1941 in Review


Nominees that didn’t make it:
10. One Foot in Heaven-what is the damn point of this
9. Blossoms in the Dust-oh goody, orphan porn

For Twitter length reviews click here

48. That Uncertain Feeling
You can sort of tell that this movie has…opinions on the battle of the sexes from that opening title card. I didn’t hate it, though, since Lubitsch was always an ironic one.
Favorite Moment: Doctor’s exam.
47. Tobacco Road
Ford’s best cinematography is always a treat, Ford’s worst comic relief is always a pain in the ass. This has both. Sweetness of grapes with all the wrath that comes with them, I guess you could say.
Favorite Moment: The sandy opening credits.
46. Spring in the Korean Peninsula
A bit flat, but I like the meta touches.
Favorite Moment: Ending.
45. That Hamilton Woman
Vivien Leigh really should have acted more frequently on screen, as two films truly worthy of her feels…insufficient.
Favorite Moment: The sing a long to He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.
44. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
A study of the time wasted by marriage and how it is also enriched.
Favorite Moment: Dinner outside.
43. They Died With Their Boots On
Walsh is usually a much peppier director, I blame the fact that Custer is not given an interesting script portrayal and it’s long to boot.
Favorite Moment: Hattie McDaniel’s crystal ball reading (which is pretty racist but oh well).
42. Western Union
Lang on autopilot, but still pretty pleasantly pretty.
Favorite Moment: Failed gun spin practice.
41. Suspicion
Hitchcock’s weirdest movie. Grant well-directed, but Fontaine is a mess, and the plot has major pacing issues.
Favorite Moment: The money confrontation.
40. Sergeant York
“Christian man realizes killing is okay” is a pretty grim message.
Favorite Moment: The opening sermon.
39. Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family
Standard Ozu with a strong ending.
Favorite Moment: Ending.
38. Meet John Doe
Well, this is a political mess, and those opening credits are pure Eisenstein. Barbara Stanwyck, as per usual, does a lot of heavy lifting.
Favorite Moment: Stanwyck’s plan to pull off the John Doe scheme.
37. The Sea Wolf
Curtiz coasts on Captain Blood charms but that’s okay.
Favorite Moment: Shadows on the walls.
36. Penny Serenade
A mix of the stupid and the unexpected for a standard plot. Grant/Dunne/Bondi and Stevens do a lot to make the fortune cookies/earthquake miscarriage not too ridiculous.
Favorite Moment: The play.
35. Major Barbara
An ideological mess that works nevertheless thanks to Hiller and a certain skill in the craft.
Favorite Moment: Trying to save the drunkard’s soul.
34. Ladies in Retirement
A total Wuthering Heights knockoff with much more crazy old ladies. Hooray!
Favorite Moment: Opening credits.
33. I Wake Up Screaming
What’s with all the Somewhere Over the Rainbow instrumentals? Not very noir.
Favorite Moment: Ending.
32. The Wolf Man
Why does familiarity help the Frankensteins but not this?
Favorite Moment: The first death.
31. Blood and Sand
Astounding colors, stupid plot.
Favorite Moment: That luxurious pan over Power in his matador uniform.
30. The Great Lie
I’m perfectly fine with an excuse for Davis/Astor showdowns even if the plot’s silly.
Favorite Moment: Mary Astor is a pain in the ass in the cabin.
29. Man Hunt
Lang! George Sanders as a Nazi! Hitler being shot at by a manhunter!…it’s all kind of silly.
Favorite Moment: First meeting between the Nazi and Cpt. Thorndike.
28. The Devil and Miss Jones
Dumb plot, good jokes. Poor Coburn getting category frauded and nominated for the wrong part to boot.
Favorite Moment: Opening credits and letter card at start.
27. So Ends Our Night
A mix of the genuinely touching and the too-restrained, although the cast really sells it.
Favorite Moment: The confrontation over the career/school losses thanks to the German restrictions.
26. Hold Back the Dawn
Goddard great. De Havilland and Boyer fine. Wilder and Brackett and Leisen all rather slack, and long.
Favorite Moment: Meta opening.
25. Never Give a Sucker an Even Break
Step 1: Watch The Bank Dick. Step 2: Don’t get your hopes up too high when you see that poster.
Favorite Moment: The song.
24. Hideko the Bus Conductress
Mrs. Thank You. Struggled with Naruse in the past, but this is lovely and small and sweet.
Favorite Moment: Opening.
23. Swamp Water
Renoir does a Ford. Looks gorgeous and has all the humanism, despite a gallery of stereotypes about country folk.
Favorite Moment: Knife standoff.
22. Blood of Jesus
Very well shot, all things considered, and fascinatingly unusual-the product of a mind with no restrictions.
Favorite Moment: Opening song.
21. Here Comes Mr. Jordan
With a better director, a script that gets what’s funny about this a little better, and some more care for the secondary cast, this could have been genuinely great.
Favorite Moment: The initial arrival in the afterlife.

For my Top 20 of 1941 click here.

BEST ACTING (Finalists in bold)
Nominees that didn’t make it (Actor):
None, good job.

Nominees that didn’t make it (Actress):
5. Joan Fontaine, Suspicion-a total mess, always looks like she wants to run
4. Greer Garson, Blossoms in the Dust-I guess she’s watchable enough with this dud role

Nominees that didn’t make it (S. Actor):
5. James Gleason, Here Comes Mr. Jordan-Claude Rains was right there

Nominees that didn’t make it (S. Actress):
5. Margaret Wycherly, Sergeant York-Beulah Bondi gone bad

Humphrey Bogart, High Sierra
Humphrey Bogart, Maltese Falcon
Charles Boyer, Hold Back the Dawn
James Cagney, Strawberry Blonde
Gary Cooper, Ball of Fire
Gary Cooper, Sergeant York-safe and uptight, but with humor
Henry Fonda, Lady Eve
Glenn Ford, So Ends Our Night
Jean Gabin, Stormy Waters
Cary Grant, Penny Serenade-makes a whole lot of stupidity work
Walter Huston, Devil and Daniel Webster-hammy in the right ways
Fredric March, So Ends Our Night
Herbert Marshall, Little Foxes
Joel McCrea, Sullivan’s Travels
Robert Montgomery, Here Comes Mr. Jordan-game for anything
Robert Montgomery, Unfinished Business
Orson Welles, Citizen Kane-truly a journey

Mary Astor, Maltese Falcon
Joan Crawford, A Woman’s Face
Bette Davis, Little Foxes-one of Davis’ great acts of bitchery
Olivia de Havilland, Hold Back the Dawn-warm and welcome
Olivia de Havilland, Strawberry Blonde
Marlene Dietrich, Flame of New Orleans
Irene Dunne, Penny Serenade
Irene Dunne, Unfinished Business
Wendy Hiller, Major Barbara
Veronica Lake, Sullivan’s Travels
Vivien Leigh, That Hamilton Woman
Ona Munson, Shanghai Gesture
Vivian Romance, Blind Venus
Barbara Stanwyck, Ball of Fire-yep, title works
Barbara Stanwyck, Lady Eve
Barbara Stanwyck, Meet John Doe
Margaret Sullavan, So Ends Our Night
Kinuyo Tanaka, Ornamental Hairpin

Mischa Auer, Hellzapoppin’
Walter Brennan, Sergeant York-the realest of all the hicks
Felix Bressart, Blossoms in the Dust
Charles Coburn, Devil and Miss Jones-he’s a lead, and a pretty great one
Charles Coburn, Lady Eve
Elisha Cook Jr, Maltese Falcon
Joseph Cotten, Citizen Kane
Donald Crisp, How Green Was My Valley-paternally warm in the right ways
Preston Foster, Unfinished Business
Sydney Greenstreet, Maltese Falcon-deliciously venal
Peter Lorre, Maltese Falcon
Eugene Pallette, Lady Eve
Eugene Pallette, Unfinished Business
Claude Rains, Here Comes Mr. Jordan
George Sanders, Man Hunt
Conrad Veidt, A Woman’s Face

Sara Allgood, How Green Was My Valley-silent film acting, but the good kind
Mary Astor, The Great Lie-really a lead, but great diva fun
Beulah Bondi, Penny Serenade
Patricia Collinge, Little Foxes-astonishingly self destructive even when helping
Dorothy Comingore, Citizen Kane
Jane Darwell, Devil and Daniel Webster
Jody Gilbert, Never Give a Sucker An Even Break
Paulette Goddard, Hold Back the Dawn
Theresa Harris, Flame of New Orleans
Esther Howard, Sullivan’s Travels
Kathleen Howard, Ball of Fire
Joan Leslie, High Sierra
Agnes Moorehead, Citizen Kane
Maria Ouspenskaya, Wolf Man
Lee Patrick, Maltese Falcon
Martha Raye, Hellzapoppin’
Almira Sessions, Sullivan’s Travels
Ruth Warrick, Citizen Kane
Teresa Wright, Little Foxes-a few shades too innocent but still works on a primal level


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