MY FAVORITE FILMS OF 1942

I would have been a crazy movie-going kid if I were around back in 1942. Now maybe it doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’d have seen thirty-two movies made that year. Probably more if I could sneak away from school or work. There are a plethora of classics made in 1942 that are still known seventy-plus years later. Here are my ten favorites that I just love to pieces.

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“CASABLANCA” – ( Michael Curtiz )

Casablanca

“Play it Sam. Play, ‘As Time Goes By’.”  I love this movie. It clicks on all cylinders for me: loyalty, heartache, patriotism. You know the cast by now: the luminous Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart wears his heart on his sleeve and is on a real emot-ional roller coaster. Paul Henreid is the Other Man, even though he’s the husband. He’s a freedom fighter and loves his wife. And what can I say about Claude Rains; he’s a sly, opportunistic devil but I love how he navigates through all this. Rick puts Ilsa on that plane. Gee. It’s one thing to do the right thing. It’s another thing to shred your heart to pieces to do that right thing. Sniff!  How high IS that hill of beans anyway?

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“THE GAY SISTERS” – ( Irving Rapper )

1942 ( THE GAY SISTERS )

Stanwyck is on the light side in this drama ( with humorous overtones ) as one of three sisters whose family is embroiled in a long, financial, legal battle. I chuckle at how they explain away one of the sister’s ( Geraldine Fitzgerald ) un-American accent. Stanwyck is the oldest daughter who goes head to head with her old nemesis ( and frequent co-star ) George Brent in matters of the heart and the law. This is one of my favorite Stanwyck films. And by the way, this is Fitzgerald’s second teaming with Brent, after “Dark Victory.”

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“GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT HERE” – ( William Keighley ) 

1942 ( GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT HERE )

This movie is straight up hilarious. City dwellers move into the country. And everything goes wrong. You’ve seen it before. You’ll see it again when the Blandings move in six years later. The movie made me believe that Jack Benny could actually be married to Ann Sheridan and I didn’t even have to suspend my disbelief.

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“IN THIS OUR LIFE” – ( John Huston )

1942 ( IN THIS OUR LIFE )

When Bette’s bad…she’s very very bad. And she’s very very very  baaad in this our movie. I love bad Bette. She’s a wild girl and nobody’s safe:

  • She jilts her fianceé.
  • She steals her sister’s husband.
  • She’s involved in a hit-and-run car accident.
  • She blames her maid’s son for it.
  • She’ll accept her uncle’s advances in order to sleep her way out of trouble.

Whew! So much on Bette’s plate. What’s a diva to do? Olivia deHavilland plays the good sister with wavy-haired Dennis Morgan as her husband. Hattie McDaniel is the maid. And good ol’ George Brent is the jilted fianceé who finds love with deHavilland ( who he should have picked in the first place. ) Hurricane Bette is all over the place, wreaking havoc and destruction as only Bette Davis can. THIS is why I love her. THIS is why I love this film. She is bad…very very baaad. And that’s a good thing.

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May I offer up one bit of trivia? The young man who plays Hattie McDaniel’s son Parry,ERNEST ANDERSON ( PARRY )
( who Bette tries to blame for the car accident ) is Ernest Anderson. Years later in Bette’s movie: “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” you’ll see Anderson at the end of the movie, as the ice cream vendor serving ice cream to Bette Davis. I like to think Bette had a litle something to do with him getting that part. Please read a little more about him here as well as by clicking on his photo.

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“THE MAJOR & THE MINOR” – ( Billy Wilder )

1942 ( THE MAJOR & THE MINOR )

As in “Tootsie” or “Victor Victoria”, taking on another identity is funny…but dangerous when other people’s emotions become involved. Ginger can pull off looking like a kid ( with a little help from our suspension of disbelief. ) Ray Milland falls for the little girl, I mean the woman he thinks is a little girl. But Diana Lynn has her suspicions. And then there are those hormone-raging cadets Ginger has to fight off. It’s cute all-round. Lucille Ball will also fend off cadets in 1943’s “Best Foot Forward.” Saaay, aren’t cadets supposed to be officers and gentlemen?

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“THE MUMMY’S TOMB” – ( Harold Young )

1942 ( THE MUMMY'S TOMB )

Why is this on my list? Isn’t the sleek, serpentine Turhan Bey enough? Besides, don’t you remember, I told you I love cheap, mindless, fun, monster movies.

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“NOW, VOYAGER”– ( Irving Rapper )

1942 ( NOW, VOYAGER )

Bette Davis is nice again. In fact if this were a Pedro Almodovar film she’d be a “SPIN-STER: ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN WITH HEAVY EYEBROWS.” She’s on the upside of recovery in Claude Rain’s capable hands ( though I don’t think he personally threaded her eyebrows. ) She’s sent on a cruise to spread her wings and meet Life head on. What she finds is love…with a married man. It wasn’t quite what the doctor ordered. But it’s nothing two cigarettes and some Kleenex can’t cure.

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“RANDOM HARVEST” – ( Mervyn LeRoy )

1942 ( RANDOM HARVEST )

It’s 1942 and I’m a cockeyed romantic. The proof is in the pudding with “Random Harvest.” Garson is beautiful and Colman rather dashing. What a twist: build a life with a man whose memory is gone only to lose him when he regains it. How to get him back. How…how…how. Susan Ball gives a great speech when she realizes he doesn’t love her. Subtle and heartbreaking. Ahhh the romance of it all. “Smithy!”

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“RIDE ‘EM COWBOY” – ( Arthur Lubin )

( 1942 ) RIDE 'EM COWBOY

How can I leave out my boys. Last year they were flyboys, this year they’re cowboys. Hijinks ensue, with Indian squaws and singing cowboys, rodeos and Ella tisket and tasket-ing for a momentary cameo in the back of the bus. Sue me. I like the movie.

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“TARZAN’S NEW YORK ADVENTURE” – ( Richard Thorpe )

1942 ( TARZAN'S NY ADVENTURE )

Simply……that jump from the top of the Brooklyn Bridge.

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“WOMAN OF THE YEAR” – ( George Stevens )

1942 ( WOMAN OF THE YEAR )

This is the film that started it all; the teaming of Tracy and Hepburn. In this serious smartly written comedy Tracy’s and Hepburn’s characters ( sportswriter / foreign correspondent ) come from two different worlds and don’t quite fit in each other’s. They have equal strengths but Hepburn must learn to compromise. It all works out in the end; love, you know.  Fay Bainter sprinkles the film with her usual brilliance.

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