A detailed review of 120 popular films, mostly from Hollywood's 1940s. Includes comprehensive cast and technical credits, plus background and release information. The movies covered include such classics as the Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn "Adam's Rib"; Walt Disney's animated features: "Dumbo" and "Ichabod and Mr Toad"; the Frank Sinatra-Gene Kelly musical "Anchors Aweigh"; my favorite Fred Astaire picture "The Belle of New York"; Roy Rogers' best film "Bells of Rosarita"; one of Orson Welles' best directing efforts, "Black Magic"; Wendell Corey's first (and best) "Desert Fury"; Disney's original "Fantasia"; Cecil B. DeMille's spectacular "Samson and Delilah"; four of director Michael Curtiz's most enjoyable motion pictures: "Mildred Pierce, "The Sea Hawk", "Bright Leaf", "Romance on the High Seas"; and the wonderful, original version of "Roxie... More > Hart" starring Ginger Rogers.< Less
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By John Reid
Oct 15, 2009
"Not Only Popular But Mostly Superb" Mind you, just because a movie is popular, doesn't mean it's good. There are some films that a movie fan will just have to see regardless. "Copacabana", for instance, in which Groucho's commendable efforts to insert a bit of life into a lame script are rarely successful, although he does have a rousing song, and Carmen Miranda is also on hand to help out. I found both "Love Happy" and "A Night in Casablanca" disappointing too, despite starring all three Marx Brothers; and I'm also not sold on "Stage Door Canteen" with its galaxy of stars, even though it was one of the top money-making movies of 1943. On the other hand, "Father Is a Prince", offering mild entertainment at best, is simply a little "B" movie which nobody saw or remembers. I threw it in for contrast. When you have 120 movies to write about, it helps to have an occasional dud. So what we have here are over 100... More > must-see movies from the 1940s, running from "Abe Lincoln in Illinois" to "Yellow Sky", by way of "Coney Island", "Fantasia", "How Green Was My Valley", "It's a Wonderful Life", "Keys of the Kingdom" and "Mildred Pierce", through "National Velvet", "Rhapsody in Blue", "Till the Clouds Roll By", "Tin Pan Alley" and "The White Tower". Yes, some of my all-time favorites are represented here too, including "The Belle of New York" (a box-office disappointment, but both Fred Astaire and I love that movie); "Bells of Rosarita" (one of Roy Rogers' best films and a highlight of Republic productions of the 1940s); "Bill and Coo" (the most fascinating feature film novelty Hollywood ever produced. It most deservedly received a Special Award from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences); "Black Magic" (directed by Gregory Ratoff with bravura inserts by Orson Welles who directed his own scenes, as he told a group of reporters at the time); "Cry Wolf" (a film noir gem from Peter Godfrey); "Desert Fury" (Wendell Corey's debut movie and also his most powerful performance); "Dumbo", "Fantasia", "Song of the South" and "Saludos Amigos" (all Disney delights); "The Sea Hawk" (arguably Errol Flynn’s best swashbuckler); "Roxie Hart" (a brilliantly satiric comedy directed at the fastest pace of the 40's by William A. Wellman, showcasing the gloriously effervescent Ginger Rogers in the title role); "Three Little Words" (fanciful as it may seem, this musical biography is much more accurate than the usual Hollywood tribute. Harry Ruby not only supplied the original storyline but fleshed it out with further real-life anecdotes for the screenwriter to embellish. He also acted as technical adviser and has a gag bit part in the picture as a big league ballplayer. And as for Red Skelton, of course, he never had a more ingratiating role). I could go on and on, but I’m going to stop right here. You'll just have to check out "Popular Pictures of the Hollywood 1940s" and read all these most comprehensive and often fascinating details yourself!< Less