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

1943

Title Screen Film Genre(s), Title, Year, (Country), Length, Director, Description

Cabin in the Sky (1943), 98 minutes, D: Vincente Minnelli
A noteworthy film from the Alan Freed production unit at MGM. It marked the debut of film director Vincente Minnelli (who directed the Broadway play) and was Hollywood's first general release of an all-star, all-black musical, taken directly from its original Broadway production. It was only the fourth all-black cast film to be made, after Hallelujah (1929), Hearts in Dixie (1929), and The Green Pastures (1936). With the Duke Ellington Orchestra and Louis Armstrong as the Trumpeter. Noted as having the first appearance of the "moon walk" dance step. A delightful, energetic, and extravagantly-executed story, really a moralistic Faustian fable about a tug of war between good and evil. Boozing and womanizing Little Joe (Eddie "Rochester" Anderson with his first and sole film role), a shiftless gambler of questionable morals, was shot and killed at the Paradise Club during an argument over his gambling debts. Immediately, there was competition for his soul between God's General (Kenneth Spencer) and the Devil's son Lucifer Jr. (Rex Ingram). The General was summoned by the prayers of Little Joe's devoted and religious wife Petunia Jackson (Ethel Waters). It is decided that Little Joe's soul will have a trial period of six months on Earth, to test his virtue and see whether he will reform. Lucifer Jr. tempts him with winning $50,000 in the Irish Sweepstakes, and the seductive alluring charms of the evil and beautiful singer Georgia Brown (Lena Horne). The sexy temptress is sent
by the devil to win over Little Joe's soul and force him to give up Petunia. With songs including Arlen and Harburg's "Happiness is a Thing Called Joe" - nominated for Best Song.

Fires Were Started - (1943, UK), 63 minutes, D: Humphrey Jennings
A classic wartime dramatized (or recreated) documentary made by the Crown Film Unit and Humphrey Jennings (his sole feature film) and created as a tribute to the civilian fighters of London's Auxiliary (or Voluntary) Fire Service during WWII. It told about the heroic firefighting missions of a crew to save some of London's structures from burning, during Luftwaffe blitz bombing raids in 1940 during the night, signaled by air-raid sirens and anti-aircraft fire. It followed, over a fictional 24-hour period, the experiences of well-educated new recruit Barrett (William Sansom), a former advertising copywriter just transferred to the unit. In the firestation, he joined others as they prepared for a night of fire-fighting at an explosives warehouse near the Thames docks of London's East End.

Forever and a Day (1943), 104 minutes, D: Rene Clair, Edmund Goulding, Cedric Hardwicke, et al
An historical, episodic Hollywood film with a large all-star cast of English film stars of the 30s and 40s, to promote the British-American war cause. Filmed by many directors, it is the story about the inhabitants of a great manor house in London over many generations. The manor's history spanned more than 100 years from the time of its construction in Napoleonic times in the early 1800s by Admiral Eustace Trimble (C. Aubrey Smith) to the WWII blitz of London in 1940. A great war morale booster highlighting the themes of British patriotism and England's survival from diverse threats as the house passed through the hands of many generations. With memorable parts and cameos by Charles Laughton (as comic butler Bellamy), Cedric Hardwicke and Buster Keaton (as plumbers Mr. Dabb and Wilkins), Claude Rains (as villainous patriarch Ambrose Pomfret), Jessie Matthews (as Mildred Trimble), Edward Everett Horton (as bumbling father Sir Anthony Trimble-Pomfret), Elsa Lanchester (as waitress-maid Mamie), Brian Aherne (as coal-man Jim Trimble), Ida Lupino (as feisty house-maid Jenny Jones), Roland Young and Gladys Cooper (as Mr. and Mrs. Henry Barringer, the parents of a WWII ace flyer who never appears), and many, many more.

For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), 170 minutes, D: Sam Wood
A lengthy dramatic screen version of Ernest Hemingway's 1940 best-selling classic adventure novel of the Spanish Civil War, about a passionate relationship between two individuals caught in the conflict. An American mercenary Robert Jordan (Gary Cooper) fights for the Republic against the Fascists, alongside a motley group of untrained guerrilla peasants, led by unstable alcoholic Pablo (Akim Tamiroff) and his wife Pilar (Katrina Paxinou), the rebels' de facto leader. The band of Loyalist resistance fighters is composed of a colorful group of characters and a cropped-haired refugee Maria (Ingrid Bergman in her first color film), a Spanish orphan who has been emotionally traumatized after being raped by the Fascists. The guerrillas struggle against overwhelming odds to destroy a strategic enemy bridge, and Jordan, a munitions expert, falls in love with blue-eyed, short-haired blonde Maria during their dangerous mission. Their passionate relationship included one of cinema's most famous kiss scenes as Maria pondered: "I don't know how to kiss or I would kiss you. Where do the noses go?" With a sobering ending, when Jordan breaks his leg and must be left behind after delivering a soliloquy to Maria ("You go now, Maria...what I do now I do alone. I couldn't do it if you were here...There's no good-bye, Maria, because we're not apart") - as the bell tolls for his life.

Heaven Can Wait (1943), 112 minutes, D: Ernst Lubitsch
A heartwarming fantasy-romantic comedy from Fox Studios, director Lubitsch's first and sole completed Technicolor film. This film is not to be confused with Heaven Can Wait (1978), a remake of the 1941 comedy/drama Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Wealthy old playboy Henry Van Cleve (Don Ameche) passes away. He has led a life with many romantic indiscretions, flirtations, and seductive escapades, from his early childhood through the days of his love and marriage to beautiful midwesterner Martha Strabel (Gene Tierney). In "flashbacks" of his carefree life story from infancy to age 70, the self-incriminating sinner must convince His Excellency (Laird Cregar), the devilish Lord of Darkness, that he deserves to be admitted for punishment and eternal damnation. As it turns out, the cavalier Van Cleve is revealed to be good-natured, warm, kind-hearted, and sensitive, deserving of Heaven instead. He was, in fact, both a good father to son Jack (Tod Andrews) and a loyal (though sometimes philandering) husband married for 25 years to the gorgeous Martha.

The Human Comedy (1943), 118 minutes, D: Clarence Brown
Based on an original story by William Saroyan, a low-key, sentimental but moving, superbly-acted drama. The film is narrated (in voice-over) by recently-deceased Mr. Macauley (Ray Collins), the father of a family of four children in Ithaca, a small California valley town. Their everyday life is affected by the events of World War II and the need to cope with new responsibilities and hardships. The teenaged Macauley son, Western Union bicycle messenger Homer (Mickey Rooney) must deliver mostly tragic war news to families about wounded or killed boys. A series of vignettes highlight life in Americana as he comes into close contact with all the families in town. He works with 67-year-old alcoholic telegrapher Willie Grogan (Frank Morgan). Members of Homer's family include older brother Marcus (Van Johnson) off fighting in uniform - in love with college-aged neighbor Mary (Dorothy Morris), and Homer's younger six year-old kid brother Ulysses (Jackie "Butch" Jenkins). Homer also has an older quiet college student sister Bess (Donna Reed) who is in love with telegraph office operator Tom Spangler (James Craig), Homer's boss, although Tom is engaged to upper-class socialite Diana Steed (Marsha Hunt). One day, Homer has to deliver the news to his own family (and his widowed harp-playing mother Mrs. Macauley (Fay Bainter)) that big brother Marcus has been killed in battle. Marcus' best friend and service pal, orphaned and parentless Tobey George (John Craven), is more or less adopted by the Macauley family after the heart-tearing news.

I Walked With A Zombie (1943), 69 minutes, D: Jacques Tourneur
Director Jacques Tourneur's zombie supernatural horror film, a variant of the Jane Eyre novel, was produced by famed RKO producer Val Lewton. The low-budget, creepy film was very effective for its moody and atmospheric tone and visually-stylistic terror regarding dark family secrets, voodoo rituals and legends. The brooding, mystical melodrama told of the work of trained Canadian nurse Betsy Connell (Frances Dee). The retrospective film was her description of how she had "walked with a zombie." Betsy was hired to care for matriarchal Jessica Holland (Christine Gordon), the invalid and comatose wife of melancholy Paul Holland (Tom Conway), a sugar plantation owner on the West Indies-Caribbean island of St. Sebastian. Jessica's doctor claimed that her catatonic, zombie-like condition (with no will of her own, no speaking, and seemingly lobotomized) was caused by an incurable tropical fever. She slowly began to fall in love with guilt-ridden Paul, when she learned that Paul and his younger, alcoholic half-brother Wesley Rand (James Ellison) had earlier quarreled over the love of the afflicted woman in a love triangle, and Wesley had an affair with Jessica. Betsy was convinced that she could cure the "living dead" Jessica with a shot of insulin, but the shock treatment failed. She then learned from Jessica's native maid Alma (Theresa Harris) that a local voodoo priest cured a woman with her condition. Alma drew her a map to the "Home Fort" where a local voodoo ceremony would take place. In an unsettling nighttime scene, Betsy took her patient, without permission, on a haunting, dream-like walk through billowing cane fields to the ceremony. She had to pass animal sacrifices along the way. As she went through a crossroads, there was the abrupt and shocking appearance in the darkness of a huge, eerie, bug-eyed and towering zombie-like guard Carre Four (Darby Jones). A major plot twist occurred next - Betsy entered a shack to consult with the voodoo witch doctor priestess, and discovered it was the mother of the family, Mrs. Rand (Edith Barrett). When Mrs. Rand had discovered that her sons had fought over Jessica, Paul's wife, and threatened to break up the family, she had put a zombie curse on her. In the conclusion, a voodoo doll and magic was used by a shaman to cause the death of Jessica. In a trance, Wesley carried her body to the ocean where they both drowned. Paul confessed to Betsy that he would take away from the island.

Jane Eyre (1943), 96 minutes, D: Robert Stevenson
Made a decade earlier by the poverty-row studio of Monogram, Jane Eyre (1934) - the first talking version of Charlotte Bronte's classic 1847 romantic story set in Victorian times. This 40s version faithfully adapted Bronte's tale with typical Gothic elements, a brooding atmosphere, and Bernard Herrmann's rich score. The screenplay was based on an adaptation of the novel for Orson Welles' radio show, The Mercury Theatre on the Air. Mistreated, unloved orphan girl Jane Eyre (Peggy Ann Garner as 10 year old, Joan Fontaine as adult) is raised by mean and uncaring aunt Mrs. Reed (Agnes Moorehead) of Gateshead Hall. Arrangements are made for her to attend a boarding school named Lowood Institution, a charitable facility led by the harsh and self-righteous headmaster, Reverend Henry Brocklehurst (Henry Daniell), where she befriends another student named Helen Burns (Elizabeth Taylor in an early uncredited role). At the age of 20, she is hired as the governess for a young girl named Adele (Margaret O'Brien) - the daughter of a wealthy Yorkshire Englishman. The huge mansion set on the bleak-looking moors of Yorkshire is called Thornfield Hall, and is run by housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax (Edith Barrett). Eventually, she meets the darkly moody and hot-tempered owner, Edward Rochester (Orson Welles), and gradually is drawn into the mystery and dark secrets of Thornfield Hall - centering around a mysterious seamstress named Grace Poole (Ethel Griffies) who lives upstairs. They also fall in love, and rather than marrying Blanche Ingraham (Hillary Brooke), Rochester asks for Jane's hand. The wedding ceremony is abruptly interrupted when an attorney contests the marriage - Rochester cannot marry because he is still married to crazed, mentally ill spouse Bertha, who is guarded by Grace Poole. This is confirmed by Bertha's older brother Mason (John Abbott) of Spanish Town, in Jamaica. Jane must depart from Thornfield, but returns after the death of her aunt to discover a burned-down Thornfield mansion. It was set ablaze by Bertha, who jumped from the roof and died. Edward was also severely disabled, and left crippled and blind when the interior staircase collapsed on him. Jane remains and begins to establish a relationship with Edward, and they marry. His sight miraculously begins to return after the birth of their son.

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943, UK), 163 minutes, D: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Powell and Pressburger's satirical character study was a controversial wartime film that angered Winston Churchill for its portrait of a 'fuddy-duddy' 40 year career soldier, in the character of rotund Clive Candy (Roger Livesey). "Colonel Blimp" in the film's title referred to a 1930s English cartoon character, not a real personage. The Technicolor film that satirized the British military establishment used the name of Sir David Low's comic strip, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. Although completed in 1943, this film was not released for showing in the US until 1945, because it was banned for export from Britain due to its critical portrayal of staid British patriotism. The film told about the reminiscences of staunch, rigid traditional British soldier/officer Clive Candy as he looked back on his life through three wars - the Boer War, World War I, and World War II. He still maintained outdated notions about how to be a gentlemanly soldier and conduct war by following the rules, unable to adapt to the methods and realities of modern warfare. During his life, Candy kept a friendship with his German counterpart - a former German soldier Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff (Anton Walbrook). During the course of his life, dedicated to the king and his country through changing times, he also met and loved three women: Edith Hunter / Barbara Wynne / Johnny Cannon (all played by Deborah Kerr in a very versatile role).

Madame Curie (1943), 124 minutes, D: Mervyn LeRoy
This intelligent MGM production was the result of the success of the Best Picture-award winning Mrs. Miniver (1942), in that it again paired Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon (it was their third of eight movies together, after Blossoms in the Dust (1941) and their 1942 film). Aldous Huxley's screenplay was adapted from the 1937 book Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie, Marie Curie's real-life daughter. It was a dramatic historical film biography of the famous pioneering scientists, the husband and wife team of the Nobel Prize-winning Curies, who discovered radium. It opened in the 1890s with the awkward but endearing love story concerning the famous couple, shy physicist and avowed bachelor Pierre Curie (Walter Pidgeon) and his brilliant, determined Polish student Marie Sklodowska (Greer Garson). Their working partnership and marriage (to pursue their "common scientific dream") overcame obstacles and ridicule, and they succeeded after a tedious, five-year experimental study in discovering a new and elusive radioactive element, radium. In the tragic conclusion, Pierre was run over by a horse-drawn carriage and died. Twenty five years later, continuing-researcher Marie lectured at the Sorbonne, declaring science "the clear light of truth," and advising her audience to "take the torch of knowledge and build the palace of the future."

The Man in Grey (1943, UK), 116 minutes, D: Leslie Arliss
This was the first of the quintessential Gainsborough Pictures costume melodramas, based upon the novel of the same name by Lady Eleanor Smith, with the themes of jealousy, doomed love and the elusive search for true love within a three-way love triangle. The psychological drama was told as a flashback by two strangers who met and realized that they were related descendants. They remembered their families' sordid history at an English estate auction (of the Rohan family) during WWII. The story revealed the fates of three characters - the first two met as students at a boarding school and established a friendship: (1) the sweet, rich, innocent and beautiful heiress student Clarissa Marr (Phyllis Calvert), and (2) the unkind Hesther Snow (Margaret Lockwood), a charity case who was mistreated by the headmistress and compelled to run away. Clarissa had a loveless marriage to (3) the handsome but cruel, decadent and hedonistic "Man in Grey" - nobleman Marquis Lord Rohan (James Mason). Clarissa became only a "brood sow" to produce children for her husband. An impoverished and bitter Hesther went on to become a traveling Shakespearean play actress, and soon schemed to enter the Rohan household as a governess for the Rohan's young son, while she engaged in an affair with Lord Rohan. At the same time (although away from the country estate), Clarissa had an affair with one of the Shakespearean actors in Hesther's troupe, a rogue named Peter Rokeby (Stewart Granger), while Hesther plotted to take her place as Rohan's wife. This was facilitated after Clarissa caught a fever watching Rokeby's ship depart in the rain, and Hesther insured her death by drugging her and causing her to catch deathly pneumonia. When the truth was revealed to Lord Rohan about his wife's murder, he went into a rage and beat his new fiancee Hesther to death.

The More the Merrier (1943), 104 minutes, D: George Stevens
A terrific war-time romantic comedy with excellent performances and an effervescent flair. Remade as Walk Don't Run (1966) with Cary Grant (his last film). In Washington DC during WWII, a housing (and single man) shortage develops, and young, prim and proper single working woman Connie Milligan (Jean Arthur) patriotically rents out part of her tiny apartment to an older millionaire gentleman Benjamin Dingle (Charles Coburn). Dingle decides to play Cupid for her, and rents out one-half of his space to a handsome Air Force airplane mechanic on special assignment named Joe Carter (Joel McCrea). In the midst of slapstick complications and humorous situations involving space and privacy, matchmaker Dingle is ultimately able to get the two romantically involved, although Connie insists that she is engaged to her older boss - stuffed-shirt housing bureaucrat chief Charles J. Pendergast (Richard Gaines). The best scene in the film was a sexually-exciting apartment front steps kissing scene. Joe amorously embraced Connie - he caressed her, and fondly touched her hands, arms, and shoulders, and although she vainly attempted to ignore his advances to make out, she eventually took the two sides of his face with her hands and boldly kissed him back - harder. Then, they had their own version of the "Walls of Jericho" bedroom scene (from It Happened One Night (1934)) between their apartment windows.

Ossessione (1943, It.) (aka Obsession), 140 minutes, D: Luchino Visconti
This early neo-realism film about a doomed and obsessed love affair (amour-fou) triangle was director Luchino Visconti's debut feature film. Not related to director Brian De Palma's Obsession (1976) (a tribute to Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958)), but instead to James M. Cain's novel "The Postman Always Rings Twice" - and the two US film versions: the classic film noir in 1946 with Lana Turner and John Garfield, and the 1981 remake with Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson. Without crediting Cain, Visconti made the film almost four years before the hard-boiled Hollywood version. Its explicit depiction of sex (and its homoerotic subtext) caused it to be banned by the Church, and ruthlessly edited and censored by Italian Fascist authorities, and the negative was destroyed. The only surviving film copy was Visconti's own slightly-shorter negative, which finally screened in the US in the mid-1970s, due to copyright issues. On the outskirts of Ferrara in Fascist Italy, virile, hot-headed and handsome drifter/car mechanic Gino Costa (Massimo Girotti) stops at a small roadside inn (trattoria) and gas station, owned by old and corpulent Giuseppe Bragana (Juan de Landa). The proprietor is married to the restaurant's cook - the dissatisfied, beautiful, passionate and sexy wife Giovanna Bragana (Clara Calamai), who married only for financial security - to escape poverty and prostitution. While Giuseppe goes to town on an errand, Gino and Giovanna have illicit sex together. When Gino cannot convince Giovanna to run away with him, he leaves alone. Gino befriends a roaming entertainer called Il Spagnolo (the Spaniard) (Elio Marcuzzo) and they live together (as homosexuals?) in a flop-house in the seaport town of Ancona, and work together as street magicians-entertainers. When the two protagonists have a chance encounter a few months later, Gino and Giovanna impulsively murder an inebriated Giuseppe, and make it look like a car accident. Although guilt-ridden and doubtful about their relationship, and suspicious of each other after Giovanna acquires a large life-insurance payout, the duo remain at the restaurant. However, Gino mistakenly believes that Giovanna has betrayed him to the police, although she denies it. The film ends abruptly with dire consequences - the brutal scene of pregnant Giovanna's accidental death in a car driven into the river by Gino - the film's second fatal car crash.

The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), 75 minutes, D: William A. Wellman
A masterful film adapted from the well-known unconventional western tale by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. In a western setting, this film superbly portrays the tyranny and lawlessness of mob rule. It was basically a somber morality-play set in the West, regarding vigilante justice. The film was the inspiration for Sidney Lumet's courtroom drama 12 Angry Men (1957).

In 1885, two cowboy drifters, Gil Carter (Henry Fonda) and Art Croft (Henry/Harry Morgan) ride into Bridger's Wells, a small Nevada cattle town, and quickly become involved in a lynch posse taking the law into its own hands. A local rancher named Larry Kinkaid has allegedly been shot and killed during a cattle rustling, and a group quickly forms more intent on punishment than on justice, led by ex-Confederate officer Major Tetley (Frank Conroy). Each of the vengeful members of the posse-mob are superbly characterized, as the vigilante group pursues and captures its suspects, including Mexican hired hand Juan Martinez (Anthony Quinn) (identified as a wanted criminal named Francisco Morez) and a feeble-minded old man (Francis Ford, director John Ford's older brother). The mob lynchs the three innocent men despite only vague circumstantial evidence and pleas for justice and reason. And then the lynch mob speaks to the returning town Sheriff Risley (Willard Robertson) who confirms that Kincaid was only wounded and that they "caught the fellas who shot him too." The film's most famous scene was in the town's saloon, Gil Carter's letter-reading of the farewell words of rancher and family man Donald Martin (Dana Andrews), one of the lynched victims - an epitaph to the dead man's wife.

The Seventh Victim (1943) (aka The 7th Victim), 71 minutes, D: Mark Robson
Horror master and RKO film producer Val Lewton was responsible for this creepy, doom-laden, noirish and Gothic thriller (Mark Robson's debut film), a low-budget black and white B-film (with a lesbian subtext) and the tagline: "SLAVE to SATAN!" It was a precursor to Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (1968), and even had a Psycho-like shower sequence. In the enigmatic story, naive, orphaned young private school student Mary Gibson (Kim Hunter in her film debut) learned from convent nuns in her upstate NY school, Miss Highcliff's, that her older sister Jacqueline Gibson (Jean Brooks), the owner of a successful cosmetics factory, had been missing for a number of months (and was not paying Mary's tuition). In a search in New York's Greenwich Village, she located errant Jackie's NYC apartment (a bare room with a chair and hangman's noose), and learned that wealthy lawyer Gregory Ward (Hugh Beaumont) who was paying the rent - was her brother-in-law in a secret marriage to Jackie (although it had failed). [The film took a strange turn when Mary and Gregory fell in love with each other.] They also met a mysterious physician and psychiatrist, Dr. Louis Judd (Tom Conway), who had treated Jacqueline for depression. According to him, his pale and fragile patient had become obsessed with death and despair. In truth, Dr. Judd knew her location and was romancing Jacqueline on the side. He belonged to an underground coven of witches, a deadly cult of diabolic Satanic worshippers called The Palladists. Shockingly, Jackie had given up her business and her soul to the possessed devil cultists. She found herself kidnapped and in their imprisoning grip, and condemned to die if she left the group. They wished to keep her from revealing her association with them by encouraging her to commit suicide (as the 7th departing victim!), or by assassinating her. Fearing for her life, Jacqueline went into hiding. In the conclusion, she briefly made the acquaintance of consumptive and terminally-ill prostitute Mimi (Elizabeth Russell), a neighbor in her bleak rooming house, before entering her own empty apartment and hanging herself (offscreen) in the surprise ending. Simultaneously, Mimi stepped out into the street for one last night of laughing and dancing.

Shadow of a Doubt (1943), 108 minutes, D: Alfred Hitchcock
One of Alfred Hitchcock's intensely suspenseful works (and his personal favorite) from a script by Thornton Wilder. Congenial and suave Uncle Charlie Oakley (Joseph Cotten), a devious psychopathic killer (the Merry Widow killer who murders rich widows) who suspects his apprehension by police is imminent, drops out of sight by visiting adoring middle-class relatives in the quiet, small California town of Santa Rosa. His evil and dark visit is signaled by black smoke billowing from his train as it arrives at the station. At the home of his older sister Emma Newton (Patricia Collinge), Uncle Charlie's young teenaged niece Charlie (Teresa Wright), named for the uncle she idolizes, is fascinated by his wit, urbane and worldly sophistication - and then she has a "shadow of a doubt" and begins to suspect that he is the Merry Widow mass-murderer. As she gets closer to him and learns the truth, she realizes that he is aware of her knowledge and suspicions. She must decide whether she should reveal her findings to the authorities or protect her family in a tense cat-and-mouse game (he unsuccessfully attempts to kill her twice), that leads to an exciting conclusion, when Uncle Charlie struggles to push Charlie off a moving train, but falls to his own death and into the path of another train. The film was also enriched by the running dialogue between two mystery buffs, Joseph Newton (Henry Travers) and his brother-in-law Herbie Hawkins (Hume Cronyn in his film debut), who debate about the best techniques to commit the 'perfect murder.'

The Song of Bernadette (1943), 156 minutes, D: Henry King
A dramatic and reverent film with a religious theme, adapted from a novel by Franz Werfel, retelling a story based upon a real-life person and event. With this quote in the prologue: "For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation will suffice." The title character is a young 19th century illiterate, simple-minded, asthmatic French peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous (Jennifer Jones (aka Phyllis Isley), in her first starring role for which she won the Best Actress Academy Award). She attends a convent school run by severe and devout Sister Marie Therese (Gladys Cooper). In 1858, Bernadette has a glowing, rapturous and bright vision of a beautiful lady, declared the Virgin Mary (Linda Darnell), at a grotto at Lourdes. The lady asks her to return 15 days in succession. The film centers around all the various reactions, mostly skepticism, blasphemy, criticism, and ridicule, although there are some early believers. A spring with waters to heal the sick and disabled appears suddenly and inexplicably at the site of her miraculous vision where she is instructed to dig. Town elder and wicked Imperial Prosecutor Vital Dutour (Vincent Price) thinks she is fraudulent and wants her to be committed to an asylum. Faithful Bernadette steadfastly refuses to recant her story. The discovery of the healing waters in the holy grotto helps many to believe in the naive girl's vision. Believing pilgrims flock to the healing spring to bathe in its Holy Water, at first prohibited by town politicians such as mayor of Lourdes (Aubrey Mather), and then hypocritically encouraged. Ultimately, Bernadette is accepted into a convent as Sister Marie Bernard, and canonized in 1933, as she becomes mortally ill and has a deathbed vision of the lady. For many years, Bernadette suffered with a horrible leg tumor and tuberculosis of the bone.

Watch on the Rhine (1943), 114 minutes, D: Herman Shumlin
Based on Lillian Hellman's Broadway play, but scripted by Dashiell Hammett, one of the best and well-made of all the anti-Nazi films of the war years. The propagandistic, anti-isolationist film expressed the dangers and evils of Fascist thought. German-born engineer Kurt Muller (Paul Lukas who won a Best Actor award, defeating Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca (1942)), a European Resistance underground leader, must flee from Nazi Germany just prior to Pearl Harbor in order to find safe refuge in America. After 18 years in Europe, he and his American-born wife Sara (Bette Davis) and their three young children cross the border from Mexico, and move in with her mother Fanny Farrelly (Lucile Watson), widow of a Supreme Court Justice, and brother in Washington D.C. Refusing to remain silent, he explains to them the true nature and threat of the Nazis (and to the American public in a bit of propagandizing). Muller is confronted with the threat of being betrayed or blackmailed to Gestapo Third Reich agents (in the German Embassy) by other boarders in the home, especially treacherous blackmailing spy Teck de Brancovis (George Coulouris), an exiled Rumanian count and Teck's American wife Marthe (Geraldine Fitzgerald), one of the Farrelly daughters. Teck suspects that Kurt is a leader of the anti-Nazi underground after snooping in his locked briefcase. During a confrontation, Kurt cold-bloodedly shoots Teck dead, and then explains to Sara that it was a justifiable homicide before fleeing. In the conclusion, the oldest Muller son is already planning to return to Europe to fight Nazis with his father.


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