Best Action Movies of 1940
The Mark of Zorro
Around 1820 the son of a California nobleman comes home from Spain to find his native land under a villainous dictatorship. On the one hand he plays the useless fop, while on the other he is the masked avenger Zorro.
The Thief of Bagdad
When Prince Ahmad is blinded and cast out of Bagdad by the nefarious Jaffar, he joins forces with the scrappy thief Abu to win back his royal place, as well as the heart of a beautiful princess.
The European war was only beginning to erupt across national borders. Johnny Jones, an American crime reporter dispatched by his New York publisher to put a fresh spin on the drowsy dispatches emanating from overseas, has a nose for a good story—which promptly leads him to the crime of fascism and Nazi Germany's designs on European conquest. In attempting to learn more about a seemingly noble peace effort, Jones walks into the middle of an assassination, uncovers a spy ring and—not entirely coincidentally—falls in love.
The Sea Hawk
Dashing pirate Geoffrey Thorpe plunders Spanish ships for Queen Elizabeth I and falls in love with Dona Maria, a beautiful Spanish royal he captures.
Drifter Cole Harden is accused of stealing a horse and faces hanging by self-appointed Judge Roy Bean, but Harden manages to talk his way out of it by claiming to be a friend of stage star Lillie Langtry, with whom the judge is obsessed, even though he has never met her. Tensions rise when Harden comes to the defense of a group of struggling homesteaders who Judge Bean is trying to drive away.
When retired racket boss John Sarto tries to reclaim his place and former friends try to kill him, he finds solace in a monastery and reinvents himself as a pious monk.
The Long Voyage Home
The crew of the merchant ship Glencairn hope to survive a transatlantic crossing during World War II. Adapted from four Eugene O'Neill one-act plays.
Union officer Kerry Bradford escapes from a Confederate prison and races to intercept $5 million in gold destined for Confederate coffers. A Confederate sympathizer and a Mexican bandit, each with their own stake in the loot, stand in his way.
A Central American plantation manager and his boss battle over a traveling showgirl.
The Return of Frank James
Farmer Frank and his ward hunt brother Jesse's killers, the back-shooting Fords.
Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe
A mysterious plague, the Purple Death, ravages the earth. Dr. Zarkov, investigating in his spaceship, finds a ship from planet Mongo seeding the atmosphere with dust. Sure enough, Ming the Merciless is up to his old tricks. So it's back to Mongo for Flash, Dale, and Zarkov, this time with ready-made allies waiting: Prince Barin of Arboria and Queen Fria of the frozen northern land of Frigia; where, it so happens, is found polarite, antidote to the plague. But Ming will use all his forces to keep our heroes from thwarting his plans of conquest.
The Fighting 69th
Although loudmouthed braggart Jerry Plunkett alienates his comrades and officers, Father Duffy, the regimental chaplain, has faith that he'll prove himself in the end.
During WWI pretty German master spy Helene von Lorbeer is sent undercover to London to live with the family of a high-placed British official where she is to rendezvous with the butler Valdar, also a spy, and help him transmit secret war plans back to Germany.
Santa Fe Trail
As a penalty for fighting fellow classmates days before graduating from West Point, J.E.B. Stuart, George Armstrong Custer and four friends are assigned to the 2nd Cavalry, stationed at Fort Leavenworth. While there they aid in the capture and execution of the abolitionist, John Brown following the Battle of Harper's Ferry.
One Million B.C.
One Million B.C. is a 1940 American fantasy film produced by Hal Roach Studios and released by United Artists. It is also known by the titles Cave Man, Man and His Mate, and Tumak. The film stars Victor Mature as protagonist Tumak, a young cave man who strives to unite the uncivilized Rock Tribe and the peaceful Shell Tribe, Carole Landis as Loana, daughter of the Shell Tribe chief and Tumak's love interest, and Lon Chaney, Jr. as Tumak's stern father and leader of the Rock Tribe.
The Shadow battles a villain known as The Black Tiger, who has the power to make himself invisible and is trying to take over the world with his death ray.
The Lady in Question
When a jury member takes in the defendant he couldn't convict, she has a bad influence on his son.
The Green Archer
Columbia's 12th serial of 57 total (following 1940's "Deadwood Dick" and ahead of 1941's "White Eagle") is another of director's James Horne's "classics" where he evidently figured that the same reactions that served him well in Laurel and Hardy films would work well in action serials where he has all hands, heroes and villains alike, doing some kind of over-the top "take", no matter the situation. This loose adaptation of an Edgar Wallace story finds Michael Bellamy (Kenne Duncan in his Kenneth Duncan period) inheriting Garr Castle, but his brother, Abel Bellamy (James Craven, as usual making Oil-Can Harry look smooth), has him imprisoned unjustly and moves into the castle himself. When Michael's wife, Elaine Bellamy (Dorothy Fay), fails to return after visiting Abel, her sister Valerie Howett (Iris Meredith), accompanied by their father,
The Border Legion
Wanted by the law in New York, Dr. Steve Kells heads west and arrives in an area controlled by an outlaw gang known as the Border Legion. When the gang's boss is wounded, they kidnap Kells and force him to remove the bullet. Not allowed to leave and being a wanted man, he joins the gang. Now wanted as a gang member also, he nevertheless plans a raid that will lead the entire gang into a trap.
Drums of Fu Manchu
The nefarious Dr. Fu Manchu searches for the keys to the tomb of Genghis Khan, in order to fulfill a prophecy that will enable him to conquer the world. His nemesis, Dr. Nayland Smith, and his associates fight to keep the evil doctor from getting his hands on the keys. In 1943, the serial that was edited together into a feature movie also called Drums of Fu Manchu.
The Green Hornet Strikes Again!
Second serial featuring The Green Hornet and Kato.
Adventures of Red Ryder
Calvin Drake employs a group of low-lifes to drive away land owners along the path of a new railroad; Red Ryder opposes this strategy.
Pride of the Bowery
Muggs is tricked into entering a Civilian Conservation Corps camp by Danny in order to get in shape. Muggs resists and battles with the camp captain and with other campers. He also becomes involved in trying to help one of his friends get out of trouble.
The Son of Monte Cristo
Rightful owner of the kingdom, the Duchess of Zona, is engaged in a power struggle with the evil General Gurko. Edmond, the son of Monte Cristo, dons many disguises to come to the aid of the Duchess.
A gang of urban street kids and a club of suburban would-be federal agents, at first rivals, join forces to rescue the father of one of the kids, the inventor of a super-explosive and its remote detonator, from the clutches of a band of foreign subversives call the "Flaming Torch Gang". A 12-episode movie serial with the chapters: •1. Enemies Within •2. The Blast of Doom •3. Human Dynamite •4. Blazing Danger •5. Trapped By Traitors •6. Traitors' Treachery •7. Flaming Death •8. Hurled Through Space •9. The Plunge of Peril •10.The Toll of Treason •11.Descending Doom •12.The Power of Patriotism
The Marines Fly High
Marine lieutenants Dan and Jim fight bandits in the South American jungle, while competing for the attention of beautiful Joan Grant.
The Carson City Kid
The Carson City Kid and partner Laramie are outlaws. When his partner is caught the Kid, his identity being unknown, takes a job in Jessup's saloon. Here he see Jessup cheat Waren out of his money. Warren then robs Jessup posing as the Kid but gets caught. To gain his freedom, Laramie identifies Warren as the Kid. Realizing Jessup is the man that killed his brother, the Kid must find a way to clear Warren and get Jessup.
An escaped criminal pretends to be a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in order to prove his innocence of murder. Star Dennis Morgan plays two roles.
Trouble in Colorado is tying up Union troops needed back east during the Civil War and Lieut. Burke is sent to investigate. Macklin and his gang are causing the problems and Capt. Mason joins them. When Burke catches up with them he also finds Mason, his brother.
Mysterious Doctor Satan
A mad scientist named Dr. Satan plots to steal key pieces of technology to enable him to build an army of robots based on his prototype to conquer America. The only one standing in his way is Bob Wayne, who fights Satan as the enigmatic Copperhead. Mysterious Doctor Satan is a 1940 film serial named after its chief villain. Doctor Satan's main opponent is the masked mystery man, "The Copperhead", whose secret identity is Bob Wayne, a man searching for justice and revenge on Satan for the death of his step-father. The serial charts the conflict between the two as Bob Wayne pursues Doctor Satan, while the latter completes his plans for world domination.
Three Faces West
Viennese surgeon Dr. Braun and his daughter Leni come to a small town in North Dakota as refugees from Hitler. When the winds of the Dust Bowl threaten the town, John Phillips leads the townsfolk in moving to greener pastures in Oregon. He falls for Leni, but she is betrothed to the man who helped her and her father escape from the Third Reich. She must decide between the two men.
A British merchant ship is torpedoed by a German U-Boat and takes shelter in a neutral port. The Captain then strikes back at the German enemy.
Two mobs fight for control of the jukebox racket.
A man accused of planning a prison break turns the tables on escaped cons by leading the group into the desert.
Sgt. Renfrew and Constable Kelly go aloft to search for a plane missing with a shipment of gold from the Yukon Mine Company. Inventor Speavy has devised a power ray which disrupts electrical impulses, and Morgan and his gang of crooks has brought in Prof. Lewis to increase the ray's range, telling him he's helping the government develop this new weapon. Speavy spills the beans to Prof. Lewis and his daughter Madeleine,and Morgan threatens to implicate them in his crimes unless they cooperate. Morgan kills Speavy when he tries to warn Renfrew, but when Madeleine stows away on board the doomed plane Renfrew is piloting, will the crooks be able to make Prof. Lewis use the power ray to bring the plane down?
The Last Alarm
A recently retired fire captain suffers from boredom, until one of his friends is killed battling an arson fire. It becomes his purpose in life to track down the arsonist. As he gets closer to finding the killer, things become dangerous for him and his family.
Murder in the Air
Enemy agents are everywhere and they are sabotaging all important war deliveries. The body of a hobo found in a train wreck had a money belt with $50,000 and a tattoo of a circle and arrow. This is a tattoo for saboteurs for hire and Brass must impersonate the dead man to find out what his orders are. As Steve Coe, he meets with the band of enemy agents in California and everything goes well until the wife of the dead 'Hobo' shows up. Luckily, Gabby is able to save Brass and Brass learns what is his assignment. He is to board the USN airship 'Mason', which is testing the super secret Inertia Projector, and destroy the airship.
Young Bill Hickok
Bill Hickok, assisted by Calamity Jane, is after a foreign agent and his guerrilla band who are trying to take over some western territory just as the Civil War is coming to a close.
When her father dies, a young girl helps a young man take command of the ship to fight the British during the war of 1812.
The Phantom Robber gets a fortune in jewels and some valuable papers from a robbery on the crack train "The Midnight Limited" and Val Lennon and his pretty assistant, Joan Marshall, are on his trail. But the Phantom strikes three more times and adds murder to his list. Val decides to use himself as bait, although Chief Harrigan and Joan beg him not to risk his life. But Val, disguised as a wealthy Canadian, boards the train for a rendezvous with a killer.
Men with Steel Faces
Re-edited feature version of serial The Phantom Empire (1935). Singer Gene Autry discovers a race of advanced humans living beneath the earth.
When the plane owned by the "Yukon and Columbia Mail Service" crashes, RCMP Sergeant Renfrew (James Newill) and Constable Kelly (Dave O'Brien) suspect murder. Their suspicions are confirmed when Renfrew finds the control stick has been jammed, forcing the plane to fly in one direction until the gas ran out. Mine owner Louise Howard (Louise Stanley) reports that her superintendent is missing. The Mounties find him murdered and that too has been made to look like an accident. A new mail service pilot, Bill Shipley (Warren Hull), arrives. He had gone to training school with Renfrew but had been cashiered for misconduct. The Mounties discover that Raymond (Karl Hackett), who had been working for Louise, really owns the flying line managed by Yuke Cardoe (William Pawley.) They find proof that all the gold from the mine isn't being turned over to Louise, and suspect that Raymond and Yuke are stealing the gold and shipping it to Seattle by plane.
King of the Royal Mounted
The Canadians have discovered a valuable substance called Compound X, which can cure infantile paralysis. When a country at war with Canada learns that Compound X also contains magnetic properties that could aid them in their warfare against the British, they send agents to infiltrate Canada and steal a large quantity of the substance. It's up to Sgt. King (Allan Lane) and his Mounties to track down the agents and put an end to their scheme.
Spills for Thrills
Warner Bros. short about stuntmen and stuntwomen and how they do their work, featuring real-life stunt artists Harvey Parry, Mary Wiggins, and Allen Pomeroy.
The Wildcat of Tucson
When his brother Dave is put in jail, Bill Hickok returns to help him. Dave has been charged with attempted murder when the other man drew first. Judge Barlow put him there and Bill gets the Judge to confess. Bill learns that Rance McKee is behind all the trouble and he forces the Judge into the decisions he wants. So Bill heads out by himself to face McKee in the showdown.
Betty Bryant is an ambitious newspaper reporter in love with Dan Barton, a member of a big-city Emergency Squad who are trained to deal with riots, cave-in, explosions, fires and other emergencies where lives are at stake. Slade Wiley, an unscrupulous tunnel builder, finds that his low bid on the Newford Tunnel project is causing him to lose a lot of money, and has underworld leader Nick Burton set off blasts to frighten the stockholders into selling their shares at a low price so he can buy up the stock. Betty is investigating the deal when Wiley and Burton take her on a "tour trip" to the tunnel.
A movie company making a film about a famous sheriff hires his grandson as a stand-in for the lead.
Terry and the Pirates
Dr. Herbert Lee, an archaeologist seeking to decipher ancient Mara inscriptions, is aided by his son Terry, Terry's pal Pat Ryan, and Normandie Drake. Jungle pirate and warlord Fang (Dick Curtis) plots to kill The Dragon Lady, Queen of the Temple of Mara, and seize the treasures of her ancestors. Both Fang and The Dragon Lady have sworn death for any foreign intruders.
Passport to Alcatraz
George Hollister, crack investigator for the NYC police, is assigned to run down the enemy aliens who dynamited a Detroit munitions plant. The trail takes him to a customs inspector who is known to have honored fake passports provided by Leon Fenten, chief henchman of Drexel Stuyvesant who heads the sabotage ring. Aided by his partner Ray Nolan. Hollister arrests an agent named Reed and takes his place using the fake passport. As Reed, he is met by Karol Roy, an innocent assistant, who takes him to Fenten. Working undercover, Hollister is still unable to learn the name of the head man, not even from dumb gang-member Hank Kircher. Stuyvesant warns Fenten of his suspicions about "Reed" and the latter gives Hollister an assignment as a test.
Pony Express Days
In this short, a youthful Buffalo Bill Cody joins the newly-formed Pony Express as a station hand and replaces the regular rider when he is shot.