40s Movies The Best '40s War Movies  

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388 votes 139 voters 4.2k views 26 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite war films that were released in the 1940s.

Much of the 1940s was spent putting efforts towards WWII. Even though many men and women were stationed abroad, the "war at home" efforts made by civilians were equally important. Many of the films produced during the decade were little more than propaganda, but some classics managed to sneak through. The best '40s war movies feature a few hilarious comedies and several tragic, heartfelt stories about the European and Pacific Theaters. 

One of Charlie Chaplin’s greatest films (and his first real talkie), The Great Dictator (1940) satirizes Hitler and fascism in a way that anticipates the rest of the decade. Another top war film of the '40s is Casablanca. Created just as America was entering the war, it tells the story of a group of refugees fleeing Europe via Casablanca, as well as the romantic tale of a couple (Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman) torn apart by the war, and brought back together because of it. 

Vote up the best war movies of the '40s, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section.

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Casablanca Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison's unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick's. The film stars ...more

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The Best Years of Our Lives Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright, Fredric March The Best Years of Our Lives is a 1946 American drama film directed by William Wyler and starring Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, and Harold Russell. The ...more

21 5
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The Third Man Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Joseph Cotten The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir, directed by Carol Reed and starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard. It is considered one of the greatest films of all ...more

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Foreign Correspondent Alfred Hitchcock, George Sanders, Joel McCrea Foreign Correspondent is a 1940 American spy thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It tells the story of an American reporter who tries to expose enemy spies in Britain, a series of events ...more

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The Great Dictator Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Billy Gilbert The Great Dictator is a 1940 American satirical political comedy-drama film starring, written, produced, scored, and directed by Charlie Chaplin, following the tradition of many of his other ...more

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Twelve O'Clock High Gregory Peck, Dean Jagger, Richard Anderson Twelve O'Clock High is a 1949 American war film about aircrews in the United States Army's Eighth Air Force who flew daylight bombing missions against Nazi Germany and occupied France during the ...more

15 5
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Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo Robert Mitchum, Spencer Tracy, Van Johnson Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo is a 1944 American war film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It is based on the true story of the Doolittle Raid, America's first retaliatory air strike against Japan ...more

15 5
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Sergeant York Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Joan Leslie Sergeant York is a 1941 biographical film about the life of Alvin York, one of the most-decorated American soldiers of World War I. It was directed by Howard Hawks and was the highest-grossing ...more

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Notorious Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock Notorious is a 1946 American spy thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains as three people whose lives become intimately ...more

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Sahara Humphrey Bogart, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Lawford Sahara is a 1943 drama war film directed by Zoltán Korda. Humphrey Bogart stars as a U.S. tank commander in Libya during the Western Desert Campaign of World War II. The story is credited ...more

9 4
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Guadalcanal Diary Anthony Quinn, William Bendix, Richard Jaeckel Guadalcanal Diary is a 1943 World War II war film directed by Lewis Seiler, featuring Preston Foster, Lloyd Nolan, William Bendix, Richard Conte, Anthony Quinn and the film debut of Richard ...more

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The Story of G.I. Joe Robert Mitchum, Burgess Meredith, Wally Cassell The Story of G.I. Joe, also credited in prints as Ernie Pyle's Story of G.I. Joe, is a 1945 American war film directed by William Wellman, starring Burgess Meredith and Robert Mitchum. The film ...more

9 5
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Battleground Ricardo Montalbán, James Arness, James Whitmore Battleground is a 1949 American war film that follows a company in the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division as they cope with the Siege of Bastogne during the Battle of the ...more

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The Sea Hawk Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, Gilbert Roland The Sea Hawk is a 1940 American Warner Bros. feature film starring Errol Flynn as an English privateer who defends his nation's interests on the eve of the Spanish Armada. The film was the tenth ...more

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They Died with Their Boots On Olivia de Havilland, Errol Flynn, Anthony Quinn They Died with Their Boots On is a 1941 American western film directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. Written by Æneas MacKenzie and Wally Kline, the film ...more

7 5
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They Were Expendable John Wayne, Donna Reed, Robert Montgomery They Were Expendable is a 1945 American war film directed by John Ford and starring Robert Montgomery and John Wayne and featuring Donna Reed. The film is based on the book by William L. White, ...more

6 4
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She Wore a Yellow Ribbon John Wayne, Ben Johnson, Harry Carey She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is a 1949 Technicolor Western film directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne. The academy award winning film was the second of Ford's Cavalry trilogy films. With a ...more

3 1
The Search is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '40s War Movies
ForLuvOfAnimals added The Search Montgomery Clift, Wendell Corey, Aline MacMahon The Search is a 1948 Swiss-American film directed by Fred Zinnemann which tells the story of a young Auschwitz survivor and his mother who search for each other across post-World War II Europe. ...more

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The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp Deborah Kerr, Anton Walbrook, John Laurie The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is a 1943 romantic drama war film written, produced and directed by the British film making team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger under the production ...more

5 4
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Ministry of Fear Ray Milland, Dan Duryea, Alan Napier Ministry of Fear is a 1944 film noir directed by Fritz Lang. Based on a novel by Graham Greene, the film tells the story of a man just released from a mental asylum who finds himself caught up ...more

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Northwest Passage Spencer Tracy, Walter Brennan, Robert Young Northwest Passage is a 1940 film in Technicolor, starring Spencer Tracy, Robert Young, Walter Brennan, Ruth Hussey, and others. The picture is based on a novel by Kenneth Roberts titled ...more

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A Walk in the Sun Lloyd Bridges, Dana Andrews, John Ireland A Walk in the Sun is a World War II war film released in 1945, based on the novel by Harry Brown, who was a writer for Yank, the Army Weekly based in England. The book was serialized in Liberty ...more

4 5
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In Which We Serve John Mills, Noël Coward, Leslie Howard Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial In Which We Serve is a 1942 British patriotic war film directed by Noël Coward and David Lean. It was made during the Second World War with the assistance of the Ministry of Information. ...more

4 5
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Henry V Laurence Olivier, Robert Newton, Leslie Banks Henry V is a 1944 British Technicolor film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play of the same name. The on-screen title is The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought ...more

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Rome, Open City Anna Magnani, Aldo Fabrizi, Marcello Pagliero Rome, Open City is a 1945 Italian drama film directed by Roberto Rossellini. In its English subtitled release it was named, Open City. The picture features Aldo Fabrizi, Anna Magnani and ...more

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Hail the Conquering Hero William Demarest, Freddie Steele, Mildred Harris Hail the Conquering Hero is a satirical comedy/drama written and directed by Preston Sturges, starring Eddie Bracken, Ella Raines and William Demarest, and featuring Raymond Walburn, Franklin ...more