Best Fantasy Movies of 1940
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 ghosts of three elderly industrialists killed in an airplane crash return to Earth to help reunite a young couple whom they initially brought together.
The Mummy's Hand
A couple of young, out-of-work archaeologists in Egypt discover evidence of the burial place of the ancient Egyptian princess Ananka. After receiving funding from an eccentric magician and his beautiful daughter, they set out into the desert only to be terrorized by a sinister high priest and the living mummy Kharis who are the guardians of Ananka’s tomb.
The Blue Bird
An ungrateful girl and her little brother are transported in their dreams by a fairy to a wonderland, tasked with finding the mythical blue bird of happiness, meeting friends and foes along the way.
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 Milky Way
The three little kittens have lost their mittens and are sent to bed without dinner. From their room, they see the Milky Way and sail up to it, using a basket and helium balloons, passing through some fanciful astronomical bodies, until they reach a Milky Way filled with every conceivable form of milk.
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.
One for the Book
In this entertaining short, famous literary figures step out of the pages of books after dark.
A murdered man helps his widow bring his killer to justice.
This entry in MGM's Passing Parade series looks at the meaning of dreams, including one by Abraham Lincoln that foretold his death.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
The Sorcerer's Apprentice is the third and most famous segment in Disney's Fantasia and went on to be the only returning segment in its sequel, Fantasia 2000. Based on the poem of the same name by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the musical piece, it stars Mickey Mouse as the titular apprentice.
Seductio Ad Absurdum
A surreal 1940 film by an amateur cineaste Cynthia Childs about a woman's infidelitous evening out on the town. Added score composed and performed by Stephen Horne in 2020.
The dead and the skeletons, coming out of the ground, indulge in playful dance to the music of Camille Saint-Saëns, and rejoice in the terror that they inspire.
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
Live-action shots of the orchestra illuminated in blue and gold, backed by superimposed shadows, fade into abstract patterns. Animated lines, shapes and cloud formations reflect the sound and rhythms of the music.
The Nutcracker Suite
Selections from the ballet suite underscore scenes depicting the changing of the seasons from summer to autumn to winter. A variety of dances are presented with fairies, fish, flowers, mushrooms, and leaves, including "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy", "Chinese Dance", "Arabian Dance", "Russian Dance", "Dance of the Flutes" and "Waltz of the Flowers".
Rite of Spring
A visual history of the Earth's beginnings is depicted to selected sections of the ballet score. The sequence progresses from the planet's formation to the first living creatures, followed by the reign and extinction of the dinosaurs.
The Pastoral Symphony
A mythical Greco-Roman world of colorful centaurs and "centaurettes", cupids, fauns and other figures from classical mythology is portrayed to Beethoven's music. A gathering for a festival to honor Bacchus, the god of wine, is interrupted by Zeus, who creates a storm and directs Vulcan to forge lightning bolts for him to throw at the attendees.
Dance of the Hours
A comic ballet in four sections: Madame Upanova and her ostriches (Morning); Hyacinth Hippo and her servants (Afternoon); Elephanchine and her bubble-blowing elephant troupe (Evening); and Ben Ali Gator and his troop of alligators (Night). The finale finds all of the characters dancing together until their palace collapses.
A Christmas Carol
Based on the story by Charles Dickens. Filmed in Toledo, Ohio, U.S.A. Preserved by the Oesterreichisches Filmmsuem, Vienna and Temenos Archive, Zurich.
Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria
Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria is the final segment of Fantasia, following the music of the same name by Modest Moussorgsky and Franz Schubert. Deems Taylor introduces it as the conflict between the profane (represented by Night on Bald Mountain) and the sacred (represented by Ave Maria). At Walpurgis Night (the Witches' Sabbath), Chernabog, god of evil, emerges from the peak of Bald Mountain (in reality Mount Triglaf, near Kiev in southern Russia) to summon all of his minions, including ghosts, demons, hags and harpies, who dance furiously as he throws them into the mountain’s fiery pit. Chernabog is driven away by the light of the dawn, and a procession of figures walks up a hill to witness a sunrise. It is perhaps the most famous sequences in Fantasia, if not, second to The Sorcerer's Apprentice. The sequence showcases the animation of Vadimir Tytla and the style of Kay Nielsen, as well as the longest shot ever produced in the multi-plane camera (in the procession).