75 Years Ago...

When you’re a classic movie fan, there’s one bit of common knowledge that is universally accepted: 1939 was a best year for movies.  There’s a lot to be said for that year.  Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Mr. Smith goes to Washington, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Wuthering Heights, and so many others.

But it’s also generally accepted that the best movie of all time came out a couple of years later in 1941.  And that’s Citizen Kane.  It’s a masterpiece of storytelling.  It changes time periods and perspectives, is amazingly acted and directed, and is just overall fascinating as we watch a man go from ambitious and somewhat noble ideals to a prisoner of his success and his eventual downfall.  It’s a must-see for any movie fan, even a casual one.

In fact, 1941 produced numerous outstanding films.  Almost every genre of movies has a title that’s considered a classic.  Among my favorites are the romantic comedies Ball of Fire and The Lady Eve, both starring Barbara Stanwyck.  But there’s also Sergeant York, one that touches my heart in its depiction of mountain people in the early 20th century.  Rather than being stereotypical, uninformed yokels, they are intelligent people who understand the complexities of the outside world.  Meet John Doe shows us the importance of community and helping others.  The Maltese Falcon is a story of how greed and deceit can be the downfall of a person.  Even Dumbo is more than a simple cartoon, but a story of the absolute love of a mother and child.

To see some of the best of 1941, check out the list below.  And enjoy classic films celebrating their 75th anniversary.

Comedy & Romantic Comedy

Ball of Fire (Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper)
The Bride Came C.O.D. (Bette Davis, James Cagney)
The Devil and Daniel Webster (Edward Arnold, Walter Huston)
The Devil and Miss Jones (Jean Arthur, Robert Cummings, Charles Coburn)
The Lady Eve (Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda)
Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (W.C. Fields)
Road to Zanzibar (Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour)
Sullivan’s Travels (Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake)


Blood and Sand (Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell)
Blossoms in the Dust (Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon)
Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten)
How Green was My Valley (Roddy McDowall, Maureen O’Hara, Walter Pidgeon)
The Little Foxes (Bette Davis, Teresa Wright, Herbert Marshall)
Meet John Doe (Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper)

Historical & Western

The Flame of New Orleans
(Marlene Dietrich, Bruce Cabot)
Sergeant York (Gary Cooper, Joan Leslie, Margaret Wycherley, Walter Brennan)
That Hamilton Woman (Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier)
They Died with Their Boots On (Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland)


The Black Cat (Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner)
The Wolf Man (Lon Chaney, Jr., Claude Rains)

Musical & Family

Babes on Broadway (Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney)
The Big Store (The Marx Brothers)
Dumbo (Walt Disney animated classic)
Moon Over Miami (Betty Grable, Don Ameche, Robert Cummings)
That Night in Rio (Alice Faye, Don Ameche, Carmen Miranda)


49th Parallel (Leslie Howard, Laurence Olivier)
High Sierra (Humphrey Bogart, Ida Lupino)
The Maltese Falcon (Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet)
Shadow of the Thin Man (William Powell, Myrna Loy)
Suspicion (Joan Fontaine, Cary Grant)