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The Best War Movies of the 1940s

Updated July 8, 2019 1.2k votes 234 voters 9.4k views33 items

List RulesVote 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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  • Casablanca1
    73
    15

    Casablanca

    Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart

    Released1942

    Directed byMichael Curtiz

    Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and based on... more on Wikipedia

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  • Sergeant York2
    54
    10

    Sergeant York

    Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan

    Released1941

    Directed byHoward Hawks

    Sergeant York is a 1941 biographical film about the life of Alvin York, one of the... more on Wikipedia
  • Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo3
    50
    11

    Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo

    Robert Mitchum, Spencer Tracy

    Released1944

    Directed byMervyn LeRoy

    Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo is a 1944 American war film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It is... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • They Were Expendable4
    45
    9

    They Were Expendable

    John Wayne, Donna Reed

    Released1945

    Directed byRobert Montgomery, John Ford

    They Were Expendable is a 1945 American film directed by John Ford and starring Robert... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Twelve O'Clock High5
    48
    13

    Twelve O'Clock High

    Gregory Peck, Dean Jagger

    Released1949

    Directed byHenry King

    Twelve O'Clock High is a 1949 American film about aircrews in the United States Army's Eighth... more on Wikipedia
  • Sahara6
    46
    15

    Sahara

    Humphrey Bogart, Lloyd Bridges

    Released1943

    Directed byZoltan Korda

    Sahara is a 1943 drama war film directed by Zoltán Korda. Humphrey Bogart stars as a U.S. tank... more on Wikipedia

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  • Battleground7
    40
    10

    Battleground

    Ricardo Montalbán, James Arness

    Released1949

    Directed byWilliam A. Wellman

    Battleground is a 1949 American war film that follows a company in the 327th Glider Infantry... more on Wikipedia
  • The Best Years of Our Lives8
    44
    15

    The Best Years of Our Lives

    Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright

    Released1946

    Directed byWilliam Wyler

    The Best Years of Our Lives is a 1946 American drama film directed by William Wyler and... more on Wikipedia
  • She Wore a Yellow Ribbon9
    37
    11

    She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

    John Wayne, Ben Johnson

    Released1949

    Directed byJohn Ford

    She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is a 1949 Technicolor Western film directed by John Ford and starring... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Guadalcanal Diary10
    29
    9

    Guadalcanal Diary

    Anthony Quinn, William Bendix

    Released1943

    Directed byLewis Seiler

    Guadalcanal Diary is a 1943 World War II war film directed by Lewis Seiler, featuring Preston... more on Wikipedia
  • They Died with Their Boots On11
    27
    13

    They Died with Their Boots On

    Olivia de Havilland, Errol Flynn

    Released1941

    Directed byRaoul Walsh

    This film is a 1941 American western film directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Errol Flynn and... more on Wikipedia

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  • The Third Man12
    33
    20

    The Third Man

    Orson Welles, Trevor Howard

    Released1949

    Directed byCarol Reed

    The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir, directed by Carol Reed and starring Joseph Cotten,... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • The Great Dictator13
    33
    21

    The Great Dictator

    Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard

    Released1940

    Directed byCharlie Chaplin

    The Great Dictator is a 1940 American satirical political comedy-drama film starring, written,... more on Wikipedia

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  • The Fighting Seabees14
    16
    1

    The Fighting Seabees

    John Wayne, Susan Hayward

    Released1944

    Directed byEdward Ludwig

    The Fighting Seabees is a 1944 war film starring John Wayne and Susan Hayward. The picture... more on Wikipedia
  • Notorious15
    25
    12

    Notorious

    Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant

    Released1946

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    Notorious is a 1946 American spy thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock,... more on Wikipedia
  • The Sea Hawk16
    22
    8

    The Sea Hawk

    Errol Flynn, Claude Rains

    Released1940

    Directed byMichael Curtiz

    The Sea Hawk is a 1940 American Warner Bros. feature film starring Errol Flynn as an English... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • The Story of G.I. Joe17
    26
    14

    The Story of G.I. Joe

    Robert Mitchum, Burgess Meredith

    Released1945

    Directed byWilliam A. Wellman

    The Story of G.I. Joe, also credited in prints as Ernie Pyle's Story of G.I. Joe, is a 1945... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Foreign Correspondent18
    27
    17

    Foreign Correspondent

    Alfred Hitchcock, George Sanders

    Released1940

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    Foreign Correspondent is a 1940 American spy thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It... more on Wikipedia
  • A Walk in the Sun19
    19
    10

    A Walk in the Sun

    Lloyd Bridges, Dana Andrews

    Released1945

    Directed byLewis Milestone

    A Walk in the Sun is a World War II war film released in 1945, based on the novel by Harry... more on Wikipedia
  • In Which We Serve20
    17
    8

    In Which We Serve

    John Mills, Noël Coward

    Released1942

    Directed byNoël Coward, David Lean

    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.... more on Wikipedia
  • Northwest Passage21
    19
    14

    Northwest Passage

    Spencer Tracy, Walter Brennan

    Released1940

    Directed byKing Vidor

    Northwest Passage is a 1940 film in Technicolor, starring Spencer Tracy, Robert Young, Walter... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Wing and a Prayer22
    9
    2

    Wing and a Prayer

    Don Ameche, Harry Morgan

    Released1944

    Directed byHenry Hathaway

    Wing and a Prayer is a black-and-white 1944 war film about the heroic crew of an American... more on Wikipedia
  • Task Force23
    9
    2

    Task Force

    Gary Cooper, Jane Wyatt

    Released1949

    Directed byDelmer Daves

    Task Force is a war film filmed in black-and-white with some Technicolor sequences about the... more on Wikipedia
  • Ministry of Fear24
    14
    11

    Ministry of Fear

    Ray Milland, Dan Duryea

    Released1944

    Directed byFritz Lang

    Ministry of Fear is a 1944 film noir directed by Fritz Lang. Based on a novel by Graham... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Corvette K-22525
    8
    4

    Corvette K-225

    Cliff Robertson, Randolph Scott

    Released1943

    Directed byRichard Rosson

    Corvette K -225 is a 1943 film starring Randolph Scott and Ella Raines. It was released in the... more on Wikipedia