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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 1943 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:

Hume CronynShadow of a Doubt
Kim Hunter – The Seventh Victim
Robert MitchumThe Human Comedy
Shelley Winters – There’s Something About a Soldier
Natalie Wood – The Moon Is Down

 

 

 

Top-grossing Films

Rank Title Studio
1. For Whom the Bell Tolls Paramount
2. This is the Army Warner Bros.
3. The Song of Bernadette 20th Century Fox
4. Hitler’s Children RKO
5. Star Spangled Rhythm Paramount
6. Casablanca Warner Bros.
7. Air Force Warner Bros.
8. Destination Tokyo Warner Bros.
9. A Guy Named Joe MGM
10. Coney Island 20th Century Fox
11. So Proudly We Hail! Paramount
12. Behind the Rising Sun RKO
13. Guadalcanal Diary 20th Century Fox
14. Hello, Frisco, Hello 20th Century Fox
15. Dixie Paramount
16. Sweet Rosie O’Grady 20th Century Fox
17. Girl Crazy MGM
18. Stage Door Canteen United Artists
19. The Gang’s All Here 20th Century Fox
20. Thousands Cheer MGM

 

Academy Award Winners

Best Picture: Casablanca – Warner Bros.

Best Actor: Paul Lukas – Watch on the Rhine

Best Actress: Jennifer JonesThe Song of Bernadette

Best Supporting Actor: Charles Coburn – The More the Merrier

Best Supporting Actress: Katina Paxinou – For Whom the Bell Tolls

Best Director: Michael Curtiz – Casablanca

 

Among Those Who Died In 1943:

  • Dora Gerson, 43, German actress, Caravan of Death, On the Brink of Paradise;
  • Lynne Overman, 58, American actress, Little Miss Marker, Union Pacific, Dixie;
  • Conrad Veidt, 50, German actor, Casablanca, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Thief of Baghdad, The Spy in Black;
  • Leslie Howard, 50, Academy Award-nominated British actor, Gone with the Wind, Pygmalion, The Petrified Forest, Of Human Bondage;
  • Arthur Byron, 71, American actor, 20,000 Years in Sing Sing, Gabriel Over the White House

 

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The Greatest Films of 1943

 

***POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT FOR ALL***

 

Poster for the movie "Cabin in the Sky "

© − All right reserved.

Cabin in the Sky

D: Vincente Minnelli

A noteworthy film from the Alan Freed production unit at MGM. It marked the debut of film director Vincente Minnelli (who directed the Broadway play) and was Hollywood’s first general release of an all-star, all-black musical, taken directly from its original Broadway production. It was only the fourth all-black cast film to be made, after Hallelujah (1929), Hearts in Dixie (1929), and The Green Pastures (1936). With the Duke Ellington Orchestra and Louis Armstrong as the Trumpeter. A delightful, energetic, and extravagantly-executed story, really a moralistic Faustian fable about a tug of war between good and evil.

Boozing and womanizing Little Joe (Eddie “Rochester” Anderson), a shiftless gambler of questionable morals, is shot and killed at the Paradise Club during an argument over his gambling debts. Immediately, there is competition for his soul between God’s General (Kenneth Spencer) and the Devil’s son Lucifer Jr. (Rex Ingram). The General is summoned by the prayers of Little Joe’s devoted and religious wife Petunia Jackson (Ethel Waters). It is decided that Little Joe’s soul will have a trial period of six months on Earth, to test his virtue and see whether he will reform. Lucifer Jr. tempts him with winning $50,000 in the Irish Sweepstakes, and the seductive alluring charms of the evil and beautiful singer Georgia Brown (Lena Horne). The sexy temptress is sent by the devil to win over Little Joe’s soul and force him to give up Petunia. With songs including Arlen and Harburg’s “Happiness is a Thing Called Joe” – nominated for Best Song.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "For Whom the Bell Tolls"

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For Whom the Bell Tolls

D: Sam Wood

A lengthy dramatic screen version of Ernest Hemingway’s 1940 best-selling classic adventure novel of the Spanish Civil War, about a passionate relationship between two individuals caught in the conflict.

An American mercenary Robert Jordan (Gary Cooper) fights for the Republic against the Fascists, alongside a motley group of untrained guerrilla peasants, led by unstable alcoholic Pablo (Akim Tamiroff) and his wife Pilar (Katrina Paxinou), the rebels’ de facto leader. The band of Loyalist resistance fighters is composed of a colorful group of characters and a cropped-haired refugee Maria (Ingrid Bergman), a Spanish orphan who had been emotionally traumatized after being raped by the Fascists. The guerrillas struggle against overwhelming odds to destroy a strategic enemy bridge, and Jordan, a munitions expert, falls in love with blue-eyed, short-haired blonde Maria during their dangerous mission. Their passionate relationship includes one of cinema’s most famous kiss scenes as Maria pondered: “I don’t know how to kiss or I would kiss you. Where do the noses go?” With a sobering ending, when Jordan breaks his leg and has to be left behind after delivering a soliloquy to Maria (“You go now, Maria…what I do now I do alone. I couldn’t do it if you were here…There’s no good-bye, Maria, because we’re not apart”) – as the bell tolls for his life.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "Heaven Can Wait"

© 1943 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation − All right reserved.

Heaven Can Wait

D: Ernst Lubitsch

A heartwarming fantasy-romantic comedy from Fox Studios, director Lubitsch’s first and sole completed Technicolor film. This film was not to be confused with Heaven Can Wait (1978), a remake of the 1941 comedy/drama Here Comes Mr. Jordan.

Wealthy old playboy Henry Van Cleve (Don Ameche) has passed away. He led a life with many romantic indiscretions, flirtations, and seductive escapades, from his early childhood through the days of his love and marriage to beautiful Midwesterner Martha Strabel (Gene Tierney). In “flashbacks” of his carefree life story from infancy to age 70, the self-incriminating sinner has to convince His Excellency (Laird Cregar), the devilish Lord of Darkness, that he deserves to be admitted for punishment and eternal damnation. As it turns out, the cavalier Van Cleve is revealed to be good-natured, warm, kind-hearted, and sensitive, deserving of Heaven instead. He is, in fact, both a good father to son Jack (Tod Andrews) and a loyal (though sometimes philandering) husband married for 25 years to the gorgeous Martha.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "The Human Comedy"

© 1943 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) − All right reserved.

The Human Comedy

D: Clarence Brown

Based on an original story by William Saroyan, a low-key, sentimental but moving, superbly-acted drama. The film is narrated (in voice-over) by recently-deceased Mr. Macauley (Ray Collins), the father of a family of four children in Ithaca, a small California valley town. The events of World War II affects their everyday life and the need to cope with new responsibilities and hardships. The teenaged Macauley son, Western Union bicycle messenger Homer (Mickey Rooney) has to deliver mostly tragic war news to families about wounded or killed boys. A series of vignettes highlight life in Americana as he comes into close contact with all the families in town. He works with 67-year-old alcoholic telegrapher Willie Grogan (Frank Morgan). Members of Homer’s family included older brother Marcus (Van Johnson) off fighting in uniform – in love with college-aged neighbor Mary (Dorothy Morris), and Homer’s younger six year-old kid brother Ulysses (Jackie “Butch” Jenkins). Homer also has an older quiet college student sister Bess (Donna Reed) who is in love with telegraph office operator Tom Spangler (James Craig), Homer’s boss, although Tom is engaged to upper-class socialite Diana Steed (Marsha Hunt). One day, Homer has to deliver the news to his own family (and his widowed harp-playing mother Mrs. Macauley (Fay Bainter)) that big brother Marcus has been killed in battle. Marcus’ best friend and service pal, orphaned and parentless Tobey George (John Craven), is more or less adopted by the Macauley family after the heart-tearing news.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "I Walked With A Zombie"

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I Walked With A Zombie

D: Jacques Tourneur

Director Jacques Tourneur’s zombie supernatural horror film, a variant of the Jane Eyre novel, was produced by famed RKO producer Val Lewton. The low-budget, creepy film was very effective for its moody and atmospheric tone and visually-stylistic terror regarding dark family secrets, voodoo rituals and legends. The brooding, mystical melodrama tells of the work of trained Canadian nurse Betsy Connell (Frances Dee). The retrospective film is her description of how she had “walked with a zombie.”

Betsy was hired to care for matriarchal Jessica Holland (Christine Gordon), the invalid and comatose wife of melancholy Paul Holland (Tom Conway), a sugar plantation owner on the West Indies-Caribbean island of St. Sebastian. Jessica’s doctor claims that her catatonic, zombie-like condition (with no will of her own, no speaking, and seemingly lobotomized) is caused by an incurable tropical fever. She slowly begins to fall in love with guilt-ridden Paul, when she learns that Paul and his younger, alcoholic half-brother Wesley Rand (James Ellison) had earlier quarreled over the love of the afflicted woman, and Wesley has an affair with Jessica. Betsy is convinced that she can cure the “living dead” Jessica with a shot of insulin, but the shock treatment fails. She then learns from Jessica’s native maid Alma (Theresa Harris) that a local voodoo priest cured a woman with her condition. Alma draws her a map to the “Home Fort” where a local voodoo ceremony would take place. In an unsettling nighttime scene, Betsy takes her patient, without permission, on a haunting, dream-like walk through billowing cane fields to the ceremony. She passes animal sacrifices along the way. As she goes through a crossroads, there is the abrupt and shocking appearance in the darkness of a huge, eerie, bug-eyed and towering zombie-like guard Carre Four (Darby Jones). A major plot twist occurs next – Betsy enters a shack to consult with the voodoo witch doctor priestess, and discovers it is the mother of the family, Mrs. Rand (Edith Barrett). When Mrs. Rand has discovered that her sons have fought over Jessica, Paul’s wife, and threatened to break up the family, she had put a zombie curse on her. In the conclusion, a shaman used a voodoo doll and magic to cause the death of Jessica. In a trance, Wesley carries her body to the ocean where he drowns. Paul vows to take Betsy away from the island.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "Jane Eyre"

© 1943 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation − All right reserved.

Jane Eyre

D: Robert Stevenson

The first talking version of Charlotte Bronte’s classic 1847 romantic story set in Victorian times. This 40s version faithfully adapted Bronte’s tale with typical Gothic elements, a brooding atmosphere, and Bernard Herrmann’s rich score. The screenplay is based on an adaptation of the novel for Orson Welles’ radio show, The Mercury Theatre on the Air.

Mistreated, unloved orphan girl Jane Eyre (Peggy Ann Garner as 10-year-old, Joan Fontaine as adult) is raised by mean and uncaring aunt Mrs. Reed (Agnes Moorehead) of Gateshead Hall. Arrangements are made for her to attend a boarding school named Lowood Institution, a charitable facility led by the harsh and self-righteous headmaster, Reverend Henry Brocklehurst (Henry Daniell), where she befriends another student named Helen Burns (Elizabeth Taylor in an early uncredited role). At the age of 20, she is hired as the governess for a young girl named Adele (Margaret O’Brien) – the daughter of a wealthy Yorkshire Englishman. The huge mansion set on the bleak-looking moors of Yorkshire is called Thornfield Hall, and is run by housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax (Edith Barrett). Eventually, she meets the darkly moody and hot-tempered owner, Edward Rochester (Orson Welles), and gradually is drawn into the mystery and dark secrets of Thornfield Hall – centering around a mysterious seamstress named Grace Poole (Ethel Griffies) who lives upstairs. Rochester asked for Jane’s hand in marriage. The wedding ceremony is abruptly interrupted when an attorney contested the marriage – Rochester cannot marry because he is still married to crazed, mentally ill Bertha, who is guarded by Grace Poole, which is confirmed by Bertha’s older brother Mason (John Abbott) of Spanish Town, in Jamaica. Jane is forced to depart from Thornfield, but returns after the death of her aunt to discover a burned-down Thornfield mansion. It was set ablaze by Bertha, who then jumped from the roof and died. Edward was left crippled and blind when the interior staircase collapsed on him. Jane remains and begin to establish a relationship with Edward, and they marry. His sight miraculously begins to return after the birth of their son.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp"

© 1943 The Rank Organisation − All right reserved.

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (UK)

D: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger

Powell and Pressburger’s satirical character study was a controversial wartime film that angered Winston Churchill for its portrait of a ‘fuddy-duddy’ 40 year career soldier, in the character of rotund Clive Candy (Roger Livesey). “Colonel Blimp” in the film’s title referred to a 1930s English cartoon character, not a real personage. The Technicolor film that satirized the British military establishment used the name of Sir David Low’s comic strip, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. Although completed in 1943, this film was not released for showing in the US until 1945, because it was banned for export from Britain due to its critical portrayal of staid British patriotism.

The film tells about the reminiscences of staunch, rigid traditional British soldier/officer Clive Candy as he looks back on his life through three wars – the Boer War, World War I, and World War II. He still maintains outdated notions about how to be a gentlemanly soldier and conduct war by following the rules, unable to adapt to the methods and realities of modern warfare. During his life, Candy kept a friendship with his German counterpart – a former German soldier Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff (Anton Walbrook). During his life, dedicated to the king and his country through changing times, he also met and loved three women: Edith Hunter / Barbara Wynne / Johnny Cannon (all played by Deborah Kerr).

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "Madame Curie"

© 1943 Loew’s − All right reserved.

Madame Curie

D: Mervyn LeRoy

This intelligent MGM production was the result of the success of the Best Picture-award winning Mrs. Miniver (1942), in that it again paired Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon (it was their third of eight movies together, after Blossoms in the Dust (1941) and their 1942 film). Aldous Huxley’s screenplay was adapted from the 1937 book Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie, Marie Curie’s daughter.

A dramatic historical film biography of the famous pioneering scientists, the husband and wife team of the Nobel Prize-winning Curies, who discovered radium. It opened in the 1890s with the awkward but endearing love story concerning the famous couple, shy physicist, and avowed bachelor Pierre Curie (Walter Pidgeon) and his brilliant, determined Polish student Marie Sklodowska (Greer Garson). Their working partnership and marriage (to pursue their “common scientific dream”) overcome obstacles and ridicule, and they succeed after a tedious, five-year experimental study in discovering a new and elusive radioactive element, radium. In the tragic conclusion, Pierre is run over by a horse-drawn carriage and dies. Twenty-five years later, continuing-researcher Marie lectured at the Sorbonne, declaring science “the clear light of truth,” and advising her audience to “take the torch of knowledge and build the palace of the future.”

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "The Man in Grey"

© 1943 The Rank Organisation − All right reserved.

The Man in Grey (UK)

D: Leslie Arliss

This was the first of the quintessential Gainsborough Pictures costume melodramas, based upon the novel of the same name by Lady Eleanor Smith, with the themes of jealousy, doomed love, and the elusive search for true love within a three-way love triangle.

The psychological drama is told as a flashback by two strangers who meet and realize that they were related descendants. They remember their families’ sordid history at an English estate auction (of the Rohan family) during WWII. The story reveals the fates of three characters – the first two met as students at a boarding school and established a friendship: (1) the sweet, rich, innocent, and beautiful heiress student Clarissa Marr (Phyllis Calvert), and (2) the unkind Hesther Snow (Margaret Lockwood), a charity case who was mistreated by the headmistress and compelled to run away. Clarissa had a loveless marriage to (3) the handsome but cruel, decadent, and hedonistic “Man in Grey” – nobleman Marquis Lord Rohan (James Mason). Clarissa became only a “brood sow” to produce children for her husband. An impoverished and bitter Hesther went on to become a traveling Shakespearean play actress, and soon schemed to enter the Rohan household as a governess for the Rohan’s young son, while she engaged in an affair with Lord Rohan. At the same time (although away from the country estate), Clarissa had an affair with one of the Shakespearean actors in Hesther’s troupe, a rogue named Peter Rokeby (Stewart Granger), while Hesther plotted to take her place as Rohan’s wife. This was facilitated after Clarissa caught a fever watching Rokeby’s ship depart in the rain, and Hesther insured her death by drugging her and causing her to catch deathly pneumonia. When the truth is revealed to Lord Rohan about his wife’s murder, he goes into a rage and beat his new fiancee Hesther to death.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "The More the Merrier"

© 1943 Columbia Pictures − All right reserved.

The More the Merrier

D: George Stevens

A terrific war-time romantic comedy with excellent performances and an effervescent flair. In Washington DC during WWII, a housing (and single man) shortage developed, and young, prim and proper single working woman Connie Milligan (Jean Arthur) patriotically rents out part of her tiny apartment to an older millionaire gentleman Benjamin Dingle (Charles Coburn). Dingle decides to play Cupid for her, and rents out one-half of his space to a handsome Air Force airplane mechanic on special assignment named Joe Carter (Joel McCrea). In the midst of slapstick complications and humorous situations involving space and privacy, matchmaker Dingle is ultimately able to get the two romantically involved, although Connie insists that she is engaged to her older boss – stuffed-shirt housing bureaucrat chief Charles J. Pendergast (Richard Gaines). The best scene in the film is an apartment front steps kissing scene. Joe amorously embraced Connie – he caresses her, and fondly touched her hands, arms, and shoulders, and although she vainly attempts to ignore his advances, she eventually takes the two sides of his face with her hands and boldly kissed him back – harder. Then, they have their own version of the “Walls of Jericho” bedroom scene (from It Happened One Night (1934)) between their apartment windows.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "The Ox-Bow Incident"

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The Ox-Bow Incident

D: William A. Wellman

A masterful film adapted from the well-known unconventional western tale by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. In a western setting, it superbly portrays the tyranny and lawlessness of mob rule. It is basically a somber morality-play set in the West in the late 1880s, regarding vigilante justice.

Two cowboy drifters, Gil Carter (Henry Fonda) and Art Croft (Henry/Harry Morgan) rode into Bridger’s Wells, a small Nevada cattle town, and quickly become involved in a lynch posse taking the law into its own hands without a fair trial. A local rancher named Larry Kincaid has allegedly been shot and killed during a cattle rustling, and a group quickly form more intent on punishment than on justice. Storekeeper Arthur Davies (Harry Davenport) ineffectually implores that they cautiously not take any extreme actions until the Sheriff Risley (Willard Robertson) is notified about the alleged murder. Judge Daniel Tyler (Matt Briggs) is also powerless. With the Sheriff away, Deputy Sheriff “Butch” Mapes (Dick Rich) deputizes the entire blood-thirsty lynch mob, led by pompous, vocal, and power-hungry Major Tetley (Frank Conroy), an ex-Confederate officer who takes the law into his own hands. Tetley is joined by iron-willed, heartless, cackling, blood-thirsty, robust Jenny “Ma” Grier (Jane Darwell). Each of the vengeful members of the cold-blooded posse-mob are superbly characterized, as the vigilante group rides off.

 They come upon three sleeping men with 50 head of cattle. They capture the men, including stoic, defiant Mexican hired hand Juan Martinez (Anthony Quinn) (identified as a wanted criminal named Francisco Morez) who at first feigns not speaking English, and a senile, feeble-minded old man (Francis Ford, director John Ford’s older brother). The third man is rancher Donald Martin (Dana Andrews) who claims he bought the herd from Kincaid but has no bill of sale. It is assumed he is a cattle rustler. Martinez has Kincaid’s gun, which he said he found on the road. The mob conducts a quick trial of the three innocent men despite only vague circumstantial evidence and pleas for justice and reason. Carter and Croft unsuccessfully attempt to prevent the dawn lynching of the three innocent men for alleged murder and cattle rustling (the vote was 21/28 in favor of hanging). Later, the group meets up with the shocked Sheriff, who has just apprehended the real rustlers, and reveals that Kincaid was only wounded – and that they “caught the fellas who shot him too.” In the film’s epilogue set in the town’s saloon, Carter read the farewell words of Martin in a letter (a strong indictment of vigilante lawlessness) that he had written to his wife before the lynching. A collection is taken for Martin’s widow, and the two drifters promise to deliver the letter.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

The Seventh VictimThe Seventh Victim

D: Mark Robson

Horror master and RKO film producer Val Lewton was responsible for this creepy, doom-laden, noir-ish and Gothic low-budget black and white B-film and the tagline: “SLAVE to SATAN!”

In the enigmatic story, naive, orphaned young private school student Mary Gibson (Kim Hunter in her film debut) learns from convent nuns in her upstate NY Catholic school, Miss Highcliff’s, that her older sister Jacqueline Gibson (Jean Brooks), the owner of La Sagesse, a successful cosmetics factory, has been missing for several months (and therefore not paying Mary’s tuition). During a search in New York’s Greenwich Village, she locates errant Jackie’s NYC apartment (a bare room with a chair and hangman’s noose) above Dante’s (an Italian restaurant), and learns that wealthy New York lawyer Gregory Ward (Hugh Beaumont) who was paying the rent – is her brother-in-law after a secret marriage to Jackie (although it had failed). The film takes a strange turn when Mary and Gregory fall in love with each other. They also meet a mysterious physician and psychiatrist, Dr. Louis Judd (Tom Conway), who had treated Jacqueline for depression. According to him, his pale and fragile patient had become obsessed with death and despair. In truth, Dr. Judd knew her location and was romancing Jacqueline on the side. He belongs to an underground coven of witches, a deadly cult of diabolic Satanic worshippers called The Palladists.

Shockingly, Jackie had given up her business and her soul to the possessed devil cultists. She found herself kidnapped and in their imprisoning grip, and condemned to die if she left the group. They wish to keep her from revealing her association with them by encouraging her to commit suicide (as the 7th departing victim!), or by assassinating her. Fearing for her life, Jacqueline went into hiding.

In the conclusion, she escaped a suspenseful, lethal stalking by an assassin from the cult wielding a switchblade, then briefly made the acquaintance of consumptive and terminally-ill prostitute Mimi (Elizabeth Russell), a neighbor in her bleak rooming house, before entering her own empty apartment (# 7) and hanging herself (offscreen) in the surprise ending. Simultaneously, Mimi stepped out into the street for one last night of laughing and dancing.

 

Poster for the movie "Shadow of a Doubt"

© 1943 Universal Pictures − All right reserved.

Shadow of a Doubt

D: Alfred Hitchcock

One of Alfred Hitchcock’s intensely suspenseful works (and his personal favorite) from a script by Thornton Wilder. Congenial and suave Uncle Charlie Oakley (Joseph Cotten), a devious psychopathic killer who suspects his apprehension by police is imminent, drops out of sight by visiting adoring middle-class relatives in the quiet, small California town of Santa Rosa. At the home of his older sister Emma Newton (Patricia Collinge), Uncle Charlie’s young teenaged niece Charlie (Teresa Wright), named for the uncle she idolizes, is fascinated by his wit, urbane and worldly sophistication – and then she has a “shadow of a doubt” and began to suspect that he is the Merry Widow mass-murderer. As she gets closer to him and learns the truth, she realizes that he is aware of her knowledge and suspicions. She has to decide whether she should reveal her findings to the authorities or protect her family in a tense cat-and-mouse game (he unsuccessfully attempts to kill her twice), that leads to an exciting conclusion, when Uncle Charlie struggles to push Charlie off a moving train, but falls to his own death and into the path of another train.

The film is also enriched by the running dialogue between two mystery buffs, Joseph Newton (Henry Travers) and his brother-in-law Herbie Hawkins (Hume Cronyn in his film debut), who debated about the best techniques to commit the ‘perfect murder.’

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "The Song of Bernadette"

© − All right reserved.

The Song of Bernadette

D: Henry King

A dramatic and reverent film with a religious theme, adapted from a novel by Franz Werfel, retelling a story based upon a real-life event. With this quote in the prologue: “For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation will suffice.”

The title character was a young 19th century illiterate, simple-minded, asthmatic French peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous (Jennifer Jones (aka Phyllis Isley), in her first starring role for which she won the Best Actress Academy Award). She attends a convent school run by severe and devout Sister Marie Therese (Gladys Cooper). In 1858, Bernadette has a glowing, rapturous and bright vision of a beautiful lady, declared the Virgin Mary (Linda Darnell), at a grotto at Lourdes. The lady asks her to return 15 days in succession. The film centers around all the various reactions, mostly skepticism, blasphemy, criticism, and ridicule, although there were some early believers.

A spring with waters to heal the sick and disabled appears suddenly and inexplicably at the site of her miraculous vision where she was instructed to dig. Town elder and wicked Imperial Prosecutor Vital Dutour (Vincent Price) thinks she is fraudulent and wants her to be committed to an asylum. Faithful Bernadette steadfastly refuses to recant her story. The discovery of the healing waters in the holy grotto helped many to believe in the naive girl’s vision. Believing pilgrims flock to the healing spring to bathe in its Holy Water, at first prohibited by town politicians such as mayor of Lourdes (Aubrey Mather), and then hypocritically encouraged. Ultimately, Bernadette is accepted into a convent as Sister Marie Bernard, and canonized in 1933, as she became mortally ill and had a deathbed vision of the lady.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Poster for the movie "Watch on the Rhine"

© 1943 Warner Bros. − All right reserved.

Watch on the Rhine

D: Herman Shumlin

Based on Lillian Hellman’s Broadway play, but scripted by Dashiell Hammett, one of the best and well-made of all the anti-Nazi films of the war years. The propagandistic, anti-isolationist film expresses the dangers and evils of Fascist thought.

German-born engineer Kurt Muller (Paul Lukas who won a Best Actor award, defeating Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca (1942)), a European Resistance underground leader, is forced to flee from Nazi Germany just prior to Pearl Harbor in order to find safe refuge in America. After 18 years in Europe, he and his American-born wife Sara (Bette Davis) and their three young children cross the border from Mexico, and moved in with her mother Fanny Farrelly (Lucile Watson), widow of a Supreme Court Justice, and brother in Washington D.C. Refusing to remain silent, he explains to them the true nature and threat of the Nazis (and to the American public in a bit of propagandizing). Muller is confronted with the threat of being betrayed or blackmailed to Gestapo Third Reich agents (in the German Embassy) by other boarders in the home, especially treacherous blackmailing spy Teck de Brancovis (George Coulouris), an exiled Rumanian count and Teck’s American wife Marthe (Geraldine Fitzgerald), one of the Farrelly daughters.

Teck suspects that Kurt is a leader of the anti-Nazi underground after snooping in his locked briefcase. During a confrontation, Kurt cold-bloodedly shoots Teck dead, and then explains to Sara that it was a justifiable homicide before fleeing. In the conclusion, the oldest Muller son is already planning to return to Europe to fight Nazis with his father.

Learn more and watch the trailer here.

 

Did your favorite film make our list of the greatest films of 1943?

 

 

Greatest Films from 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934 | 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939

1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943 | 1944 | 1945 | 1946 |1947 | 1948 | 1949