From all the decades of cinema the 1940's probably started cementing into audiences minds, that film can be a form of art. Pushing the boundaries of technology and not remaining stagnant. Offering audiences real reasons to loving the medium and becoming the number one entertainment choice.
Films such as "Citizen Kane" found new ways of telling a story through camera work, lighting and non linear storytelling. "The Great Dictator" showed that film cant only be fun, but also message piece for peace and other feelings or ideologies. Animation as well started to be taken seriously with the masters at Disney, hard at work to please children and adults alike.
Cinema was different back then. Front and center before anything else was the character and the story. Everything was straightforward and you know what you were going to get. No one was yet trying to show off too much of the medium, except good old Orson or going overboard with cinematic tricks and gimmicks. Still this simplistic decade offers more entertainment then some of the films, that are shown today with such fever and excitement. Movies that were about the sacrifices of love, about the honor amongst men, how humanity must come together to fight evil and how down and out of luck men and women or even elephants can pick themselves back up and be somebody.
Today the excitment doesn't come from the actions of a man or the emotions of a woman. It comes from loud noises, complex visual effects, and utter destruction of cities or lives. If those types of films learned a lesson or two from the films of this decade. We might be lucky enough to get good films out of Hollywood once again. A wish though that is easier said then done.
The Best Films of the 1940's
honorable mentions in alphabetical order:
P.S. As always this a ever-evolving list. I haven't seen all the films of the 1940's and there are many more I still wish to see. So even if some are not on the list, that doesn't mean they wont be later or that they don't deserve to be.
updated as of February 5, 2014