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The Best Movies of 1940 

Ranker Film
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Updated March 11, 2020 3.8k votes 223 voters 8k views 253 items

List of the best movies of 1940, with movie trailers when available. These top movies of 1940 are listed by popularity, so the movies with the most votes are at the top. This list consists of all different movie genres - from the dramatic adaptation of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath to romantic comedy The Shop Around the Corner - but each film was released in 1940. You can filter this list of films that came out in 1940 for various bits of information, such as who directed the movie and what genre it is. Think the best 1940 movie isn't as high as it should be? Vote up your favorite so it will rise to the top.

Movies on this list include Fantasia and The Philadelphia Story.

This list answers the questions, "What are the best movies from 1940?" and "What are the most popular movies of 1940?"

1940 was a great year for movies, since a lot of classic films were released in 1940. This is a crowd sourced list that has been voted on by many people, so these top films of 1940 aren't just one persons opinion.

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
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1
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Henry Fonda, John Carradine, John Qualen

Released: 1940

Directed by: John Ford

The Grapes of Wrath is a 1940 drama film directed by John Ford. It was based on John Steinbeck's 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. The screenplay was written by Nunnally ...more

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#93 of 363 The Best Movies Based On Books #134 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Starslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

2
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Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine

Released: 1940

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Rebecca is a 1940 American psychological thriller-drama film. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, it was his first American project, and his first film produced under contract with David O. Selznick. ...more

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#283 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #356 of 410 The Best Rainy Day Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
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Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart

Released: 1940

Directed by: George Cukor

The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 American romantic comedy film directed by George Cukor, starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart and featuring Ruth Hussey. Based on the ...more

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#588 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #170 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
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Walt Disney, Corey Burton, Leopold Stokowski

Released: 1940

Directed by: Wilfred Jackson, James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, T. Hee, Ford Beebe, + more

Fantasia is a 1940 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and released by Walt Disney Productions. With story direction by Joe Grant and Dick Huemer, and production supervision by Ben ...more

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#92 of 213 Musical Movies With the Best Songs #77 of 581 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

5
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Mel Blanc, Cliff Edwards, Frankie Darro

Released: 1940

Directed by: Wilfred Jackson, T. Hee, Bill Roberts, Hamilton Luske, Ben Sharpsteen, + more

Pinocchio is a 1940 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Productions and based on the Italian children's novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. It was the ...more

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#62 of 373 The Best Musical Movies of All Time #74 of 213 Musical Movies With the Best Songslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

6
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James Stewart, Frank Morgan, Margaret Sullavan

Released: 1940

Directed by: Ernst Lubitsch

The Shop Around the Corner is a 1940 American romantic comedy film produced and directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan, and Frank Morgan. The screenplay was ...more

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#71 of 109 The Best Christmas Movies of All Time #44 of 75 50+ Quirky Romance Movies That Are Unique in Their Own Way #10 of 75 The Greatest Classic Romance Movies

7
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Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Billy Gilbert

Released: 1940

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin

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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#250 of 1,199 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #50 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made

8
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Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy

Released: 1940

Directed by: Howard Hawks

His Girl Friday is a 1940 American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks, from an adaptation by Charles Lederer, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur of the play The Front Page by Hecht and ...more

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#270 of 1,199 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #48 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made

9
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Bette Davis, Gale Sondergaard, Herbert Marshall

Released: 1940

Directed by: William Wyler

The Letter is a 1940 American film noir directed by William Wyler, and starring Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall and James Stephenson. The screenplay by Howard E. Koch is based on the 1927 play of ...more
10
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Tyrone Power, Basil Rathbone, Linda Darnell

Released: 1940

Directed by: Rouben Mamoulian

The Mark of Zorro is a 1940 American adventure film directed by Rouben Mamoulian and produced by Darryl F. Zanuck for 20th Century Fox. The action movie stars Tyrone Power as Don Diego Vega, ...more
11
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Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Randolph Scott

Released: 1940

Directed by: Garson Kanin

My Favorite Wife is a 1940 screwball comedy produced and co-written by Leo McCarey and directed by Garson Kanin. The picture stars Irene Dunne as a woman who returns to her husband and children ...more
12
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Alfred Hitchcock, George Sanders, Joel McCrea

Released: 1940

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

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
13
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Laurence Olivier, Greer Garson, Maureen O'Sullivan

Released: 1940

Directed by: Robert Z. Leonard

Pride and Prejudice is a 1940 American film adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice, directed by Robert Z. Leonard and starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier. The screenplay ...more

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#274 of 363 The Best Movies Based On Books #655 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

14
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Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino

Released: 1940

Directed by: Raoul Walsh

They Drive by Night is a 1940 black-and-white film noir starring George Raft, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, and Humphrey Bogart, and directed by Raoul Walsh. The picture involves a pair of embattled ...more
15
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Conrad Veidt, Sabu Dastagir, June Duprez

Released: 1940

Directed by: Alexander Korda, William Cameron Menzies, Zoltan Korda, Tim Whelan, Ludwig Berger, + more

The Thief of Bagdad is a 1940 British Technicolor Arabian fantasy film produced by Alexander Korda, and directed by Michael Powell, Ludwig Berger, and Tim Whelan, with contributions by Korda's ...more

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#111 of 581 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time #143 of 211 The Best Adventure Movieslisted on List of Silent Movies

16
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Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, Gilbert Roland

Released: 1940

Directed by: Michael Curtiz

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
17
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Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Sterling Holloway

Released: 1940

Directed by: Mitchell Leisen

Remember the Night is a 1940 American romantic comedy/drama Christmas film directed by Mitchell Leisen, and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray. The film was written by Preston ...more
18
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Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Dana Andrews

Released: 1940

Directed by: William Wyler

The Westerner is a 1940 American film directed by William Wyler and starring Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, and Doris Davenport. Written by Niven Busch, Stuart N. Lake, and Jo Swerling, the film ...more

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#5 of 50 The Best 1940s Western Movies #118 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

19
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Norma Shearer, Robert Taylor, Alla Nazimova

Released: 1940

Directed by: Mervyn LeRoy

Escape is a 1940 drama film about an American in pre-World War II Nazi Germany who discovers his mother is in a concentration camp and tries desperately to free her. It starred Norma Shearer, ...more
20
Waterloo Bridge is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies of 1940
Vivien Leigh, Robert Taylor, C. Aubrey Smith

Released: 1940

Directed by: Mervyn LeRoy

Waterloo Bridge is a 1940 remake of the 1931 American drama film also called Waterloo Bridge, adapted from the 1930 play Waterloo Bridge. In an extended flashback narration, it recounts the ...more

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#31 of 75 The Greatest Classic Romance Movies #26 of 48 The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s

21
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Ronald Reagan, Olivia de Havilland, Errol Flynn

Released: 1940

Directed by: Michael Curtiz

Santa Fe Trail is a 1940 American western film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Raymond Massey and Ronald Reagan. Written by Robert Buckner, the film is ...more

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#275 of 394 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #17 of 50 The Best 1940s Western Movies #42 of 58 Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain

22
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John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Walter Pidgeon

Released: 1940

Directed by: Raoul Walsh

Dark Command is a 1940 Western film starring Claire Trevor, John Wayne and Walter Pidgeon loosely based on Quantrill's Raiders during the American Civil War. Directed by Raoul Walsh from the ...more
23
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Peter Lorre, Elisha Cook, Jr.

Released: 1940

Directed by: Boris Ingster

Stranger on the Third Floor is a 1940 film noir, starring Peter Lorre and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The film was directed by Boris Ingster and co-written by Nathaniel West. Stranger on the ...more
24
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James Cagney, George Reeves, Joseph Crehan

Released: 1940

Directed by: William Keighley

The Fighting 69th is an American war film starring James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, and George Brent. The plot is based upon the actual exploits of New York City's 69th Infantry Regiment during World ...more

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#213 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #12 of 63 The Best James Cagney Movies

25
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Clark Gable, Hedy Lamarr, Spencer Tracy

Released: 1940

Directed by: Jack Conway

Boom Town is a 1940 American adventure film starring Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Claudette Colbert, and Hedy Lamarr, and directed by Jack Conway. The supporting cast features Frank Morgan, ...more