Best Picture Nominees: 1941

Japan's surprise attack at Pearl Harbor drew the U.S. into the war. Meanwhile, Germany turned on its friend Russia, attacking them too.

In Hollywood, the films released this year challenge (and in some cases exceed) the quality of 1939's as the greatest yet.

For more information about 1941, see The Learning Network's Fact Monster.

How Green Was My Valley (John Ford)
Won Best Picture
At the turn of the century in a Welsh mining village, the Morgans (Donald Crisp and Sara Allgood) raise coal-mining sons and hope their youngest (Roddy McDowall) will find a better life. Lots of atmosphere, very sentimental view of pre-union miners' lives in one of Ford's best drama. Based on the novel by Richard Llewellyn.

Citizen Kane (Orson Welles)
Nominated Best Picture
IMDB Highest Rated
Solonor's Pick
Orson Welles masterpiece (both as an actor and a director), considered by many as the best film ever made. This is the story of multimillionaire newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane (Welles), one of the world's richest men. The film opens with a long shot of Xanadu--Kane's private estate. In the middle of the estate is a castle. Inside the castle, a dying man examines a winter scene within a crystal ball. As he drops it, it smashes, and one word is heard--"Rosebud". In an attempt to figure out the meaning of this word, a reporter tracks down the people who worked and lived with Kane; they tell their stories in a series of flashbacks that reveal much about Kane's life but not enough to unlock the riddle of his dying breath. What follows are pieces of newsreel like footage detailing how Kane amassed his fortune, and how he came to die alone in his extravagant mansion.

The Maltese Falcon (John Huston)
Nominated Best Picture
Arguably John Huston's greatest film, adapted from the novel by Dashiell Hammett. Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart in his defining role) is a partner in a private-eye firm who finds himself hounded by police when his partner is killed while tailing a man. The girl who asked him to follow the man (Mary Astor) turns out not to be who she says she is, and is really involved in something to do with the `Maltese Falcon', a gold-encrusted life-sized statue of a falcon--the only one of its kind. Fantastic performances by Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet.


The Little Foxes (William Wyler)
Nominated Best Picture
This is a film adaptation of the Lillian Hellman play of the same title. In a post-Civil War southern community, nothing is more important than money and power to Regina Giddens (Bette Davis). In fact, she will stop at nothing to have them. In order to join her equally ruthless brothers (Charles Dingle and Carl Benton Reid) and in a scheme that is sure to gain her wealth and power, she uses her young and na´ve daughter (Teresa Wright) to fetch her estranged, ailing husband (Herbert Marshall) who is living elsewhere. When she cannot convince her husband to give her the money, she sets forward a conniving plan--which escalates to the ultimate price once she realizes her brothers intend to swindle her as well.

Sergeant York (Howard Hawks)
Nominated Best Picture
The true story of World War I Medal of Honor winner, Alvin York (Gary Cooper)--a hillbilly sharpshooter who became one of the most celebrated American heroes of the war when he single-handedly attacked and captured a German position using the same strategy as in a turkey shoot.


Here Comes Mr. Jordan (Alexander Hall)
Nominated Best Picture
From the play by Harry Segall, this is the story of boxer Joe Pendleton (Robert Montgomery). While flying to his next fight, he crashes, because a Heavenly Messenger (Edward Everett Horton), new on the job, snatched Joe's spirit prematurely from his body. Before the matter can be rectified, Joe's body is cremated; so the celestial Mr. Jordan (Claude Rains) grants him the use of the body of wealthy unscrupulous businessman Bruce Farnsworth (Montgomery)--who's just been murdered by scheming greedy wife (Rita Johnson) and his male secretary Tony Abbott (John Emery). The murderous pair are shocked and confused to see the deceased suddenly re-emerge from the bathroom. He also utterly befuddles his former fight manager Max Corkle (James Gleason). The reincarnated spirit falls in love with Bette Logan (Evelyn Keyes) and enters a boxing match when he is murdered again, and this time takes on the body of a champion boxer.

Suspicion (Alfred Hitchcock)
Nominated Best Picture
Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant) is a handsome gambler who seems to live by borrowing money from friends. He meets shy Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine) on a train while trying to travel in a first class carriage with a third class ticket. He begins to court Lina, and before long they are married. It is only after the honeymoon that she discovers his true character, and she starts to become suspicious when Johnny's friend and business partner, Beaky (Nigel Bruce), is killed mysteriously.

One Foot in Heaven (Irving Rapper)
Nominated Best Picture
A wholesome, nostalgic, poignant and moving film, based on a book written by the son of the actual real-life minister. It is the story of Rev. William Spence (Fredric March), a devoted Methodist minister who begins his ministry in a small town in Iowa at the turn of the century. He moves from community to community over a period of years, building up troubled parishes. With his ever-faithful wife Hope Morris Spence (Martha Scott), they must cope with the clash between fast-changing attitudes and church teachings.


Forty-Ninth Parallel (Michael Powell)
Nominated Best Picture
A damaged U-boat is stranded in a Canadian bay in the early years of World War II. The Fanatical Nazi captain (Richard George) and his crew must reach the neutral United States or be captured. Along the way they meet a variety of characters each with their own views on the war and nationalism.

Hold Back the Dawn (Mitchell Leisen)
Nominated Best Picture
Told in flashback from a preface in which the main character visits Paramount to sell his story. Romanian-French gigolo Georges Iscovescu (Charles Boyer) wishes to enter the USA. Stopped in Mexico by the quota system, he decides to marry an American teacher, Emmy Brown (Olivia de Havilland), then desert her and join his old partner Anita (Paulette Goddard), who's done likewise. But after sweeping Emmy off her feet, he finds her so sweet that love and jealousy endanger his plans.

Blossoms in the Dust (Mervy LeRoy)
Nominated Best Picture
Edna (Greer Garson) marries Texan Sam Gladney (Walter Pidgeon), operator of a wheat mill. They have a son, who is killed when very young. Edna discovers by chance how the law treats children who are without parents and decides to do something about it. She opens a home for foundlings and orphans and begins to place children in good homes, despite the opposition of "conservative" citizens, who would condemn illegitimate children for being born out of wedlock. Eventually Edna leads a fight in the Texas legislature to remove the stigma of illegitimacy from birth records in that state, while continuing to be an advocate for homeless children.

Dumbo (Ben Sharpsteen)
Another Disney animated masterpiece. This one concerns a baby elephant, who is taunted and ridiculed because of his truly enormous ears and dubbed "Dumbo". Dumbo is relegated to the circus' clown acts; it is up to his only friend, a mouse, to assist Dumbo to achieve his full potential.

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Best Picture: 1941
What is the Best Picture of 1941?

How Green Was My Valley
Citizen Kane
The Maltese Falcon
The Little Foxes
Sergeant York
Here Comes Mr. Jordan
One Foot in Heaven
49th Parallel
Hold Back the Dawn
Blossoms in the Dust

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1940 <- Main Menu -> 1942

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