STAN McCORMACK argues that some of the best films ever made were produced in the 1940s, making it truly the Golden Era of Hollywood
I still like to go to the cinema with my son and in 2018 a number of movies nominated for Oscars were interesting, especially Three Billboards outside Epping, Missouri, I, Tonya and Dunkirk. Saoirse Ronan’s performance in Ladybird was excellent but Frances McDormand deserved the Oscar, as did Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill for Darkest Hour.
Having said that it just came to me that none of these films were as good as the great classics from the 1940’s like Citizen Kane, Casablanca, The Grapes of Wrath, The Maltese Falcon and It’s a Wonderful Life just to mention a few.
The movie that will be remembered by many Irish people from the 1940’s is Going My Way (1944) starring Bing Crosby and one of Ireland’s best actors, Barry Fitzgerald (also associated with The Quiet Man).
Fitzgerald unusually was nominated as Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor and he won the latter. It was the most successful movie of 1944 and won seven Academy Awards. After World War ll a copy of the movie was presented to Pope Pius Xll by Bing Crosby.
We hear a lot about cinematography and the art of film-making, but the movies have always been about entertainment. I think that Preston’s Sturges great movie Sullivan’s Travels (1941) starring Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake (with her classic ‘peek a boo’ hair style) captured the true meaning of the movies.
McCrea played John L. Sullivan who made light-hearted movies but wanted to make a serious movie about human suffering during the depression. He dresses up in old clothes to mix with the ordinary people as he travels around, but through misfortune ends up on a brutal prison farm where prisoners are beaten daily.