40s The Best '40s War Movies  

Ranker Film
548 votes 165 voters 5.4k 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.

list ordered by

41 9
Ranker Video
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

30 7
Ranker Video
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

25 7
Ranker Video
Gregory Peck, Dean Jagger, Richard Anderson
Twelve O'Clock High is a 1949 American film about aircrews in the United States Army's Eighth Air Force who flew daylight missions against Nazi Germany and occupied France during the early days ...more

25 7
Ranker Video
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

23 7
Ranker Video
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

23 7
Ranker Video
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 WWI. It was directed by Howard Hawks and was the highest-grossing film of ...more

21 6
Ranker Video
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

19 6
Ranker Video
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

18 6
Ranker Video
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

21 10
Ranker Video
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

17 9
Ranker Video
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

11 4
Ranker Video
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

13 6
Ranker Video
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

14 7
Ranker Video
John Wayne, Donna Reed, Robert Montgomery
They Were Expendable is a 1945 American 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

11 6
Ranker Video
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

10 5
Ranker Video
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

9 6
Ranker Video
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

5 2
The Search is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '40s War Movies
ForLuvOfAnimals added 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

11 10
Ranker Video
Olivia de Havilland, Errol Flynn, Anthony Quinn
This film 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 is a highly ...more

8 7
Ranker Video
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

6 5
Ranker Video
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
Ranker Video
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

6 6
Ranker Video
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

5 6
Ranker Video
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

4 5
Ranker Video
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