Greatest Films of the 1940s
Greatest Films of the 1940s

Greatest Films of the 1940s
1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943 | 1944 | 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1949


Academy Awards for 1945 Films
Title Screen Film Genre(s), Title, Year, (Country), Length, Director, Description

Anchors Aweigh (1945), 143 minutes, D: George Sidney
MGM's Technicolored, Best Picture-nominated lightweight fluffy musical in the post-war years headlined a young and thin Frank Sinatra who crooned Julie Styne-Sammy Cahn tunes, and also featured energetic Best Actor-nominated Gene Kelly (his sole Oscar nomination in his career) in a star-making role. It was the stars' first of three film pairings as a musical comedy team - and similar to Kelly's and Sinatra's later "sailor-buddy" film On the Town (1949). The lively musical, with an Oscar-winning Best Musical Score, featured two sailors: experienced "Pomeranian sailor" and lothario - Gunner's Mate 2nd class Joseph "Joe" Brady (Gene Kelly) and his best friend - the innocent, shy and naive Brooklynite - Seaman First Class Clarence Doolittle (Frank Sinatra). They were on a 4-day shore leave from their ship Knoxville in San Diego, and the two traveled north to Los Angeles (Hollywood) looking for love connections. They met up with straitlaced, widowed, aspiring opera singer Susan "Susie" Abbott (Kathryn Grayson) who worked as a film extra, and was befriending her young, orphaned 9 year-old runaway nephew Donald Martin (Dean Stockwell in his film debut) who wished to join the Navy. Some of the tunes included Sinatra's Oscar-nominated "I Fall in Love Too Easily" and "What Makes the Sunset?", and Kelly's seamless, live-action magical dream dance with scene-stealing animated mouse Jerry, the character from MGM's "Tom and Jerry" cartoons, in "The King Who Couldn't Dance (The Worry Song)" number. Susan sang "Jalousie" (or "Jealousy") and "(All of a Sudden) My Heart Sings." In the continuation of the story, the bashful Clarence fell hard for Susan, and Joe, who was chasing after actress/girlfriend Lola (never seen) at the time, helped him by promising to introduce Susan to her idol -- MGM music producer and famed orchestra maestro-conductor José Iturbi (Himself) - without really knowing him. However, a love triangle developed when Joe also began to have feelings for Susan (and she eventually did have an opportunity to audition with Iturbi), while Clarence met a more suitable, down-to-earth Brooklynite native match (Pamela Britton in her film debut, credited as Girl From Brooklyn and nicknamed "Brooklyn"), a friendly Olvera Street Mexican restaurant waitress.

And Then There Were None (1945) (aka Ten Little N-----s, UK), 97 minutes, D: Rene Clair
Agatha Christie's best-selling 1939 detective novel (originally known as Ten Little N-----s) about ten houseguests, and subsequently performed as a stage play, from which this film was developed. This was the best-ever, most entertaining version of the Agatha Christie mystery - the black comedy/mystery story was remade and refilmed numerous times, including George Pollock's Ten Little Indians (1965, UK), Peter Collinson's Ten Little Indians (1974), and Alan Birkinshaw's Ten Little Indians (1989, UK), but this was the original. It served as the basis for the cult satire Murder By Death (1976). Eight individuals, strangers to each other, were invited to a forbidding house on an isolated island off the coast of Devon, England - the mansion was owned by the absent Mr. and Mrs. Owen, but their newly hired servants, butler Thomas (Richard Haydn) and cook Ethel Roberts (Queenie Leonard) were in attendance. Each of the 10, accused of having caused the death of others and escaping punishment, were eliminated. [Note: All of the murders were inspired by the Irish children's nursery rhyme song Ten Little Indians, ("Ten little nigger boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were Nine...").] - the film's sole clue. The mysterious "Mr. U.N. Owen" (read as "Mr. Unknown") had created the remote Indian Island deathtrap. One by one, the guests started dying (off-screen) - by poisoning, drug overdose, stabbing, axing, by a hypodermic needle, a shot to the head, death by a crushing load of bricks, etc. The terminally-ill, wise and retired Judge Francis J. Quinncannon (Barry Fitzgerald), one of the guests, was revealed as the perpetrator of the killings - and identified as the enigmatic Mr. Owen. Quinncannon had faked his own death (bullet hole in the head) with the help of one of the unsuspecting victims, disgraced alcoholic doctor Dr. Edward Armstrong (Walter Huston), who he then killed. At film's end, Quinncannon offered surviving guest Vera Claythorne (June Duprez), a secretary, the option of hanging herself with a noose rather than waiting to be hanged publically. Then, he committed suicide by swallowing poisoned whiskey. Only two guests - who were not guilty of a hidden crime - managed to survive: Vera (who had confessed to a crime committed by her sister - the murder of her fiancee) and dashing adventurer-explorer Philip Lombard (actually his real name was Charles Morley) (Louis Hayward) who had attended in place of his friend Lombard who had committed suicide when threatened by Owen.

The Battle of San Pietro (1945) (aka San Pietro), 32 minutes, D: John Huston (uncredited)
This was a vivid documentary short from writer/director John Huston, who also served as the uncredited narrator. It was part of executive producer Frank Capra's "Why We Fight" series, but considered anti-war in tone, and the US Army refused to show it in its full footage format of 90 minutes (it was cut down to about 30 minutes). The documentary was a gritty and blunt portrayal of the December 1943 bloody battle of the 5th Army's attack on the small Italian village of San Pietro in the rocky Liri Valley 40 miles SE of Rome - the reality of the fighting was intensified by hand-held cameras. The location was crucial - it blocked Allied forces from advancing forward during an Italian campaign toward Rome. For about two months, there was heavy fighting against the German stronghold in the village, as over 1,100 valiant US soldiers (composed of a team of Texas Rangers and the 143rd Infantry Regiment of the 36th Division) were killed during the conflict. 12 of sixteen supporting tanks were lost in the initial assault, and 1,100 troop replacements were required. Afterwards, Italian peasants were thankful and grateful for being liberated.

The Bells of St. Mary's (1945), 126 minutes, D: Leo McCarey
This sprightly, entertaining, family-oriented (holiday favorite) and sentimental sequel to Paramount Pictures' Best Picture- and Best Director-winning Going My Way (1944) was a major box-office hit - it ended up being the most profitable picture in the history of RKO Studios. It was the first sequel to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Along the way, likeable crooner Bing Crosby sang "Adeste Fidelis" and "The Bells of St. Mary's" with a children's choir, and he soloed with "O Sanctissma," "Aren't You Glad You're You," and "In the Land of Beginning Again." In the musical drama, modern-minded (progressive) and warm-hearted priest Father Charles "Chuck" O'Malley (Oscar-nominated Bing Crosby reprising his earlier Oscar-winning Best Actor performance) was assigned to minister in a NYC parish with a Catholic parochial elementary school attached named St. Mary's Academy. He soon found himself in a good-natured rivalry and conflict with the rules-oriented, stubborn and headstrong Swedish-American Sister Mary Benedict (Ingrid Bergman, the Best Actress winner from the previous year) - of the adjoining elementary school. [Note: Her character replaced Barry Fitzgerald's role in the previous 1944 film.] The inner-city school was run-down and about to be condemned, and could possibly be shut down. It was threatened with being demolished by a greedy neighboring land owner who wanted to rebuild the area. In a series of episodic events, behind the scenes, O'Malley helped to convince penny-pinching, cranky, wealthy neighboring land-developer-businessman Horace Bogardus (Henry Travers) to donate his under-construction structure as a new addition to the school, rather than purchase the crumbling school for use as a parking lot. The benefactor Bogardus was cleverly convinced to have a change of heart and donate his soon-to-be-completed modern office building next to the school. At Christmastime, the younger St. Mary's students were rehearsing a very revised, staged Nativity pageant, including a chorus of "Happy Birthday" (for the Virgin Birth). In a series of other episodic events, O'Malley (often with Sister Mary's assistance) also helped educate the children with unconventional methods, solve family problems, and improve life for everyone. In one case, Sister Mary taught one of the young boys, Eddie Breen (Richard/Dickie Tyler) to learn to box in order to defend himself against school bullies. In another, the two helped one of the boarding students - troubled teenaged daughter Patricia 'Patsy' Gallagher (Joan Carroll) of single mother Mary Gallagher (Martha Sleeper) of Syracuse, NY to be allowed to graduate from the 8th grade (even though she purposely failed her exams, in order to stay in the school rather than be sent back home). Their broken family was also reunited with the missing musician-husband-father Joe Gallagher (William Gargan) who walked out on them years earlier after Patsy's birth. In addition to the main plot, Sister Mary was kept in the dark about a diagnosis of an early stage of tuberculosis by Dr. McKay (Rhys Williams), and she presumed it was because of her frequent arguments and disagreements with O'Malley, and his request to get rid of her. When O'Malley decided to tell her the real reason for being transferred and sent away to a desert state to recover, she was relieved and joyful, and became resolved to restore her health, and return with added vigor and strength to see her dream of a new school come true.

The Body Snatcher (1945), 78 minutes, D: Robert Wise
Writer Robert Louis Stevenson's 1884 short story of the same name was the basis for this RKO horror-thriller from director Robert Wise, who later became famous for such classics as The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), West Side Story (1961), and The Sound of Music (1965). This was also the last of producer Val Lewton's great horror films - one of many that created a spooky and frightening atmosphere of tension. The story was based, in part, on a series of murders in 1828 (in Edinburgh, Scotland) committed by William Burke and William Hare over a period of ten months, who provided cadavers for Scottish anatomist and ethnologist Robert Knox. In the plot set in 1831, two "resurrectionist" body snatchers: cab driver and grave-robber John Gray (Boris Karloff) and his servant Joseph (Bela Lugosi), were assisting Dr. Wolfe "Toddy" MacFarlane's (Henry Daniell) illicit activities. [Note: MacFarlane's mentor was the notorious Dr. Knox.] They were illegally supplying MacFarlane's medical school with bodies for dissection, organ or body replacement surgeries, and anatomy lessons. They profited by selling the corpses - sometimes necessitating the murder of victims. Due to the heavily-guarded cemetery due to recent body thefts, Gray reluctantly had to murder (off-screen) a pretty, young blind street singer - a stunning murder scene. After Joseph threatened Gray with blackmail to reveal the body snatching scheme: ("Give me money or I tell the police that you murder the subjects"), Gray smothered Joseph to death, and then delivered his corpse to MacFarlane for his use. It was then revealed that Gray had been grave-robbing during the Burke and Hare trial, and had shielded the real perpetrator - MacFarlane. Gray had been sent to prison after saving MacFarlane. Another murder then occurred (witnessed by Gray's cat as shadows on a wall) - MacFarlane beat Gray to death for pressuring and tormenting him. In the film's classic final sequence during a fierce thunderstorm, MacFarlane drove Gray's horse-drawn carriage with a freshly-unearthed stolen elderly female corpse in the back. As he proceeded along to return to Edinburgh, MacFarlane insanely began to believe that the body (with the voice of the murdered Gray) was repetitiously taunting him, with his threat made earlier: "(You'll) never get rid of me!" and actually was sitting next to him in the driver's seat. As the spooked horses raced away, the coach broke loose and plunged out of control over the side of a cliff - taking MacFarlane to his death. The horror film ended with a closing title card: "It is through error that man tries and rises. It is through tragedy he learns. All the roads of learning begin in darkness and go out into the light." Hippocrates of Cos

The Children of Paradise (1945, Fr.) (aka Les Enfants Du Paradis), 190 minutes, D: Marcel Carne
Marcel Carne's dazzling and beautiful theatrical masterpiece, a period costume drama, was set in early 19th century Paris in the year 1828. It featured a script by poet and surrealist Jacques Prévert. The epic romantic classic was shot during the period of France's occupation by the Nazis - filmed in secret over an 18-month period. At around $1.5 million, it was the most expensive French film ever made. Its length of over 3 hours, with a tale that spanned several years, required that it be divided into two parts (with two separate sets of credits): Boulevard of Crime and The Man in White. It has often been dubbed "the French Gone With the Wind." The epic story was filled with heartbreaking tragedy, jealous passions and even murder. It told about a beautiful and charismatic courtesan, a raven-haired, fickle, seraphim-like (or Garbo-like luminescence) carnival show performer named Garance (Arletty), aka Claire Reine. She was courted and loved by four very different men during the course of the film: (1) introverted, idealistic, delicate, moon-faced theater mime Baptiste Deburau (Jean-Louis Barrault), (2) pretentious actor and lothario Frédérick Lemaître (Pierre Brasseur), (3) petty thief Pierre-François Lacenaire (Marcel Herrand), and (4) aristocrat nobleman Count Édouard de Montray (Louis Salou). After the opening credits, an actual theatre curtain rose to reveal the first view of the 'children of paradise' (the film's title) - the poor and rowdy playgoers in the audience who must watch from the galleries or balconies at a distance - in the cheap seats. By film's end, criminal Lacenaire assassinated Garance's wealthy and protective Count, while Garance found love in the arms of Baptiste, although he was married to Nathalie (María Casares) (and had fathered a son with her).

Detour (1945), 67 minutes, D: Edgar G. Ulmer
Edgar G. Ulmer's gritty, cheaply-made ("Poverty Row"), fatalistic crime film noir was about the bleak twists of fate. The cultish film was made in only 6 days (some say 15), and was largely ignored when first released. The post-war film was remade as Detour (1992) and starred the son of the original ill-fated protagonist, Tom Neal, Jr. The flashbacked story was cynically narrated almost non-stop by world-weary Al Roberts (Tom Neal), an East Coast musician. He had been haplessly involved in an ambiguous death in Arizona during his thumbing trek from NY to Los Angeles/Hollywood after ex-bookie turned businessman Charles Haskell (Edmund MacDonald) picked him up in a convertible. When Haskell suffered an apparent heart attack and fell out of the passenger side of the car (and his head struck a rock), Roberts dumped Haskell's body by the side of the road, stole his car and adopted his identity (his ID and his clothes). Then, after picking up a vulturous, nasty and despicable, yet sexy hitchhiker Vera (Ann Savage), she accused him of not being Haskell ("You're a cheap crook and you killed him"). She turned out to be a blackmailing, vindictive femme fatale con. Roberts commented upon fate and the blackmailing, castrating, exploitative, sadomasochistic and vindictive femme fatale con: "That's life - which ever way you turn, Fate sticks out a foot to trip you up." Vera schemed to turn Roberts in as a murderer, unless he agreed to sell the car (and pay her off) and also to claim a substantial inheritance from Haskell's dying father, by having them pretend to be Mr. and Mrs. Haskell. Things turned against him even further when the drunken Vera was accidentally strangled by the doomed protagonist with a telephone cord, behind a closed door in their rented Hollywood apartment after a vicious argument. Another disastrous twist of fate for him was signified by the in-and-out of focus shots from his deranged mental state and POV in the bedroom. He imagined he would be arrested by the Highway Patrol after leaving a tawdry Reno, Nevada diner (to appease the Hays Code censors of the time). The great film ended with the quote by self-pitying Roberts who knew his fate was sealed as a guilty man: "But one thing I don't have to wonder about. I know. Someday a car will stop to pick me up that I never thumbed. Yes, fate or some mysterious force can put the finger on you or me for no good reason at all."

I Know Where I'm Going! (1945, UK), 91 minutes, D: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
A small, unpredictable, precious and unassuming gem of a movie from the famed British writer/director/producer team of Powell and Pressburger (known as "The Archers"). The wartime, fable-like, mystical romance also had some comedy and suspense, accompanied by other-worldly, fanciful elements of romantic myth and legend, Scottish dance, simple virtues and proud traditions, the ancient curse of castle Sorne, and thematic symbols (a dangerous Corryvreckan whirlpool, falcon hawks, and isolated islands). With lyrical and haunting cinematography by Erwin Hillier. Determined to marry for money as a 'fortune hunter,' ambitious, materialistic, self-centered, strong-willed, middle-class 25 year-old Londoner Joan Webster (Wendy Hiller) set off from Manchester, England by train to the western isles of Scotland. She had decided to engage in a loveless marriage to her elderly and stuffy employer - wealthy middle-aged chemical industrialist Sir Robert Bellinger (voice of Norman Shelley), the executive owner of Consolidated Chemical Industries. He was living on mythical Kiloran island, in the Hebrides Islands of Scotland. Nasty weather (fog and violent storms) marooned her for a week in a seacoast town on the island of Mull, where she met another stranded individual - modest young naval officer Lt. Torquil McNeil (Roger Livesey) who was on an 8-day leave. Both stayed in the home of a hunting dog lover - dark-eyed Catriona Potts (Pamela Brown), along with eccentric falconer Col. Barnstaple (C. W. R. Knight), who owned and trained a golden eagle named after Torquil. Joan learned that Torquil was the actual owner of Kiloran (and had leased the island retreat to Bellinger). She slowly developed a love for Torquil, amidst the magical allure of the Scottish highlands, after he helped save her from a whirlpool during a risky boat trip with a conked-out engine. Joan's values were astutely contrasted with those of another young couple, Kenny (Murdo Morrison) and Bridie (Margot Fitzsimons) - after which she learned the simple lesson that she should trust her heart rather than her head.

Ivan the Terrible, Part I (1945, Soviet Union) (aka Ivan Groznyy, or Иван Грозный), 100 minutes, D: Sergei M. Eisenstein
The first film in the trilogy (never completed fully) was released in the mid-1940s and hailed as a success. Followed by Part II (completed by 1946) which was suppressed and delayed until 1958 due to a ban by Stalin. Part II was titled: Ivan Groznyy. Skaz vtoroy: Boyarskiy zagovor (1958). This was the last film directed and completed by writer/director Sergei M. Eisenstein, and his technique of radical montage was substituted by costume-rich, operatic pageantry. An historical film about the idealistic and stern 16th century Ivan Vasilyevich (Nikolai Cherkasov), or Ivan IV, Duke of Moscow who ruled Russia from 1533 to 1547 as the anointed Tsar. His nickname Groznyy was usually translated as Terrible. The epic, stagey film (harkening back to highly-stylized silent film techniques) was characterized by expressionistic sets, facial closeups, heavy costuming, angled camera shots for contrast, stark light and shadows, huge sets, religious imagery and a score by Prokofiev. The film commenced with the coronation of young Grand Prince of Muscovy Ivan, by the approval of a land-owning nobility/bourgeoisie class (affluent and hereditary) known as the Boyars. He married Anastasia Romanovna (Lyudmila Tselikovskaya), the Czarina, and they had a child, infant son Dmitri. The film included his campaign against the Tartars in Kazan, Ivan's serious illness on his deathbed, battles and campaigns to reclaim lost Russian territory, and his self-imposed exile at the Alexandrov monastery before a populist movement demanded his return. The entire film was mostly about court intrigue and his struggle against the plotting of the Boyars and his efforts to make them submit to his powerful will as Tsar. He experienced major conflict with his own witchy and scheming boyarina Aunt Efrosinia Staritskaya (Serafima Birman) who plotted to assassinate him with the help of other traditionalists. She wanted to appoint her own dim-witted simpleton son Vladimir Andreyevich Staritsky (Pavel Kadochnikov) as the new Tsar. She also encouraged one of Ivan's friends, Prince Andrei Kurbsky (Mikhail Nazvanov), who lusted after Anastasia, to betray him. Another friend Fyodor Kolychev (Andrei Abrikosov) became Archbishop Philip and then became part of a religious group that opposed Ivan along with the Boyars. Ultimately, she murdered Ivan's wife by having her drink from a poisoned cup of wine. Ivan eventually consolidated power in himself through personal guards, secret police or "iron men" known as Oprichniki.

Leave Her to Heaven (1945), 111 minutes, D: John M. Stahl
Based on the best-selling novel by Ben Ames Williams, this unsettling psychological noir thriller and lush Technicolored melodrama from director John M. Stahl highlighted a menacing, father-fixated, unstable, and deranged, darkly alluring femme fatale named Ellen Berent (Gene Tierney). The 'wicked' woman was neurotically-possessive and psycho-insanely-jealous. Vincent Price portrayed her vengeful, jilted fiancee/ex-lover Russell Quinton, a newly-elected Boston-area district attorney. After proposing marriage, Ellen vowed to her deceived novelist husband Richard Harland (Cornel Wilde), who resembled her father, that she wanted him all to herself: "I'll never let you go, never, never," stopping at nothing to make the man she loved her exclusive possession. The most dramatic scene was the drowning murder of her paraplegic brother-in-law Danny (Darryl Hickman) in a Maine lake as she calmly watched from a nearby rowboat. When he became exhausted and distressed in the water from severe stomach cramps (after eating a large lunch), Ellen passively watched as he called out: "Help me!" He submerged twice and then disappeared under the surface. She pretended to assist him by diving in, but it was obviously too late. Later, Ellen deliberately fell down a flight of stairs to cause a miscarriage and kill her unborn child. And finally, she committed suicide with poison, implicating her adoptive sister Ruth Berent (Jeanne Crain) in the death (although Ruth was found innocent) and sending Richard to jail for two years for withholding evidence as an accessory to murder

The Lost Weekend (1945), 101 minutes, D: Billy Wilder
Director Billy Wilder's ground-breaking, Best Picture-winning film was based on Charles Jackson's 1944 novel by co-screenwriters Charles Brackett and Wilder himself, and was filmed in NYC. The Lost Weekend was a classic, melodramatic, realistically-grim and uncompromising "social-problem" film of the 1940s, about the controversial subject of alcoholism, told partially in flashback. Rather than join his brother Wick Birnam (Phillip Terry) on a weekend outing to the country, talented New York aspiring novel writer Don Birnam (Oscar-winning Ray Milland) - a chronic alcoholic with writer's block - spent a 'lost weekend' on a wild, self-destructive drinking binge. Eluding his persistently supportive girlfriend Helen St. James (Jane Wyman), he desperately trudged down Third Avenue on Yom Kippur attempting to find an open pawnshop to hock his own typewriter for another drink. In Bellevue Hospital's alcohol detoxification ward (shot on location) after a debilitating alcoholic binge, he awakened to shrieking inmates suffering the DTs, and suffered torment from sadistic male nurse 'Bim' Nolan (Frank Faylen). In his apartment, Birnam experienced hallucinations of a mouse attacked by a bat. He narrowly avoided committing suicide by shooting himself in the 'optimistic' ending. He vowed to write about his 'lost weekend' in a novel titled The Bottle.

Mildred Pierce (1945), 109 minutes, D: Michael Curtiz
Director Michael Curtiz' glossy soap opera tale, adapted from James M. Cain's 1941 hard-boiled novel, was one of the best melodramatic, 'women's pictures' (or "weepies") and film noir classics of the 1940s - and also was Joan Crawford's comeback film after a two-year absence. The intense and obsessive mother-love story began with the startling murder of two-timing husband Monte Beragon (Zachary Scott) in a beach house - by an unknown, unidentified and unseen assailant. He was shot to death as he uttered the film's first word: "Mildred!" In the next scene, the prime suspect - fur-coated Mildred Pierce (Oscar-winning Joan Crawford) was walking on a Santa Monica, CA pier where she was saved from suicide by a patrolling cop: ("You take a swim, I'd have to take a swim. Is that fair? Just because you feel like bumpin' yourself off, I gotta get pneumonia? Never thought about that, did ya? OK. Think about it. Go on, beat it now. Go on home before we both take a swim"). She was being thoroughly interrogated by police for the killing of her second husband - cad playboy Monte. The plot unfolded with three flashback sequences (and effective voice-over narration) from the local police station where Mildred was brought for questioning, and where she initially took the blame for Monte's murder. Housewife Mildred had been divorced from her decent first husband Bert Pierce (Bruce Bennett). The hardworking, dowdy divorced mother obsessively doted on her two daughters, especially rotten, ungrateful, spoiled and selfish elder 16 year-old daughter Veda (Ann Blyth). To support herself and Veda, Mildred waited tables in a downtown restaurant in addition to baking pies at home. Veda was harshly critical: "My mother, a waitress!" Through determination and will-power, Mildred then opened up a small restaurant with the help of her wisecracking friend Ida (Eve Arden) and long-time rejected suitor Wally Fay (Jack Carson). She developed it into a successful and profitable chain, received legal assistance from realtor/rebuffed beau and businessman Wally Fay, and went into a partnership with socially-prominent but scuzzy, opportunistic lounge lizard and playboy Monte Beragon. She also began to develop a romantic relationship with Monte. Meanwhile, Bert assented to an official divorce while also expressing jealous rage toward Mildred's association with Monte. Eventually, Monte and Veda spent her money and exploitatively sent her into bankruptcy. Mildred also delivered an ultimatum warning to Monte to stay away from her pretentious daughter Veda for good: ("Stay away from Veda...And it isn't funny. She's only seventeen years old and spoiled rotten"). Mildred's concern was that she would lose her self-indulgent daughter to him. She determined her best course of action was to personally dump the ungrateful Monte - and fire him. The petulant, selfishly-ungrateful Veda became estranged from Mildred after she had greedily helped to contribute to the restaurant's financial ruin. They had a vicious smack-down in her home, when Veda slapped Mildred across the face and knocked her down onto the stairs. Mildred rose and stood face to face in front of Veda and commanded her cold-hearted daughter: ("Get out, Veda"). After a while, the now-affluent Mildred negotiated with cash-poor Monte to purchase his "antiquated," run-down Beragon mansion, and she also proposed a marriage of convenience. Beragon accepted if she would offer him a one-third share of Mildred's successful business. Mildred married Monte Beragon - a heartless and loveless marriage - for his social status and family name, and to provide the kind of social background that Veda craved. Mildred was unaware that Veda was romancing her own step-father (a semi-incestuous relationship) behind the restaurateur's long-suffering back. Mildred was also stunned to learn that she was facing bankruptcy when Monte wished to sell out his one-third interest in Mildred's business; she took a gun and placed it in her pocket before driving to the beach house at around midnight. A final confrontation (seen in the third concluding flashback) revealed a resolution to the murder mystery. At the beach house, Mildred caught her promiscuous daughter in the midst of an affair with Monte. Veda boldly stated to Mildred: "Monte's going to divorce you and marry me, and there's nothing you can do about it"; however, once Mildred left (after discarding her gun on the floor), Monte rebuffed and rejected Veda: ("Just where did you get the idea I'm going to marry you?... I'm not joking. If you think I'm going to marry you, you're very much mistaken.... Look. You don't really think I could be in love with a rotten little tramp like you, do you?") - Veda pulled Mildred's gun on Monte and shot him to death. Outside in her car, Mildred heard six shots - and when she came back inside, she found her crazed, impassioned daughter standing over the dead body of Monte. Veda desperately begged for her mother not to report Monte's murder to police, but Mildred didn't give in. Back in the present after the final flashback, Veda had incriminated herself and was booked for murder and led away. Outside the police office, Mildred was reconciled with her estranged ex-husband Bert in the early morning dawn.

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), 110 minutes, D: Albert Lewin
Writer-director Albert Lewin's black and white occult-horror fantasy drama was based upon Oscar Wilde's 1891 story about a man's soul and its evil destiny. It told about the fate of healthy, handsome, and young 19th century Victorian Englishman Dorian Gray (Hurd Hatfield), a vain aristocrat who had his portrait painted by his friend Basil Hallward (Lowell Gilmore). Gray was distressed when reminded by cynical, dissolute and witty old acquaintance Lord Henry Wotton (George Sanders) that he would not be handsome and youthful forever. The finished painting would remind Gray that he would not remain perpetually youthful forever. He jealously spoke to the painting in the presence of a statue of the ancient Egyptian goddess Bast, that he would "sell my very soul" if he could stay young-looking forever and never grow old, while the figure in the painting would take on all of the decaying and corruptive qualities that came with aging. The wish appeared to come true, as the painting aged (locked away in an attic room), while Gray remained youthful. In addition to remaining good-looking, he had become hedonistic, narcissistic, ruthless, heartless, and mean in his heart, and the painting reflected his evil soul. He fell in love with singer Sibyl Vane (Angela Lansbury) whom he met at the Two Turtles Pub, but then rejected her as his fiancee with a hurtful and demeaning letter, causing her to commit suicide by poison. Years later when Dorian was 40 (although he still looked like he was 22), painter Basil demanded to see the painting locked away in Dorian's attic - the portrait was again revealed in full color. When Basil attempted to warn Dorian and pleaded with him to reform his life after seeing the changed portrait corrupted by secret sins, Dorian went into a panic and murdered Basil by stabbing him to death in the back, and then hid his body in the room with the painting. Dorian became acquainted with Basil's niece Gladys Hallward (Donna Reed), and soon seized her away from her noble suitor David Stone (Peter Lawford); however, a stealthy Stone divulged that he had entered Dorian's locked attic room and had seen the horrid painting created by Gladys' uncle Basil. During the revelation of the evil of Dorian's portrait, Gladys received a rejection letter from Dorian himself - at age 38, he claimed it would be wicked to marry her and he would spare her, although she wanted to marry him. In the concluding shocking scene, Dorian viewed his own painting - curious to see what the effects of his behavior had been upon it. There was a sudden and shocking final view of the hideously-aged painted portrait of Gray (occasionally shown in Technicolor) showing the ravages of sin and withered aging (while he remained young, vain and handsome). Dorian attempted to stab the heart of his image in the picture (with the knife used to stab and kill Basil) to release his awful visage and the spell that had been cast upon him, but he actually stabbed his own heart; he collapsed to the floor. As he died, he miraculously took on the hideous and deformed characteristics of the painting - while the painting reverted back to its original depiction of Dorian as a young man (as a swinging lamp cast ominous shadows).

Rome, Open City (1945, It.) (aka Roma, Città Aperta), 100 minutes, D: Roberto Rossellini
This war film was set at the time of Anti-Nazi Resistance in Rome during German occupation of Italy in WWII, and was often mistaken for documentary footage. Roberto Rossellini's influential, low-budget documentary-like landmark film formally introduced Italian Neo-realism - it was the first film in a Rossellini 'war trilogy' of post-war Neo-realistic films. The gritty and realistic post-war film used on-location cinematography, grainy low-grade black-and-white film stock (due to war-time), and untrained actors in improvised scenes. The film followed the plight of fugitive Resistance leader Giorgio Manfredi (Marcello Pagliero), who was eventually caught and tortured to death, after being betrayed by traitorous ex-girlfriend and prostitute Marina Mari (Maria Michi). In another of the shocking, realistic scenes, pregnant widow Pina (Anna Magnani) ran after a military truck hysterically screaming the name of her lithographer fiancee and underground leader Francesco (Francesco Grandjacquet), who was just arrested. She broke away from a soldier molesting her and ran after Francesco, when she was abruptly machine-gunned and killed the morning of her planned wedding day. Witnessing the murder was Pina's ten year-old son Marcello (Vito Annichiarico) and brave Catholic parish priest Don Pietro Pellegrini (Aldo Fabrizi), both involved in the Resistance movement. In the film's conclusion, the priest was apprehended and about to be executed by a hesitant Italian firing squad, when the German officer in charge personally decided to shoot him.

Scarlet Street (1945), 103 minutes, D: Fritz Lang
This was an early classic non-detective film noir from director Fritz Lang, a steamy and fatalistic tale - and one of the moodiest, steamiest, blackest thrillers ever made. It was the tragic, nightmarish and cynical story of a meek, middle-aged, mild-mannered clerk-cashier and unhappily-married, hen-pecked husband Christopher Cross (Edward G. Robinson), a painter, who was hungering for affection. The film opened with a dinner honoring him for 25 years of service. Afterwards, he unwittingly fell into a cruel trap and web of intrigue set by cold-hearted, amoral femme fatale gold-digger Katherine "Kitty" March (Joan Bennett), and her abusive, slick and mercenary lover-boyfriend-pimp Johnny (Dan Duryea). Cross first met Kitty when she was being beaten up by Johnny on a rainy night (a set-up), and they got to know each other in a bar for a late-night drink. He was immediately entranced by the clear plastic raincoat-wearing sexy dame. The evil and deceitful female led Cross to commit embezzlement (of his wife's and employer's funds) in order to rent an expensive apartment for her (to serve as an art studio); she also impersonated him in order to sell his surrealistic paintings (along with Johnny), and was deceitful and cruel to Cross. Kitty took the credit for the paintings (with Cross' approval, since he felt he was symbolically linked to her) and became a celebrity. In the middle of all the deceptive proceedings, there was an amazing and contrived plot-twist; the previous husband of Cross' wife Adele (Rosalind Ivan), corrupt policeman Patch-eye Homer Higgins (Charles Kemper) suddenly resurfaced - he had been presumed drowned. Cross now assumed that his marriage to Adele was invalidated, and that he was free to marry Kitty. He was suspicious that "Kitty" and Johnny were romantically-involved, but still believed he had a chance to marry her. His pitiful and pathetic proposal of marriage to Kitty was flatly refused. She responded by humiliating him and revealing her true feelings for him - she called Cross an "idiot": "Oh, you idiot! How can a man be so dumb?...I've wanted to go laugh in your face ever since I first met you. You're old and ugly and I'm sick of you. Sick, sick, sick!" After she ordered him out ("You want to marry me? You? Get out of here! Get out! Get away from me!") -- he lost control of his feelings, leading him to commit murder in a jealous rage by stabbing her with an ice-pick through her bed covers when she hid. The film ended with Johnny being falsely accused of the crime and executed (in the electric chair), while Cross was only fired from his job for embezzling funds from his employer. He was not considered a suspect due to his secretive relationship with Kitty. However, Cross was a broken man - he suffered humiliating disgrace, haunting psychological torment and mental anguish (i.e., Cross attempted suicide by hanging and failed, and in abject homelessness as a bum, he wandered the streets). The final image was his shuffling by a 5th Avenue gallery passing the 'self-portrait' he had drawn of Kitty, and overhearing its sale to an elderly matron for $10,000. The last lines of dialogue were heard as the haunted Cross slowly ambled down the deserted street under a movie marquee - he thought of Kitty and Johnny together, with echoing words of love spoken (off-screen) between them: Kitty: "Johnny. Oh Johnny." Johnny: "Lazy Legs." Kitty: "Jeepers, I love you, Johnny."

The Seventh Veil (1945, UK), 95 minutes, D: Compton Bennett
The tagline for this well-produced and acted romantic and psychological melodrama described: "Is There Always a SEVENTH VEIL Between a Woman and the Men Who Love Her?" The Muriel and Sydney Box story won the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award. It was the compelling story of teenaged Francesca Cunningham (Ann Todd), a world-famed concert pianist who had left her family. The film opened with her escape from a mental hospital, and her attempt to commit suicide with a night-time jump off a bridge. For rehabilitation and psychological treatment, she met with psychiatrist Dr. Larsen (Herbert Lom), who used hypnosis therapy to have the neurotic Francesca talk about her past, and the events and people that led her to a deep depression and mute state, and her inability to play the piano. The film, through flashback, peeled back the layers of Francesca's mentally-ill and unstable mind, composed of various veils. The removal of the last seventh veil would reveal her subconscious. She explained how as a 14 year-old orphan, she lived with her controlling and stern guardian (her second cousin), a crippled bachelor named Nicholas (James Mason), who forced her to practice piano five to six hours a day, helping her to become an excellent classical pianist. The Svengali-like Nicholas kept Francesca from other love interests, including her first musically-talented beau, American band leader Peter Gay (Hugh McDermott). After being forbidden to marry Peter, Francesca moved in with a German bohemian portrait artist-painter named Maxwell Leyden (Albert Lieven). Again, Nicholas demanded full control over her and thwarted her. He struck her hands with his cane while she was playing Beethoven's "Pathétique" Sonata. When she fled with Max, the two had a serious automobile accident, and Francesca's hands were also burned. She was hospitalized - and the film returned to the present time. Dr. Larsen believed rightly that Francesca would be able to resume playing if she listened to a recording of Beethoven's Sonata. By the film's illogical and semi-twisted conclusion, the cured Francesca chose to remain with the demanding, dominant, and enigmatic Nicholas, the possessive mentor who had helped to nurture her to succeed in her career.

The Southerner (1945), 91 minutes, D: Jean Renoir
French director Renoir's drama was based on George Sessions Perry's 1941 novel, "Hold Autumn in Your Hand." His third US feature film, it became one of the best of the five films French director Renoir made in the US from 1941 to 1947 after he had migrated to Hollywood (due to the advent of WWII). Some called it "the first successful essay in Franco-American screen collaboration." When released, however, it was met with a poor box-office response, and in the South by boycotts and pickets from Southerners who disliked the depiction of their way of life. However, it was a critical success (Renoir was nominated for a Best Director Academy Award), and in 1946 it won the Venice Film Festival award for Best Feature Film. The visually-poetic drama, with quasi-documentary elements and sparse dialogue, told an inspiring and moving story about a poor southern tenant farmer's struggle to raise his own crops and support his family in the Deep South of southern Texas. Uneducated cotton picker field-hand Sam Tucker (Zachary Scott) decided to own and farm his own land (but without modern farm equipment) - as a sharecropper, by renting some unpromising, abandoned river-front property with meager soil that had been unfarmed from his boss/employer Ruston (Paul Harvey). Sam and his family moved into a miserable rundown shack with a dry well. His family consisted of his tough, loyal and supportive wife Nona (Betty Field), his two adolescent children Jot (Jay Gilpin) and Daisy (Jean Vanderwilt), his cranky and stubborn paternal Granny (Beulah Bondi) - and then Sam's mother Mama Tucker (Blanche Yurka). Although determined to succeed, they faced numerous trials in an endless succession of natural and man-made problems - nutritional ignorance, illness and disease (son Jot suffered from pellagra or "spring sickness"), the jealous Devers (J. Carrol Naish) - a bitter and mean neighbor and his hired hand nephew Finlay (Norman Lloyd), torrential downpours, etc. Although appearing defeated, the family continued to persevere, and the humanistic film closed on a note of optimism.

Spellbound (1945), 111 minutes, D: Alfred Hitchcock
Director Alfred Hitchcock's film noirish psychological mystery-thriller often used Freudian symbols and analysis to add richness to the mysterious plot about identity confusion, adapted by Ben Hecht and Angus MacPhail from the novel The House of Dr. Edwardes. In the story, intellectual, frigid and cool-minded psychiatrist Dr. Constance Petersen (Ingrid Bergman) was having a love affair with the handsome new director of the Green Manors mental hospital (or asylum), Dr. Anthony Edwardes (Gregory Peck). He had been selected to take over the asylum's head position and replace the outgoing director Dr. Murchison (Leo G. Carroll). As their love deepened, she began to rationally suspect that Dr. Edwardes was delusional and homicidal, and had possibly murdered the real Dr. Edwardes (Edward Fielding). But at the same time, she was concerned that he might also be innocently delusional and was suffering from anxiety attacks, neurosis, paranoia, and mostly from amnesia. The Edwardes-imposter eventually remembered his real name - John Ballantyne (or "JB"). Hitchcock featured set-pieces to depict the crazed mental state of 'Edwardes' - there were disturbing recurring lines on a white background, including the image of parallel fork lines on a tablecloth, patterns on a robe and on a bedspread, and sled tracks on white snow, for example. These patterns were JB's partial recollection (and partial repression) of his witnessing of the murder of the real Dr. Edwardes, his analyst, on a ski slope at Gabriel Valley. A pivotal, brilliant nightmarish dream-remembrance sequence, conceived by surrealist artist Salvador Dali, occurred during JB's visit to Constance's old teacher and psychologist Dr. Alexander Brulov (Michael Chekhov) to diagnose JB's case. Due to Ballantyne's trauma, he had dreamt of eyes painted on curtains in a gambling room, a blackjack (21) card game initially with blank cards, an angry proprietor, a sloping roof, a misshapen wheel, and a pair of pursuing wings. As Dr. Petersen and JB attempted to retrace his steps by returning to the ski slope to analyze the dream symbols, during a blood-chilling sequence, the guilt-ridden Ballantyne - during a ski run with Constance on the slopes toward the same precipice where Edwardes had skiied off to his death - vividly remembered a traumatic childhood incident. He recalled his young brother's accidental and tragic death by impalement on a spiked fence. JB had inadvertently killed his brother by sliding down an incline and pushing the boy off the roof onto the protruding spikes. By film's end, it was revealed that the murderer of Dr. Edwardes was not Ballantyne but the jealous and treacherous Dr. Murchison, who had framed imposter-Ballantyne for the murder of Edwardes. Motivated by jealousy and by not wanting his job to be taken by Dr. Edwardes, Murchison had used Ballantyne's disabilities to frame him. During Murchison's analysis of Ballantyne's dream with Dr. Petersen, she tricked him into admitting that he had followed Edwardes and JB to the ski slope and shot Edwardes from behind as he skiied toward the cliff's edge. Fifty feet behind when the tragedy occurred, JB had then subconsciously assumed the guilt of the murder and substituted himself for Edwardes at the sanitarium. Murchison aimed his gun at Dr. Petersen's back after she revealed his treachery. [Note: He had given himself away when he told her: "I knew Edwardes only slightly. I never really liked him. But he was a good man, in a way, I suppose." If Murchison had known Edwardes, he shouldn't have mistaken Ballantyne for Edwardes.] Then, after she calmly left to phone the police, Murchison slowly turned toward the camera and fired suicidally at himself - there was a burst of a red colored gunflash (in the black and white film).

They Were Expendable (1945), 135 minutes, D: John Ford
Toward the close of the war, director Ford (after making wartime documentaries) based this realistic, old-fashioned, under-rated, inspiring and bleak (black and white) war film upon the historically-true story of the Navy's PT boat squadrons and crews based in the Philippines that were supporting the naval war in the Pacific campaign. The crews of the fast, maneuverable, lightweight plywood (not metal) PT (short for patrol torpedo) boats armed with torpedos, were there during the early years of the war (Dec 1941 - April 1942) and faced the greatly-outnumbered advance of Japanese forces immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The straight-forward, well-directed, semi-patriotic film, a detailed and authentic-looking action-war drama, was based on William L. White's bestselling 1942 book with the same title about torpedo boat squadron commander Lt. John Brickley (real-life Congressional Medal of Honor winner John Bulkeley) (Robert Montgomery) and his second-in-command executive officer, PT boat officer/skipper Lt. J.G. "Rusty" Ryan (real-life Robert Kelly) (John Wayne). A hospitalized Ryan had moments of on-screen romance with nurse Lt. Sandy Davyss (Donna Reed) when he was in sick bay.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), 128 minutes, D: Elia Kazan
This sincere, endearing and moving family drama and coming-of-age tale marked Elia Kazan's directorial debut. It was based on Betty Smith's beloved 1943 novel with the same name, about a turn-of-the-century Brooklyn family of Irish members, the Nolans, who were struggling to survive in their challenging tenement neighborhood-environment. In one scene set at their apartment window, improvident Irish singing waiter Johnny Nolan (Oscar-winning James Dunn) told his bright young 13 year-old daughter Francie Nolan (Special Oscar-winning Peggy Ann Garner), an aspiring writer, that she needn't worry that the neighbors killed a courtyard tree nearby, with an optimistic tone: "They didn't kill it, why they could cut that old tree right down to the ground and a root would push up someplace else in the cement. You wait until springtime, my darlin', you'll see." He was encouraging, comparing their family's (and his own) struggles to the resilient tree in their tenement area. The down-to-earth, frugal, strong-willed, hard-working and firm mother Katie Nolan (Dorothy McGuire) was the backbone and strength of the family, and was appropriately hard on Johnny, although her treatment of him was misunderstood by Francie. Johnny was a ne'er-do-well loser, due to his frequent drinking and irresponsible nature, but he was still kind, loving and encouraging. He sat with dreamer Francie at her bedside at Christmastime, and encouraged her aspirations to grow up and be a writer. In a heartbreaking scene, he watched her fall asleep, faced the truth and decided to go out and find a real job (to support his now-pregnant wife, and to keep Francie in school) - and never came home again. He died from pneumonia - exposure to the elements while job-searching.

A Walk in the Sun (1945), 117 minutes, D: Lewis Milestone
Director Lewis Milestone's modest yet starkly realistic, dialogue-filled, unglamorized combat film was based upon the novel by Yank Magazine's Harry Brown. This was Milestone's second (and middle) film in a war trilogy, composed of All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), and Pork Chop Hill (1959). It is often considered one of the best WWII war-battle films ever made, although it was essentially bloodless. It thoughtfully portrayed the psychological stress felt by the US GIs. It intimately followed an American infantry unit in 1943, led by platoon squad leader Sgt. Bill Tyne (Dana Andrews), that was struggling to survive during a combat mission. They were making a frontal assault on a fortified, Nazi-occupied farmhouse in Italy, as part of the Allied attack on Anzio. The tension and fear was brilliantly captured on the faces of the terrified soldiers as they took the short, six-mile journey (from the coastal beach at Salerno, moving inland through the Italian countryside) to the farmhouse where they were on a mission to blow up a bridge. Despite heavy losses and fearful madness, the bridge was destroyed and the platoon triumphantly captured the fortified farmhouse.

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