A Century of FilmScreen Shot 2021-01-23 at 2.28.05 PM

Film History


Filmmaking had supposedly peaked in 1939 just as the war arrived to greatly limit (outside of America, film production was massively down) and influence it (in America, War films took the forefront).  After the war concluded, came the two lawsuits that changed the way of films in America.  First came de Havilland vs. Warner Bros. Pictures which altered the notion of what a studio could put in a contract.  Second came United States vs. Paramount Pictures which meant that production studios would have to sell off their theater chains.  The first hastened the end of the way films were made in the Studio Era while the second altered how they were distributed and brought an to the end to the concept of the “majors” as they had been known.

The end of the war meant the arrival of massive amounts of foreign films.  In the Nighthawk Awards, which run on when films played in L.A. rather than when they were initially released, Foreign films reach a nadir of 1.86% of the films I’ve seen in 1944 and rise to 19.28% by 1949 (and that doesn’t even account for the rise of British films).  Likewise, the lawsuits meant that majors were making fewer films and things started to open up for independent distributors.

Awards started to bloom, beginning during the war with the arrival of the Golden Globes and after the war when the BAFTA Awards began followed soon after by the first two (and still the two biggest) guild awards, the DGA and the WGA.


Though the statistics are down below in that section, there are some things to be said here about various genres in the 1940s.  I discuss the genres in ascending order of quantity.

  • Drama:  720
  • Comedy:  560
  • Western:  367
  • Musical:  348
  • Mystery:  246
  • Crime:  217
  • Suspense:  155
  • War:  137
  • Adventure:  117
  • Horror:  63
  • Kids:  48
  • Fantasy:  29
  • Action:  26
  • Sci-Fi:  6
  • Action / Sci-Fi / Fantasy
    Almost non-existent, combining for just over 2% of the films in the decade.  Sci-Fi doesn’t have a film above *** and the only Action film above *** is Sanshiro Sugata which isn’t awards eligible until 1974.  Fantasy does have two great films and three very good ones but it’s telling that three of those five are French and one is British (Stairway to Heaven) leaving just The Devil and Daniel Webster from Hollywood.  No major made more than four and several have just one each.
  • Kids
    It’s not all Disney (just 12 of 51 films) but those are by far the best, averaging almost an 81 while the other Kids films average a 57.  Miracle on 34th Street is the only Kids film in the Top 10 not made by Disney.  Almost half of the non-Disney films are Animal films including three different dog series (Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Rusty) and a horse series (Flicka).
  • Horror
    This is often thought of as a lost decade for Horror, but it’s actually got more films and a higher percentage of total films than in the 30s.  The films are, however, terrible, with a 10 point drop-off from the 30s (after a 13 point drop-off from the 20s).  The Body Snatcher is the only film above ***.  Universal dominates (no surprise), accounting for 41% of the films while several studios have no more than two and UA has none.  Half the films are either Mad Scientist or some form of Monster.
  • Adventure
    They are slightly more plentiful than in the 30s but significantly worse (six points lower on average).  There are Swashbuckler films galore and Tarzan is still going while Bomba and Jungle Jim start at the end of the decade (using former Tarzan stars).  But a small Animated film that barely got released at all (Crab with the Golden Claws) is the only film above ***.  Every studio has at least six.
  • War
    Over three times as many War films as in the 30s.  Though every major has at least five, it’s actually Artkino, releasing the slew of Soviet films about WWII that has the most (20).  Dominated by World War II films (all but 10 in the decade), though ironically two of the three **** films aren’t World War II films (Ivan the Terrible Part I, For Whom the Bell Tolls) making In Which We Serve the clear winner of World War II films made during the war.  They drop four points from the decade before but are again the best genre by average rating (63.20).  They dominate during the war (99 of 137 films land in the US from 1942 to 1946) but then quickly drop off with many of the films in the last three years being foreign imports.
  • Suspense
    We get more Spy films, some World War II Suspense films and the start of Graham Green adaptations.  Hitchcock continues to dominate, directing 6 of the 17 films above ***.  All the majors get into it, with every one having at least nine films in the decade and RKO making a whopping 27.  Suspense goes from the 10th most films in the 40s to the 7th most in the 30s.
  • Crime
    Though still in 6th place, up significantly in total films.  Down three points in quality.  Dipped significantly during the war and then ramped things up at the end with more films in each year from 47-49 than in 43-45 combined.  Only two great films (It Always Rains on Sunday, Force of Evil) with a handful of very good ones.  Gangster films are way down but several series are running (Lone Wolf, Crime Doctor, Boston Blackie), all of which are Columbia, giving the studio a massive 45 films.  Universal and Warners are both also over 20 while UA barely has any.
  • Mystery
    Paramount, UA and Warners had fewer because they didn’t have series but most of the majors, as well as Monogram, actually had multiple detectives going in the decade.  Fox, Universal, Columbia, Monogram and RKO all had at least 28 films with all but Fox with at least 33.  Of course, most of those were mediocre which is why the total genre clocks in at 55 for an average.  But there were lots of them with at least 20 in every year except 1943 (which still had 15).  Only four films reach **** but all four are among the Top 20 for the decade.
  • Musicals
    Up slightly in quantity but down in percentage and drops a spot in ranking.  There’s never a year with fewer than 29 films.  Unfortunately, quality doesn’t follow on with that, with only one great film (Yankee Doodle Dandy) and one very good one (Anchors Aweigh).  All the majors have at least 15 but Fox (46), Universal (58) and MGM (60) are the really big ones.
  • Westerns
    Actually slightly worse than in the 30s but not the worst genre thanks to Action, even if it’s barely getting above ** on average (50.74).  Another genre that dips during the war (51 from 42-44) and booms afterwards (from 45 on the numbers are 42, 36, 52, 49).  Accounts for 12% of the films, a massive number for non-Drama / Comedy / Musical.  Columbia has a massive amount thanks to the Durango Kid with 66 films (and I haven’t even been able to see them all).  All the majors make at least a dozen but the numbers are so high because of the Poverty Row studios, including Monogram 16), PRC (26), and of course, Republic (67), most of which are either Musicals with Roy Rogers or Gene Autry and they are terrible.  There are just three great films (Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Ox-Bow Incident, Red River) and two very good ones (My Darling Clementine, Fort Apache).  John Ford makes 5 Westerns and they average 76.2.  He makes less than 1/70th of the Westerns in the decade but without his films, the average drops a whole half-point.
  • Comedies
    They drop almost a full-point down to 58.32.  It peaks early; there are 13 **** films but only one (Kind Hearts and Coronets) is after 1944.  The Comedy awards sink because from 1945 to 1949 there are only four eligible films that even reach ***.5.  Preston Sturges dominates with 5 of the top 8 films in the decade.  The best Comedies are either Screwball or Satire but the decade is filled to the brim with relentlessly mediocre series films (Blondie, Bowery Boys, Spitfire, Maisie) or Abbott & Costello films (24 as opposed to the 15 of four other comedy teams combined).  All of the majors have at least 39 films and several of them have 60 or more.  The total number is actually significantly down from the 30s (93 fewer films) but Comedy has the most films in 1941 (by a lot), 1942 and 1943.
  • Dramas
    Even though the films for the decade as a whole go down by only 3/4 of a point, Drama is the only genre to go up, going up by almost three points to 62.61.  The total number of films is way down (by over 350) and the percentage of total films drops by a full 1/3 with several years failing to even reach 20% and for three years in the middle of the war (41-43) not even being the most plentiful genre.  That’s because of Poverty Row; the three primary PR studios (Republic, Monogram, PRC) account for 13% of all films but just 4% of the Dramas.

The Best Films by Genre, 1940-1949

  • Action:  Sanshiro Sugata
  • Adventure:  Crab with the Golden Claws
  • Comedy:  Sullivan’s Travels
  • Crime:  It Always Rains on Sunday
  • Drama:  Children of Paradise
  • Fantasy:  La belle et la bete
  • Horror:  The Body Snatcher
  • Kids:  Fantasia
  • Musical:  Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • Mystery:  The Maltese Falcon
  • Sci-Fi:  n/a
  • Suspense:  Stray Dog
  • War:  In Which We Serve
  • Western:  Treasure of the Sierra Madre

The Worst Films by Genre, 1940-1949

  • Action:  Woman in the Night
  • Adventure:  Jungle Goddess
  • Comedy:  Riverboat Rhythm
  • Crime:  I Accuse My Parents
  • Drama:  Samurai
  • Fantasy:  Queen of the Amazons
  • Horror:  King of the Zombies
  • Kids:  Danny Boy
  • Musical:  My Favorite Spy
  • Mystery:  Scared to Death
  • Sci-Fi:  The Monster and the Girl
  • Suspense:  One Body Too Many
  • War:  Women in Bondage
  • Western:  Last of the Wild Horses
note:  n/a means no film better than ***.5 or worse than **


We add some sub-genres that hadn’t come up before (Animal, Animated, Broadway Adaptation) but we also see some drop off that just don’t have very many in the 40s (Courtroom, Prison, Vampire).  Swashbuckler also returns which is interesting since I think a lot of people identify that with Errol Flynn in the 30s but there were a lot fewer in the 30s than in the 20s or 40s.  Of course, WWI drops off (just four films) while WWII films become very big (over 90% of all the War films I’ve seen in the decade).


  • Best Film:  National Velvet

18 films with some getting their own sub-sub-genres (Flicka, Lassie, Rusty).  They are decidedly not good with an average of 53.1 with the Lassie films being significantly better than most of the others (5 films, 63.4).


  • Best Film:  Fantasia

Mostly (11 films, 80.2) Disney but not all with a total of 18 films with a 72.2 average including the first Anime film on the list (Momotaro, Sacred Sailors) and the first Tintin film (the stop-motion Crab with the Golden Claws).


  • Best Film:  The First Front

This sub-genre sprung up with films that tell multiple short stories in the course of a film.  They cross genres with Drama, Horror, Fantasy and Musical all appearing for a total of 6 films with an average of 67.3.


  • Best Film:  Yankee Doodle Dandy

The only other film aside from Yankee that is even very good is Monsieur Vincent.  No other film ranks above a 68.  There are several sub-sub-genres with Musician (19, 62.2), Politician (3, 55.3), Religious (8, 58.0), Scientist (5, 64.0) and Writer (5, 59.4) with a lot of uncategorized ones for a total of 51 films with an average of 61.3.  I guess the Artist Biopics really don’t pick up until the 50s.

Broadway Adaptation

  • Best Film:  Higher and Higher

Not a great era for Broadway Adaptations but I’m not a big fan of Rodgers and Hammerstein (one film) or Rodgers and Hart (three films) or the other four I list.  Total of 8 Musicals with an average of 62.1.


  • Best Film:  Miracle on 34th Street

I don’t actually classify It’s a Wonderful Life this way so we have six films with an average of 64.8 and one song that’s been played about 64.8 billion times.


  • Best Film:  3 Godfathers

These are films that are Comedies but aren’t primarily Comedies, so Westerns, Horror, Crime, Mystery, but mostly Westerns and Mystery.  A total of 43 films with an average of 52.9.

h&cComedy Team

  • Best Film:  Road to Morocco

There are three primary Comedy Teams functioning in this decade with three final Marx Brothers films (55.3) and the first Martin & Lewis film (54).  Aside from that we have the solid Hope & Crosby Road films (5, 71.6), decent but fading Laurel & Hardy films (6, 63.2) and the team that starts solid but descends into crap by decade’s end with a whopping 24 Abbott & Costello films (59.2).  All told, that’s 39 films, 61.0 average.

Comic Strip

  • Best Film:  Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome

There are four Dick Tracy films and a L’il Abner film.  They’re pretty bad.


  • Best Film:  Stray Dog

These are mostly Mystery or Suspense when in later decades they will be much more Action films.  Stray Dog is the best by 21 points (over Green for Danger).  20 films, 57.4.


  • Best Film:  Letter from an Unknown Woman

These are basically period pieces that aren’t already classified (usually as Lit Adaptations or Romance) that I remember to designate as Costume Dramas.  9 films, 70.3.


  • Best Film:  Take My Life

9 films, 58.2.  For the most part, weak Dramas in this decade.


  • Best Film:  Fort Apache

I don’t like the term “Indian” but that’s what these films are generally referred to as.  The 9 films with an average of 57.4 would be a lot worse if not for Ford’s Cavalry Trilogy.


  • Best Film:  The Maltese Falcon

A lot of films (98) and they’re not good (55.6) with Bogart’s two turns in Hammett adaptations not only the only **** films but also the only ones above a 70.  There are numerous sub-sub-genres from small (five or fewer for Bulldog Drummond, Ellery Queen, Hammett, Marlowe, Nick Carter, the Saint, the Shadow, Mike Shayne, Philo Vance, Mr. Wong) to large with the Falcon (16, 52.0), Sherlock Holmes (12, 65.3) and Charlie Chan (22, 51.0).

Franchise (Tarzan)

  • Best Film:  Tarzan’s New York Adventure

I’ve started the Franchise tag to sweep up large franchises that work differently than old series used to, to cover things that move between studios a lot and to get rid of smaller sub-genres and group them together (Star Wars, Star Trek, James Bond, etc).  While there are lots of series films below, this is the only franchise in the decade with 9 films, 58.6 average.


  • Best Film:  High Sierra

The sub-genre drops off significantly with only 12 films, 58.6 average.  That gives an idea how bad most of them are when the average is the same as the Tarzan films even though High Sierra and White Heat are much better than any of the Tarzan films.


  • Best Film:  Ivan the Terrible Part I

I have started four sub-sub-genres in this sub-genre though three of them only have one film each in this decade (British Crown, French Crown, Russia) while the US Presidency has two (including The Magnificent Doll, the worst Historical film of the decade).  In total, 24 films, 62.0 average.

Lit Adaptation

  • Best Film:  The Third Man

A lot of writers are specifically identified in this decade (28) but lots of them only have one and only three writers have more than three films (Graham Greene with 6 (80.7) and Maugham (58.0) and Steinbeck (73.5) with four each).  Three of the Top 10 films in the decade can be found in this sub-genre.  The overall total is 67 films for a 68.6 average.

Mad Scientist

  • Best Film:  The Devil Bat

13 films, 50.7 average.  Getting less frequent but a common (but bad) Horror sub-genre.


  • Best Film:  The Wolf Man

The Abbott & Costello meet films are in Comedy Team but we still have four Mummy films, four Werewolf films, three Frankenstein films, a Jekyll film and five others for a total of 17 films, 58.4 average.


  • Best Film:  Blue Bird

Appropriately, almost all of the films are Westerns but not the best because they’re mostly awful Roy Rogers and Gene Autry films.  The vast majority of the 68 films are from Republic Pictures and overall they have an awful average (47.7).


  • Best Film:  The Barber of Seville

All seven films are foreign, mostly Italian and I generally glaze over and give it a 63 (lowest ***).

Play Adaptation

  • Best Film:  Brief Encounter

Writers identified are lead by Noel Coward (five films, 74.4) but also Kaufman, Miller (the first film adaptation of a Miller play), O’Neill, Shaw and Wilde.  21 films, 70.0.


  • Best Film:  Day of Wrath

The range is wide for what I consider.  8 films, 68.4.


  • Best Film:  L’Atalante

76 films, 62.4.  After the three truly great films (Casablanca, La belle et la bête, Stairway to Heaven) there’s a big drop-off.


  • Best Film:  The Shop Around the Corner

142 films, 60.2.  Most are mediocre with only one great film.


  • Best Film:  The Great Dictator

Chaplin might have the best film but thanks to Preston Sturges the 8 films with an average of 82.8 is very very good.


  • Best Film:  The Philadelphia Story

Mostly disappears after 1941 but there are still 18 total films with a 75.6 average thanks also to His Girl Friday and The Lady Eve.

Mickey Rooney


  • Best Film:  Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever

I list 23 different series here.  Some are small because they’re hard to find (Henry Aldrich) or just starting at the end of the decade (Bomba, Jungle Jim, Kettle) but several are very prolific with 23 Blondie films, 15 Bowery Boys films (after 5 as the Dead End Kids and 4 as the East Side Kids), 36 Durango Kid films and 24 Hopalong Cassidy films.  In total, I’ve now suffered through 223 of these films which have a 48.9 average.  The only films that even reach *** are the Andy Hardy films and a few Dr. Kildare films because they’re both MGM series and MGM put more money and talent into them.


  • Best Film:  The Lost Weekend

By the end of the decade, we would start to get the really bad Social Dramas meant to teach kids, films like Bad Boy, Delinquent Daughters and She Shoulda Said No which is why a sub-genre with Lost Weekend, Germany Year Zero, Gentleman’s Agreement and Drunken Angel and several very good films has an average of only 65.0 among 25 films.


  • Best Film:  Champion

This includes several Sports Biopics (which I make a sub-sub-genre of Sports rather than Biopic) and one Sports True Story.  After Champion, Pride of the Yankees, The Set-Up and Body and Soul things drop off very quickly so 25 films have a pretty weak 53.7 average.


  • Best Film:  Foreign Correspondent

21 films, 58.4 average and most of them are forgettable.


  • Best Film:  The Thief of Baghdad

This includes four Dumas films, two Robin Hood films and two Zorro films.  21 films, 56.5.

World War II

  • Best Film:  The Best Years of Our Lives

As you can see from the top film, this includes both War films and Dramas in which the war makes a major impact.  There were a lot of films made during the war.  I have 24 films from 1942, 43 from 1943, 33 from 1944 and 23 from 1945.  They drop off significantly after that but don’t go away.  178 films, 62.6.

The Directors

Hitch, Fontaine, OlivierOnce again, this is not a list of the most prolific directors of the decade, it’s a list of the most important.  I’ve seen 22 films directed in the decade by Lloyd Bacon, only two of which rise above mid ***.  He did a lot of work, but in the scope of film history, not much important work.  And this is based off their work and my estimation of it.  For what, say, the Oscars thought of a director, go down to the Oscars section.

Alfred Hitchcock

  • Films:  12
  • Average Film:  78.2
  • Best Film:  Rebecca
  • Worst Film:  Under Capricorn

Hitchcock’s average is hurt by one bad and one mediocre film (The Paradine Case) but he won Best Picture (though not Director) and earned two other nominations (including his first of three noms without a Picture nom).  And that’s with two of his best films (Notorious, Shadow of a Doubt) being mostly overlooked by the Academy.

David Lean

  • Films:  7
  • Average Film:  87.0
  • Best Film:  Great Expectations
  • Worst Film:  The Passionate Friends

Only seven films but all are at least high *** or better and he earns his first Oscar nomination (and multiple Nighthawk noms).

Howard Hawks

  • Films:  9
  • Average Film:  81.2
  • Best Film:  The Big Sleep
  • Worst Film:  A Song is Born

Hawks earned an Oscar nomination for one of his weakest films in the decade (Sergeant York) but three of his best films earned a total of zero nominations (The Big Sleep, His Girl Friday, To Have and Have Not).

Preston Sturges

  • Films:  11
  • Average Film:  81.0
  • Best Film:  Sullivan’s Travels
  • Worst Film:  The Great Moment

If not for his weak Drama, this average would be a magnificent 83.9.  Sturges had the best scripts, which he wrote himself and the comedy was delightful.  Very few directors have a peak like Sturges did from 1940-1944.

Orson Welles

  • Films:  5
  • Average Film:  85.8
  • Best Film:  Citizen Kane
  • Worst Film:  The Lady from Shanghai

Only five films but two are great two are very good and the final one is a 75.

William Wyler

  • Films:  6
  • Average Film:  85.3
  • Best Film:  The Best Years of Our Lives
  • Worst Film:  The Westerner

Just six films but four of them are great, he won two Oscars and his six films earned a massive 18 Oscars and a staggering 47 nominations with every one of them earning at least three noms.  While Ford (see below) won back-to-back Oscars he made multiple films in between while Wyler, thanks to the war, went four years between films but won Oscars for consecutive films, something that wouldn’t be repeated for 70 years.

John Ford

  • Films:  10
  • Average Film:  77.3
  • Best Film:  The Grapes of Wrath
  • Worst Film:  Tobacco Road

Ford won back-to-back Oscars in 1940 and 1941 and then ended the decade with his Cavalry Trilogy.  Tobacco Road is the only film he made that’s not at least high ***.

Best Director  (weighted points system)

  1. Alfred Hitchcock  (436)
  2. David Lean  (358)
  3. Howard Hawks  (335)
  4. Preston Sturges  (324)
  5. Orson Welles  (313)
  6. William Wyler  (301)
  7. John Ford  (277)
  8. Michael Powell  (267)
  9. John Huston  (233)
  10. Akira Kurosawa  (224)

Analysis:  This adds up points on a weighted scale (100-1) based on a weighted version of my 9 point director scale.  This is different than the usual list here for the genres or studios because it’s based on the pure directing points rather than the scaled list for how they finish at the Nighthawk Awards.  It is cumulative for all films made by that director in the decade, no matter when they got OE releases.

Top 10 Most Prolific Directors

  1. Sam Newfield  (36, 44.9)
  2. Lesley Selander  (30, 46.2)
  3. Lew Landers  (28, 50.4)
  4. William Berke  (28, 47.7)
  5. Frank McDonald  (28, 45.6)
  6. Richard Thorpe  (25, 59.0)
  7. William Beaudine  (24, 46.8)
  8. Edward Dmytryk  (23, 58.5)
  9. S. Sylvan Simon  (23, 54.0)
  10. Leslie Goodwins  (23, 49.9)

note:  I should note Raoul Walsh who only directed 22 films that I’ve seen but they average a much better 66.0 and Michael Curtiz averaged a 69.6 with 21 films.

The Stars

Casablanca-e1385658462225-1024x640Ingrid Bergman

Really good at the Oscars (4 noms, 1 win) and even better at the Nighthawks (6 noms, 2 wins), she was also the most beautiful actress of the decade.  The most acting points in the decade, male or female.
Essential Viewing:  Gaslight, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Casablanca, Notorious

Humphrey Bogart

Yes, he was short and yes, he wasn’t particularly handsome.  But no one exuded cool the way that Bogie did in this decade, playing two of the greatest detectives, the perfect cynic who’s a failed romantic and the most obsessed that no one will put something over on him.  He, appallingly, only earned one Oscar nom in the decade.  However, he wins two Nighthawk awards and earns four other nominations.
Essential Viewing:  The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep

Cary Grant

Only two Oscar noms in the decade and both for weaker performances.  He wins a Nighthawk in Supporting Actor and then two other Nighthawk noms aside from a myriad of good but lesser performances that earn him points.
Essential Viewing:  The Petrified Forest, Pygmalion, Berkeley Square, A Free Soul

Bette Davis

Only four Oscar nominations and she didn’t win one.  She managed six Nighthawk nominations although she still didn’t win one of those either.  But her three brilliant performances at the beginning of the decade are close to iconic (beyond close when the cigarette is lit for her).
Essential Viewing:  The Letter, The Little Foxes, Now Voyager, Mr. Skeffington

Claude Rains

The consummate supporting player, suave and untrustworthy all at the same time.  He played suicidal men, Nazis, Nazi collaborators and even an angel.  He somehow didn’t win an Oscar (in spite of three nominations) but he wins two Nighthawks and earns four other nominations and even wins the Comedy / Musical Globe in 1943 for his performance as the Phantom.
Essential Viewing:  Casablanca, Notorious, Kings Row, Here Comes Mr. Jordan

Best Actress  (weighted points system)

  1. Ingrid Bergman  (399)
  2. Bette Davis  (297)
  3. Olivia de Havilland  (245)
  4. Teresa Wright  (242)
  5. Barbara Stanwyck  (236)
  6. Deborah Kerr  (200)
  7. Greer Garson  (173)
  8. Joan Fontaine  (157)
  9. Katharine Hepburn  (149)
  10. Rosalind Russell  (148)

Analysis:  This adds up points on a weighted scale (78-1) based on a weighted version of my 9 point acting scale.  It is cumulative for all films made by that actress through 1929.

Best Actor  (weighted points system)

  1. Humphrey Bogart  (383)
  2. Cary Grant  (356)
  3. Claude Rains  (311)
  4. Laurence Olivier  (284)
  5. James Stewart  (278)
  6. Henry Fonda  (235)
  7. Gregory Peck  (201)
  8. Walter Huston  (193)
  9. Orson Welles  (183)
  10. Kirk Douglas  (158)

Analysis:  This adds up points on a weighted scale (78-1) based on a weighted version of my 9 point acting scale.  It is cumulative for all films made by that actor through 1929.

The Worst Actor of the 1940s

Robert Taylor

How did he ever become a star?  He wasn’t all that good looking and he was an absolutely dreadful actor.  He was married to one of the best actresses of the decade (Barbara Stanwyck).  He was even a rabid anti-Communist.  In Conspirator, released in 1949, in his late 30s and looking much older, he creepily was paired with 16 year old Elizabeth Taylor (no relation).

The Studios

See below for specific statistics about the studios.  There are a lots in the Statistics section but there is also some significant information in the Academy Awards section.

I will make much of “Oscar submitted films” in this section.  Because of disagreement among records, it’s hard to really know how many films were released by various studios (and to be fair, distributors is a more accurate word, but studios is the word that people know).  The easiest way for me to track things (and calculate numbers) is based off how many films were submitted for Oscar consideration.

But in the 40s, things got weird with that in the first half of the decade.  From 1941 to 1944, the Oscars list no more than 200 submitted films in each year.  What’s more, it’s massively dominated by the majors, never accounting for less than 78% of the films and getting as high as over 90% in 1941.  What’s more, Oscar records don’t even list some of the Oscar nominated films as being submitted.  Sometimes even majors don’t appear.  In 1944, with only 137 films listed as submitted (the fewest ever), those come from only 10 studios, with every film coming from a major or one of the three main Poverty Row studios.  Even Columbia doesn’t have a single submitted film listed in spite of the four Columbia films that earned a combined 9 Oscar nominations.  The records are very strange, but I’m going with the submissions list.

But, just a year later, things had changed.  In 1945, there were 385 submitted films, only 61% of which were from the majors and by 1949 it was up to 481 and the majors percentage was down to 54%.

I won’t mention every studio but I will discuss each of the 14 that submitted more than 25 films to the Oscars as well as Disney (who only submitted 13).


By this, I mean the five majors that both had production studios and theater chains (MGM, Paramount, Warners, Fox, RKO, Columbia), the two major-minors that didn’t have chains (Universal, Columbia), the one wild card (United Artists) and Disney.  I’m in quite good shape with the majors, having seen 86.84% of the 2090 films (which account for 67.03% of all submitted films, down considerably from the 30s) and only one studio is below 81%.


The big daddy.  They submitted fewer films (300) than Universal or Columbia but I’ve seen the highest percentage (97%).  They also had more nominated films than either of those two.  They continued to be big at the box office and had the second most Oscars.  They average 61.14, a slight increase from the decade before and better than the other majors except Disney and UA.  Though not as successful at the Oscars as in the 30s, they did have the biggest Oscar film of the decade (Mrs. Miniver).


Down almost two points from the decade before (58.19) making them one of the weaker majors.  They are also low among the majors for submitted films (219) and the percentage that I’ve seen (85.39%).  After submitting 47 films in 1940, they have never again surpassed 29 films and in 1949 didn’t even rank among the Top 10 studios for submissions.  Their best films are dominated by Preston Sturges and Billy Wilder but the 14 Hopalong Cassidy films I’ve seen drag down the overall average.  But it was just one of two studios to win multiple Best Pictures in the decade, in fact winning back to back in 1944 and 1945.

Warner Brothers

The only studio with two of the Top 5 films for the decade and has 3 of the Top 10 (Casablanca, Maltese Falcon, Treasure of the Sierra Madre).  Bogie’s the biggest star of course, adding a fourth Top 20 film (The Big Sleep).  They were not plentiful, only surpassing 22 Oscars submissions twice and twice not even making the Top 10 for most submitted films.  But I’ve seen 196 of the 205 submissions (95.61%).  But they were only sixth in nominations and fifth in wins.  The average goes up two and a half points to 60.56 but is still just in the middle of the majors.

20th-Century Fox

As detailed in this post, Fox was improving.  The films are a point better (60.76) and I’ve managed to see far more (86.76%) because they’re not lost like the 30s films were.  What’s more, they had the most nominations, Oscars and Best Picture nominations of any studio in the decade and were one of only two studios to win two Best Picture awards.

RKO Radio

No longer weakest of the majors, having gone up over two points to 57.73.  As discussed, it just didn’t have the talent at its hands that the other majors did, but it did add Orson Welles which made a big impact.  Its submitted films were in the middle (256) and I’ve seen most of them (92.97%).  It had the second most Oscar nominations in the decade though just the fourth most wins, almost a third of which came from one film (The Best Years of Our Lives).


A deceptive studio in that it had five great films in the decade but four of them were British imports (Great Expectations, Brief Encounter, Stairway to Heaven, Hamlet) including both of its Best Picture nominees and its only win between 1930 and 1973.  It had the most submitted films in the decade (322) although not the easiest to find (at 81.68% the second lowest of the majors).  And what I could see wasn’t that good, with an average dipping down over three points to 57.91, the third lowest of the majors.  In spite of all those submissions, it’s 7th in nominated films and total nominations and 6th in wins.


Capra went off to war and the studio began to suck.  Only two great films emerged from Columbia in the decade (His Girl Friday, The More the Merrier).  The studio became dominated by series films, of which I’ve seen 101 in seven different series that average 48.2.  They help contribute to Columbia’s terrible 54.23 average, easily the worst of the majors.  They submitted a lot (311, the second most of the decade) and the 60 films in 1947 and 1949 are the most by any studio after 1937 and the 177 in a three year span from 1947-49 are astounding (and counteract the two combined listed submitted films in 1943-44 in spite of having 8 nominated films in those two years).  But they are also, by far, the hardest to find.  I’ve seen just 68.81% of the submitted films, the only time any major will drop below 80% after 1939.

United Artists

Once again, the smallest of the majors with just 192 submitted films (I’ve seen 92.19%).  It doesn’t even make the Top 10 studios of the decade, surpassed by three Poverty Row studios.  Also, even though it drops two points, at 61.54 it’s the best of the majors (aside from the minimal amount from Disney).  What’s more, it manages to have the most nominated films and fourth most nominations, with over 1/3 of its films earning a nomination.  It doesn’t have a lot of great films (just five) but not much crap either (just 10 films below **.5).  Included among the 15 films I haven’t seen are two Oscar nominees.


Not really a studio and not even a distributor with their feature films still being released by RKO through the decade.  Disney submitted 13 films (of which I only count 12, not including The Reluctant Dragon).  They average a very good 78.3 (80.8 if not including So Dear to My Heart).  What’s more, 8 of those films earn a combined 16 nominations and 4 Oscars and thanks to multiple re-releases, account for the top 4 grossing films of the decade as of the present.


This will mean different things in different decades but basically it’s studios that weren’t majors but released a significant number of films (at least 150 total Oscar submitted films is the cut-off).  For the purposes of the 1940s, as it was in the 30s, these are Poverty Row studios.  While all of these studios were still going strong in 1949, only Monogram would survive the 50s.    The Indies are harder to find in this decade and I’m only at 58.68% of 743 total films; in spite of accounting for just 23.83% of the total films, they account for 46.94% of the films I haven’t seen.

Monogram Pictures  /  Allied Artists

Monogram was one of the two major Poverty Row studios to emerge from the 30s.  It continued strong in the 40s with the 8th most submitted films in the decade (233) although I’ve seen only just under half of them.  Seven of their films did manage to combine for 8 Oscar nominations.  But the films, lead by a lot of series (Bowery Boys and Charlie Chan the most prominent) are terrible (48.32).  Late in the decade, Monogram formed Allied Artists which began as a higher budget subsidiary and would, eventually in the 50s, supplant Monogram entirely.  I keep the two studios listed together.

Republic Pictures

Republic is slighter bigger than Monogram with slighter more submissions (245), slightly better films (50.16) and I’ve seen slightly more (just over half).  The big difference is in Oscar success where Republic managed 32 nominations for 20 films though it didn’t win any and it accounts for 2/3 of the nominees I haven’t seen.  Republic’s average would be much better if not for the Roy Rogers and Red Ryder films and unlike Monogram has one very good film (Macbeth).

PRC  /  Eagle-Lion

The Producers Releasing Corporation began in 1939, submitted their first films to the Oscars in 1940 and submitted small amounts through 1944 (30 total) and then ramped up production starting in 1945 with at least 33 Oscar submissions each year for the rest of the decade and ended up with more submitted films in the decade (214) than Warners or UA.  They even earned 5 combined nominations for three films.  In 1947, it was bought out by J. Arthur Rank’s Eagle-Lion (which had been formed to distribute British films in the U.S.), so I count the studios together for tracking purposes.  As Eagle-Lion, it managed a Best Picture nomination in 1948 for The Red Shoes, the first Poverty Row studio to do so (although, since it was a British import, it’s not really a Poverty Row production).  I’ve seen 165 of the combined films for 77.10%.  As PRC, no film earned above a 67, but Eagle-Lion’s imports include Michael Powell’s A Canterbury Tale and several Ealing films including Kind Hearts and Coronets and It Always Rains on Sunday.  They average 51.27 for the decade but it’s worth noting that breaks down as 47.5 for PRC and 58.4 for Eagle-Lion.

SGP  /  Lippert Films

Robert L. Lippert began Screen Guild Productions in 1945 but changed the name to his own in 1948.  It didn’t matter.  The films were awful (41.26), they aren’t as easy to find (58.82% of 51) and they didn’t earn any Oscar nominations.

Foreign Distributors

This refers to American based distributors that released films made in a different country.  My cut-off here is at least 30 submitted films and that bulk of the films they release not be American products.  Of the 6 studios that I track like this on my spreadsheet, only one had more than 13 Oscar submissions in the 40s.  Overall, I’ve seen over 90% of the 73 submitted films I list in this category.


Artkino specialized in Soviet films.  The Soviets specialized in World War II films (18) and color Musicals (14).  The distributor submitted 52 films in the 40s and I’ve seen all but two of them.  They average a very solid 65.45 because while there are only two films above *** (Ivan the Terrible Part I, Distant Journey, the latter one of the very few non-Soviet films distributed by Artkino), no film is below **.5 and only six are below ***.

The Rest

There’s nothing to discuss here for the 40s.  No distributor submitted more than 25 films to the Oscars that isn’t already listed above.  The films not covered by majors, indies and foreign account for just 212 films, less than 1/3 of the indies and barely more than 1/10 of the majors.  I’ve seen 68.87% of them.

The Brits

I am forced to treat Ealing and Hammer in a different way.  Neither of them actually acted as distributors in the U.S. but I track their films nonetheless for the same reasons that I wrote those two posts.  Hammer hadn’t yet found its way.  Most of their films in the 40s never even got U.S. releases and they’re terrible (46.5) and there are only 8 of them.  Ealing is very different.  First of all, there are 24 films in the decade and almost all of them earned U.S. distribution through a variety of studios (12 of them), the most through Universal (six) then Eagle-Lion (six).  What became known as the Ealing Comedies were in full stride by the end of the decade which amounts to an average of 70.3 with 15 Comedy noms and 6 wins in 1949 alone with a lot more coming in the 50s.

The Best Films by Studio, 1940-1949

note:  Must have a minimum of 50 films and must have a film that is ***.5 or higher.

  • Columbia:  His Girl Friday
  • Eagle-Lion:  A Canterbury Tale
  • Fox:  The Grapes of Wrath
  • MGM:  The Philadelphia Story
  • Paramount:  Sullivan’s Travels  /  Double Indemnity
  • Republic:  Macbeth
  • RKO Radio:  Citizen Kane
  • United Artists:  Rebecca  /  The Great Dictator
  • Universal:  Great Expectations  /  Brief Encounter
  • Warner Bros:  Casablanca

The Worst Films by Studio, 1940-1949

note:  Must have a minimum of 50 films and must have a film that is ** or lower.

  • Columbia:  The Fuller Brush Man
  • Eagle-Lion:  Blonde Savage
  • Fox:  Whirlpool
  • MGM:  Wyoming
  • Monogram:  Bad Boy
  • Paramount:  The Hitler Gang
  • PRC:  I Accuse My Parents
  • Republic:  The Vampire’s Ghost
  • RKO Radio:  Riverboat Rhythm
  • United Artists:  The Outlaw
  • Universal:  Salome Where She Danced
  • Warner Bros:  The Fountainhead  (double-check)

Foreign Films

In the 1940s, I have seen 316 films primarily not in English.  However, only 249 of those count towards my Nighthawk Awards and are part of the statistics (8.19% of the films for the decade).  Understandably, the numbers really go down during the war when most of the world was too busy dying to make films.  Then at the end of the decade, films really started arriving.  Though the average dips just slightly from the 30s (again), it’s still, at 68.08, better than any genre by far.

Foreign Films by Year

This list has two numbers and a percentage.  The first number is how many films from that year I have seen, no matter what year they were eligible.  The second number are the films that count towards my Nighthawk Awards in those years with the percentage of total films from that year following after.

I should note two things.  First, my Foreign Film award is based off the film’s original release (or when it would have been eligible for Foreign Film at the Oscars, even though that award didn’t begin until 1948) although for all other awards, the film goes in the year where it first played L.A..  Second, if the film never played in the States, I put it in the original film year.

  • 1940  –  9  /  14  (4.13%)
  • 1941  –  18  /  12  (4.12%)
  • 1942  –  22  /  17  (6.01%)
  • 1943  –  23  /  10  (3.98%)
  • 1944  –  22  /  4  (1.86%)
  • 1945  –  24  /  19  (6.64%)
  • 1946  –  40  /  22  (7.07%)
  • 1947  –  47  /  42  (11.97%)
  • 1948  –  48  /  34  (10.53%)
  • 1949  –  63  /  75  (19.28%)

The Ten Countries I’ve Seen The Most Films, 1940-1949

  1. France  –  88
  2. USSR  –  58
  3. Italy  –  55
  4. Mexico  –  35
  5. Japan  –  20
  6. Germany  –  10
  7. Sweden  –  9
  8. China  –  8
  9. West Germany  –  5
  10. India  /  Argentina  –  3

These numbers (and the next few lists) are for the actual films, not the Nighthawk eligible numbers.  In the 1930s, almost 72% of the foreign films I’ve seen in the decade came from France, Germany or the USSR.  This time, with Germany devastated by war and then split in two, almost 2/3 of the films come France, Italy or the USSR.

Nighthawk Points, 1940-1949

  1. France  –  200
  2. Japan  –  160
  3. Italy  –   160
  4. Hungary  –  60
  5. Sweden  –  40
  6. Denmark  –  40
  7. USSR  –  20
  8. Belgium  –  20
  9. Czechoslovakia  –  20

That’s the whole list.

Weighted Nighthawk Points for Foreign Film by Director, 1940-1949

  1. Akira Kurosawa  –  176
  2. Roberto Rossellini  –  124
  3. Jean Cocteau  –  94
  4. Marcel Carne  –  80
  5. Vittorio de Sica  –  71
  6. Georg Wilhelm Pabst  –  40
  7. Yasujiro Ozu  –  40
  8. Alf Sjoberg  –  40
  9. Geza von Radvanyi  –  30
  10. Sergei Eisenstein  /  Istvan Szots  –  31

note:  Unlike the Director, Actor and Actress lists above, this is actually based on the weighted version of the Nighthawk Award (40-1) depending on place.

The Best Film I’ve Seen By Country, 1940-1949

  • Belgium  –  The Crab with the Golden Claws
  • Czechoslovakia  –  Distant Journey
  • Denmark  –  Day of Wrath
  • France  –  Children of Paradise
  • Hungary  –  It Happened in Europe
  • Italy  –  The Bicycle Thieves
  • Japan  –  Stray Dog
  • Sweden  –  Torment
  • USSR  –  Ivan the Terrible Part I

lists explanation

The lists down below were created from my Top 1000 list leading up to the full revelation of the list.  There is also a bottom 10 list.  But I am not doing a list of in-between films like I did for the Genre and Studio posts.  I am also not doing links because it takes a really long time.  Most of the reviews of these films can be found by searching on the site for any of the years involved and then clicking on either Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture, Nighthawk Awards or Year in Film.

Since there aren’t any links to confuse things, I did decide to color-code them (red won the Oscar for Best Picture, blue was nominated).  For the record, there were 70 Oscar nominees in the decade (and 10 winners of course).

The Top 100 Films of the 1940s

  1. Children of Paradise
  2. Citizen Kane
  3. Casablanca
  4. The Maltese Falcon
  5. The Third Man
  6. La belle et la bête
  7. The Best Years of Our Lives
  8. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  9. The Grapes of Wrath
  10. It’s a Wonderful Life
  11. Double Indemnity
  12. Sullivan’s Travels
  13. Fantasia
  14. The Bicycle Thieves
  15. Bambi
  16. Great Expectations
  17. The Big Sleep
  18. Rebecca
  19. The Philadelphia Story
  20. Brief Encounter
  21. The Great Dictator
  22. Henry V
  23. Yankee Doodle Dandy
  24. Stairway to Heaven
  25. Stray Dog
  26. The Ox-Bow Incident
  27. Gaslight
  28. Notorious
  29. The Lost Weekend
  30. His Girl Friday
  31. The Heiress
  32. The Lady Eve
  33. Pinocchio
  34. Shadow of a Doubt
  35. The Magnificent Ambersons
  36. Hamlet
  37. In Which We Serve
  38. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek
  39. Ivan the Terrible Part I
  40. Red River
  41. Hail the Conquering Hero
  42. Oliver Twist
  43. A Canterbury Tale
  44. To Have and Have Not
  45. Crossfire
  46. The Great McGinty
  47. For Whom the Bell Tolls
  48. Out of the Past
  49. The Letter
  50. Kind Hearts and Coronets
  51. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
  52. Arsenic and Old Lace
  53. The Shop Around the Corner
  54. A Letter to Three Wives
  55. The More the Merrier
  56. The Little Foxes
  57. To Be or Not to Be
  58. It Always Rains on Sunday
  59. Germany Year Zero
  60. Force of Evil
  61. Spellbound
  62. The Miracle on 34th Street
  63. Drunken Angel
  64. Gentleman’s Agreement
  65. High Sierra
  66. All the King’s Men
  67. Day of Wrath
  68. I See a Dark Stranger
  69. The Spiral Staircase
  70. Ball of Fire
  71. I Know Where I’m Going
  72. Brute Force
  73. My Darling Clementine
  74. Suspicion
  75. Here Comes Mr. Jordan
  76. Watch on the Rhine
  77. This Happy Breed
  78. The Palm Beach Story
  79. Brighton Rock
  80. Ministry of Fear
  81. Amore
  82. Boomerang
  83. Open City
  84. Random Harvest
  85. Sanshiro Sugata
  86. The Story of G.I. Joe
  87. Macbeth
  88. The Eagle Has Two Heads
  89. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
  90. How Green Was My Valley
  91. They Live By Night
  92. The Southerner
  93. The Snake Pit
  94. Dumbo
  95. Letter from an Unknown Woman
  96. Act of Violence
  97. No Regrets for Our Youth
  98. Distant Journey
  99. Paisan
  100. Passport to Pimlico

The Bottom 10 Films, 1940-1949, #3152-3161
(worst being #10, which is #3161 overall)

  1. Bad Boy
  2. Delinquent Daughters
  3. I Accuse My Parents
  4. White Pongo
  5. She Should Said No
  6. Women in the Night
  7. Omoo, Omoo, the Shark God
  8. Scared to Death
  9. Jungle Goddess
  10. Samurai

The 5 Most Underrated Films of the 1940s

These are all films that I rate at **** or high ***.5 that have never appeared in TSPDT’s Top 1000 (now 2000).  Also, none of these films were nominated for any Oscars (which cut out a couple of the most bizarre TSPDT omission, The Lost Weekend and In Which Serve).  They are listed in descending order of quality.

  1. Oliver Twist
  2. It Always Rains on Sunday
  3. High Sierra
  4. I See a Dark Stranger
  5. Brute Force

The Most Over-Rated Film of the 1940s

  1. Detour
    Yes, I’m limiting it to just one.  Most films of the 40s deserve their acclaim.  There are a few that are a bit over-rated but even some of those have gone up in my estimation over the years (The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus) and none are badly over-rated with most of them still being solid *** films.  But Detour gets great acclaim (Top 600 at TSPDT, Ebert Great Film, National Film Registry as early as 1992) and I just don’t understand it.  It’s very badly acted and badly written and even the direction isn’t all that good.

The Statistics  –  1940s

Total Films I Have Seen, 1940-1949:  3161

Total Films Used For Statistics Below:  3039

note:  Because I track statistics by “Oscar Year”, the following statistics only use the 3039 films, some of which come from the 1930s or even 1920s.

By Genre:

  • Drama:  720
  • Comedy:  560
  • Western:  367
  • Musical:  348
  • Mystery:  246
  • Crime:  217
  • Suspense:  155
  • War:  137
  • Adventure:  117
  • Horror:  63
  • Kids:  48
  • Fantasy:  29
  • Action:  26
  • Sci-Fi:  6

% of All Films That are Drama:

  • 1940:  26.84%
  • 1941:  21.31%
  • 1942:  21.55%
  • 1943:  17.13%
  • 1944:  27.44%
  • 1945:  19.23%
  • 1946:  21.86%
  • 1947:  24.50%
  • 1948:  24.77%
  • 1949:  29.56%
  • TOTAL:  23.69%

% of All Films That are Genre (non-Drama / Comedy / Musical):

  • 1940:  41.89%
  • 1941:  41.24%
  • 1942:  43.46%
  • 1943:  48.21%
  • 1944:  38.60%
  • 1945:  50.00%
  • 1946:  50.16%
  • 1947:  50.43%
  • 1948:  49.23%
  • 1949:  48.07%
  • TOTAL:  46.43%

% of All Films That Are Foreign Language:

  • 1940:  4.13%
  • 1941:  4.12%
  • 1942:  6.01%
  • 1943:  3.98%
  • 1944:  1.86%
  • 1945:  6.64%
  • 1946:  7.07%
  • 1947:  11.97%
  • 1948:  10.53%
  • 1949:  19.28%
  • TOTAL:  8.19%

Average Film by Year:

  • 1940:  57.97
  • 1941:  59.19
  • 1942:  59.26
  • 1943:  58.82
  • 1944:  58.26
  • 1945:  57.20
  • 1946:  57.42
  • 1947:  57.74
  • 1948:  57.33
  • 1949:  58.61
  • TOTAL:  58.16

Average Film by Genre:

  • War:  63.20
  • Fantasy:  62.62
  • Drama:  62.61
  • Kids:  61.83
  • Suspense:  61.18
  • Musical:  59.24
  • Comedy:  58.32
  • Mystery:  55.28
  • Crime:  55.11
  • Horror:  54.52
  • Sci-Fi:  54.00
  • Adventure:  53.01
  • Western:  50.74
  • Action:  50.62

Top 10 Finishes by Genre:

  • Drama:  41
  • Comedy:  19
  • Suspense:  11
  • Crime:  6
  • Mystery:  6
  • War:  5
  • Kids:  4
  • Western:  4
  • Musical:  2
  • Fantasy:  1
  • Horror:  1

Top 20 Finishes by Genre:

  • Drama:  75
  • Comedy:  37
  • Suspense:  23
  • War:  15
  • Crime:  14
  • Mystery:  9
  • Kids:  8
  • Western:  7
  • Musical:  6
  • Fantasy:  3
  • Horror:  2
  • Adventure:  1

Total Films By Studio (Top 10):

  • Universal:  346
  • MGM:  336
  • RKO Radio:  326
  • Columbia:  315
  • 20th Century-Fox:  281
  • Warner Brothers:  251
  • Paramount:  250
  • United Artists:  174
  • PRC / Eagle-Lion Films:  164
  • Republic:  135

The “Major” Studios by Average:

note:  “Major” is in quotes because according to the standard definition of “The Majors”, Columbia, Disney, Universal, United Artists didn’t count.
note:  Disney only has 13 films.

  • Disney:  78.83
  • United Artists:  61.54
  • MGM:  61.14
  • 20th Century-Fox:  60.75
  • Warner Brothers:  60.56
  • Paramount:  58.19
  • Universal:  57.91
  • RKO Radio:  57.73
  • Columbia:  54.23

Top 10 Finishes by “Major” Studio:

  • RKO Radio:  15
  • Paramount:  14
  • Warner Brothers:  11
  • 20th Century-Fox:  9
  • MGM:  9
  • United Artists:  9
  • Universal:  8
  • Columbia:  4
  • Disney:  3

Notes on Top 10 Finishes

  • Total Percentage of Top 20 Films Distributed by “Majors”:  82%
  • 4 Top 10 Films
    • RKO:  1941, 1946
    • Paramount:  1944
    • UA:  1945

Top 20 Finishes by “Major” Studio:

  • RKO Radio:  25
  • Warner Brothers:  23
  • MGM:  22
  • Paramount:  22
  • 20th Century-Fox:  21
  • United Artists:  21
  • Universal:  18
  • Disney:  6
  • Columbia:  4

Notes on Top 20 Finishes

  • Total Percentage of Top 20 Films Distributed by “Majors”:  58.33%
  • RKO has 7 Top 20 films in 1941
  • No other studio has more than 5 in any year
  • Columbia never has more than 1 in any year
  • No studio has a Top 20 film in every year
  • Fox, RKO and WB have 9 of the 10 years

Breakdown by Star Rating:

  • ****:  2.01%
  • ***.5:  2.76%
  • ***:  36.72%
  • **.5:  31.42%
  • **:  26.42%
  • *.5:  0.39%
  • *:  0.23%
  • .5:  0.00%
  • 0:  0.03%

Nighthawk Awards

This area will have a lot more than I usually do in this section.  This is an in-depth look at all the films and I what I think of them when it comes to awards.  Please note that it does run off my “Film Years” which means that there are films from the 40s which won’t appear because they wouldn’t have an L.A. release until after 1949.  The most notable of those, of course, is The Third Man but also Kind Hearts and Coronets and every Kurosawa film from this decade, some of which get pushed as far as 1980.  These awards have also been heavily affected by revelations about which year certain films belong in (most notably moving La belle et la bête from 1947 to 1948).

Because of the way I keep track of my lists, there are no “ties” for the 10th spot.  The first film to reach that amount gets to keep that spot.

  • Number of Films That Earn Nominations:  245
  • Number of Films That Win Nighthawks:  80
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  163
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  40
  • Total Number of Nominations:  888
  • Total Number of Wins:  203
  • Director with Most Nighthawk Nominated Films:  Alfred Hitchcock  (11)
  • Best Film with No Nighthawks:  The Big Sleep
  • Best Film with No Nighthawk Nominations:  My Darling Clementine
  • Weakest Best Picture Nominee:  Fanny
  • Best Film Not Nominated for Picture:  Henry V
  • Number of Films That Earn Comedy Nominations:  53
  • Number of Films That Win Comedy Awards:  30
  • Total Number of Comedy Nominations:  187
  • Total Number of Comedy Wins:  71
  • Best Comedy Film With No Nominations:  Road to Morocco
  • Weakest Comedy Picture Nominee:  Saludos Amigos
  • Best Comedy Not Nominated For Picture:  The Shop Around the Corner
  • Number of Films That Earn Drama Nominations:  137
  • Number of Films That Win Drama Awards:  46
  • Total Number of Drama Nominations:  418
  • Total Number of Drama Wins:  89
  • Best Drama Film With No Nominations:  Brute Force
  • Weakest Drama Picture Nominee:  Now Voyager
  • Best Drama Not Nominated For Picture:  Henry V
  • Best Film Without a Top 10 Finish:  They Live By Night
  • Best Film Without a Top 20 Finish:  n/a


  • Only three Comedy films that meet my Best Picture threshold (***.5 or ****) fail to earn a Best Picture – Comedy nomination and all three are in the same year, (1940): The Baker’s Wife, Pride and Prejudice (both squeaking into low ***.5) and The Shop Around the Corner (low ****).  Shop is the 13th best Comedy in the decade and better than four different films that win Picture – Comedy but is just stuck in what is by far the best year.  In fact, after 1942, no year even has a full Best Picture slate.
  • They Live By Night, the only film over *** to fail to earn a Top 10 finish earns 10 Top 20 finishes, including 4 11th place finishes.

Most Nighthawk Nominations:

  1. Children of Paradise  –  15
  2. Citizen Kane  –  14
  3. The Maltese Falcon  –  13
  4. Gaslight  –  13
  5. The Best Years of Our Lives  –  13
  6. The Grapes of Wrath  –  12
  7. Rebecca  –  12
  8. Yankee Doodle Dandy  –  12
  9. Casablanca  –  12
  10. Double Indemnity  –  12

Most Nighthawks:

  1. Citizen Kane  –  12
  2. Children of Paradise  –  12
  3. Casablanca  –  9
  4. Great Expectations  –  8
  5. La belle et la bête  –  8
  6. The Grapes of Wrath  –  6
  7. The Magnificent Ambersons  –  6
  8. Gaslight  –  6
  9. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp  –  6
  10. The Lost Weekend  –  6

Most Nighthawk Points:

  1. Children of Paradise  –  755
  2. Citizen Kane  –  705
  3. Casablanca  –  685
  4. Great Expectations  –  610
  5. The Grapes of Wrath  –  595
  6. Gaslight  –  580
  7. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  –  580
  8. Double Indemnity  –  575
  9. For Whom the Bell Tolls  –  560
  10. The Lost Weekend  –  555

Most Drama Nominations:

  1. The Little Foxes  –  9
  2. The Maltese Falcon  –  9
  3. The Best Years of our Lives  –  9
  4. For Whom the Bell Tolls  –  8
  5. Rebecca  –  7
  6. Mrs. Miniver  –  7
  7. Casablanca  –  7
  8. Gaslight  –  7
  9. Double Indemnity  –  7
  10. Children of Paradise  –  7

Most Drama Wins:

  1. Casablanca  –  5
  2. The Grapes of Wrath  –  4
  3. Citizen Kane  –  4
  4. Gaslight  –  4
  5. The Lost Weekend  –  4

Most Drama Points:

  1. Casablanca  –  505
  2. The Grapes of Wrath  –  440
  3. The Little Foxes  –  435
  4. Children of Paradise  –  435
  5. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  –  420
  6. Gaslight  –  415
  7. The Best Years of our Lives  –  415
  8. Rebecca  –  410
  9. For Whom the Bell Tolls  –  410
  10. Double Indemnity  –  410

Most Comedy Nominations:

  1. Arsenic and Old Lace  –  9
  2. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek  –  8
  3. Hail the Conquering Hero  –  8
  4. The Philadelphia Story  –  7
  5. Here Comes Mr. Jordan  –  7
  6. The Lady Eve  –  7
  7. Yankee Doodle Dandy  –  7
  8. The Palm Beach Story  –  7
  9. The Great Dictator  –  6
  10. His Girl Friday  –  6

Most Comedy Wins:

  1. The Philadelphia Story  –  6
  2. The More the Merrier  –  5
  3. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek  –  5
  4. State of the Union  –  5
  5. Here Comes Mr. Jordan  –  4

Most Comedy Points:

  1. The Philadelphia Story  –  530
  2. The More the Merrier  –  515
  3. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek  –  495
  4. Here Comes Mr. Jordan  –  415
  5. State of the Union  –  410
  6. Arsenic and Old Lace  –  405
  7. The Great Dictator  –  395
  8. The Lady Eve  –  395
  9. Passport to Pimlico  –  385
  10. Sullivan’s Travels  –  380

Most Film Points:

note:  This is the point value I assign in all the various categories added up on a scale of 0-9.

  1. Children of Paradise  –  115
  2. Citizen Kane   –  102
  3. The Maltese Falcon  –  96
  4. The Best Years of Our Lives  –  91
  5. Casablanca  –  89
  6. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  –  88
  7. La belle et la bête  –  86
  8. Gaslight  –  86
  9. Rebecca  –  85
  10. The Third Man  –  84

note:  All 10 of these films would have come in 2nd place in the 30s.

Most Weighted Film Points:

note:  This is the point value I assign in all the various categories added up on a scale of 0-9, but then weighted to account for their Oscar points, with 8 being the equivalent of an Oscar win.  So, for Picture, the point scale is 1=12, 2=25, 3=37, 4=50, 5=62, 6=75, 7=87, 8=100, 9=115.

  1. Children of Paradise  –  831
  2. The Maltese Falcon  –  775
  3. The Best Years of Our Lives  –  753
  4. Citizen Kane   –  731
  5. Casablanca  –  727
  6. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  –  704
  7. Rebecca  –  682
  8. Gaslight  –  669
  9. It’s a Wonderful Life  –  667
  10. The Grapes of Wrath  –  642

Most Weighted Acting Points:

note:  The same as the above category, but only using the acting points.  Because this is weighted (which gives more to lead than supporting), this is not quite the same list I use for doing my Best Ensemble award but it’s close.

  1. The Best Years of Our Lives  –  271
  2. The Maltese Falcon  –  255
  3. The Little Foxes  –  248
  4. Rebecca  –  244
  5. The Philadelphia Story  –  243
  6. Casablanca  –  228
  7. It’s a Wonderful Life  –  226
  8. Children of Paradise  –  225
  9. For Whom the Bell Tolls  –  225
  10. Notorious  –  219

Most Weighted Tech Points:

note:  The same as the above category, but only using the Tech categories.  Because this is weighted (which gives more to the major categories), this is not quite the same list I use for doing my Best Tech award but it’s close.  While there is no maximum possible for the acting category, the maximum here is 386.

  1. Citizen Kane   –  311
  2. Children of Paradise  –  301
  3. La belle et la bête  –  262
  4. Great Expectations  –  233
  5. Henry V  –  232
  6. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  –  217
  7. The Maltese Falcon  –  215
  8. Gaslight  –  214
  9. Casablanca  –  204
  10. Double Indemnity  –  189

Most Top 20 Points:

note:  This takes a film’s finish in any Nighthawk category and gives it points based on a finish in the Top 20.  A win is 20 points, a 2nd place is 19, down to 20th place which is 1 point.  All categories are equal.

  1. Children of Paradise  –  306
  2. Citizen Kane   –  301
  3. Rebecca  –  282
  4. For Whom the Bell Tolls  –  280
  5. The Maltese Falcon  –  273
  6. The Great Dictator  –  263
  7. The Best Years of Our Lives  –  252
  8. Casablanca  –  251
  9. Gaslight  –  250
  10. La belle et la bête  –  242

Most Top 20 Weighted Points:

note:  This takes a film’s finish in any Nighthawk category and gives it points based on a finish in the Top 20.  However, this weights the categories on a scale based on the award points, both for the win and the nominations.  So, the scale for Picture, in descending order is 100, 77, 70, 67, 63 (it then drops because you can’t have more than 50 points, which is what you get for a nomination), 43, 40, 38, 36, 33, 18, 17, 15, 13, 12, 8, 7, 4, 3, 2.  It’s designed to give more weight to Top 5 and Top 10 finishes.  The scale is roughly the same for all of the categories, beginning with its point total for the award.

  1. Children of Paradise  –  825
  2. Citizen Kane   –  769
  3. Casablanca  –  760
  4. The Maltese Falcon  –  696
  5. Gaslight  –  695
  6. For Whom the Bell Tolls  –  687
  7. The Best Years of Our Lives  –  687
  8. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  –  680
  9. Double Indemnity  –  671
  10. Great Expectations  –  670

Nighthawk Awards, 1940-1949

note:  These are my all-time Top 5 in each category in the decade.  Films in red won the Oscar.  Films in blue were Oscar nominated.  There are a few lists here that aren’t in my usual Nighthawk Awards.  I also don’t discuss as much since there are fewer awards groups and I have discussed the quality of these so many other places.

  • Best Picture
  1. Children of Paradise
  2. Citizen Kane
  3. Casablanca
  4. The Maltese Falcon
  5. The Third Man

Analysis:  The Consensus winner for the decade is Best Years of Our Lives, the first film to win four Best Picture awards (Oscar, NYFC, BAFTC, Globe).  After that, five films tie with four winning the Oscar, NYFC and GG (Going My Way, Lost Weekend, Gentleman’s Agreement, All the King’s Men) while Treasure of the Sierra Madre lost the Oscar and BAFTA and won the NYFC and Globe.
The Academy did well with winners in this decade with 8 of the 10 making my Top 100 and five in the Top 40.  The winners average an 88.4 which is ****.  Even adding in all the nominees gives an average of 81.0 which is mid ***.5 and almost as good as the winners alone in the 30s.  Only five films below *** earn nominations and only one bad film (All This and Heaven Too).  Only two years make the Top 40 for Best Picture years but only one year (1942) is low enough to rank among any of the years in the 30s, so it’s a big improvement.
The oddest nominee is probably One Foot in Heaven, with just a single nomination in a stacked year.  Probably the oddest omission is Brief Encounter, nominated for Director, Screenplay and Actress but pushed out in favor of Razor’s Edge.  Historically, of course, the oddest win is How Green Was My Valley but Hollywood politics played into Citizen Kane not winning.  On the other hand, Hamlet overcame Hollywood politics to become the first British film to win and it did it with far fewer nominations than Johnny Belinda and failing to win Director.  Actually, Hamlet and All the King’s Men are both odd winners in that they are great and very good but lost Director better films and they would be the last two films to win Picture without winning Director or Screenplay until 2000.  All the mediocre titles to win in the years between (Greatest Show on Earth, Around the World in 80 Days, Gigi, Out of Africa, Braveheart) all won Director or Screenplay.
The NYFC winners were very strong (91.2) with only Going My Way being below high ***.5.  The NBR was less but still solid (88.7) with None but the Lonely Heart a poor choice and True Glory, a documentary, an odd winner in 1945.  The two agreed from 1940-42 and the NBR made better choices in 1943 (Ox-Bow Incident over Watch on the Rhine) and 49 (Bicycle Thieves over All the King’s Men).  From 1940-43 no NYFC won the Oscar but after that five of the last six did.  No NBR winner won the Oscar.
The Globe winners are good (84.0) but not great.  Five of the eight win the Oscar which is odd because two films tie in 1948 and neither wins the Oscar, though Hamlet won Foreign Film at the Globes and won the Oscar.

  • Best Director
  1. Orson Welles  (Citizen Kane)
  2. Marcel Carne  (Children of Paradise)
  3. John Huston  (The Maltese Falcon)
  4. Carol Reed  (The Third Man)
  5. John Huston  (Treasure of the Sierra Madre)

Analysis:  There are actually nine directors that earn a perfect 9 so it’s a tough category to decide upon.
The top five directors in terms of Consensus points (and bear in mind that Director is the one category where the Consensus makes use of not only the Nighthawk but also various festivals because the whole category is one of the categories in my Top 100 rankings) are Elia Kazan (Gentleman’s Agreement / Boomerang), Huston, Billy Wilder (Lost Weekend), William Wyler (Best Years of Our Lives) and John Ford (Grapes of Wrath / Long Voyage Home).  The extra films listed for Kazan and Ford are especially relevant; they earned the NYFC for both films in both cases and they both earned extra Nighthawk points.  Kazan was the only director to sweep the Oscar, Globe, NYFC and NBR, although it’s worth mentioning that the last one didn’t even exist until 1946.  Which is also why it’s worth mentioning the top finishers in percentage as well which are Wilder, Kazan, Ford, Huston and Leo McCarey (Going My Way), the last of which is impressive since he earns no Nighthawk points.  Kazan’s record number of Consensus points would only last until 1950 while Wilder’s total isn’t even a record (John Ford had a higher percentage in 1935) but would be the highest total between 1935 and 2000.  Because of the lack of other awards, all of the Top 5 in percentage are still in the Top 15 all-time.
As is often the case, the Oscar winners average slightly higher than in Picture (89.4 to 88.4).  Ford and Wyler would each win two Oscars while Wilder, Kazan and Mankiewicz would each win their first.  Wyler would earn a massive 315 points in the decade (good enough for the Top 10 all-time).  After being nominated in 1939 he would earn noms in 1940 and 1941 and a win in 1942 making him the only director to ever earn four straight noms (then he went to war and then won the Oscar with his first film back).

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Casablanca
  2. The Best Years of Our Lives
  3. The Maltese Falcon
  4. The Grapes of Wrath
  5. The Philadelphia Story

Analysis:  Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Brief Encounter are the perfect 9’s that don’t make the Top 5.
Treasure is the top film once the Consensus Awards begin in 1948 with the arrival of the WGA (and the very short-lived NBR award).  By winning 3 awards among 4 noms (thanks to WGA categories which will disappear and an NBR award which will go away for decades after 1949), Treasure has 3 wins, 4 noms and 264 points, all records which will be tied in 1950 but not exceeded until 1966 after the BAFTA and NYFC awards have begun.
In this confusing Oscar era, three films win Screenplay as well as Story even though one of those, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, was adapted and shouldn’t have been eligible for Story.  All the 1942-46 Picture winners win Screenplay with four others earning noms (Hamlet is the outlier) which means all the Picture winners in the 40s are adapted.  It also makes the Oscar Scores hard to do (67.0) though the winners are generally good (3.3).

Best Original Screenplay:

  1. Children of Paradise
  2. Citizen Kane
  3. Sullivan’s Travels
  4. The Third Man
  5. Stairway to Heaven

Analysis:  As opposed to Adapted, Stairway makes it in as an 8.
The Search and Battleground will top the initial Consensus Awards in different ways.  Both win the Oscar for Story and the Globe while The Search earns a “Screenplay” nom at the Oscars and Battleground earns a WGA nom.  Both will be beaten in 1950 anyway.
Original is much weaker than Adapted with a 53.7 Oscar Score and a 5.3 average winner rank and only Citizen Kane is the best choice of its year while four of the winners were the worst of the nominees, the worst Oscar category at all.  Including the Story winners, the 19 films (no Story category in 1945) average a 73.9 and only three great films win the Oscar (Great McGinty, Citizen Kane, Miracle on 34th Street).

  • bogartBest Actor:
  1. Humphrey Bogart  (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre)
  2. Orson Welles  (Citizen Kane)
  3. Henry Fonda  (The Grapes of Wrath)
  4. James Stewart  (It’s a Wonderful Life)
  5. Ray Milland  (The Lost Weekend)

Analysis:  The perfect 9’s that don’t make it are Cagney (Yankee Doodle Dandy, which kills me to cut) and Bogie twice (Maltese, Casablanca).
Ray Milland is still the all-time Consensus percentage winner, followed by Paul Lukas.  The top 5 in points are Milland, Lukas (Watch on the Rhine) tied with Olivier (Hamlet) and Broderick Crawford (All the King’s Men) followed by Olivier again (Henry V).  Lukas is the first with three wins and Milland the first to sweep all four wins (the only to sweep all the awards while there are just four – the next sweep comes in 1955 when there are five).
The Oscar Score is mostly solid with a total of 75.0 and no year above 87.5 (1940) and no year below 55.9 (1948).  The winners average a 3.1 but take out Gary Cooper’s 1941 win and the average is 2.3 with the Oscar going to my 2nd place finisher in 1944 and 46-49 but only my winner in 42 and 45.
The Oscars are topped by a three-way tie between Gregory Peck (4 noms), Laurence Olivier (3 noms but 1 win) and Gary Cooper (3 consecutive noms, winning the first one).  But Bogie doubles anybody’s else points at the Nighthawks, winning twice and earning four other noms including two in 1941.

  • gaslightBest Actress
  1. Ingrid Bergman  (Gaslight)
  2. Olivia de Havilland  (The Heiress)
  3. Katharine Hepburn  (The Philadelphia Story)
  4. Olivia de Havilland  (The Snake Pit)
  5. Rosalind Russell  (His Girl Friday)

Analysis:  Bergman’s performance is actually the only perfect 9 in the decade.
Joan Crawford (Mildred Pierce) is the first to win three awards but Olivia de Havilland (The Heiress) has the highest Consensus point total in the decade, followed by Crawford, de Havilland again (The Snake Pit) and Joan Fontaine (Suspicion) before we get several actresses in a tie.  Points are low for historical purposes but de Havilland’s 1949 percentage is the highest post-1928.  Her 1948 percentage is still the highest all-time for someone who didn’t win the Oscar.  On the other hand, de Havilland’s Oscar win in 1946 (To Each Her Own) and Loretta Young’s in 1947 (Farmer’s Daughter) are the only post-1942 Oscar winners to receive no other points and are joined only by Elizabeth Taylor in 1960 for Oscar winners with no other wins.
The Oscar nominees aren’t bad (74.2 Oscar Score) but the winners include two of the worst picks ever (Rogers in 1940, Young).  The overall 4.4 rank of Oscar winners is the worst until the 80s.  1947 has the worst Score in the category’s history (44.0) but it’s followed in 1948 with new peak of 93.3.
Bergman (280; 2 wins, 6 total noms) and Davis (210; 6 noms) are the tops at the Nighthawk Awards.  Greer Garson (1 win among 5 straight noms) and de Havilland (2 wins, 2 more noms) top the Oscars with 210 points each.

  • humphrey bogart, claude rains, paul henried & ingrid bergman - casablanca 1943Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Claude Rains  (Casablanca)
  2. Walter Huston  (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre)
  3. Orson Welles  (The Third Man)
  4. Sidney Greenstreet  (The Maltese Falcon)
  5. Claude Rains  (Notorious)

Analysis:  Rains sneaks in without a perfect 9 for his second performance.
Barry Fitzgerald complicates the Consensus by winning both the Oscar and Globe but also earning an Oscar nom in Actor (before the rules changed).  Edmund Gwenn (1947) and Walter Huston (1948) also win the Oscar and Globe.
Charles Coburn is the tops at the Oscars with 120 points (one win, two other noms).  The Oscar Score is a solid 78.7 with no year below 69 and a perfect 100 in 1945.  The winners average a 3.7 finish but that’s because Walter Brennan in 1940 finishes in 12th; after him every winner at least makes my Top 5 though Walter Huston is the only winner I agree with.
Rains dominates the Nighthawks, of course.  He earns more points in the decade (240) than any other actor has earned Nighthawk points ever in this category.  He wins 43 and 46, with his 43 win coming in the middle of four straight noms (and he adds another in 1949).

  • rebeccaBest Supporting Actress:
  1. Judith Anderson  (Rebecca)
  2. Maria Casares  (Children of Paradise)
  3. Gloria Grahame  (Crossfire)
  4. Teresa Wright  (The Little Foxes)
  5. Katina Paxinou  (For Whom the Bell Tolls)

Analysis:  Anderson and Casares are the only 9 scores in the decade.
The Consensus Awards don’t really matter at this point with the Globes making a second award in 1943 and a third not being added until the 50s.  Four actresses do win both the Oscar and Globe (Paxinou, Anne Baxter, Celeste Holm, Mercedes McCambridge).
Only twice in the decade did the Academy make the right choice (Paxinou and Mercedes McCambridge in 1949) but the overall win rank of 2.7 isn’t too bad and no winner ranks below 6th.  The Oscar Score is 79.4, actually the best of the acting categories in the decade with 1942 and 1948 earning perfect 100 scores and only 1946 (a dismal 38.2, the worst score in any acting category after 1938 and second worst after 1930) falling below 70.
Ethel Barrymore is tops at the Oscars with 150 points (win, three other noms) followed by Anne Revere with 120 points (win, two other noms).  The Nighthawks are topped by Agnes Moorhead (two wins, one nom), Teresa Wright and Angela Lansbury (a win and two other noms each).

  • Best Supporting Actor  (total)
  1. The Maltese Falcon  (15)
  2. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  (14)
  3. The Best Years of Our Lives  (13)
  4. Casablanca  (12)
  5. Oliver Twist  (12)

Analysis:  This adds up all the points for Supporting Actor.  I won’t include films with less than 10 points since 9 points is what you can get for a single performance.  It’s worth pointing out that I consider Dana Andrews supporting in Best Years and not a lead.

  • Best Supporting Actress  (total)
  1. The Little Foxes  (14)
  2. Gentleman’s Agreement  (14)
  3. Mrs. Miniver  (12)

Analysis:  This adds up all the points for Supporting Actress.  I won’t include films with less than 10 points since 9 points is what you can get for a single performance.  Two of the three films have Teresa Wright in them.  Unlike the above list, which earned four noms (and two wins) for five films, these three films won two Oscars as well as earned six combined noms (all six of the performances I list).

  • bestyearsBest Ensemble
  1. The Best Years of Our Lives  (34)
  2. The Maltese Falcon  (32)
  3. The Little Foxes  (32)
  4. The Philadelphia Story  (30)
  5. Rebecca  (30)

Analysis:  This adds up all the acting points across the categories.  None are as strong as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was but the rest are better than the other four nominees from the 30s.
For the second straight decade, no film wins both the Ensemble Award and Picture at the Nighthawks and two of the Ensemble winners don’t even earn ***.5 (Mrs. Miniver, Johnny Belinda).

  • Best Editing:
  1. Citizen Kane
  2. The Third Man
  3. Children of Paradise
  4. The Maltese Falcon
  5. Casablanca

Analysis:  Just remember that Citizen Kane lost to Sergeant York, The Third Man to King Solomon’s Mines and Casablanca to Air Force.  The average Oscar winner is a 72.2 and only Best Years of Our Lives is better than a 79.  Ironically, the average Oscar nominee (not winner) is 76.8 with 12 great films among them.  The average Oscar winner ranks at 11.6, the only category to average in double digits.  The Oscar Score is an abysmal 36.7 which is actually an improvement over the 30s.  1944 earns a complete zero.

  • Best Cinematography:
  1. Citizen Kane
  2. The Maltese Falcon
  3. The Third Man
  4. Great Expectations
  5. Children of Paradise

Analysis:  A category with too many 9 scores as La belle et la bête and Grapes of Wrath couldn’t make the Top 5.  And of them even won Oscars although one wasn’t until 1950.
The Oscar Scores are pretty dismal, 49.3 for Color and 41.3 for Black and White, although both are improvements upon the 30s.  Through the war the Color category actually nominates every worthy film but then plummets after the war.  The winners are generally much better for Color (2.4 to 8.8).  The Oscars are topped by Leon Shamroy and Arthur Miller with 225 points each which is still a record for any decade helped by the seemingly limitless nominations.  The absolute points list for the Nighthawks is topped by Gregg Toland of course by a considerable margin.

  • Best Original Score:
  1. Maurice Thiriet  (Children of Paradise)
  2. David Raksin  (Laura)
  3. Bernard Herrmann  (Citizen Kane)
  4. Anton Karas  (The Third Man)
  5. Max Steiner  (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre)

Analysis:  A lot of great scores but nothing that quite reaches the immortal level with a lot of 8’s and no 9’s.  Max Steiner lands in 5th just as he did in the 30s.
The Top 5 in absolute points at the Nighthawks are Max Steiner (way ahead of anyone else), Miklos Rosza, Franz Waxman, Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Newman.  Thiriet and Raksin compose the two best scores of the decade but neither earns any other points.
Max Steiner amazes with a nomination every single year but Alfred Newman (who only misses a nomination in 1949), with 3 Oscars and 7 other nominations earns a massive 500 points which is good enough for 5th all-time by itself.  Morris Stoloff, Rosza and Ray Heindorf all also earn at least 300 points.  Between multiple categories and seemingly unlimited nominations, the total points for all composers this decade is 6975, compared to 1525 in the 00’s.

  • Best Sound:
  1. Citizen Kane
  2. The Third Man
  3. Fantasia
  4. Yankee Doodle Dandy
  5. The Maltese Falcon

Analysis:  The lowest Oscar Score once again with a 32.1 which is eight points above the 30s.  In 1946 and 1949 it finally breaks 50 for the first time (though it won’t break 60 until 1970).  At 9.5, the winners are the second worst among all Oscar categories.  In three years they pick the best (1942, 1946, 1947) but in all other years they pick the worst or second worst.

  • belleBest Art Direction:
  1. La belle et la bête
  2. Children of Paradise
  3. Great Expecations
  4. Citizen Kane
  5. The Magnificent Ambersons

Analysis:  There are five perfect 9’s and they are all iconic in their looks.
Color Art Direction is the second best Tech award (and the best with more than two years).  It bottoms out with a zero in 1941 but has a perfect 100 in 1948 and two other scores above 80 and a total score of 63.2.  Black and White is much worse with a total of 38.8 and only two years above 50.  The color winner (2.9) are also much better than B&W (6.4).

  • childrenBest Costume Design:
  1. Children of Paradise
  2. La belle et la bête
  3. The Heiress
  4. Henry V
  5. Ivan the Terrible Part I

Analysis:  The top two earn a perfect 9.  The category would finally start at the Oscars in 1948, long overdue.  The first year both categories were okay (60.0) while in 1949 the color was terrible (37.5) and the black and white was fantastic (90.0).  None of the winners were bad choices.

  • Best Visual Effects
  1. Citizen Kane
  2. The Thief of Baghdad
  3. La belle et la bête
  4. Spellbound
  5. Mighty Joe Young

Analysis:  A terrible decade for the category and the Oscars made it worse for the most part with what they nominated and awarded.  The overall Oscar Score is 48.0 but that’s because is usually earned a zero (if they didn’t nominate the few films worth nominating) or 100 (if they did).  Four times the Oscars awarded the best film which is better than most categories.

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. Fantasia
  2. In Which We Serve
  3. For Whom the Bell Tolls
  4. Saboteur
  5. Brute Force

Analysis:  Still not a lot of Sound Editing going on which is why it still wasn’t an Oscar category.

  • Best Makeup
  1. Children of Paradise
  2. La belle et la bête
  3. Citizen Kane
  4. Oliver Twist
  5. The Wolf Man

Analysis:  We’re still several decades away from this as an Oscar category but there were definitely still some films worth noticing.

  • Best Technical Aspects
  1. Citizen Kane  (61)
  2. Children of Paradise  (60)
  3. La belle et la bête  (53)
  4. Henry V  (45)
  5. Oliver Twist  (45)

Analysis:  Simply a tallying of all the points I award in the Tech categories with a maximum of 81.  Nothing is close to Wizard of Oz but all are above the #5 from the 30s.

  • Best Original Song:
  1. “When You Wish Upon a Star”  (Pinocchio)
  2. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”  (Meet Me in St. Louis)
  3. “Zip a Dee Doo Dah”  (Song of the South)
  4. “How About You”  (Babes on Broadway)
  5. “April Shower”  (Bambi)

Analysis:  Only three times did the Oscars get it right but they rarely botched the winner (all make the Top 5 at the Nighthawk Awards) and they average 2.4.  The overall Oscar Score is 80.2, the best for any category in the decade but that’s because the Song rules allowed for a lot of nominees and meant that nearly all the worthwhile eligible films ended up being nominated.

  • Best Original Song Total:
  1. Pinocchio  (15)
  2. Saludos Amigos  (13)
  3. Bambi  (11)
  4. Meet Me in St. Louis  (11)
  5. Road to Morocco  (10)

Analysis:  This adds up the points of all the original songs for the film.  The maximum possible is 45.  Nothing big in this decade unlike Wizard in the 30s.

  • fantasia_1940Best Animated Film:
  1. Fantasia
  2. Bambi
  3. Pinocchio
  4. Dumbo
  5. Song of the South

Analysis:  There weren’t very many feature-length animated films in the decade and only three of them were great but they are three of the very best of all-time so that helps make up for it.  Yes, I’ve seen Song of the South (it wasn’t always unavailable) and yes, in spite of the racial issues, it’s quite good.

  • Best Foreign Film:
  1. Children of Paradise
  2. La belle et la bête
  3. The Bicycle Thieves
  4. Stray Dog
  5. Ivan the Terrible Part I

Analysis:  The rare categories in which the critics had the award before the Oscars.  The critics aligned in 1940 (Baker’s Wife) and 1946 (Open City).  They did again in 1948 (Paisan) but the Oscars gave their initial award to Monsieur Vincent.  In 1949 all three groups as well as the Globes would go for Bicycle Thieves (actually the NBR would give it Best Picture).  The 4 wins for Bicycle Thieves would stay the record until tied in 1968 and its 152 points would last until 1969.  The almost 90% for the Consensus (the only other points were the Globe nomination for Fallen Idol) are a record that can’t even be approached.

Best Films With No Top 5 Finishes:

  • Double Indemnity

note:  For a film to rate at a 97 (and be just outside the Top 10 for the decade) to not earn a single nomination is pretty amazing.  There were multiple films to earn a 96 but this was the only 97.

Worst Film with a Top 5 Finish:

  • Babes on Broadway

note:  Only six films below ***.5 ended up with Top 5 finishes for the decade and this was the only low *** among them.

Nighthawk Awards, 1940-1949 – By Genre


  • Best Picture
  1. Children of Paradise
  2. Citizen Kane
  3. Casablanca
  4. The Maltese Falcon
  5. The Third Man
  • Best Director
  1. Orson Welles  (Citizen Kane)
  2. Marcel Carne  (Children of Paradise)
  3. John Huston  (The Maltese Falcon)
  4. Carol Reed  (The Third Man)
  5. John Huston  (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Casablanca
  2. The Best Years of Our Lives
  3. The Maltese Falcon
  4. The Grapes of Wrath
  5. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Children of Paradise
  2. Citizen Kane
  3. The Third Man
  4. Stairway to Heaven
  5. Stray Dog
  • Best Actor:
  1. Humphrey Bogart  (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre)
  2. Orson Welles  (Citizen Kane)
  3. Henry Fonda  (The Grapes of Wrath)
  4. James Stewart  (It’s a Wonderful Life)
  5. Ray Milland  (The Lost Weekend)

Analysis:  It’s not by design that all five performances are different actors.  It leaves out two 9 star performances, both by Bogart (Maltese Falcon, Casablanca).  Bogie dominates the Nighthawks with two wins and six total nominations.

  • Best Actress
  1. Ingrid Bergman  (Gaslight)
  2. Olivia de Havilland  (The Heiress)
  3. Olivia de Havilland  (The Snake Pit)
  4. Joan Fontaine  (Rebecca)
  5. Celia Johnson  (Brief Encounter)

Analysis:  Bergman has the most Drama points in the decade with 285, winning in 1943 and 1944, earning an additional nom in 1943 and earning noms in 1945, 1946 and 1948.  In spite of not landing in the Top 5, Bette Davis is next with a win in 1941 and a nom for the first six years of the decade (continuing a streak back to 1938).

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Claude Rains  (Casablanca)
  2. Walter Huston  (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre)
  3. Orson Welles  (The Third Man)
  4. Sidney Greenstreet  (The Maltese Falcon)
  5. Claude Rains  (Notorious)

Analysis:  Robert Ryan (Crossfire) is a close 6th place finisher here.  Rains crushes all here with two wins and three other noms for a whopping 210 points.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Judith Anderson  (Rebecca)
  2. Maria Casares  (Children of Paradise)
  3. Gloria Grahame  (Crossfire)
  4. Teresa Wright  (The Little Foxes)
  5. Katina Paxinou  (For Whom the Bell Tolls)
  • Best Ensemble
  1. The Best Years of Our Lives  (34)
  2. The Maltese Falcon  (32)
  3. The Little Foxes  (32)
  4. Rebecca  (30)
  5. Children of Paradise  /  Casablanca  /  For Whom the Bell Tolls  /  It’s a Wonderful Life  (28)

Comedy / Musical

  • Best Picture
  1. Sullivan’s Travels
  2. Fantasia
  3. The Philadelphia Story
  4. The Great Dictator
  5. Yankee Doodle Dandy

Analysis:  As with the rest of these awards, dominated by the early years of the decade.

  • Best Director
  1. Preston Sturges  (Sullivan’s Travels)
  2. George Cukor  (The Philadelphia Story)
  3. Charlie Chaplin  (The Great Dictator)
  4. Michael Curtiz  (Yankee Doodle Dandy)
  5. Howard Hawks  (His Girl Friday)

Analysis:  In a fascinating coincidence, the #3-5 directors were also the #3-5 directors in this category in the 1930s.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. The Philadelphia Story
  2. His Girl Friday
  3. Arsenic and Old Lace
  4. Pinocchio
  5. Kind Hearts and Coronets

Analysis:  Three plays and two novels.

Best Original Screenplay:

  1. Sullivan’s Travels
  2. The Great Dictator
  3. The Lady Eve
  4. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek
  5. Hail the Conquering Hero

Analysis:  Not a coincidence that four of the five are Preston Sturges (and so is #6 – The Great McGinty).

  • James_Cagney_in_Yankee_Doodle_Dandy_trailer_Best Actor:
  1. James Cagney  (Yankee Doodle Dandy)
  2. Charlie Chaplin  (The Great Dictator)
  3. Cary Grant  (His Girl Friday)
  4. James Stewart  (The Philadelphia Story)
  5. Joel McCrea  (Sullivan’s Travels)

Analysis:  Chaplin and Grant lead in the decade with 120 points each with Chaplin winning twice and Grant winning once but earning two other noms.

  • philBest Actress
  1. Katharine Hepburn  (The Philadelphia Story)
  2. Rosalind Russell  (His Girl Friday)
  3. Barbara Stanwyck  (The Lady Eve)
  4. Carol Lombard  (To Be or Not to Be)
  5. Jean Arthur  (The More the Merrier)

Analysis:  Hepburn is appropriately on top since she has the most Comedy points in the decade with 210, winning the Comedy Award in 1940, 1942 and 1948.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Cary Grant  (The Philadelphia Story)
  2. Charles Coburn  (The More the Merrier)
  3. Alec Guinness  (Kind Hearts and Coronets)
  4. Walter Huston  (Yankee Doodle Dandy)
  5. Jack Oakie  (The Great Dictator)

Analysis:  Though none of his performances make the Top 5, William Demarest, with a win and three other noms is the Top Comedy Supporting Actor by far at the Nighthawks.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Ruth Hussey  (The Philadelphia Story)
  2. Diana Lynn  (The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek)
  3. Mary Astor  (The Palm Beach Story)
  4. Marjorie Main  (The Affairs of Martha)
  5. Mary Boland  (Pride and Prejudice)
  • Best Ensemble:
  1. The Philadelphia Story  (30)
  2. His Girl Friday  (19)
  3. The Great Dictator  (18)
  4. Yankee Doodle Dandy  (17)
  5. The More the Merrier  (16)

Analysis:  As can be seen, Philadelphia Story wins by a mile.  It belongs here – it’s the only film in either Comedy or Drama to earn nominations in every category.

Nighthawk Notablesunnamed

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  The Maltese Falcon
  • Funniest Film:  His Girl Friday
  • Best Line  (dramatic):  “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve?  You just put your lips together and blow.”  (To Have and Have Not – Lauren Bacall)
  • Best Line  (comedic):  “Insanity runs in my family.  It practically gallops.”  (Arsenic and Old Lace – Cary Grant)
  • Best Opening:  The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
  • Best Ending:  Casablanca
  • Best Scene:  Fredric March’s homecoming in The Best Years of Our Lives
  • Most Gut-Wrenching Scene:  Jimmy Stewart realizing what he’s done in It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Most Heart-Breaking Scene:  Teresa Wright’s death in Mrs. Miniver
  • Best Death Scene:  Judith Anderson in Rebecca
  • Best Use of a Song (dramatic):  “Over There” in Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • Best Use of a Song (comedic):  “See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have” in Destry Rides Again
  • Best Original Song from a Bad Film:  “Lon Chaney’s Gonna Get You”  (The Hollywood Revue of 1929)
  • Best Soundtrack:  Fantasia
  • Best Sequel:   The Spiders Part II: The Diamond Ship
  • Read the Book, SKIP the Film:  The Great Gatsby
  • See the Film, SKIP the Book:  To Have and Have Not
  • SKIP the Film AND the Book:  The Fountainhead
  • Best Sequel / Franchise Film:  The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (sort of)
  • Worst Sequel / Franchise Film:  Spooks Run Wild
  • Best Guilty Pleasure:  House of Frankenstein
  • Worst Film by a Top 100 Director:  Little Mister Jim  (Fred Zinnemann)
  • Best Kiss:  Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant in Notorious
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Teresa Wright in The Little Foxes
  • Sexiest Performance:  Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve
  • Highest Attractiveness / Acting Ability Ratio:  Rita Hayworth in Gilda
  • Coolest Performance:  Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon
  • Best Performance in an Otherwise Terrible Film:  Charles Bickford  (The Farmer’s Daughter)
  • Best Child Performance:  Natalie Wood in Miracle on 34th Street
  • Best Cameo:  Walter Huston in The Maltese Falcon
  • Funniest Cameo:  Bing Crosby in The Princess and the Pirate
  • Sexiest Cameo:  Dorothy Malone in The Big Sleep
  • Best Animated Character Performance:  Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket  (Pinocchio)
  • Best Credits:  The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp  (opening)
  • Best Tagline:  “For anyone who has ever wished upon a star.”  (Pinocchio)
  • Best Speech:  Henry Fonda in The Grapes of Warth
  • Most Disturbing Plot Premise:  The Major and the Minor
  • Best Snark:  Clifton Webb in Laura
  • Best Dream Sequence:  Spellbound
  • Best One-Line Review of a Film:  Roger Ebert on Out of the Past: “There were guns in Out of the Past, but the real hostility came when Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas smoked at each other.”
  • Most Annoying Gimmick:  point-of-view cinematography in Dark Passage and Lady in the Lakebarbara-stanwyck-in-the-lady-eve-barbara-stanwyck-16692934-1067-8001

note:  It doesn’t include categories that are covered in some of the lists above like Worst Film, Most Over-rated Film, Best Ensemble, etc.

Soundtracks I Own:  Fantasia and Yankee Doodle Dandy are the only films for which I own the entire soundtrack but there are a number of films through the decade where I have some of the songs (especially original songs written for films).  In fact, it’s a given from this point through at least the 70s that I have most original songs from any Disney film.

At the Theater

By the end of 2011, I had probably seen over 1000 films in the theater at some point or another.  I had certainly been to the movies well over 1000 times.  The films in this decade, of course, were released decades before I was born.  But some of them have been released again over the years.  For this decade, going chronologically, I have seen Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi and Stairway to Heaven.


Academy Awards

note:  This includes the 13th through 22nd Oscar ceremonies.  There are notes about this decade in this post.  It does include links in those posts to my various posts covering these years.  Many notes on this period will be included in the upcoming Film History Through 1949 post.

  • Number of Films That Earned Nominations:  514
  • Number of Films That Have Won Oscars:  123
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  236
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  37
  • Total Number of Nominations:  1180
  • Total Number of Wins:  195
  • Number of Films with Nominations I Haven’t Seen:  6
  • Best Film with No Oscar Nominations:  La belle et la bête
  • Best English Language Film with No Oscar Nominations:  Sullivan’s Travels

Most Oscar Nominations

  1. Mrs. Miniver  –  12
  2. The Song of Bernadette  –  12
  3. Johnny Belinda  –  12
  4. Rebecca  –  11
  5. Sergeant York  –  11
  6. The Pride of the Yankees  –  11
  7. How Green Was My Valley  –  10
  8. Going My Way  –  10
  9. Wilson  –  10
  10. Citizen Kane  /  The Little Foxes  /  For Whom the Bell Tolls  /  Since You Went Away  –  9

note:  There are 13 films with 9 or more nominations and only one of them (Johnny Belinda) is from the second half of the decade.

Most Oscar Wins:

  1. Going My Way  –  7
  2. The Best Years of Our Lives  –  7
  3. Mrs. Miniver  –  6
  4. How Green Was My Valley  –  5
  5. Wilson  –  5

Most Oscar Points:

  1. Mrs. Miniver  –  605
  2. Going My Way  –  525
  3. The Best Years of Our Lives  –  520
  4. How Green Was My Valley  –  480
  5. The Song of Bernadette  –  480
  6. Wilson  –  430
  7. Rebecca  –  420
  8. The Lost Weekend  –  415
  9. Gentleman’s Agreement  –  415
  10. Johnny Belinda  –  415

note:  Every film on this list would have been #2 in the 1930s.

Most Nominated Films by Director:

  1. Michael Curtiz  –  13
  2. Sam Wood  –  9
  3. Mitchell Leisen  –  9
  4. Henry King  –  8
  5. David Butler  /  Alfred Hitchcock  –  8

Most Nominations by Director:

  1. William Wyler  –  47
  2. Sam Wood  –  41
  3. Michael Curtiz  –  39
  4. Henry King  –  34
  5. Alfred Hitchcock  –  33

Most Oscars by Director:

  1. William Wyler  –  18
  2. Henry King  –  12
  3. John Ford  –  8
  4. Michael Curtiz  –  8
  5. Leo McCarey  /  Michael Powell  –  8

Most Oscar Points by Director:

  1. William Wyler  –  2125
  2. Michael Curtiz  –  1480
  3. Sam Wood  –  1375
  4. Henry King  –  1300
  5. Alfred Hitchcock  –  1225

Most Submitted Films by Studio:

  1. Universal  –  322
  2. Columbia  –  311
  3. MGM  –  300
  4. 20th Century-Fox  –  272
  5. RKO Radio  –  256
  6. Republic  –  245
  7. Monogram  /  Allied Artists  –  233
  8. Paramount  –  219
  9. PRC  /  Eagle-Lion  –  214
  10. Warner Brothers  –  205

Most Nominated Films by Studio:

  1. United Artists  –  70
  2. 20th Century-Fox  –  69
  3. MGM  –  67
  4. RKO Radio  –  62
  5. Warner Brothers  –  59
  6. Paramount  –  56
  7. Universal  –  45
  8. Columbia  –  28
  9. Republic  –  20
  10. PRC  /  Eagle-Lion  /  Disney  –  8

note:  UA manages to come in 1st in total nominated films even though it doesn’t make the Top 10 in total submitted films.

Highest Percentage of Nominated to Submitted Films by Studio:

  1. Selznick Releasing Organization  –  100%  (4/4)
  2. Tricolore Films  –  100%  (1/1)
  3. Disney  –  61.54%
  4. Mayer-Burstyn  –  50.00%
  5. United Artists  –  36.46%

Most Submitted Films Without a Nomination:

  1. Artkino  –  52
  2. Screen Guild Productions  /  Lippert Films  –  51
  3. Film Classics Inc.  –  25
  4. Superfilm  –  12
  5. Scandia Films  –  11

Most Nominations by Studio:

  1. 20th Century-Fox  –  179
  2. RKO Radio  –  163
  3. MGM  –  161
  4. United Artists  –  155
  5. Paramount  –  141
  6. Warner Brothers  –  137
  7. Universal  –  79
  8. Columbia  –  76
  9. Republic  –  32
  10. Disney  –  16

Most Wins by Studio:

  1. 20th Century-Fox  –  41
  2. MGM  –  37
  3. Paramount  –  29
  4. RKO Radio  –  23
  5. Warner Brothers  –  21
  6. Universal  –  15
  7. United Artists  –  13
  8. Columbia  –  8
  9. Disney  –  4
  10. Mayer-Burstyn  /  PRC / Eagle-Lion Films  –  2

Best Picture Nominations by Studio (wins in parenthesis):

  1. 20th Century-Fox  –  13  (2)
  2. RKO Radio  –  11  (1)
  3. Warner Brothers  –  11  (1)
  4. MGM  –  10  (1)
  5. Paramount  –  9  (2)
  6. United Artists  –  9  (1)
  7. Columbia  –  4  (1)
  8. Universal  –  2  (1)
  9. Eagle-Lion  –  1

Nominated Films by Genre:

  • Drama:  196  (38.13%)
  • Musical:  101
  • Comedy:  73
  • War:  36
  • Suspense:  24
  • Adventure:  21
  • Western:  18
  • Kids:  12
  • Crime:  9
  • Mystery:  9
  • Horror:  5
  • Action:  3
  • Fantasy:  3
  • Documentary:  2
  • Sci-Fi:  1
  • Short:  1

Best Picture Nominees by Genre (wins in parenthesis):

  • Drama:  40  (57.14%)  (9)
  • Comedy:  7
  • Suspense:  7
  • War:  7
  • Musical:  3
  • Kids:  2
  • Mystery:  2  (1)
  • Western:  2

note:  After a decade in which it received zero Best Picture nominations, Suspense ties for the 2nd most.

Films I’ve Seen:

  • Winners:  100.00%  (123/123)
  • Nominees:  98.83%  (508/514)
  • Submitted “Major Studio” Films:  86.84%  (1815/2090)
  • Submitted “Indie Films”:  58.68%  (436/743)
  • Submitted “Foreign Distributors”:  91.78%  (67/73)
  • Submitted Other Films:  68.87%  (146/212)
  • Total Submitted Films:  79.03%  (2464/3118)

My Rate of Submitted Films I’ve Seen By Year:

  • 1940:  85.30%  (267/313)
  • 1941:  90.10%  (173/192)
  • 1942:  90.58%  (125/138)
  • 1943:  94.30%  (149/158)
  • 1944:  94.16%  (129/137)
  • 1945:  72.21%  (278/385)
  • 1946:  75.31%  (308/409)
  • 1947:  75.78%  (341/450)
  • 1948:  70.99%  (323/455)
  • 1949:  77.13%  (371/481)

Nominated Films I Haven’t Seen:

  • Women in War  (1940, Visual Effects)
  • Mercy Island  (1941, Score)
  • Youth on Parade  (1942, Song)
  • Three Russian Girls  (1944, Score)
  • Hitchhike to Happiness  (1945, Score)
  • Three is a Family  (1945, Sound)

Critics Awards

The only change that came during this decade is that the National Board of Review, after only awarding Picture and Foreign Film until 1944, added Director, Actor and Actress in 1945.  The NBR also added a short-lived Screenplay category in 1948.

I award the NBR at 80% of the point totals while I award the NYFC at 100% to gain my weighted total for Awards Points.

  • Number of Films That Won Awards (NBR):  25
  • Number of Films That Won Awards (NYFC):  40
  • Number of Films That Won Awards (both):  16
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  19
  • Total Number of Films:  49
  • Total Number of Awards:  81
  • Director with Most Awarded Films:  William Wyler  (2 films, 5 awards)
  • Studio with Most Awarded Films:  20th Century-Fox  (7 films, 13 awards)
  • Best Film with No Awards:  Children of Paradise
  • Best English Language Film with No Awards:  Casablanca


  • Going My Way (3 NYFC awards), Watch on the Rhine and All the King’s Men (2 NYFC awards each) are the only films to win multiple awards without winning at least one award from each group.
  • In the first three years of the decade, one film would win both Best Picture awards each year, none of which won the Oscar (Grapes of Wrath, Citizen Kane, In Which We Serve).
  • First films to win multiple awards once the NBR added their other awards: Director: The Best Years of Our Lives; Actor: Ray Milland (The Lost Weekend); Actress: Olivia de Havilland (The Snake Pit).

Top 5 Points (Total – Weighted):

  1. The Lost Weekend  –  316
  2. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  –  310
  3. The Grapes of Wrath  –  270
  4. The Best Years of Our Lives  –  262
  5. Gentleman’s Agreement  –  262

Top 5 Points (Total – NYFC only):

  1. Going My Way  –  260
  2. The Lost Weekend  –  260
  3. The Grapes of Wrath  –  190
  4. The Best Years of Our Lives  –  190
  5. Gentleman’s Agreement  /  The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  –  190

Top 5 Points  (Total – NBR only):

  1. Paisan  –  190
  2. The Bicycle Thieves  –  190
  3. Henry V  –  170
  4. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  –  150
  5. The Fallen Idol  –  150

note:  It’s rather notable that the NBR, the least respected of the critics groups, gave the most points to two Foreign films, two British film and just one Hollywood film.

Golden Globes

The Golden Globes began in 1943.  I cover much of the history of the organization and the categories here but I will note that for most of the decade there were just winners (no nominees) and the split between Comedy and Drama didn’t exist yet.

  • Number of Films That Earned Nominations:  38
  • Number of Films That Won Globes:  32
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  13
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  12
  • Best Film with No Globe Nominations:  Children of Paradise
  • Best English Language Film with No Oscar Nominations:  Casablanca

Top 5 Points:

  1. All the King’s Men  –  345
  2. The Song of Bernadette  –  260
  3. The Lost Weekend  –  260
  4. Going My Way  –  250
  5. Gentleman’s Agreement  /  The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  –  250


The BAFTAs began in 1947.  However, they began with only two awards (Best Film, Best British Film).  In 1948, they expanded to having nominees.  But by 1949 there were still just the two categories.  What’s more, matching the BAFTA year to the Oscar eligible year is not easy, especially for the first few decades.

  • Number of Films That Earned Nominations:  27
  • Number of Films That Won BAFTAs:  6
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  3
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  0

Top 5 Points:

  1. Hamlet  –  120
  2. The Best Years of Our Lives  –  100
  3. Bicycle Thieves  –  100
  4. The Fallen Idol  –  90
  5. The Third Man  –  90


The first two guilds to give out awards aren’t too surprising as the Directors Guild (DGA) and the Writer’s Guild (WGA) were the two most powerful guilds in the industry and by far the most active.  They both began their awards in 1948, though both were very different than today.  The DGA had quarterly awards (which I count as nominees) and a full winner.  The WGA had categories broken down by genre with some extra categories as well, meaning films could be nominated in multiple categories.  The WGA also didn’t seem to have a limit as to how many nominees there could be.

  • Number of Films That Earned Nominations:  66
  • Number of Films That Won Awards:  8
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  16
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  3


  • All the King’s Men and The Snake Pit both won two WGA awards.
  • The Search was the only one of the DGA nominees in the first two years not to earn a WGA nom, which is massively ironic since it would win both an Oscar and Globe for the writing.
  • Eliminating The Search that means, yes, that 65 different films earned WGA nominations in these first two years.

Top 5 Points:

  1. All the King’s Men  –  260
  2. The Snake Pit  –  205
  3. A Letter to Three Wives  –  170
  4. I Remember Mama  –  120
  5. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  –  120


Top 10 Awards Nominations

  1. All the King’s Men  –  17
  2. Going My Way  –  16
  3. The Song of Bernadette  –  15
  4. Johnny Belinda  –  15
  5. The Lost Weekend  –  14
  6. Gentleman’s Agreement  –  14
  7. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  –  14
  8. The Best Years of Our Lives  –  13
  9. The Heiress  –  13
  10. Sergeant York  /  Mrs. Miniver  /  Hamlet  –  12

Top 5 Awards Nominations (no wins)

  1. The Little Foxes  –  9
  2. Come to the Stable  –  9
  3. The Letter  –  7
  4. Random Harvest  /  The Talk of the Town  –  7
  5. Madame Curie  /  Double Indemnity  –  7

Top 10 Awards Wins

  1. Going My Way  –  13
  2. The Best Years of Our Lives  –  12
  3. All the King’s Men  –  12
  4. The Lost Weekend  –  11
  5. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  –  11
  6. Gentleman’s Agreement  –  9
  7. Hamlet  –  8
  8. The Song of Bernadette  –  7
  9. The Heiress  –  7
  10. four films  –  6

Top 10 Awards Points

  1. Going My Way  –  1020
  2. All the King’s Men  –  1007
  3. The Best Years of Our Lives  –  952
  4. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  –  923
  5. The Lost Weekend  –  913
  6. Gentleman’s Agreement  –  852
  7. The Song of Bernadette  –  662
  8. Hamlet  –  635
  9. Mrs. Miniver  –  605
  10. The Grapes of Wrath  –  590

note:  Mrs. Miniver, which the most Oscar points in the decade, comes in 9th because it’s the only film in the Top 18 for the decade without any other points other than Oscar points.

Top 10 Awards Points (no Nighthawk nominations)

  1. Wilson  –  479
  2. Battleground  –  414
  3. The Yearling  –  329
  4. The Long Voyage Home  –  270
  5. Come to the Stable  –  261
  6. Wake Island  –  255
  7. The Human Comedy  –  235
  8. Kitty Foyle: The Natural History of a Woman  –  225
  9. The Talk of the Town  –  225
  10. Madame Curie  –  210

Top 10 Awards Points Percentage

  1. The Best Years of Our Lives  –  22.96%
  2. Going My Way  –  19.90%
  3. Gentleman’s Agreement  –  19.29%
  4. The Lost Weekend  –  17.85%
  5. All the King’s Men  –  14.51%
  6. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  –  14.49%
  7. Mrs. Miniver  –  12.80%
  8. The Song of Bernadette  –  12.59%
  9. The Grapes of Wrath  –  11.76%
  10. How Green Was My Valley  –  11.50%

Top 10 Awards Points Percentage (Nighthawk Awards included)

  1. The Best Years of Our Lives  –  20.17%
  2. The Lost Weekend  –  18.04%
  3. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  –  16.11%
  4. Citizen Kane  –  15.10%
  5. The Grapes of Wrath  –  14.60%
  6. Gentleman’s Agreement  –  14.02%
  7. Going My Way  –  13.59%
  8. Casablanca  –  13.35%
  9. Children of Paradise  –  11.61%
  10. Gaslight  –  11.58%


I won’t do a lot of lists because that’s the whole point of TSPDT – they put a ridiculous amount of lists in the blender and come out with the “definitive” one.  Their lists includes lists by genre, so you can always go there and look at their source lists.

The TSPDT Top 25 Films 1940-1949

  1. Citizen Kane  (#1)
  2. The Bicycle Thieves  (#13)
  3. Casablanca (#36)
  4. The Third Man  (#45)
  5. Children of Paradise  (#62)
  6. The Magnificent Ambersons   (#77)
  7. Late Spring (#78)
  8. It’s a Wonderful Life  (#81)
  9. To Be or Not To Be  (#102)
  10. Letter from an Unknown Woman  (#126)
  11. My Darling Clementine  (#128)
  12. Rome, Open City  (#129)
  13. Notorious  (#135)
  14. His Girl Friday  (#142)
  15. The Lady Eve  (#143)
  16. Stairway to Heaven  (#147)
  17. Double Indemnity  (#148)
  18. Spring in a Small Town  (#151)
  19. Brief Encounter  (#152)
  20. The Red Shoes  (#169)
  21. Black Narcissus  (#165)
  22. The Great Dictator  (#173)
  23. The Grapes of Wrath  (#178)
  24. Out of the Past  (#185)
  25. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp  (#186)

note:  These are the current (2020) rankings from TSPDT.

AFI Top 100 Films Released, 1940-1949

  1. The Grapes of Wrath  (#21  /  #23)
  2. The Philadelphia Story  (#51  /  #44)
  3. Fantasia  (#58  /  n/a)
  4. Citizen Kane  (#1  /  #1)
  5. The Maltese Falcon  (#23  /  #31)
  6. Sullivan’s Travels  (n/a  /  #61)
  7. Casablanca  (#2  /  #3)
  8. Yankee Doodle Dandy  (#100  /  #98)
  9. Double Indemnity  (#38  /  #29)
  10. It’s a Wonderful Life  (#11  /  #20)
  11. The Best Years of Our Lives  (#37  /  #37)
  12. The Treasure of the Sierra Madra  (#30  /  #38)
  13. The Third Man  (#57  /  n/a)

note:  So that’s 8 films released in the first three years and just five in the last seven years, one of which is 100% a British Film.

The IMDb Voters Top 10 Films, 1940-1949

note:  Constructed by searching all IMDb films released in the decade with at least 100 votes and sorting by user rating.

  1. It’s a Wonderful Life
  2. Casablanca
  3. Children of Paradise
  4. The Great Dictator
  5. Late Spring
  6. The Bicycle Thieves
  7. Double Indemnity
  8. Citizen Kane
  9. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  10. To Be or Not to Be

The IMDb Voters Most Popular 10 Films, 1940-1949

note:  Constructed by searching all IMDb films released in the decade in descending number of user votes.  Votes listed on 13 January 2021.

  1. Casablanca  (520,377)
  2. It’s a Wonderful Life  (404,045)
  3. Citizen Kane  (401,627)
  4. The Great Dictator  (202,378)
  5. The Third Man  (158,217)
  6. The Maltese Falcon  (148,564)
  7. The Bicycle Thieves  (145,755)
  8. Double Indemnity  (143,003)
  9. Bambi  (130,997)
  10. Pinocchio  (130,953)

note:  Surprisingly, there are just 863 films with over 1000 votes in the decade, barely more than half of what the 30s had.  More surprising, there are 14 that I haven’t seen, almost twice many as in the 30s.  The Mad Monster tops the list with 1506 votes.

Top 10 U.S. Domestic Box Office (Rentals)

  1. The Best Years of Our Lives  –  $10.17 mil
  2. Duel in the Sun  –  $8.70 mil
  3. This is the Army  –  $8.50 mil
  4. The Jolson Story  –  $8.00 mil
  5. The Bells of St. Mary’s  –  $8.00 mil
  6. Going My Way  –  $6.50 mil
  7. For Whom the Bell Tolls  –  $6.30 mil
  8. Welcome Stranger  –  $6.10 mil
  9. Blue Skies  –  $5.70 mil
  10. The Egg and I  –  $5.70 mil

note:  This information is pulled from the January 18, 1950 issue of Weekly Variety (page 18).  For a long time, Variety reported rentals rather than grosses.  It’s hard to equate that perfectly to today’s gross figures and I don’t know where Box Office Mojo gets their pre-1980 information from since Variety seemed to be the main place that had info and they only reported rentals.  A comparison I did of the 1980 Variety all-time list against the listed gross at BOM ranged from a 3.3 multiplier for the rental figure (Benji) all the way down to 1.22 (A Bridge Too Far).  I haven’t the time to plow through all the early Variety issues to see if there are earlier lists but they seem to have cut off their all-time list with rentals of four million, so there might not be anything more on pre-1950 films.

note:  But more on that.  Those films reflect the domestic rentals as of the start of 1950.  So some of the 1949 films won’t be reflected.  But that is the list of the top films as of the end of the decade.

Top 10 U.S. Domestic Box Office (Gross – supposedly)

  1. Bambi  –  $102.80 mil
  2. Pinocchio  –  $84.25 mil
  3. Fantasia  –  $76.41 mil
  4. Song of the South  –  $63.72 mil
  5. Samson and Delilah  –  $28.80 mil
  6. The Best Years of Our Lives  –  $23.65 mil
  7. The Bells of St. Mary’s  –  $21.30 mil
  8. Duel in the Sun  –  $20.41 mil
  9. For Whom the Bell Tolls  –  $17.80 mil
  10. Sergeant York  –  $16.40 mil

note:  For reasons covered above, I am dubious of these numbers.  But when making a list in the Advanced Search at the IMDb, you can sort it by gross and this what the Top 10 are according to the IMDb (which, of course, owns BOM).

note:  The four Disney films benefit from later re-releases.  Bambi would jump a lot with a 1982 re-release, Pinocchio and Song of the South with 1987 re-releases and Fantasia with the 1990 re-release that I went to on opening day.  Samson and Delilah would be a big grosser listed in 1951 because of the late 1949 release (rentals of $9 million).  But even in 1987, Jolson Story was still listed by Variety as having larger rentals than Bell or York and Bells should be significantly behind Duel in the Sun.


The Best Film of the 40s I Haven’t Yet Reviewedmcginty

The Great McGinty
(1940, dir. Preston Sturges)

Back in 1940, the idea of a writer-director wasn’t really something that existed much in Hollywood, aside from Charlie Chaplin, who worked on his own, outside the studio system.  So when Preston Sturges offered the script of The Great McGinty to Paramount for just $1 if he was allowed to direct, it was really the start of something new.  Sturges would go on to win Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars, begin a peak five years which saw him direct eight films, two of which are okay, one of which is very good (see below) and five of which instantly became Screwball Comedy classics that combined romances, laugh and a cynical, satirical view of the world.  It opened the floodgates and in 1941, Orson Welles would earn a Director nomination while winning Screenplay, John Huston would earn a Screenplay nomination and in 1942, Billy Wilder would get to direct for the first time since arriving in Hollywood.  With Kurosawa, Bergman and Fellini still waiting in the future, the era of the writer-director had arrived.

The Great McGinty shouldn’t have actually won the Oscar, given that Sturges was up against Chaplin for The Great Dictator, especially since the level of satire dealing with corruption in politics and big cities in America wasn’t at the same level of what Chaplin was leveling at Hitler.  But it was a great start, the way Sturges would give us a framing device that would see a former governor living in disgrace, tending bar in a banana republic, giving out his story to help calm down a suicidal man who made one mistake while McGinty himself only did one thing right and it lost him his job, his freedom and his family.

Dan McGinty is having a hard time but he’s willing to work hard.  When told in a soup line that if he votes for the mayor (who’s providing the soup), he’ll earn two dollars, he hits every voting precinct in the city he can get to and makes himself $74 by voting 37 times.  That earns him the admiration of The Boss and soon, McGinty is an alderman and eventually the reform mayor (“You’re the Reform Party?”  “I’m every party!”) and is on his way to become governor.  Along the way, he manages to score a wife and kids and an adorable dog who’s along for the ride, trailing his doghouse behind him.

This film doesn’t have the pure breakneck speed of the Sturges classics that were still to come and not as many pratfalls either (though it does have the continual fights between McGinty and The Boss, including a finale that gives the nice little twist that would become a hallmark of many of the Sturges films and remind you that you need to watch up to the very last second).  What it does have are some nice character parts for Brian Donlevy (a man who always seemed to be up to something), Akim Tamiroff (hilarious as The Boss) and William Demarest, the man who would be most important, not because of his role (he works for The Boss and has a couple of funny scenes) but because he would be the key supporting player through the later Sturges films to come, always good for many of the laughs.  Another bonus is that if you watch this, then watch The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek and think about how his downfall as governor came on the first day, the implication is that they must have recovered from their woes, come back and gotten McGinty elected governor of a different state!

The Worst Film of the 40s I Haven’t Yet Reviewed

SAMURAI, poster art, 1945.

SAMURAI, poster art, 1945.

(1945, dir. Raymond Cannon)

While working my way through the Oscar submissions lists for the decade, I came across a film called Samurai.  It was already an oddity because in 1945, it was the only American-made film submitted that wasn’t distributed by a major studio or one of the prominent Poverty Row studios.  It was an independent film in a year where the only independents were imports.  So I looked for it online and found it without any problem.  Or without any problem in finding it, because even before I started watching it, I had the IMDb page up and was reading the description.  Let me begin by saying if the poster didn’t already make you nauseous then you might not understand what is so very wrong with this film.

Here is what the IMDb has to say about it and it pretty much covers the subject: “A young Japanese-American orphan in California is taken in by a priest who is actually a Japanese secret agent and a samurai warrior. Due to the samurai’s training, the boy murders his English teacher, kills the American parents who have adopted him, smuggles Japanese secret plans into the country, and eventually becomes the governor of California with plans to infiltrate Japanese spies into the state so they can take over.”  There is also a longer, more detailed description of the film on the IMDb but this one has already provided you with everything you need to know.

Because I saw Glen or Glenda so very long ago, the zero star films have always gone back in my spreadsheet to 1953.  However, this film changed the timetable on that, providing the very first zero star film, way back in 1945.  I could talk about how the film is atrocious in its acting and its production values, was shot very cheaply and looks it in every second and that it doesn’t seem like any person involved at any level had any modicum of talent.  But really, what earns this film the zero star rating is that it was a blatantly racist film made towards the end of the war deliberately to try and help turn Americans against the Japanese (because apparently taking all of their homes and shipping them off to the desert wasn’t enough).  Even worse, it wasn’t even necessary because by the time was released it was late August and the war was, for all intents and purposes, already over.  The Nazis made horrible racist films like Jew Suss which have rightfully been looked down on with disgust for decades but I guess it’s worth remembering that America doesn’t get to be so high and mighty if they’re going to make utter reprehensible shit like this.

Bonus Reviewpalmbeachstory

The Palm Beach Story
(1942, dir. Preston Sturges)

So, given that I just reviewed a Sturges film up above, why review another one as a bonus?  Because if you haven’t seen the prime Sturges films (The Great McGinty, The Lady Eve, The Palm Beach Story, Sullivan’s Travels, Hail the Conquering Hero, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek), the six films that made him the best and funniest writer-director of the first half of the decade, then you need to rectify this situation.  More importantly, because of my review of McGinty above, this was the only one of the six I hadn’t already reviewed (the other four all land in the Top 5 of their individual years.

This film isn’t at quite the same level as the other five films, all of which are great and many of which are high ****.  This one is still high ***.5, it still has all the hallmarks of a great Sturges film (funny, bizarre opening, even funnier ending with a twist you don’t see coming, good, hilarious use of William Demarest in a supporting role).  This one though, in some ways, is more of a sweet Romantic Comedy, just with some odd twists, like that the couple involved is possibly in the middle of a divorce and not because they don’t love each other or that they are both helped out by the same, very odd older man who just wants to see them happy and in the end, things work out but not in the way that anyone expects them to.

Joel McCrea is Tom Jeffers, a man with big ideas and he just needs someone who believes in those ideas (like his wife) but has money to invest (unlike his wife).  His wife believes that she’s just a burden to him so she flees to Florida to get a divorce and ends up meeting a very rich man who could fund those ideas (that she meets him by repeatedly stepping on his face and breaking his pince-nez are part of the Sturges charm) so she lies and says her husband won’t let her go without the money.  But then the rich man brings in his pretty sister (with an odd hanger-on) and things get even more complicated when Tom comes chasing after his wife and there are misunderstandings and romantic notions in the wrong direction and a wish at the end that turns out to be just what everyone needs.

There really never was a director like Sturges and nobody ever had a peak quite like he did.  By the end of the 40s, he was basically out of work and his late films are few and hard to find.  But what he did in that period, even encumbered by the Production Code (which he worked around brilliantly) gives us comedy like nothing else and you need to see the whole breadth of it.