Best History Movies of 1940


The Sea Hawk

7.6/10 IMDB

Dashing pirate Geoffrey Thorpe plunders Spanish ships for Queen Elizabeth I and falls in love with Dona Maria, a beautiful Spanish royal he captures.

Starring: Errol Flynn, Brenda Marshall, Claude Rains, Donald Crisp, Flora Robson, Alan Hale, Henry Daniell, Una O'Connor, James Stephenson, Gilbert Roland ..
Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Release date: 1940-08-10

Abe Lincoln in Illinois

7.3/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Raymond Massey, Gene Lockhart, Ruth Gordon, Mary Howard, Minor Watson, Alan Baxter, Harvey Stephens, Howard Da Silva, Dorothy Tree, Aldrich Bowker ..
Directed by: John Cromwell
Release date: 1940-02-22

Edison, the Man

7.0/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Spencer Tracy, Charles Coburn, Lynne Overman, Rita Johnson, Gene Lockhart, Henry Travers, Felix Bressart, Peter Godfrey, Guy D'Ennery, Byron Foulger ..
Directed by: Clarence Brown
Release date: 1940-05-10

Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet

7.4/10 IMDB

True story of the doctor who considered it was not immoral to search for a drug that would cure syphillis.

Starring: Edward G. Robinson, Ruth Gordon, Otto Kruger, Donald Crisp, Maria Ouspenskaya, Montagu Love, Sig Ruman, Donald Meek, Henry O'Neill, Albert Bassermann ..
Directed by: William Dieterle
Release date: 1940-02-23

Virginia City

6.8/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Errol Flynn, Miriam Hopkins, Randolph Scott, Humphrey Bogart, Frank McHugh, Alan Hale, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, John Litel, Douglass Dumbrille, Moroni Olsen ..
Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Release date: 1940-03-23

Northwest Passage

7.0/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Spencer Tracy, Robert Young, Walter Brennan, Ruth Hussey, Nat Pendleton, Louis Hector, Robert Barrat, Lumsden Hare, Donald MacBride, Isabel Jewell ..
Directed by: King Vidor
Release date: 1940-02-23
Best History Movies of 1940 : North West Mounted Police

North West Mounted Police

6.4/10 IMDB

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.)

Starring: Gary Cooper, Madeleine Carroll, Paulette Goddard, Preston Foster, Robert Preston, Akim Tamiroff, George Bancroft, Lynne Overman, Walter Hampden, Lon Chaney Jr. ..
Directed by: Cecil B. DeMille
Release date: 1940-10-22
Best History Movies of 1940 : The Howards of Virginia

The Howards of Virginia

6.0/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Cary Grant, Martha Scott, Cedric Hardwicke, Alan Marshal, Richard Carlson, Paul Kelly, Irving Bacon, Elisabeth Risdon, Anne Revere, Tom Drake ..
Directed by: Frank Lloyd
Release date: 1940-09-19

The Capital City: Washington, D.C.

6.4/10 IMDB

A Traveltalk look at the exteriors of Washington, D.C.'s famous buildings and monuments.

Starring: James A. FitzPatrick ..
Directed by: James A. FitzPatrick
Release date: 1940-09-07
Best History Movies of 1940 : Four Sons

Four Sons

6.4/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Don Ameche, Eugenie Leontovich, Mary Beth Hughes, Alan Curtis, George Ernest, Robert Lowery, Lionel Royce, Sig Ruman, Ludwig Stössel, Christian Rub ..
Directed by: Archie Mayo
Release date: 1940-06-14
Best History Movies of 1940 : Brigham Young

Brigham Young

6.3/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Dean Jagger, Brian Donlevy, Jane Darwell, John Carradine, Mary Astor, Vincent Price, Jean Rogers, Ann E. Todd ..
Directed by: Henry Hathaway
Release date: 1940-09-27
Best History Movies of 1940 : A Dispatch from Reuters

A Dispatch from Reuters

6.9/10 IMDB

German Julius Reuter sends 19th-century news by carrier pigeon and then by wire, founding a news agency.

Starring: Edward G. Robinson, Edna Best, Eddie Albert, Albert Bassermann, Gene Lockhart, Otto Kruger, Nigel Bruce, Montagu Love, James Stephenson, Walter Kingsford ..
Directed by: William Dieterle
Release date: 1940-10-19
Best History Movies of 1940 : Teddy the Rough Rider

Teddy the Rough Rider

5.9/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Sidney Blackmer, Douglas Wood, Selmer Jackson, Theodore von Eltz, Arthur Loft, John Ridgely, Glenn Strange, Robert Warwick, Frank Wilcox ..
Directed by: Ray Enright
Release date: 1940-02-21

Campaign in Poland

5.7/10 IMDB

The first blitzkrieg, Hitler's invasion of Poland, is traced in this original Nazi propaganda film from 1940.

Starring: Adolf Hitler ..
Directed by: Fritz Hippler
Release date: 1940-01-02

The Old South

5.8/10 IMDB

This short film chronicles the importance of cotton to the economy and culture of America's Old South.

Starring: Frank Whitbeck, George Lynn ..
Directed by: Fred Zinnemann
Release date: 1940-01-20
Best History Movies of 1940 : A Failure at Fifty

A Failure at Fifty

5.8/10 IMDB

The story of Abraham Lincoln's 30-year struggle of persistence-through-failure is told to an unemployed 50 year old man.

Starring: Edmund Glover, Mary Anderson, Truman Bradley, Carey Wilson, Margaret Bert, George Chesebro, Naomi Childers, Jules Cowles, Edward Coxen, Olin Francis ..
Directed by: Will Jason
Release date: 1940-07-01

The Man from Dakota

5.6/10 IMDB

A frontier scout, a Boston officer and a Russian girl escape with a map past Confederates.

Starring: Wallace Beery, John Howard, Dolores del Río, Donald Meek, Robert Barrat, Addison Richards, Frederick Burton, William Haade, John Wray ..
Directed by: Leslie Fenton
Release date: 1940-02-16
Best History Movies of 1940 : Little Old New York

Little Old New York

6.5/10 IMDB

Inventor Robert Fulton receives support from a tavern owner and a shipyard worker to help realize his dream of a high-powered steamboat.

Starring: Alice Faye, Richard Greene, Fred MacMurray, Brenda Joyce, Andy Devine, Henry Stephenson, Fritz Feld, Ward Bond, Clarence Wilson, Robert Middlemass ..
Directed by: Henry King
Release date: 1940-02-09
Best History Movies of 1940 : Rewi's Last Stand

Rewi's Last Stand

5.6/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Leo Pilcher, Ramai Te Miha, Henare Toka, Stanley Knight, John Gordon, A.J.C. Fisher, Peter Hutt, Colonel J.D. Swan, Bernard Britain, Raureti Te Huia ..
Directed by: Rudall Hayward
Release date: 1940-03-31

Pony Express Days

5.8/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: George Reeves, David Bruce, Frank Wilcox, J. Farrell MacDonald, Joe King, Addison Richards ..
Directed by: B. Reeves Eason
Release date: 1940-07-13
Best History Movies of 1940 : The Flag of Humanity

The Flag of Humanity

5.8/10 IMDB

The story of how Clara Barton helped found the American Red Cross.

Starring: Nana Bryant, Fay Helm, John Hamilton, Ted Osborne, John Arledge, John Alexander, Scotty Beckett, William Hopper, Joe King, Owen King ..
Directed by: Jean Negulesco
Release date: 1940-10-19

The Fight for Life

5.5/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Myron McCormick, Storrs Haynes, Will Geer, Dudley Digges, Woody Guthrie, Dorothy Adams, Dorothy Urban, Effie Anderson ..
Directed by: Pare Lorentz
Release date: 1940-03-07
Best History Movies of 1940 : The Tragedy of Carpatho-Ukraine

The Tragedy of Carpatho-Ukraine

0.0/10 IMDB

Documentary-filmed events in the Carpatho-Ukraine (aka Ruthenia) during 1939 drive this history of the Ukraine's struggle for independence as a nation.

Release date: 1940-03-01
Best History Movies of 1940 : The Steam Locomotive

The Steam Locomotive

0.0/10 IMDB

A Santa Fe Railroad educational film on the steam locomotive in their role in industry and passenger travel.

Release date: 1940-01-01

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