100 Favorite Films To Recommend Part 3: The 1940s

Luis A. Mendez

Luis A. Mendez

Published Author Of Both Fiction And Non-Fiction - Dealing In Fantastical Tales, Film Criticism, And US/UK Psephology

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18 Responses

  1. Any list featuring both Meet Me In St. Louis and In the Good Old Summertime is an excellent list! Movies like Casablanca are always getting (deserved) praise but those are both very excellent movies of a type we don’t make much any more – sweet and heartwarming, but still high quality. A modern “good” movie is much more likely to feature negativity and cynicism.

    One of the things I think about sometimes is how movies like Meet Me In St. Louis made in the 40’s is really the equivalent of us watching a movie made today about the 1970’s. The turn of the century feels like ancient history but in the 40’s was still fresh in many people’s recent memory.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kristin Devine says:

      1890s/1900s nostalgia served as a similar thing to 1950s to 1964 nostalgia in the early 21st century, it was a reminder of a more innocent but at the same elegant and sophisticated time.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I find it interesting that American Graffiti, a nostalgic look back at 1962, was made in 1972. It tells you how fast the country was changing.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Pinky says:

          That 70’s Show was surprisingly good, for being nostalgic.

          That 80’s Show? I saw one commercial for it and after the commercial was done, I was left thinking “those were the gags they used to advertise the show?”

          Stranger Things did a great job capturing 80’s nostalgia (but it took until the teens to do it).

          I’m wondering when we’ll get some 90’s nostalgia. Flannel! “Thanks for the Michael Jackson cd, gramma!” (Aside to little brother “I’m going to trade it in for Nirvana!”) Hudson Hawk!

          We had 60’s nostalgia in the 70’s. 70’s nostalgia in the 90’s. 80’s nostalgia in the teens… Oh, we’re not going to see 90’s nostalgia until the 30’s, are we?Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

            During the 1930 and 1940s, there were lots of memoirs written by people that fondly remembered the world before the World War I. Besides the World of Yesterday by Stephan Zweig, there was also Larkrise to Candleford, the Little House books in some ways, and bunch of others written by ordinary people. I think a longing for an allegedly simpler time is a human trait in times of strife and conflict.

            One thing that I think is kind of odd is that while we have some, we don’t have that many baby boomers writing nostalgic memoirs of what their childhood and young adult life was like during the 1950s and 1960s. Part of this is because now nostalgia is done on other media than books. We also have more people able and willing to call out the bullshit as they see it in any said memoirs than existed in the 1930s and 1940s.

            An unexamined factor though might be that the typical late 19th/early 20th century nostalgic memoir required one’s young adulthood to be a pleasant time to enjoy what one observed as a kid. So a person writing about what it was like to be a kid in the 1880s and 1890s, would experience some of that as a young adult from the 1900 to 1914 period. That isn’t really possible for people that enjoyed a prosperous suburban childhood in the 1950s. There were too many social changes across the world during their young adult period for them to really get that nostalgia right, so they have to limit it to their teenage years at latest.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

              Happy Days, Wonder Years, and Quantum Leap were all peak Boomer nostalgia… and that got me wondering and, yay, Wikipedia has a couple of pages dedicated to shows set in the 60’s and 70’s.

              And I don’t know that I’ve heard of 95% of them. (Mad Men. That’s the big one we’re forgetting.)

              It seems like a huge untapped market, though. Heck, make it a drama if you want to explore the seedy stuff. Make it a sitcom if you want to go full-on rose-tinted. Just something as simple as playing music off of the Top 40 (but the more obscure Top 40 ones… like, the non-Top 10 songs) and get a bunch of people to yell “OH MY GOSH! ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK!”

              They’re leaving money on the table.Report

          • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Jaybird says:

            There are at least two 90’s comedies on ABC right now, but let’s list the comedy shows in sequence first:

            The Kids Are Alright, Catholic family in the 70s living in LA;
            Goldbergs, Jewish family in the 80s living in Philly;
            Schooled, Spinoff of Goldbergs secondary characters in the 90s;
            Fresh Off the Boat, Chinese family in Orlando in the 90s.

            (Honorable mention: Modern Family and the Connors, both feel (or in the former’s case “felt”) like they’re set in the not too distant past, an optimistic and a pessimistic take, but not feeling current)Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

            Stranger Things did a great job capturing 80’s nostalgia (but it took until the teens to do it).

            That’s because all the people who’d have been making shows in the early-2000s about “that great time we had twenty years ago” remembered That Time Twenty Years Ago as “atom war, acid rain, and AIDS”. Ten years later they’d aged-out of the creative-management seats and people without that baggage were in charge, so now the 80s are cool.

            The same sort of thing will happen with the teens, in fact, it won’t be until about 2040 before the people in charge of this stuff are too young to have been Utterly Terrified Of Donald Trump.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Pinky says:

          In terms of practically everything. Music that would seem fresh, new, exciting, and dangerous in the late 1950s and early 1960s was tame, lame, old-fashioned, and even kind of innocent by 1960s and early 1970s. The Outsiders, although a lot less positive than American Graffiti, was nostalgic book about early 1960s teens written in 1969. There were some intense social changes during the mid to late 1960s and a lot of reaction against them ever since. In many ways, we are still dealign with a long backlash against the social changes of the 1960s.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I would add the Third ManReport

  3. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I want to add Mrs. Miniver as a great WWII home front movie.Report

  4. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    This list should also include the Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and Heaven Can Wait.Report

  5. Avatar Pinky says:

    Casablanca is arguably the most perfectly balanced script ever written. I mention that because I don’t think Renault steals the show any more than any other character. Everyone is fully realized, from Rick to the couple trying to figure out what watch. You couldn’t have that much patriotism without the cynicism, or such a genuine love without loss. It’s a masterpiece of intelligent script-writing, and it just happens to be beautifully cast, acted, filmed, and scored.Report

  6. For 1941, I’d nominate The Maltese Falcon, one of the greatest noir films ever made. Also one of the most faithful to its source material.Report

  1. May 4, 2020

    […] into the culture, a decade in which my favorite films tended to be tales of horror. In the 1940s, it went to war and became a fabric of Americana itself, a decade in which my favorite films tended […]Report

  2. May 25, 2020

    […] the 1980s. If you haven’t yet please do read my similar lists for the 1920s, the 1930s, the 1940s, the 1950s, the 1960s. and the 1970s. The goal of this series is to hopefully help others discover […]Report

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