Cinema 1941: You Must Remember This….Events, Trends, Movies, Stars

March 14, 2022

Cineliteracy: What You Need to Know about 1941 as a Movie Year


Humphrey Bogart became a star after High Sierra and The Maltese Falson.

John Huston made an auspicious debut, The Maltese Falcon

Orson Welles made a spectacular debut with the masterpiece Citizen Kane.

John Ford directed How Green Was My Valley, which swept the year’s top Oscar Awards.

Preston Surges directed two of his best comedies, The Lady Eve and Sullivan’s Travels.

Top-Grossing Films (U.S.)

1. Sergeant York Warner Bros. $6,075,000
2. Honky Tonk Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $2,893,000
3. Louisiana Purchase, Paramount Pictures $2,800,000
4. How Green Was My Valley 20th Century Fox $2,447,000
5. The Philadelphia Story Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $2,374,000
6. Caught in the Draftm Paramount Pictures $2,200,000
7. The Little Foxes, Samuel Goldwyn, Paramount Pictures, $2,100,000
Road to Zanzibar RKO Radio Pictures, $2,100,000
8. A Yank in the R.A.F. 20th Century Fox $2,063,000
9 Men of Boys Town, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $2,009,000
10 Nothing But the Truth, Paramount Pictures $2,000,000


January 17:

Gone with the Wind goes into general release after touring in a roadshow during 1940. A cultural phenomenon, it sells about 60 million tickets, adjusted for inflation, it remains the highest grossing domestic film of all time with $1.8 billion.

George Cukor’s screwball comedy The Philadelphia Story goes into general release.

May 1:

Citizen Kane is released.

July 2:

Sergeant York, the biopic of World War I hero Alvin C. York, starring Gary Cooper in the title role, premiers in New York City.

Released nationally on September 27, 1941, it becomes the highest-grossing picture of the year and earns Cooper the first of two Oscars for Best Actor.


Senate Investigation into Motion Picture War Propaganda in the United States.

October 3:

The Maltese Falcon is released.

October 23L

Praised for sophisticated simplicity and economic story, Dumbo is released, becoming Disney’s big hit in the 1940s and one of the most acclaimed animations ever.

Oscar Awards

14th Academy Awards

Best Picture: How Green Was My Valley – 20th Century-Fox

Best Actor: Gary Cooper – Sergeant York

Best Actress: Joan Fontaine – Suspicion

Best Supporting Actor: Donald Crisp – How Green Was My Valley

Best Supporting Actress: Mary Astor – The Great Lie

Best Director: John Ford – How Green Was My Valley

Popular Movie Stars (rank-ordered):

Mickey Rooney

Clark Gable

Abbott and Costello

Bob Hope

Spencer Tracy

Gene Autry

Gary Cooper

Bette Davis

James Cagney

Judy Garland

1941 Film Releases

January 1941
1 January
Princess Iron Fan (China)
16 January
The Face Behind the Mask
17 January
The Philadelphia Story (general release)
21 January
High Sierra
23 January
24 January
Life with Henry
The Saint in Palm Springs
28 January
Sullivan’s Travels
31 January
Buck Privates
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
February 1941
7 February
Back Street
18 February
Adam Had Four Sons
20 February
Tobacco Road
21 February
Andy Hardy’s Private Secretary
Nice Girl?
The Strawberry Blonde
Western Union
25 February
The Lady Eve
March 1941
1 March
Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family (Japan)
7 March
Rage in Heaven
8 March
Footsteps in the Dark
10 March
Flying Wild
21 March
The Sea Wolf
26 March
I Wanted Wings
28 March
Man Made Monster
April 1941
4 April
The Devil and Miss Jones
Ohm Krüger (Germany)
6 April
The Flame of New Orleans
10 April
Piccolo mondo antico (Italy)
11 April
Road to Zanzibar
That Night in Rio
12 April
The Great Lie
19 April
The Farmer’s Wife (Britain)
Hatter’s Castle (Britain)
Quiet Wedding (GB)
24 April
Crook’s Tour (Britain)
Penny Serenade
25 April
They Met in Argentina
Ziegfeld Girl
30 April
That Hamilton Woman (GB)
May 1941
1 May
Citizen Kane
2 May
The Black Cat
3 May
Meet John Doe
5 May
Inspector Hornleigh Goes To It (GB)
7 May
Sheriff of Tombstone
9 May
U-Boat Course West! (Germany)
10 May
22 May
Blood and Sand
23 May
A Woman’s Face
24 May
Crook’s Tour
30 May
In the Navy
June 1941
7 June
Shining Victory
11 June
The Gang’s All Here
13 June
Broadway Limited
Man Hunt
One Night in Lisbon
18 June
Moon Over Miami
20 June
The Big Store
The Reluctant Dragon
26 June
Blossoms in the Dust
27 June
Hit the Road
28 June
Love on the Dole (GB)
July 1941
2 July
The Sea Wolf
4 July
Caught in the Draft
A Charming Man (Czechoslovakia)
12 July
The Bride Came C.O.D.
18 July
The Shepherd of the Hills
25 July
Target for Tonight (GB)
26 July
Bad Men of Missouri
Pimpernel Smith
August 1941
1 August
Bowery Blitzkrieg
Charley’s Aunt
2 August
Major Barbara (GB)
6 August
Hold That Ghost
7 August
Here Comes Mr. Jordan
8 August
Six Gun Gold
9 August
12 August
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
15 August
Life Begins for Andy Hardy
21 August
Sun Valley Serenade
28 August
The Blue Star Hotel (Czechoslovakia)
29 August
The Little Foxes
1 September
Lady Be Good
5 September
Charlie Chan in Rio
6 September
Cottage to Let (GB)
18 September
Ladies in Retirement
19 September
The Tyrant Father (Portugal)
25 September
You’ll Never Get Rich
26 September
Hold Back the Dawn
It Started with Eve
A Yank in the RAF
27 September
Sergeant York
October 1941
2 October
Honky Tonk
One Foot in Heaven
8 October
49th Parallel
Week-End in Havana
10 October
Never Give a Sucker an Even Break
17 October
The Devil and Daniel Webster
Jesse James at Bay
18 October
The Maltese Falcon
22 October
You Belong to Me
23 October
24 October
Spooks Run Wild
25 October
The Tell-Tale Heart
28 October
How Green Was My Valley
31 October
The Chocolate Soldier
November 1941
7 November
Unexpected Uncle
14 November
I Wake Up Screaming
15 November
Blues in the Night
21 November
Look Who’s Laughing
Shadow of the Thin Man
They Died with Their Boots On
27 November
Stormy Waters (France)
28 November
The Corsican Brothers
Keep ‘Em Flying
December 1941
1 December
The 47 Ronin (Part 1) (Japan)
Tarzan’s Secret Treasure
5 December
Mr. Bug Goes to Town
12 December
Among the Living
Red River Valley
The Wolf Man
18 December
H.M. Pulham, Esq.
21 December
The Heavenly Play (Sweden)
25 December
Louisiana Purchase
The Shanghai Gesture
26 December
The Sausage-Maker Who Disappeared (Norway)