1940’s

[9.0] Alfred Hitchcock’s first American film and only one to win a Best Picture Oscar is Rebecca, starring Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier, and Judith Anderson. Based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, the film follows a nervous woman (Fontaine) who catches the eye of a wealthy widower (Olivier). After they marry, she is taken to his ancestral mansion, Manderley, where the icy cold head …

[6.0] Barbara Stanwyck stars in this comedy about a night of multiple murders at a burlesque opera house. Between the dancers sharing a small dressing space, a few shady boyfriends and stage hands, a snooty visiting Russian princess, and an owner whose keeping secrets of his own, everyone’s a suspect. And even though women are being strangled by their own g-strings (you better believe it!), …

[5.5] Tyrone Power (The Black Swan) takes a dark turn in this flick about a carnival mentalist whose ambitions get the better of him. At first his character uses his powers for good, like tricking the police into letting his carnival family out of public indecency accusations. But he soon leaves the carnival for a more swanky nightshow act, and later teams up with a …

[6.0] Carole Landis and John Hubbard star as a bickering husband and wife who each believes the other has the easier life. They wish upon a statue of Buddha to trade places, and lo and behold, their wish comes true. Husband then has to deal with the house staff and a conniving wives’ group, while wife has to deal with the corporate business environment. A …

[6.0] Don Ameche stars as a small-town pharmacist who learns his son has died during combat in WWII. Sent into an emotional tailspin, the ghost of his late grandfather (Harry Carey) comes to his rescue. Grandfather and grandson take a trip down memory lane, revisiting all the expected high and low points of life, while we the audience get to know the young man who …

[7.0] Mickey Rooney headlines this slice-of-life picture about a New York town maintaining the home front during WWII. Rooney plays a highschooler working as a telegram delivery boy to help provide for his family while his older brother is in service. James Craig (The Devil and Daniel Webster) plays Rooney’s employer, who is also a surrogate father to Rooney’s character. (Rooney’s deceased father actually narrates …

[5.5] Ingrid Bergman, George Sanders, and Robert Montgomery star in this drama/thriller about two men in love with the same woman. One (Montgomery) is suicidal, and when he can’t have her, he frames the other (Sanders) for his own death. The film ends with a courtroom trial and Bergman’s character trying find evidence of Sanders’ innocence. You have some sympathy for all three leading characters …

[4.5] Frank Morgan (The Wizard of Oz) stars in this goofy comedy about a pet shop owner who gets mistaken for dead. His family cashes in his insurance policy, so when he surprises them all by being alive, they work with a clever but reluctant band leader (John Shelton) to hoodwink the bank and keep their money. The Ghost Comes Home is best when Morgan …

[6.5] Greer Garson, Richard Hart, and Robert Mitchum star in this twisted romantic drama about a woman who learns of her husband’s death from his visiting WWII buddy. She and the man then strike up their own romantic relationship, but everything unravels when the deceased husband shows up in town still very much alive. Desire Me was plagued with production problems, not the least of …

[6.5] James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan star in this fluffy romantic comedy from director Ernst Lubitsch. Stewart and Sullavan play clerks at a Hungarian general store during Christmastime. Both are courting anonymous, romantic pen pals, with no idea that the love of their life is actually the person they argue with at work all the time. (If the plot sounds familiar, this movie has been …

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