Art Vs Commerce: How Green Was the Golden Age? (1940s)

My Personal Ranking

This is gonna get too long to be on the same page as two movie reviews so here it is. Two decades and change down, here’s how I rank the Best pictures…

  1. Casablanca
  2. It Happened One Night
  3. All Quiet on the Western Front
  4. Gentleman’s Agreement
  5. Cimarron
  6. Gone With the Wind
  7. Going My Way
  8. Rebecca
  9. Wings
  10. Mutiny on the Bounty
  11. Hamlet
  12. You Can’t Take It With You
  13. The Grand Hotel
  14. The Best Years of Our Lives
  15. The Life of Emile Zola
  16. Mrs. Miniver
  17. How Green Was My Valley
  18. All the King’s Men
  19. The Lost Weekend
  20. The Great Ziegfeld
  21. The Broadway Melody
  22. Cavalcade

Greenest Valley?

Well, I asked at the top of this, so I’d better answer. The Greenest Valley of the 1940s goes to… Going My Way, the first entry to have its Valley get Greener as the movie went along.

My Golden Age Avengers

Here’s a thought that entered my head so now I’m putting it in yours. If I could fold time in on itself so that the biggest stars of the 40s starred as characters from the 60s in a movie from the 2010s, what would that look like?

Well, a temporal catastrophe that needs at least Doctors 11 through 13 to fix, but also this.

  • Iron Man: Clark Gable. MCU Tony Stark is all about the confident swagger, and Cary Grant was swagger personified.
  • Captain America: Gregory Peck. By the same token, no one I’ve encountered yet radiates the goodness and nobility of Steve Rogers quite like Gregory Peck. Well, Richard Dix that one time, but he peaked in the early 30s.
  • Thor: Gary Cooper. Gary Cooper’s a big, big man. Early Thor’s Shakespearean dialogue might sound as unnatural coming out of Cooper as the hillbilly dialect from Sergeant York, but he’s got the physicality.
  • Black Widow: Hedy Lamarr. Ingrid Bergman’s a close second but I more believe Lamarr could talk you into anything. If she can convince a man to cheat on Claudette Colbert, she can get your secrets out of you in ten seconds.
  • Bruce Banner: Humphrey Bogart. You need Bogie’s wit, charm, and tangible world-weariness to capture the haunted hero that is the Hulk’s alter ego.
  • Hawkeye: Claude Rains. Nobody becomes the second best character in Casablanca without effort. Maybe he could make you care about Hawkeye.
  • Loki: Laurence Olivier. You need Olivier’s Shakespearean background and mastery of dry sass to nail Loki.
  • Agent Coulson: Bing Crosby The funny, loveable face of SHIELD whose loss brings everyone together. That’ll require Bing’s easy-going charms.

Next time… we enter the age of the Biblical Epic, the run times get long, and I may or may not declare war on God as a result. We’ll find out together as Art Vs Commerce tackles the 50s!

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