Best History Movies of 1940
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.
Abe Lincoln in Illinois
Abe Lincoln in Illinois is a 1940 biographical film which tells the story of the life of Abraham Lincoln from his departure from Kentucky until his election as President of the United States.
Edison, the Man
In flashback, fifty years after inventing the light bulb, an 82-year-old Edison tells his story starting at age twenty-two with his arrival in New York. He's on his way with the invention of an early form of the stock market ticker.
Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet
True story of the doctor who considered it was not immoral to search for a drug that would cure syphillis.
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.
Based on the Kenneth Roberts novel of the same name, this film tells the story of two friends who join Rogers' Rangers, as the legendary elite force engages the enemy during the French and Indian War. The film focuses on their famous raid at Fort St. Francis and their marches before and after the battle.
North West Mounted Police
Texas Ranger Dusty Rivers ("Isn't that a contradiction in terms?", another character asks him) travels to Canada in the 1880s in search of Jacques Corbeau, who is wanted for murder. He wanders into the midst of the Riel Rebellion, in which Métis (people of French and Native heritage) and Natives want a separate nation. Dusty falls for nurse April Logan, who is also loved by Mountie Jim Brett. April's brother is involved with Courbeau's daughter Louvette, which leads to trouble during the battles between the rebels and the Mounties. Through it all Dusty is determined to bring Corbeau back to Texas (and April, too, if he can manage it.)
The Howards of Virginia
Beautiful young Virginian Jane steps down from her proper aristocratic upbringing when she marries down-to-earth surveyor Matt Howard. Matt joins the Colonial forces in their fight for freedom against England. Matt will meet Jane's father in the battlefield.
The Capital City: Washington, D.C.
A Traveltalk look at the exteriors of Washington, D.C.'s famous buildings and monuments.
Four Sons is a 1940 film directed by Archie Mayo. It stars Don Ameche and Eugenie Leontovich. It is a remake of the 1928 film of the same name.
Based on the story of the famous Mormon leader, it follows Brigham Young and his challenge to transport his people across the Rocky mountains to settle in Salt Lake City. The plot focuses on two fictitious characters, Jonathan Kent and Zina Webb and the hardships they have to face along the way.
A Dispatch from Reuters
German Julius Reuter sends 19th-century news by carrier pigeon and then by wire, founding a news agency.
Teddy the Rough Rider
This short follows the political career of Theodore Roosevelt, beginning in 1895, when he was appointed police commissioner of New York City. In 1897 he was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy. His charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War in 1898 is re-created. He becomes vice president in March 1901 and assumes the presidency when William McKinley is assassinated six months later. According to the narrator, Roosevelt refused to be beholden to political bosses, doing what he believed to be right for the American people.
Campaign in Poland
The first blitzkrieg, Hitler's invasion of Poland, is traced in this original Nazi propaganda film from 1940.
The Old South
This short film chronicles the importance of cotton to the economy and culture of America's Old South.
A Failure at Fifty
The story of Abraham Lincoln's 30-year struggle of persistence-through-failure is told to an unemployed 50 year old man.
The Man from Dakota
A frontier scout, a Boston officer and a Russian girl escape with a map past Confederates.
Little Old New York
Inventor Robert Fulton receives support from a tavern owner and a shipyard worker to help realize his dream of a high-powered steamboat.
Rewi's Last Stand
Star-crossed lovers, Robert and Ariana, are caught up in the New Zealand wars of the 1860s. Ariana is claimed by the Maniapoto people as one of their own and, despite Robert's chivalrous defence, is taken by them and must help them prepare for war. Robert likewise must do his patriotic duty and enlists to fight on the other side. He volunteers to ride despatch, thinking it may give him an opportunity to see Ariana again, which it does, but their joy is short-lived; Maniapoto women fight beside their men, and furthermore she is a Rangitira (noble) and will not let her people down. The climax is the siege of Oraku Pa where 300 Maori hold off 2000 troops for three days. The Maniapoto are defeated, but Ariana, although wounded, survives to be reunited with Robert.
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.
The Flag of Humanity
The story of how Clara Barton helped found the American Red Cross.
The Fight for Life
The Fight for Life was documentary filmmaker Pare Lorentz' first "dramatic" film, utilizing the talents of several top New York stage actors. A tribute to the Chicago Maternity Center and its efforts to provide the best possible care for destitute mothers, the film is based on the book of the same name by Paul de Kruif. Myron McCormick plays the largest role as a dedicated intern, while others in the cast include such theatrical heavywrights as Will Geer, Dudley Digges and Dorothy Adams. The film's many vignettes range from the tragic (a mother dying in childbirth in the opening scene) to the exultant (another mother rescued from the brink of death in a disease-ridden tenement). Filmed in Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland, Fight for Life is a worthwhile effort, though Lorentz seems more comfortable with the "actuality" scenes than with the dramatized passages.
The Tragedy of Carpatho-Ukraine
Documentary-filmed events in the Carpatho-Ukraine (aka Ruthenia) during 1939 drive this history of the Ukraine's struggle for independence as a nation.
The Steam Locomotive
A Santa Fe Railroad educational film on the steam locomotive in their role in industry and passenger travel.