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DISCLAIMER: All film criticism is extremely subjective and there is no such thing as the definitive list of the Greatest (English-language) Films. Great Films can't be measured scientifically because greatness is extremely subjective. Just because we like a film doesn't mean that you will like it as well. Please feel free to leave us a comment with the films that you think are the greatest which we have not included on our list.

Last week we wrapped up the 1930’s and so that means this week we start the 1940’s.  A big factor in the films made during the 1940 is World War II. Many “big name” actors were in the military and therefore not making movies which allowed other films and actors to come to the forefront in their absence.

Not only was 1940 a big year for Disney with the release of Pinocchio and Fantasia but it was also a big year for actors making their film debuts and the birth of future actors and directors and the deaths of some truly great talent. Here is a snap shot of the American film industry in 1940.


Making Their Credited Film Debuts:


Among Those Born In 1940:

John Hurt, English actor (died 2017); James Cromwell, American actor; Katharine Ross, American actress; George A. Romero, American director, producer and screenwriter; Ralph Bates, English actor (died 1991); Peter Fonda, American actor; Chuck Norris, American actor and martial artist; James Caan, American actor; Al Pacino, American actor; Lainie Kazan, American actress and singer; Rene Auberjonois, American actor; John Mahoney, English-born American actor; Karolyn Grimes, American actress; Ringo Starr, English drummer (The Beatles); Patrick Stewart, English actor; James Brolin, American actor; Martin Sheen, American actor; Jill St. John, American actress; Raquel Welch, American actress; Brian De Palma, American director, producer and screenwriter; John Lennon, English singer-songwriter and musician (The Beatles) (assassinated 1980); Cliff Richard, English singer and actor; Michael Gambon, Irish-born British actor; Elke Sommer, German actress; Sam Waterston, American actor; Bruce Lee, Chinese-American martial artist and actor (died 1973); Richard Pryor, American comedian and actor (died 2005);     


Top-grossing Films

1RebeccaUnited ArtistsLaurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine$6,000,000 
2Boom TownMGMClark Gable, Spencer Tracy$5,000,000 
3The Great DictatorUnited ArtistsCharlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard$5,000,000 
4Strike Up the BandMGMJudy Garland, Mickey Rooney$3,494,000 
5The Philadelphia StoryMGMKatharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart$3,259,000 
6Northwest PassageMGMSpencer Tracy, Robert Young$3,150,000 
7Andy Hardy Meets DebutanteMGMMickey Rooney, Lewis Stone, Judy Garland


8The Grapes of Wrath20th Century-FoxHenry Fonda$2,500,000 
9Kitty FoyleRKOGinger Rogers, Dennis Morgan$2,385,000 
10Comrade XMGMClark Gable, Hedy Lamarr$2,079,000 
11My Favorite WifeRKOIrene Dunne, Cary Grant$2,057,000 
12The Sea HawkWarner Bros.Errol Flynn$2,000,000 
13Down Argentine Way20th Century-FoxDon Ameche, Betty Grable and Carmen Miranda$2,000,000 
14Road to SingaporeParamountBing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour$1,600,000 
15Virginia CityWarner Bros.Errol Flynn, Miriam Hopkinsunknown
16I Love You AgainMGMWilliam Powell, Myrna Loyunknown