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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.

Not only was 1941 a big year for movies but it was also a big year for actors making their film debuts and the deaths of some truly great talent. Here is a snap shot of the American film industry.


Making Their Film Debuts:

  • Cyd Charisse – The Gay Parisian;
  • Laird Cregar – Hudson’s Bay;
  • Eva Gabor – Forced Landing;
  • Ava Gardner – Fancy Answers;
  • Charlton Heston – Peer Gynt;
  • Deborah Kerr – Major Barbara;
  • Bruce Lee – Golden Gate Girl;
  • Norman Lloyd – The Forgotten Man;
  • Donna Reed – The Get-Away; 
  • Frank Sinatra – Las Vegas Nights


Top-grossing Films

Box office numbers were reported at the time as a percentage compared to ‘normal’ business at each theater. For example, Sergeant York performed at 220% while Citizen Kane did 130% (coming in a surprisingly strong 30th for the year). This is why exact dollar grosses for the period are unreliable at best.

RankTitleDirectorStudioLeading Star
1.Sergeant YorkHoward HawksWarner Bros.Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan
2.Honky TonkJack ConwayMGMClark Gable, Lana Turner
3.Louisiana PurchaseIrving CummingsParamountBob Hope, Vera Zorina
4.A Yank in the RAFHenry King20th Century FoxTyrone Power, Betty Grable
5.How Green Was My ValleyJohn Ford20th Century FoxWalter Pidgeon, Maureen O’Hara
6.Babes on BroadwayBusby Berkeley, Vincente MinnelliMGMJudy Garland, Mickey Rooney
7.Caught in the DraftDavid ButlerParamountBob Hope, Dorothy Lamour
8.Road to ZanzibarVictor SchertzingerParamountBing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour
9.Keep ‘Em FlyingArthur LubinUniversalBud Abbott, Lou Costello
10.In the NavyArthur LubinUniversalBud Abbott, Lou Costello
11.Charley’s AuntArchie Mayo20th Century FoxJack Benny, Kay Francis, Anne Baxter
12.Ziegfeld GirlRobert Z. LeonardMGMJames Stewart, Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr, Lana Turner
13.Birth of the BluesVictor SchertzingerParamountBing Crosby, Mary Martin, Brian Donlevy
14.They Died with Their Boots OnRaoul WalshWarner Bros.Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland
15.Nothing but the TruthElliott NugentParamountBob Hope, Paulette Goddard
16.Life Begins for Andy HardyGeorge B. SeitzMGMMickey Rooney, Lewis Stone, Judy Garland
17.Hold That GhostArthur LubinUniversalBud Abbott, Lou Costello
18.Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeVictor FlemingMGMSpencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner
19.Shadow of the Thin ManW.S. Van DykeMGMWilliam Powell, Myrna Loy
20.They Met in BombayClarence BrownMGMClark Gable, Rosalind Russell, Peter Lorre
21.Dive BomberMichael CurtizWarner Bros.Errol Flynn, Fred MacMurray
22.Meet John DoeFrank CapraWarner Bros.Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck


Academy Award Winners

    Best Picture: How Green Was My Valley – 20th Century-Fox

    Best Actor: Gary CooperSergeant York

    Best Actress: Joan FontaineSuspicion

    Best Supporting Actor: Donald Crisp – How Green Was My Valley

    Best Supporting Actress: Mary AstorThe Great Lie

    Best Director: John Ford – How Green Was My Valley


Among Those Who Died In 1941:

  • Joe Penner, 36, American comedian, actor, The Boys from Syracuse, Millionaire Playboy, The Day the Bookies Wept, Mr. Doodle Kicks Off;
  • Stuart Walker, 63, American director, White Woman, Great Expectations;
  • Tore Svennberg, 83, Swedish actor, The Phantom Carriage, A