person that comes to mind is Francis Ford Coppola in 1974.

39. Anchors Aweigh (1945) - Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra are really great in a genre that I just don't like, musicals.  But this one is one of the better ones and one I could even watch again.  Well not all of it, but parts of it.  What was it about, who cares, great songs and Gene Kelly dances, that was the main point of the movie anyway.

38. Spellbound (1945) - One of the better Hitchcock films of the decade with Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck in a strong dramatically acted film.  Does have the standard Hitchcock plot turns and twists.  Most notable for Salvador Dali creating the dream sequence for the film.  Just see the film to watch that part, it's worth it.

37. The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) - The first sequel to be nominated for a best picture almost thirty years before Godfather Part II.  It was the sequel, kind of, for Going My Way.  Had some of the same characters, but isn't as good as the first film which is much better.  Still a good happy go lucky film.

36. The Bishop's Wife (1947) - A nice film with Cary Grant and David Niven based on a bishop trying to raise money for his church and an angel who comes to help him.  More recognized as a Christmas movie than anything else, one of the better ones that is hard to dislike.

35. The Lost Weekend (1945) - And another muckraking film this time showing the evils of alcohol.  Ray Milland's only Oscar, and it was a better acting role than the one having his head sewn onto Rosey Greer.  Very close I may add.  Should of ranked lower but the giant bat that attacks Ray Milland bumped it up one spot.

34. Battleground (1949) - Great WWII film about American soldiers fighting in the Battle of the Bulge.  Although made after the war it doesn't have the intensity of films made during the war, still an all star cast with Van Johnson and Ricardo Montalban and many others.  Great war movie not seen often enough on television.

33 Madame Curie (1943) - Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon are united again, this time as the radioactively charged couple Marrie and Pierre Curie.  Ok, I know that was a bad joke, but it was either that or goof on the last name as a bowl of glowing stew.  Come to think of it that might have been better.  But not better than the movie which is an early bio-pic about their lives.  Contrary to The Simpsons, they didn't grow fifty feet talk and destroy Paris.  Although it would have been cool if they did.

32 Kings Row (1942) - A great powerful drama that is considered one of Ronald Regan's best acting performances.  A gritty film about people living in a small town in the early twentieth century.  Charles Coburn is great as he always is, this time as an evil doctor.  A classic worth seeing at least once.

31 Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) - A clever comedy with the great Claude Rains is an angel who is trying to help a boxer who was taken to heaven too soon and then brought back to take over someone who just died.  Sound familiar, it was remade as Heaven Can Wait.  Normally this wouldn't be a big issue to rename a film (Philadelphia Story to High Society) but there was another film a few years later called Heaven Can Wait which was a different film.  Just taking a moment to remind you once again that Warren Beatty is an idiot.

30. Going My Way (1944) - The happy go lucky film that is just a nice film.  Made during WWII it was the type of film to make people feel better.  Good songs, decent acting, just a nice film, good enough to be in the top thirty of the decade.

29 For Whom the Bells Tolls (1943) - Much better than the novel, but that can be said for almost everything Hemingway wrote.  Gary Cooper is the American helping fight the fascists during the Spanish Civil War.  The film is so good due to great acting and removing all of the unnecessary political junk from the book and telling an exciting story of guerrilla warfare.

28 Great Expectations (1947) - The classic Dickens book made into a movie.  Most of his books were made into very good movies and this is another one of them.  Rather stuffy and silly compared to modern times, but still a great story and great acting from John Mills and Alec Guinness, yes Obi-Wan as a young man.

27 All This, and Heaven Too (1940) - A great drama with Bette Davis and Charles Boyer about a school teacher who was rumored to have had an affair with a French noble.  Originally written and even filmed back at a time where people would face ridicule for actions considered not appropriate.  Today you get a reality show and cash in on it.

26 The Heiress (1949) - Olivia de Havilland and Montgomery Clift, pre face re-arrangement, in a great drama about a rich young woman who falls for gold digger who fools her into falling in love with him.  He jilts her and then she becomes a rather bitter person and ends up running into him again when he is out of money.  Really good film with great acting.  On of the best from the decade.

25 The Human Comedy (1943) - Mickey Rooney is terrific in a wartime film made about how hard life was at home.  A bit more propaganda than entertainment, but mixed very well.  One of the better life during the war films actually made during the war.  At the time this film came out no one know when the war would end or if we would win.  That adds a certain element of intensity that comes across the screen.

24 The Talk of the Town (1942) - A hat trick of great actors, Ronald Colman, Cary Grant and Jean Arthur.  Cary Grant is the town anarchist who hides out in a house being rented by Ronald Colman that Jean Arthur takes care of.  Sounds more like a 70's sitcom but a really good film that also tosses in a bit of philosophy.

23 The More the Merrier (1943) - Another great Jean Arthur movie, this time with Joel McCrea in one of his few non-westerns and Charles Coburn who won a best supporting actor.  A romantic comedy about people trying to find an apartment in the Washington DC area during WWII.  Typical romantic comedy, but with great actors it becomes an enjoyable film to watch.

22 Mildred Pierce (1945) - Joan Crawford in her epic role that won her best actress and became an instant classic.  The story of a woman who rises up and becomes a successful businesswoman and all the trials and tribulations that come with it.  The peak of her career before she started making really bad movies about ten years later.

21. Hamlet (1948) - Laurence Olivier's version of the Shakespeare play is probably the most accurate.  You feel like you are in
Denmark.  Rather long, and can be a bit stuffy, but the best version of this play and probably the best Shakespeare movie adaption.

20 Twelve O'Clock High (1949) - A great adventure film about the Air Force during WWII.  The flight and battle scenes are the most realistic of a film from that era.  And it has Gregory Peck so that makes it even better.  Pretty much the best film of the year but it didn't get the honor.

19 Kitty Foyle (1940) - Ginger Rogers in an amazing dramatic acting role about a woman who marries into a wealthy family, is not accepted, leaves, finds out she is pregnant.  It's gets a bit more depressing, but does end up with a happy ending.  While the film may be a bit sappy, Ginger Rogers was terrific and won best actress, her acting alone is enough to carry this film.

18 Miracle on 34th Street (1947) - The classic Christmas movie.  One of the all time greats that is just an enjoyable movie to watch.  Remade a number of times but the best is the original.

17 Henry V (1946) - The classic Laurence Olivier Shakespeare adaptation that took years to make.  It was well worth it, one of the best Shakespeare adaptations ever made.  A classic film that is just a really good movie.  The story, well the King of England takes over France with a handful of people or something like that.  Don't worry, just watch it.

16 The Maltese Falcon (1941) - One of the first film noir movies that were to become very popular over the decade.  Classic detective looking for a rare valuable falcon statuette.  Everything you want in a detective movie and more.  With Peter Lorrie and Humphrey Bogart it is a great classic film.

15 Double Indemnity (1944) - And another great film noir, one of the best ever done in this genre.  The great story of a woman trying to get her husband killed and seducing the insurance salesman.  Edward G. Robinson is at his finest as the inspector who can figure out anything.  Fred McMurray and Barbara Stanwyck are terrific as well.

14 Gaslight (1944) - Another classic with Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman about a man trying to make his wife go crazy.  Great acting, good mystery.  But it is one of the few times that a movie title became a part of our language.  Even today seventy years later if you say the term "Gaslighting" everyone will know what that means.  That makes this film one of the best of the decade.

13 Sergeant York (1941) - The true story of the great WWI hero Alvin York who the most decorated solider of the war.  Played by Gary Cooper, it shows his heroic actions during the war.  The real Alvin York didn't want his story told but only did when he needed funding for a bible school and insisted on Gary Cooper playing him.

12 Blossoms in the Dust (1941) - Based on the life of Edna Gladney, although rather fictionalized, who was a board member of the Texas Children's Home and Aid Society. The film shows the negative stigma of adoption back at the turn of the 20th century and how she spends her life helping to find adoptive parents for orphans.  And has the very beautiful Greer Garson.

11 The Snake Pit (1948) - Once again the beautiful Olivia de Havilland in another classic film.  This time loosely based story of Mary Jane Ward's experience in a mental institution.  Shows the horrible existence of mental institutions back then and very well acted.

10 The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) - One of the best westerns of the decade, before they hit their peak in the 1950's.  A dramatic story about mob justice and the rights of the accused.  A great film that is not often mentioned or watched, it's rarely on television.  It has been considered historically significant by the Library of Congress, so you need to see it.

9. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) - A very powerful drama about life after WWII.  Great acting helps this film, but it was a product of it's time.  One of the best movies about people dealing with the war and how soldiers had to adapt coming back to normal society.

8 Since You Went Away (1944) - One of the finest movies ever made.  So good that you don't want it to end.  Showing the life of an American family during WWII with Claudette Colbert, Joseph Cotton, Jennifer Jones, teenage Shirley Temple and if that isn't enough Lionel Barrymore has a small part.

7 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) - One of the greatest, if not the greatest, adventure films of all time.  Humphrey Bogart, Walter Houston and Alfonso "We don't need no badges" Bedoya.  So many classic lines, such a great movie, all all time classic.

6 It's a Wonderful Life (1946) - The great Frank Capra made another American classic, the premiere Christmas movie that is part of American culture.  Everyone has seen it, everyone enjoys it, everyone loves it.  Shown as much as A Christmas Story around the holidays, it will be watched a hundred years from now.

5. Mrs. Miniver (1942) - One of the finest films made about life during WWII and a bit of a propaganda movie.  This is common for films made during the war as opposed those made after.  Great acting, intense drama and a strong political message make it one of the best films of the decade.

4. How Green Was My Valley (1941) - The film that beat out Citizen Kane.  Even though historically it is one of the most disappointing upsets, this is clearly the second best film of the year and it is a very good movie.  The only reason why it gets criticized is because of Citizen Kane.

3 The Red Shoes (1948) - Artistically one of the most amazing films ever made.  Even if you don't like classic music or ballet, this is one of the best movies ever made.  The dance sequences, the production value, the whole film is one that is just perfect.

2 Casablanca (1943) - One of the most popular and loved movies of all time.  You knew it would have to finish in the top three, right?

1 Citizen Kane (1941) - Not only the best film of the decade, but the best film ever made.  Also shows that life is not fair, but that history will correct the mistakes of the past.