Would love to share your "favourite" per-1940 movies from any genre and why. Here are mine...
1) King's Row (1942). A wonderful epic about pride catastrophe and redemption. A lot of very dark subjects are dealt with - suicide, possible incest, insanity, absolute corruption and an eerie analogy to the eugenics movement (rampant at the time and now the domain of infanticidists everywhere) overcome by religious faith, honesty, willpower, friendship, love and most everything good in the human nature. Also one of the most beautiful and powerful music scores ever composed by a refugee from Hitler's Germany. The great Ronald Reagan was cast as the supporting actor but after editing in response to the power of his performance it really became his film when released. Love it cry to it every time.
2) Casablanca (1942). If you have not seen this film you then you simply cannot cll yourself a cultured or educated person. There is nothing I can say about this movie others have not already but here is an interesting fact: there is the classic scene where the patrons in Rick's sing the Le Marseillaise drowning out the Nazi officers who were singing "Watch on the Rhine" it is tear inspiring always but at the movie premiere the audience reaction was overwhelming the projectionist replayed it! What makes it more poignant is that many of the cast in the movie were themselves refugees from Nazi Germany or occupied Europe including the actor who leads the Nazi officers singing Watch on the Rhine! If you can watch this without crying then I am truly sorry for you.
3) Adventures of Robin Hood/Double Indemnity (1939 and 1944). Okay so I cheated! As a little girl I thought Errol Flynn was a god. I don't feel any different now he is just so beautiful, so cool. And so tragic ... which is what makes this film extra perfect. Why did they ever bother to make another? They have all trash. So many great lines but my favourite is by Basil Rathbone as Sheriff of Nottingham
Flynn: "Surely you wouldn't kill a man merely for speaking the truth?"
Rathbone: "If it amused me, yes" ( Yeah...My kind of man!)
Rathbone hated Flynn out of jealousy but this is also the film where Flynn and the beautiful and perfect Olivia de Havilland finally made love off screen as well as on screen and discussed getting married which was not to be.
I think Double Indemnity (1944) is simply the best of the film noir. Sharp dialogue people used to associate only with Americans until they decided they could best express their thoughts by using only in obscenities.
Fred MacMurray: "Yeah...and for once I believe you because it's just rotten enough."
Barbara Stanwyck: "We're both rotten."
Fred MacMurray: "Only you're a little more rotten."
Fred MacMurray was a devout Catholic and when they asked him to take off his wedding ring because the character he played was single he refused. "It only comes off when I am dead" he replied which was very brave cause he was not an influential actor and this was his big chance ... and the studio backed down which is you see him wearing it in the movie.
So...there my three. Obviously I have many more which is why I put "favorites" in quotation marks.