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Added by The Mighty Celestial on 30 Jun 2009 08:38
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20 From 40: My Favorite Movies of The 40's

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   Let me start this list off by saying that since it focuses on movies from the 1940s, I really don’t expect too many people out there who are reading this to be of the younger generation. But just in case there are any out there,  I should give a heads up that there will be a couple of things that I will be mansplaining. One of those things is a type of TV show known as creature features. These were local TV shows that were a popular staple of weekend television and which focused on showing old horror movies. In order to gain the attention of younger viewers, they often were hosted by a horror style satirist in the vein of Svengoolie or Elvira (and if you’re too young to know who these names are, Google it…. I can only take mansplaining so far…).

  When I was kid, the creature features program in my local area that I used to watch was literally called simply "Creature Features". One of the types of old school horror films that often appeared this show was  called "monster mashes". Again, if you don't what these are, it's because it was before your generation. A "monster mash" was basically a mash-up of the most popular horror characters that were popular during the iconic age of Universal Monsters of the 30's, 40's and 50's. They included the usual suspects of Dracula, Frankenstein and the original Wolfman, plus a few others that were added later on like the Mummy or the Invisible Man. The very first of these monster mashes that I was exposed to was this movie. I remember my older brother telling me right before the program started that just because this is called "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" the truth was that all three of the Universal Monsters Top Trio of Terror, Franky, Dracky and Wolfy, would be making an appearance in this story.
To which I couldn't help but get really excited and ask, "All three of 'em? Cool!! Who's on first?"

   Now, that last sentence that I just typed down in the form of a question isn’t really a question. It’s a joke. And if you don’t get the joke, then that’s most likely because you are one of those younger fans that I've been mentioning throughout this entry. And if that’s the case, rather than further mansplaining the joke (because the instant a joke has to be explained, it is automatically rendered as unfunny), I suggest that you just move on to the next entry on this list. Because, speakinging honestly, I'm getting tired, not to mention, a little depressed, at how old all these explanations are making me feel.

People who added this item 144 Average listal rating (102 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.4
In 1943, Universal Studios released Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, a film that is considered the first to actually team up two of the monster mainstays that will make the studio company famous (in the horror flick circle, that is). Its story is considered the sequel to the original 1941 Wolf Man and at the same time, the fifth chapter in the Frankenstein series.
And while it seems like it's the werewolf who experiences more development as a character, it's still cool to see that the creatures who have become staples in legendary lore of the scare flick are now sharing terrorizing tactics together in the same world.

People who added this item 198 Average listal rating (125 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.3

When it comes to racism in Hollywood, it seems that the best course of action to hide it with a gentlemen's agreement.
Which, for those of you who haven't seen this classic flick, pretty much explains the title here.
And being that racism was even an more delicate issue for the cinema of the 40's as it is now. Therefore, the theme of bigotry in this particular agreement was centered more on the aspect anti-semitism than on a more generally spread racism like that is based more tightly on skin-color or language.
Either way, G.A. was a pivotal early step on addressing the whole idea discrimination towards anyone outside of the W.A.S.P.'s nest.
People who added this item 166 Average listal rating (98 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.4
Yes, I agree with this movie. Heaven can wait.
But, as far as I'm concerned,
Hell can wait even longer.

People who added this item 88 Average listal rating (59 ratings) 5.5 IMDB Rating 5.7
  Even though Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man is considered the first of the "monster mash" movies (also known as "monster rally"), it wasn't until the "House" series that Universal's three horror heavyweights, Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, and the Wolf Man, were all featured within one story. The problem was that this is also the point when Universal's scare-fare cinema were being driven more by their fans wanting to see their top trio of terror together under one roof, as opposed to being driven by instilling fear into their audiences, which what made their first fright-filled films so successful.
 The first to get a “House” was Frankenstein’s Monster in House of Frankenstein. The second was Dracula in, of course, House of Dracula. And wouldn’t you know it, before the Wolfman got a chance to get a place of his own, the whole series ended there. What makes this even sadder is that of the three scare-based stars, Larry Talbot, the Wolfman’s alter ego, is the most central character in both of these houses. Therefore, despite having neither house named after him, he most likely had the most screen time than the other two.

  In this particular adventure, LarryTalbot, the Wolf Man's human alter ego, comes a’knockin’ to the front door of the castle of one Dr. Endlemann, hoping that the good doctor can find a cure to his lycanthropy. Not long after, Dracula flies in, also looking for a cure, but in his case, it’s for his addiction to human blood. Particularly because there was no BA (Bloodsuckers Anonymous) back then (come to think of it, there still isn’t ) so that vampires of the time were forced to suffer silently. Eventually, the fiend of Frankenstein would be discovered in a cave underneath  Endelman’s castle (the “House “ in this movie’s title is more metaphorical that literal). Now with the big guys back all together, this allows the plot's rogue gallery to be rounded out with the addition of the doctor who undergoes a Jekyll and Hyde type of transformation into a stereotypical evil scientist, and who has a lovely Igor type of sidekicking assistant that doesn’t let her nonstereotypical gender as a female get in the way of her hunched back. Put all these characters together in the same "house" and they will all be ready to do the Mash... the Monster Mash. However, with the novelty of this kind of graveyard smash beginning to wear thin with movie goers at the time, this is one of the last times we get to see the monsters mashing it up in one film. Thus marking it as the last nail into the coffin of an era that begot a group of horror headliner acts that would forever be Universally known the classic icons of the genre.

People who added this item 124 Average listal rating (83 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.2
  OK, so first there was 1931's Frankenstein.
 Then there was the sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein.
  Which naturally led to The Son of Frankenstein.
 Followed by this flick, the House of Frankenstein.
  Based on the titles of these movies, looks like ol' Frankie did a pretty good job of following the formula that would constitute the American Dream.
Not bad for a guy made outta spare parts. 

  Actually, truthfully speaking, while I'm a big fan of Universal's Frankenstein franchise, this is the first of the sequels where the decline in quality begins. A big sign of Hollywood's slacking off on the series can be seen on the make-up job of the monster's head and face. The attention to detail of stitches and scarring is barely evident and comes off much less gruesome, not to mention, not as fearsome as the movies that precede this one.
  On another note, even though the Frankenstein Monster gets first billing on this flick, the truth is, this was the first time that Universal Studios did the Mash. They did the Monster Mash. That is, before the song of the same name came along and completely stole the phrase. Now, because of the success of that graveyard smash, movies, featuring the combination of Dracula, the Wolfman, and Frankie M, are more often referred to as "Monster Rallies" instead.
People who added this item 2241 Average listal rating (1387 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
I've stated this before in my animation lists, that I am not that big of a fan of Disneys animated movies. Especially from the stuff they put out during the 70's, 80's and most of the 90's.
Not until they began getting more three dimensional with their graphics did I find myself seeing the three dimensional quality in their stories. And when it comes to computer generated films, I obviously prefer Pixar over Disney.
However, I do enjoy some of Uncle Walt's very early efforts in the area of cartoon cinema. Including the original Fantasia from the year 1940.

This is a film that managed to successfully integrate classical music with animation in eight featurettes with each medium complimenting the other. The power of the music was enhanced by the visuals of each short (with various degrees of success of course) while at the same time, the hand crafted artwork of each cell seemed to be powered by the notes and melodies of each time tested arrangement.
People who added this item 485 Average listal rating (323 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.9
The groundbreaking trial that proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt that, yes Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus.
Thus ensuring, that as someone who more often than not, tends to end up on the naughty list, my stockpile supply of coal lumps will never run low.

Of all the courtroom dramas that have been made so far, Miracle On 34th Street stands alone as the one movie that is successfully able to merge the trial genre with that of the Christmas genre. Which makes it not just a landmark piece of cinema, but also, makes it, excuse the pun, pretty damn cool.
....around the old oak tree.

One of the things I noticed as I was making these lists of early cinema is that there aren't many of the old skool westerns on this list.
It's not because I have anything against any of the early B&W gunslingers or any of the John Wayne classics. It's just that it's been such a long time since I watched any of them, that I can barely remember which ones, let alone how any of 'em would rank on my list.
One of the few that I have watched recently is Yellow Ribbon, and that's why it's one of the few cowboy flix that managed to make a mark on this list.
As time goes on, and I familiarize myself with those early shoot-em-ups, hopefully, I'll be able to update this list by including more of the western classics.
People who added this item 686 Average listal rating (417 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.5
Spellbound (1945)
Not exactly Hitchcock's best, but still, a terse psychological mystery thriller by the director who mastered that particular genre in the world of cinema,
combined with a Dali-esque dream sequence by the painter who mastered that particular genre in the world of art.

People who added this item 2851 Average listal rating (1764 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.3
Rosebud, y'all.
And that's just about all that needs to be said about one of the most famous movies in American film history.
Because, if you don't know know about this film, then you obviously are from another planet. And if you are, then lemme just say,
Which is alien for "What? They don't have Google where you come from?"

People who added this item 1526 Average listal rating (989 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.4
Chaplin speaks!
Capturing not just a moment in film history as the master of silent stunt work utters his first words onscreen, but also that his words are an uncharacteristic (and for the time, risky) serious reflection of the status of a moment in world history.

People who added this item 1076 Average listal rating (658 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8
Notorious (1946)

At first glance, this seems like a typical Hollywood picture of this era: the insanely attractive couple of Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant, both looking at their most perfect, in a lush looking film, centered around a plot that is filled with espionage and international intrigue, plus the added feature of a small cadre of Nazi's thrown in for good measure.
Yet, the characters' personalities and their dialogue towards each other as they try to embitterly mask the feelings of love and longing that they must fight thru in order to complete their respective missions, reveals that this is an atypical film (for it's time, at least) with a feeling of cold cinematic bite that can only be the signature of Alfred Hitchcock. Add to the fact, that Cary Grant, usually a more of a comedic lead with skills of perfect timing, is able to pull through this serious, and uncharacteristically, bitter role with a result that leads the viewer to sincerely sympathize with his character just because we know that deep down inside, there is some good within him.

People who added this item 1194 Average listal rating (799 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8
Rope (1948)
Rope is an experiment in which Alfred Hitchcock himself claimed to be a failed one (an opinion of which I don't completely agree with...).
And yet, it is still one of those classics that is so widely considered as a recommendable mustsee for young filmmakers looking to leave a distinct mark. Which makes it a prime example of why, for the purposes of this subject, ol' Hitchy is the name that dominates this list 40's era personal cinema faves.

People who added this item 3358 Average listal rating (2054 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.5
A movie that shows that it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.
Because of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.
So, play it again Sam,
cuz here's looking at you, kid.

What else can I say other than, when it comes to famous movies quotes, particularly of the romantic genre, this is the classic of all classics (and in case you haven't noticed yet, the 1940s is a decade that is full of seminal classics).
And if you agree with me,
well then,
this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

There was once a time when when crime-noir movies were big. And that bigness practically began with the not-so-noble hero, hard-nosed archetype private detective Sam Spade. Particularly this version played by Bogey himself and featuring that infamous MacGuffin of all MacGuffins, the Maltese Falcon.
To be honest, this "duo feature" is one of my favorites from this era not so much from the first half of this movie, featuring the froggy fable of Mr. Toad, but because of The Sleepy Hollow half, which was one of my "happiest" fear film memories of my childhood. Despite it animation, it's portrayal of Ichabod Crain's ultimate fate contained enough fright in the climax of it's story, that every year during Halloween, after it aired on TV, I would find myself curled up with the sofa cushion for security against the goosebumps that resulted upon viewing.
And as a kid who loved horror-related material, the spine-tingling sense of kick-assery that emanated from the Headless Horseman is what it was all about.

People who added this item 126 Average listal rating (86 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.6
The Dark Knight of the 1940's.
No, seriously.....
he was.
But a bit more dashing. Not to mention that he tended to speak with a much more hispanic accent.

The adventures of a masked vigilante back when the concept of the genre was more akin to the noble art of swashbuckling than it was to the grit and dark-ridden quest of vengeance that it is today.
And one must never underestimate the abilities of Zorro. He may not be the big blockbusting franchise that most masked crimefighters on film are today, but in the pre-superheroing days of black and white cinema, his sword was one that definitely left it's mark.
People who added this item 486 Average listal rating (327 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.2
The Wolf Man (1941)
Just a plain ol' classic, this one is right there. I am a huge fan of the first black & white Universal Monster series of way back in the day and 1941's Wolf Man is probably my favorite one of the mash. Even after all the breakthroughs that scary movies have made in the long span since this was first released, from my point of view, any datedness that may have resulted over time from these original gangstas of horror quickly fade under the integrity and the energy that was "eternally" captured during filming.

While the first two of Universal's mainstay monsters, Dracula and Frankenstein, were based off of books, the Wolf Man, like the Mummy, was not. It was strictly based off of the loose legend of the werewolf. And, Lon Chaney Jr's was not the first onscreen werewolf since six years earlier, Universal had released Werewolf of London. However, because of it's subpar performance at the box office, this British version of the lupine two-legger never got the chance to rise to the iconic status that Chaney's was able to achieve. Which I'm okay with despite the love that I do have for WoL.
And even though there have been many werewolves depicted on the silver screen over the years, this Wolf Man, made famous by the son of a thousand faces, will always be, in my eyes, the true face of the wolf that walks like a man. With his much furrier demeanor, more animalistic attitude, and his link to the legendary lore (although, much of that lore was made up for this flick and the ones that followed), this one fits much more effectively into the hairy toed shoes and the kind of long lasting image that befits a luna lauding lycanthrope.
People who added this item 651 Average listal rating (393 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 7.9
The genre of the romantic comedy comes to an early peak with a film called His Girl Friday. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, each at their iconist, star in this story about two reporters, once divorced from each other, but still carrying a shared torch as fiery as their shared passion for their jobs. Old skool movie dialogue so quick and full of wit, that despite any dated slants in the material, comes off sounding contemporarily sharp and filled with as much energy as if it were written for today.

A list of my favorite movies from the era of 1940's film.
An era when Hollywood was experienced enough to showcase it's seasoned ability to create some of the most famous staples that are eternally a part of the highest tier of movie history, but still young enough to capture the energy that fuels that longevity of those films.
Obvious examples from this list are Casablanca, His Girl friday, &, of course, Citizen Kane.

Updated Entries:

Life Boat

Grapes Of Wrath


Samson And Delilah

Lists from other time periods:
The 20's:
Of all time:

Other lists by The Mighty Celestial:

My Top 60 Favorite "Horror"-Themed Movies www.listal.com/list/my-top-ten-favorite-horror

My Top 20 Female Movie Bad-Asses www.listal.com/list/my-top-10-female

Yep. When It Comes To Comicbook Movies .... www.listal.com/list/yep-am-huge-comicbook

10 Movies That Feature A Dancin' Travolta In 'Em www.listal.com/list/my-list-9158

My Top 15 Guilty Pleasure Movies www.listal.com/list/guilty-pleasures-thecelestial

WAATAAAH!! My Top 10 Favorite Martial Arts Flix! www.listal.com/list/my-list-thecelestial

My Top 50 Favorite Sci-Fi Movies.... Of Like, Ever www.listal.com/list/scifi-movies

My Top Ten Favorite Movies By Year








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