Friday, May 20, 2016

Ten Movies on an Island: 1940s Edition

The 1940s - when the Movies went to war. Now, not only did the movies have to entertain, they had to show support of the war and boost morale. During this time, the OWI (Office of War Information) asked all filmmakers to consider these seven questions when making a movie:
  1. Will this picture help win the war?
  2. What war information problem does it seek to clarify, dramatize or interpret?
  3. If it is and "escape" picture, will it harm the war effort by creating a false picture of America, her allies, or the world we live in?
  4. Does it merely use the war as the basis for a profitable picture, contributing nothing of real significance to the war effort and possibly lessening the effect of other pictures of more importance?
  5. Does it contribute something new to our understanding of our world conflict and the various forces involved, or has the subject already been adequately covered?
  6. When the picture reaches its maximum circulation on the screen, will it reflect the conditions as they are and fill a need current at that time, or will it be out-dated?
  7. Does the picture tell the truth or will the young people of today have reason to say they were misled by propaganda?
Hollywood rose to the challenge, churning out war picture after war picture. Mrs. Miniver (1942) portrayed ultimate patriotism. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) showed the challenges of returning Veterans. John Wayne won every battle conceivable against the enemy. Many big name stars even served.

Birthday boy James Stewart retired from the army as a two star Major General.

Even Roosevelt approved of the way Hollywood was doing their part. An aide to the President, Lowell Mellett, said "Practically everything being shown on the screen from newsreel to fiction that touches on our national purpose is of the right sort" (Hollywood Goes to War, Roy Hoopes).

The 1940s is the decade with the most films on my list. This one was particularly agonizing to whittle down to a mere ten (as you can see from all of the Honorable Mentions). Also, half of them ended up being Christmas movies (both #4 & 6 are set at Christmas are have a scene at Christmas time). There's also not a lot of war films reflected here. As you an see,  I usually err on the side of comedy. What can I say? I love to laugh!

1. Meet John Doe (1941) - Gary Cooper & Barbara Stanwyck
2. Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941) - Robert Montgomery & Carole Lombard
3. To Be or Not To Be (1941/42) - Jack Benny & Carole Lombard
4. Cat People (1942) - Simone Simon & Kent Smith
5. The More the Merrier (1943) - Jean Arthur & Joel McCrea, Charles Coburn
6. Going My Way (1944) - Bing Crosby & Barry Fitzgerald
7. Christmas in Connecticut (1945) - Barbara Stanwyck & Dennis Morgan, S.Z. Sakall
8. My Favorite Brunette (1947) - Bob Hope & Dorothy Lamour
9. Miracle on 34th Street (1947) - Maureen O'Hara & John Payne, Edmund Gwenn
10. Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) - Cary Grant & Myrna Loy, Melvyn Douglas
Honorable MentionsRebecca (1940), Remember the Night (1940), Third Finger, Left Hand (1940), The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941), The Lady Eve (1941), Random Harvest (1942), Now, Voyager (1942), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), A Stolen Life (1946), Magic Town (1947), Life with Father (1947), Portrait of Jennie (1948), It's a Great Feeling (1949), Ma and Pa Kettle (1949).

Tomorrow, my top ten from the 1950s!


  1. Terrific list and reminder of the important roll that Hollywood played on so many fronts when it came to the war effort. I beamed to see Christmas in Connecticut mentioned here. It's a definitely favourite from that decade for me as well.

    Many hugs & happy weekend wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

    1. Glad you liked this list! I'm endlessly fascinated with Hollywood and WWII.

      Christmas in Connecticut is a family favorite. When we were little we would have it on tv while drinking our eggnog before heading out to Midnight Mass. Every year we always saw the same part, when the baby "swallows" the watch! Then we finally got it on dvd so we could see the whole thing! :)

  2. All great movies. If asked, I would say that the 1940s is my favourite decade for film yet in the 5 movies on an island blogathon, I didn't place one from the era on my list. H'm.