The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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swo17
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The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#1 Post by swo17 » Fri Feb 15, 2019 9:09 pm

VOTING CLOSED. RESULTS CAN BE FOUND HERE.

If you are reading this sentence, you are eligible to participate in our forum's latest decades list project exploring the films of the 1940s. If you know anyone adventurous enough--on or off the forum--that you think would also enjoy participating, feel free to invite them as well.

Please PM me your list of what you believe are the top 50 films from this decade toward the end of the project. I will send confirmation that I have received your list after I have tabulated it. If you haven't heard from me within a day, you should follow up with me to make sure that I received your list. You may feel that you could compile a list of 50 favorite films from this decade much earlier than the deadline, but it's still highly recommended that you engage in the discussions here. Don't keep your favorites a secret, and always be open to suggestions from others!


THE RULES

1) Each individual list is to comprise no more or less than 50 films, ranked in your order of preference (with no ties). If you haven't yet seen 50 films from this decade that you think are genuinely great (or even if you have), please take advantage of the resources listed below and participate in the ongoing discussions to find films that you can be proud to put on your list.

2) Anyone participating in this project should plan to submit a list by the Round 1 deadline. After this point, I will publish some preliminary results that will not reveal how each film has performed, but will at least make it apparent which films are orphans (i.e. those that have received only one vote, and so receive no points in the tabulation process). During the two weeks that follow (Round 2) all those who are interested in participating further may seek out the orphaned films (or anything else they didn't fit in before the Round 1 deadline) and make revisions to their lists as they see fit, up until the Round 2 deadline. After this point, I will publish the results.

3) Any feature film, documentary, experimental film, or short film released during the 1940s (1940-1949) is eligible.

4) The date given on IMDb is the relevant date for determining a film's year of release, even when it's clearly wrong (unless a special case is made below). If the film is not on IMDb and you say it was released during the 1940s, I'll take your word for it.

5) In certain cases, it may be appropriate for films that are technically separate to be combined, or for films that are technically combined to be separated. In such cases, you may vote for either a part or the whole, but bear in mind that all votes will be competing against each other (e.g. a vote for Ivan the Terrible Pt. I will not count toward the vote for Ivan the Terrible in the final tally). Generally, if multiple films are allowed to be combined for voting purposes, you should probably vote for them that way unless you are strongly opposed to doing so. The most common cases:

• Single-director multi-part films for which each segment was released separately (e.g. Feuillade's serials, Lang's two-part epics) may be considered as a single film. Films included in trilogies may not be combined.

• Variant edits: For films that exist in multiple versions (e.g. Welles' Mr. Arkadin, Rivette's Out 1), all votes that don't specify a "secondary" version will be counted toward the "primary" version.

• Portmanteau films: Each of the individual segments and the film as a whole are all separately eligible.

We may occasionally need to make a special case related to rule 4 or 5. If you are seriously considering including a film on your list that you have a question about in this regard, bring it up in this thread and we'll iron it out. However, I will not make any further exceptions during the last week of the project.

For more details about rules and procedures, please refer here.

Finally, though it is not strictly required, it is recommended that you include titles for films that you discuss in this thread in bold, as it will help the film titles stick out amidst all of the other information that will inevitably pile up in this thread. Or do something else flashy, like featuring a still from the film. If you particularly like something, you might even highlight the title in a shiny color. See how much that caught the eye? You're going to be thinking about that for days now.


ELIGIBILITY – REMINDERS / SPECIAL CASES

The following are examples of multi-part films that are eligible to be voted for as a single film: Ivan the Terrible, Why We Fight, 47 Ronin

In some of these cases, you may feel strongly that you only want to vote for one part of the whole. You can do this, but again, just remember that all votes will be competing against each other (e.g. for all intents and purposes, Ivan the Terrible Pt. I, Ivan the Terrible Pt. II, and both parts combined as Ivan the Terrible are three completely separate films).

Partie de campagne/A Day in the Country is ineligible, as we voted on it during the 1930s project.

German Concentration Camps Factual Survey is eligible despite IMDb's 2014 release date.

The following films may be cited as 1940s releases in some places, but not on IMDb, and so are not eligible for this list: Gun Crazy, Orpheus, The Flowers of St. Francis, Stage Fright, The Gunfighter, To Joy, Sans lendemain

The following films are cited as 1940s films on IMDb, and so are eligible for this list, regardless of what anyone else might say: The Old Jockey


RESOURCES

A list of all films that received votes during our prior 1940s project

Past Forum Discussions
Discussion from the Forum's Prior 1940s Project
Defending of Sad Pandas from the Forum's Prior 1940s Project
Discussion from the Forum's Genre List Projects
Discussion from the Forum's Shorts List Project
Screwball Comedies

Guides Within This Thread
Do you feel you have an especially informed opinion about the work during this decade from a particular director, country, genre, etc.? Many people here would greatly appreciate your taking the time to prepare a guide for navigating through all that's available. (Though they do not necessarily need to be comprehensive.) Guides are especially welcome for extremely prolific directors/movements, or to summarize availability for films (such as shorts) that are often hidden away on releases for other films or only available on the web. Past examples: Director Guide, Country Guide, Genre Guide, DVD Availability Guide

therewillbeblus on Rossellini's War Trilogy

AWAITING FURTHER GUIDES

External Resources

IMDb list of Round 1, Round 2, and Round 3 results (compiled by TMDaines)

AWAITING FURTHER SUGGESTIONS

Recommended Reading

AWAITING SUGGESTIONS


THE MATRIX R. SCHMATRIX HONORARY SPOTLIGHT SECTION

Remember that part in the movie Spotlight where all the reporters sat around and said "Hey, you hold your nose and watch this movie that you wouldn't otherwise want to watch and I guess I'll do the same for you"? Oh wait, that's not how it happened at all. No, those reporters went out and put all their heart into their work and gave long important speeches about it. In honor of their garrulousness, this section is now reserved for links to any and all posts on a particular film that are 500 words or longer. Why 500 words? Because when I used to be in the biz, I remember my editor throwing that number around a lot. Sorry folks, but we're living in a post-Spotlight world now, and the old ways just aren't going to cut it anymore.

Air Force (Howard Hawks, 1943) (therewillbeblus)
The Big Steal (Don Siegel, 1949) (therewillbeblus)
Blood on the Moon (Robert Wise, 1948) (therewillbeblus)
California (John Farrow, 1947) (tarpilot)
The Curse of the Cat People (Robert Wise & Gunther von Fritsch, 1944) (therewillbeblus)
Day of Wrath (Carl Dreyer, 1943) (therewillbeblus)
Force of Evil (Abraham Polonsky, 1948) ( therewillbeblus)
Hail the Conquering Hero (Preston Sturges, 1944) (therewillbeblus)
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1943) ( therewillbeblus)
Meet Me in St. Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944) (HinkyDinkyTruesmith)
My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946) (therewillbeblus)
The Reckless Moment (Max Ophüls, 1949) (therewillbeblus) (Satori)
Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948) (therewillbeblus)
The Red Shoes (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1948) (therewillbeblus)
The Sea Wolf (Michael Curtiz, 1941) (therewillbeblus)
The Seventh Victim (Mark Robson, 1943) (therewillbeblus)
Shadow of a Doubt (Alfred Hitchcock, 1943) (therewillbeblus) (Satori)
Stray Dog (Akira Kurosawa, 1949) (therewillbeblus)
La Symphonie pastorale (Jean Delannoy, 1946) (therewillbeblus)

AWAITING FURTHER DISCUSSION


***Please PM me if you have any suggestions for additions to/deletions from this first post.***

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domino harvey
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#2 Post by domino harvey » Tue Feb 26, 2019 10:17 pm

Well, since swo covertly unlocked this, I guess I'll be the first to chime in. My number one last time is probably my number one this time, Whirlpool (Otto Preminger 1949), and it had the unfortunate distinction of being orphaned back then too! Let's not let that happen again, shall we? It's a film that is only deceptively silly but really has some serious and bitter truths to share about the avenues and roles afforded to women in Gene Tierney's place. It's also the movie I used the first twenty minutes of every year to teach all of the basics of film language to new film studies students, so I've seen the first act quite a bit too!

I'd also like to give a shout out to two of my biggest discoveries since the last time I filled out my ballot for this decade:

Vigil in the Night (George Stevens 1940) (which I wrote up for the Carole Lombard thread here), the Kill Bill of Hollywood Melodramas. There will probably not be a lot of middleground on this one, but if you can meet this kind of sincere melodrama at the feverish level it's pitched at, your stunned and overjoyed reaction might mirror my own. If that opening scene where
SpoilerShow
Anne Shirley causes the kid to die
doesn't do it for you, though, that's probably an early warning that you may want to tap out early!

I nostri sogni (Vittorio Cottafavi 1943), the first film by the still relatively obscure Italian director whose legacy today is almost entirely bolstered by those few who remember his favored position among some of the fringe contributors to Cahiers du Cinema, namely Luc Moullet (who rather amusingly devoted large portions of his own film Les sièges de l'Alcazar to making typically hyper-specific jokes about Cottafavi's work). Written by De Sica (who also stars) and bearing much of his "Of the people" thematics, this is the perfect companion piece to Sturges' Christmas in July, a forward momentum barnburner in which a poor working class girl is given an opportunity to experience "class" in one magical night. Like Sturges' film, the movie is so bursting with positive energy and warm humanist sparkle that you feel like bursting out crying just at how wonderful people and life itself can be sometimes. I'm less enamored with the ending, though, which seems like such a hard right turn from all that came before it that I am truly puzzled at how to reconcile it with the rest of the movie. At best, its message rings false with what came before. But what came before is so beautiful, so touching, so gleefully energetic and joyous that the last ten minutes could be three trailers for Adam Sandler's 90s comedies and I'd still put it on my list.

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Cold Bishop
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#3 Post by Cold Bishop » Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:47 pm

I think my no. 1 failed to make the list also, so I’ll probably give Whirlpool another overdue rewatch, a film I enjoyed but wasn’t wowed by. Would love to read any longform piece on it, either from you or anyone else, if you have a recommendation.

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domino harvey
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#4 Post by domino harvey » Wed Feb 27, 2019 12:03 am

Many years ago Adrian Martin linked to someone else’s online close reading (I believe excerpted from a larger Preminger study) of one of the scenes that I thought was wonderful, but it’s impossible to find now that Martin’s BFI commentary means those are the only search results that pop up. Other than that I can’t remember seeing any. I’m honestly not sure very many people value it as highly as I do, quelle surprise

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#5 Post by HinkyDinkyTruesmith » Wed Feb 27, 2019 1:36 am

I'm very excited about this particular list––the 1940s are probably my all-time favorite decade, and feature some of the best works of many of my favorite filmmakers: Welles, Powell and Pressburger, Sturges, Ozu, Ford, Wyler, Ophuls, Sirk. I'm admittedly heavy on the Western works, but, I'd love to expand my scope over the next months.

My number one pick for the decade is also my namesake––Hail the Conquering Hero, which never fails to crack me up or leave me breathless at its audacious staging and cinematography. It's one of the films I shared with a number of my friends in undergrad, and it's remained a constant reference point. I'll write something more substantive later on, but, I highly doubt anything comes along to move it. The only thing that rivals it now is Ozu's Late Spring (which was my first Ozu, and still my favorite).

I rewatched Whirlpool a while back when first joining this forum after seeing how much Domino loved it. I admired it more than I enjoyed it, but perhaps that's because I don't care much for Richard Conte or Jose Ferrer, who are rather stiff as usual, as well as Gene Tierney, who I usually like. I'm willing to give it another try now that I'm more familiar with what I'm going in for (although I'd seen it quite a while ago before the last time).

I can also add my voice to Vigil in the Night, which I don't cherish as much as Domino but can't deny its craziness and all-out melodrama. It also sports quite the impressive Lombard performance, I think.

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Godot
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#6 Post by Godot » Wed Feb 27, 2019 4:05 am

domino harvey wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 12:03 am
Many years ago Adrian Martin linked to someone else’s online close reading (I believe excerpted from a larger Preminger study) of one of the scenes that I thought was wonderful, but it’s impossible to find now that Martin’s BFI commentary means those are the only search results that pop up. Other than that I can’t remember seeing any. ...
Was it this essay? Otto Preminger and the Surface of Cinema

nitin
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#7 Post by nitin » Wed Feb 27, 2019 4:21 am

I have been holding off rewatching Whirlpool (saw it once about 15 yrs ago) until TT put it out (they were waiting for Fox to restore it). If that doesn’t happen before November, I will definitely still rewatch my DVD (the BFI blu ray from the DVD HD master has lots of issues that are more noticeable over the DVD).

This will be a tougher list for me personally over the 30s one, which is the decade I personally struggle with the most in terms of outright favourites (Only Angels Have Wings apart).

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knives
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#8 Post by knives » Wed Feb 27, 2019 10:11 am

Preminger is probably going to be my golden goose with the Archers this round so I will probably sneak it on as well.

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domino harvey
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#9 Post by domino harvey » Wed Feb 27, 2019 12:06 pm

Godot wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 4:05 am
domino harvey wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 12:03 am
Many years ago Adrian Martin linked to someone else’s online close reading (I believe excerpted from a larger Preminger study) of one of the scenes that I thought was wonderful, but it’s impossible to find now that Martin’s BFI commentary means those are the only search results that pop up. Other than that I can’t remember seeing any. ...
Was it this essay? Otto Preminger and the Surface of Cinema
Wow, that is indeed it. Thanks!

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Godot
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#10 Post by Godot » Thu Feb 28, 2019 10:12 pm

I'm so glad to be of help to you! I surfed around a bit and found this Film Studies for Free: The Obscurity of the Obvious: On the Films of Otto Preminger... a posting of Preminger links, video essays, etc. Fairly daunting collection, but it has more content by Christian Keathley on Whirlpool.

BrianB
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#11 Post by BrianB » Thu Feb 28, 2019 11:14 pm

Really looking forward to participating in this list. My plan is to watch all of the top 50 from the last go round and a smattering of films that come highly recommended by the members of this forum or just look interesting to me. I have only seen 20 or so films from this decade so there is a chance I will not see enough movies I love to compile a list. But that is ok; the real object is to discover some great movies I otherwise may not have seen!

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#12 Post by TMDaines » Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:07 am

Oh, I forgot to post these IMDb lists of the top 100 from the three previous iterations:

https://www.imdb.com/list/ls046513096/
https://www.imdb.com/list/ls046513440/
https://www.imdb.com/list/ls046514106/

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swo17
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#13 Post by swo17 » Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:50 pm

Second link needs to be made public

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#14 Post by denti alligator » Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:41 am

I am going to make a real effort to contribute this time. For real. I'm looking through the Sad Pandas and trying to watch everything I haven't seen and to rewatch some favorites. Though I can't imagine anything unseating my no. 1: A Canterbury Tale.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#15 Post by BrianB » Sat Mar 02, 2019 12:06 pm

I watched a few of the animated shorts recommended in the old thread last night. It was fun to watch A Wild Hare and see A nascent Bugs Bunny match wits with the always clueless Elmer Fudd but nothing really stood out. The same applies to Bad Luck Blackie, whose pratfalls and hijinks put me in the mind of Tom and Jerry or the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.

The real standout was Blitz Wolf. Tex Avery uses the story of the Three Little Pigs as a not so subtle allegory for Hitler’s Third Reich and the failures of appeasement. There were some great sight gags and play on words. I laughed out loud at the Fuhrer the Better on the Wolf’s Jeep. This is clearly wartime propaganda though and some stuff just doesn’t hold up when looked at through the prism of or current times. The No Dogs Allowed sign with dogs crossed our and replaced with Japs, for example, is a poignant reminder of how Japanese Americans were treated during the war and how mainstream the feelings against them really were.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#16 Post by TMDaines » Sun Mar 03, 2019 5:35 am

swo17 wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:50 pm
Second link needs to be made public
Done and apologies!

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swo17
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#17 Post by swo17 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:42 am

No worries

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denti alligator
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#18 Post by denti alligator » Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:45 pm

I revisited the three major Deren films, Jammin' the Blues, and Begone Dull Care yesterday, and watched (for the first time) Force of Evil tonight.

I haven't much to say about the shorts, except that I do think Meshes is the most perfect of the Deren films, which I know is the popular opinion. Ritual is a close second. It's a mighty impressive film, the party sequence being utterly breathtaking. Jammin' the Blues is basically perfect, too. Stunning use of white background and smoke! Begone Dull Care is one of the top 5 best animated films of all time, in my opinion. And I know a number of you will think I'm crazy to say this, but I do think it's superior to almost anything Fischinger did, certainly to even his 40s masterpieces.

Force of Evil is a fine noir. I mean, really fine. But I wasn't floored by it. I'd be happy to hear why it is so beloved on the forum. It probably won't be making my list.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#19 Post by A man stayed-put » Wed Mar 06, 2019 8:55 am

I’ve dipped in on previous list projects but have, excluding the All-time list, spectacularly failed to follow through on actually staying involved and submitting a list (despite really enjoying the discussions in the relevant threads). So I had a bit of a run up to this one and thought I’d block post a couple of viewing logs in the hope that I can contribute a bit more on the 40’s. So with best intentions and all that-

Deadline at Dawn (Harold Clurman 1946)- This succeeds or fails depending on the viewers appreciation of Odet’s arch dialogue, and for me it definitely succeeds. Hayward and Lukas do wonderful work with said flowery dialogue (although Joseph Calleia steals the picture when he turns up) and although studio bound it does a fine job of evoking a sweaty, hallucinatory, small-hours New York.
Bill Williams as the hayseed lead isn't great but doesn't need to be, he's only required to be innocent to the point of impairment, and as the only character not given any juicy dialogue his nothingness is by script design as much as performance accident.

The Glass Key (Stuart Heisler 1942)- A bit of a disappointment this time ‘round after holding it in high esteem from a first watch years ago. Donlevy is great fun, as is Bendix and the (heavily homo-erotic- as is oft mentioned) interplay between both and Ladd is the highlight, but considering their partnership’s iconic status, the Ladd/Lake partnership is fairly dull although it doesn’t help that she isn’t given a great deal to do. Interested to see if Blue Dahlia and This Gun… fare any better on re-watch.

Saraband for Dead Lovers (Basil Dearden 1948)- Lavish first Ealing colour feature, let down by the poor print on the Studio Canal DVD (although the colour is, apparently, muted by design). There’s no doubt that some of the impact is lost when viewing this in less than optimal quality but neither the performances (Robson and Greenwood seem miscast and I’ve never been a fan of Granger) nor Dearden’s direction did much for me- with the notable exception of the interestingly edited Hanover Fair sequence which brought to mind both earlier films by Von Sternberg and P&P’s later Tales of Hoffman. I may revisit if this is ever restored.

Casablanca (Michael Curtiz 1942)- Not much left to be said, but it remains a deeply enjoyable experience and holds up to countless re-watches. It seems to exist in that odd zone populated by films like Kane, Singin’ in the Rain and the like, where they’re prime targets for ‘they’re not that special’ complaints due to their iconic cultural status as much as their worth as films. It’s by no means perfect but I do feel it stands apart from the majority of WB product of the time and, as has been detailed in countless books and articles, this seems to come down to a perfect storm of talents behind, and in front of, the camera (it can’t be stressed enough how great a cast this has). Will feature high-ish on my list.

Night Train to Munich (Carol Reed 1940)- Thoroughly enjoyable while it lasts and intriguing in the historical context of being made during the ‘phony-war‘ years (as interestingly discussed in the film’s thread) but has faded quite swiftly from my memory and is over-shadowed by its sister film The Lady Vanishes (Launder & Gilliat, Lockwood, a train, the war). Lockwood has less agency and, although Rex Harrison is lively, there’s nothing of the chemistry Redgrave shares with her in the Hitchcock. Still a very strong entertainment and Reed manages the balance between comedy and thriller aspects well, with the final action sequence being genuinely thrilling. The heavy presence of Charters and Caldicott alone makes it an easy recommendation.

Although I doubt I’ll have time to revisit it, my personal favourite of the Launder & Gilliat films of this period is The Rake’s Progress (Gilliat 1945), which also stars Harrison and has a gratifyingly odd tone and structure.
Both may sneak into the lower reaches of my list.
denti alligator wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:41 am
I am going to make a real effort to contribute this time. For real. I'm looking through the Sad Pandas and trying to watch everything I haven't seen and to rewatch some favorites. Though I can't imagine anything unseating my no. 1: A Canterbury Tale.
A Canterbury Tale is also, almost certainly, going to be my number one (it was in the All-time list) and the Archers are likely to dominate the upper reaches of my list but I’m looking forward to taking in as many recommendations as possible.

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Feego
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#20 Post by Feego » Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:33 am

A man stayed-put wrote:
Wed Mar 06, 2019 8:55 am
The Glass Key (Stuart Heisler 1942)- A bit of a disappointment this time ‘round after holding it in high esteem from a first watch years ago. Donlevy is great fun, as is Bendix and the (heavily homo-erotic- as is oft mentioned) interplay between both and Ladd is the highlight, but considering their partnership’s iconic status, the Ladd/Lake partnership is fairly dull although it doesn’t help that she isn’t given a great deal to do. Interested to see if Blue Dahlia and This Gun… fare any better on re-watch.
I was none-too-impressed with the Ladd/Lake partnership as well, and for me they were generally the weakest aspects of their films. Bendix was surely the best thing about The Blue Dahlia, which is their best film and sort of a dark companion piece to the later The Best Years of Our Lives. If you enjoyed Donlevy in this film, I recommend Preston Sturges's The Great McGinty (as well as all of the Sturges films this decade), in which Donlevy plays a strikingly similar man-child bullying his way up the political ladder only in full-fledged comic mode. The first time I watched The Glass Key, in fact, the opening felt like a weird extension of the Sturges, complete with Donlevy lifting a guy by the pants and tossing him through a window.

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A man stayed-put
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#21 Post by A man stayed-put » Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:04 pm

Sturges is a major blind-spot for me, having only seen three of the eleven(???) films he directed in the 40s, so I'm certainly going to use this project as an opportunity to remedy that.
Regarding Donlevy, I've always had a soft spot for him despite my first exposure being his insanely miscast role as Quatermass in the 50s Hammer films. I spent half the film expecting him to be revealed as an imposter, drunkenly impersonating a scientist. He's in a lot of great stuff this decade though and frequently lends his, often rough-edged, characters some shading and nuance- Canyon Passage being a prime example.

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domino harvey
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#22 Post by domino harvey » Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:06 pm

I agree that the Glass Key is the weakest of the Ladd/Lake noirs, and also agree Bendix is the best part of their best collab, the Blue Dahlia. William Bendix is an actor who is just money in the bank every time he’s on-screen. For someone who seems so unlike a movie star in every respect, he had a surprising range: name me any other Hollywood contract star who could so easily and believably vacillate between lovable everyman and terrifying thug from film to film.

I recently saw a few of Bendix’s eligible films for this decade for the first time: the trio of Hal Roach cheapies he made as Tim McGuerin-- Brooklyn Orchid, the McGuerins from Brooklyn, and Taxi, Mister (Kurt Neumann 1942-1943)— an endearing dope who found himself the unlikely CEO of a successful cab company, are all disappointing. Imagine the fun of putting Bendix behind a boss’ desk and having his common-man ways rub up against the needs of putting on airs. Now discard it for sub-screwball antics. Much better was White Tie and Tails (Charles Barton 1946), a romantic comedy with a highly unusual cast of noir actors: Dan Duryea unexpectedly plays a nice guy, a Ruggles-ish butler for a rich family who pretends to be upper crust himself when his employers are away on vacation. He catches the eye of society dame Ella Raines and in an effort to impress her, he finds himself in hock to Bendix’s gambling den owner for over a hundred Gs. This isn’t a great movie beyond the curious casting, but Bendix makes it worthwhile: like his character in Cover Up, Bendix gives the impression of being an affable idiot, only to be scheming and working five steps ahead of everyone else. What’s more, Bendix amusingly finds Duryea’s attempts to bamboozle him diverting entertainment rather than true threats to his bottom line, and the mug finds himself drawn to the butler-cum-richie’s high quality tastes. The film eventually devolves into a singular buddy comedy, and it’s so good-natured as a result of Bendix’s interplay with everyone else that you gotta give Hollywood props for thinking outside the box on this one a bit.

A man stayed-put wrote:
Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:04 pm
Sturges is a major blind-spot for me, having only seen three of the eleven(???) films he directed in the 40s, so I'm certainly going to use this project as an opportunity to remedy that.
Sturges has the best track record this decade, and the best of any director's overall oeuvre, in that every film his directed is good (though not all are great).

And it's really not fair to talk about Donlevy's post 40s work as representative of his early qualities, as his rampant alcoholism really took a toll on him by the fifties onward. Some of the later movies he appeared in are difficult to watch due to how much he struggles to just get through his scenes and say his lines in the right order

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A man stayed-put
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#23 Post by A man stayed-put » Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:21 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:06 pm
And it's really not fair to talk about Donlevy's post 40s work as representative of his early qualities, as his rampant alcoholism really took a toll on him by the fifties onward. Some of the later movies he appeared in are difficult to watch due to how much he struggles to just get through his scenes and say his lines in the right order
Oh, I completely agree and didn't mean to come off as callous. Quatermass is an odd one though as even in his prime Donlevy would've been a terrible fit for the role.

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denti alligator
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#24 Post by denti alligator » Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:17 pm

Hitchcock's Lifeboat is about the same as I remember it: awkward pacing, poorly executed dramatic devices, ultimately too slow. It could have been riveting. It's not. Hitch doesn't seem to like anyone, which makes for a strange kind of propaganda film.
SpoilerShow
When they all lynch the Nazi and finally kill him, you sort of feel sorry for them, too. And of course Jim, who is surely the victim of such violence at home in the US, stands back and does nothing.
That scene and Hitch's cameo are the best of the film. The rest is nothing to write home about.

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knives
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#25 Post by knives » Thu Mar 07, 2019 7:48 am

That's kind of, suspicion of the characters and sympathy with the Nazi, why it's my favorite of the decade.

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