Last Updated on 7 March 2024

The following list is the Official Definitive List of the 300 best movies made in the 1940s.

I found 14 different ranked lists online of “best” or “favorite 40s movies” and pulled them all into Excel and merged them all to get this definitive compilation.  See my Methodology page for the research process that was used, including links to all 14 lists that were averaged. Below is a checklist you can print to track which ones you’ve seen, followed by the ranked list.

  1. Casablanca (1942)
  2. Citizen Kane (1941)
  3. Bicycle Thieves (1948)
  4. The Third Man (1949)
  5. Double Indemnity (1944)
  6. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  7. The Great Dictator (1940)
  8. The Red Shoes (1948)
  9. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
  10. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
  11. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
  12. Children of Paradise (1945)
  13. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
  14. Rebecca (1940)
  15. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
  16. Notorious (1946)
  17. To Be or Not to Be (1942)
  18. The Big Sleep (1946)
  19. Out of the Past (1947)
  20. Beauty and the Beast (1946)
  21. Black Narcissus (1947)
  22. Late Spring (1949)
  23. His Girl Friday (1940)
  24. Brief Encounter (1945)
  25. Fantasia (1940)
  26. White Heat (1949)
  27. A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
  28. Rope (1948)
  29. Rome, Open City (1945)
  30. Gaslight (1944)
  31. Laura (1944)
  32. Sullivan’s Travels (1941)
  33. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
  34. Pinocchio (1940)
  35. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
  36. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
  37. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
  38. Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)
  39. The Lady Eve (1941)
  40. The Heiress (1949)
  41. The Lost Weekend (1945)
  42. Red River (1948)
  43. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
  44. Day of Wrath (1943)
  45. Stray Dog (1949)
  46. Jigsaw (1949)
  47. Gilda (1946)
  48. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
  49. Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
  50. To Have and Have Not (1944)
  51. The Ox-Bow Incident (1942)
  52. Drunken Angel (1948)
  53. The Killers (1946)
  54. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
  55. How Green Was My Valley (1941)
  56. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
  57. Spellbound (1945)
  58. Great Expectations (1946)
  59. Ivan the Terrible, Part I (1944)
  60. Mildred Pierce (1945)
  61. Bambi (1942)
  62. Key Largo (1948)
  63. The Jolson Story (1946)
  64. The Lady Confesses (1945)
  65. Adam’s Rib (1949)
  66. The Raven (1943)
  67. Sergeant York (1941)
  68. Cat People (1942)
  69. All the King’s Men (1949)
  70. Mrs. Miniver (1942)
  71. Ball of Fire (1941)
  72. A Letter to Three Wives (1949)
  73. My Darling Clementine (1946)
  74. Suspicion (1941)
  75. Hamlet (1948)
  76. The Wolf Man (1941)
  77. Now, Voyager (1942)
  78. The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
  79. Foreign Correspondent (1940)
  80. Woman of the Year (1942)
  81. I Walked with a Zombie (1943)
  82. The Uninvited (1944)
  83. Meet John Doe (1941)
  84. The Little Foxes (1941)
  85. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
  86. Odd Man Out (1947)
  87. Lifeboat (1944)
  88. Scarlet Street (1945)
  89. The Stranger (1946)
  90. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
  91. Henry V (1944)
  92. Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
  93. The Naked City (1948)
  94. Oliver Twist (1948)
  95. Germany Year Zero (1948)
  96. Detour (1945)
  97. The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
  98. Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
  99. The Woman in the Window (1944)
  100. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)
  101. Fort Apache (1948)
  102. On the Town (1949)
  103. Dumbo (1941)
  104. The Mark of Zorro (1940)
  105. The Letter (1940)
  106. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)
  107. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)
  108. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
  109. Going My Way (1944)
  110. Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)
  111. The Snake Pit (1948)
  112. The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
  113. Paisan (1946)
  114. And Then There Were None (1945)
  115. Spring in a Small Town (1948)
  116. The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)
  117. Easter Parade (1948)
  118. The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
  119. For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943)
  120. Holiday Inn (1942)
  121. Dead of Night (1945)
  122. They Live By Night (1948)
  123. The Palm Beach Story (1942)
  124. Twelve O’Clock High (1949)
  125. Murder, My Sweet (1944)
  126. Dangerous Years (1947)
  127. Shoeshine (1946)
  128. Obsession (1943)
  129. High Sierra (1940)
  130. Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)
  131. Nightmare Alley (1947)
  132. Saboteur (1942)
  133. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
  134. Heaven Can Wait (1943)
  135. Random Harvest (1942)
  136. Dark Passage (1947)
  137. Aniki-Bóbó (1942)
  138. Phantom of the Opera (1943)
  139. Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)
  140. My Favorite Wife (1940)
  141. The Sea Hawk (1940)
  142. The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945)
  143. The Fallen Idol (1948)
  144. Johnny Belinda (1948)
  145. Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)
  146. A Canterbury Tale (1944)
  147. This Gun for Hire (1942)
  148. The Song of Bernadette (1943)
  149. Call Northside 777 (1948)
  150. A Day in the Country (1946)
  151. Brute Force (1947)
  152. Crossfire (1947)
  153. Anchors Aweigh (1945)
  154. Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)
  155. The Spiral Staircase (1946)
  156. The Mortal Storm (1940)
  157. The Silence of the Sea (1949)
  158. Battleground (1949)
  159. The More the Merrier (1943)
  160. Wilson (1944)
  161. Pinky (1949)
  162. The Man Who Came to Dinner (1941)
  163. La Terra Trema (1948)
  164. The Set-Up (1949)
  165. Too Late for Tears (1949)
  166. The Big Clock (1948)
  167. Since You Went Away (1944)
  168. This Is the Army (1943)
  169. When Strangers Marry (1944)
  170. Duel in the Sun (1946)
  171. The Yearling (1946)
  172. John Loves Mary (1949)
  173. The Bank Dick (1940)
  174. Jour de Fête (1949)
  175. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1943)
  176. Seven Days’ Leave (1942)
  177. In Which We Serve (1942)
  178. National Velvet (1944)
  179. Lassie Come Home (1943)
  180. I Know Where I’m Going! (1945)
  181. Life with Father (1947)
  182. Record of a Tenement Gentleman (1947)
  183. We Dive at Dawn (1943)
  184. Kings Row (1942)
  185. Booby Hatched (1944)
  186. The Green Years (1946)
  187. The Body Snatcher (1945)
  188. Anna and the King of Siam (1946)
  189. Professor Tom (1948)
  190. Waterloo Bridge (1940)
  191. Donald’s Dog Laundry (1940)
  192. Story of G.I. Joe (1945)
  193. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)
  194. Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
  195. Tugboat Mickey (1940)
  196. D.O.A. (1949)
  197. Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
  198. The Human Comedy (1943)
  199. Melody Time (1948)
  200. The 47 Ronin (1941)
  201. Sahara (1943)
  202. The Talk of the Town (1942)
  203. Kiss of Death (1947)
  204. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
  205. 3 Godfathers (1948)
  206. The Seventh Victim (1943)
  207. Force of Evil (1948)
  208. The House on 92nd Street (1945)
  209. They Were Expendable (1945)
  210. All That Money Can Buy (1941)
  211. Jenny Lamour (1947)
  212. Watch on the Rhine (1943)
  213. Criss Cross (1949)
  214. Dance, Girl, Dance (1940)
  215. State Fair (1945)
  216. Road to Morocco (1942)
  217. Five Graves to Cairo (1943)
  218. They Died with Their Boots On (1941)
  219. A Hometown in Heart (1949)
  220. The Million Dollar Cat (1944)
  221. 49th Parallel (1941)
  222. Blues in the Night (1941)
  223. Children of the Beehive (1948)
  224. Panique (1946)
  225. Jane Eyre (1943)
  226. Champion (1949)
  227. Nevada (1944)
  228. Una familia de tantas (1949)
  229. The Stratton Story (1949)
  230. Things Happen at Night (1948)
  231. Under the Bridges (1946)
  232. I Remember Mama (1948)
  233. So Proudly We Hail! (1943)
  234. The Last Stage (1948)
  235. The Pearl (1947)
  236. Wake Island (1942)
  237. Madame Curie (1943)
  238. Come to the Stable (1949)
  239. The Keys of the Kingdom (1944)
  240. Kitty Foyle (1940)
  241. The Valley of Decision (1945)
  242. All This, and Heaven Too (1940)
  243. Home of the Brave (1949)
  244. Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940)
  245. The Children Are Watching Us (1943)
  246. Dragon Seed (1944)
  247. A Song to Remember (1945)
  248. The Rainbow (1944)
  249. Apartment for Peggy (1948)
  250. The White Cliffs of Dover (1944)
  251. Boom Town (1940)
  252. The Ladies of the Bois de Boulogne (1945)
  253. Stage Door Canteen (1943)
  254. A Guy Named Joe (1943)
  255. Samson and Delilah (1949)
  256. Our Town (1940)
  257. Northwest Passage (1940)
  258. The Great Madcap (1949)
  259. Command Decision (1948)
  260. The Reckless Moment (1949)
  261. Bataan (1943)
  262. Love Letters (1945)
  263. Sitting Pretty (1948)
  264. Lost Boundaries (1949)
  265. Pastoral Symphony (1946)
  266. The Baker’s Wife (1938)
  267. Saratoga Trunk (1945)
  268. State of the Union (1948)
  269. The Diary of a Chambermaid (1946)
  270. Death Is a Caress (1949)
  271. The Story of Dr. Wassell (1944)
  272. One Foot in Heaven (1941)
  273. Sorrows and Joys of a Middle-Aged Man (1949)
  274. Boomerang! (1947)
  275. There Was a Father (1942)
  276. Larceny, Inc (1942)
  277. Enamorada (1946)
  278. The Corn Is Green (1945)
  279. The Bigamist (1942)
  280. I Was a Male War Bride (1949)
  281. Unfaithfully Yours (1948)
  282. The Pied Piper (1942)
  283. Hellzapoppin’ (1941)
  284. Cabin in the Sky (1943)
  285. The Fountainhead (1949)
  286. Song of the South (1946)
  287. I Married a Witch (1942)
  288. The Paradine Case (1947)
  289. Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941)
  290. The Three Caballeros (1944)
  291. Green for Danger (1946)
  292. Body and Soul (1947)
  293. Ministry of Fear (1944)
  294. Thieves’ Highway (1949)
  295. The Glass Key (1942)
  296. A Night in Casablanca (1946)
  297. Gentleman Jim (1942)
  298. They Drive By Night (1940)
  299. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
  300. Whisky Galore! (1949)

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