Cary Grant: Best 1940s Movies

Cary Grant’s film career in the 1940s was nothing short of phenomenal. From his early successes like ‘Bringing Up Baby’ and ‘The Philadelphia Story’ to his later classic films such as ‘Notorious’ and ‘North by Northwest’, Grant consistently delivered powerhouse performances and iconic characters to the silver screen. His mastery of comedy, drama, romance, and suspense is a testament to his immense talent and skill, making him one of the most beloved Hollywood stars of the 20th century.

As we explore this magnificent decade in Grant’s career, here are ten of his best 1940s movies, ranked according to their critical acclaim and cultural impact. Each film highlights Grant’s immense range and skill as an actor, showing us why he is still widely considered one of the greatest movie stars of all time.

Cary Grant’s Best 1940s Movies, Ranked From Worst to Best

10. The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)

  • Genre: Comedy / Romance
  • Starring: Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Shirley Temple
  • Directed by: Irving Reis

Beginning on our list is The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer from 1947. While a fun movie and nowhere near a “bad” film, this movie is the last on our list. But don’t worry, we still love it! How can you not like a movie with Grant, Myrna Loy, and Shirley Temple? You can’t. This film tells the story of how a teenage girl’s (Temple) crush on a playboy (Grant) starts trouble, especially when he falls in love with her older sister (Loy). It’s a fun little comedy — and Grant is always wonderful in his comedic roles, especially those done in the 1940s.

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer won one Oscar, for Best Original Screenplay Writing. It didn’t get any other major award love when it was released, but it’s a great Cary Grant movie if you’re looking to watch his 1940s filmography. Plus, again, it’s got Myrna Loy!

Related: The Top 10 Best Myrna Loy Movies of All Time

9. The Talk of the Town (1942)

  • Genre: Comedy / Romance / Drama
  • Starring: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Ronald Colman
  • Directed by: George Stevens

Love Jean Arthur and Cary Grant? You’ll love The Talk of the Town. While not as good as their first collaboration — 1939’s Only Angels Have Wings — this movie is still one of the best movies Cary Grant made in the 1940s. The film follows how an escaped political prisoner and a stuffy law professor vie for the hand of a spirited schoolteacher. Ronald Colman competes with Cary Grant, which is great fun.

The Talk of the Town was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture. It didn’t end up winning any awards, though.

Related: Cary Grant: Top 10 Movies From the 1930s

8. My Favorite Wife (1940)

  • Genre: Comedy / Romance
  • Starring: Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Randolph Scott
  • Directed by: Garson Kanin

Cary Grant and Irene Dunne really are a dream team. Even today, all of their movies have stood the test of time, as has their on-screen chemistry. While their last collaboration together (1941’s Penny Serenade) didn’t end up making their list, My Favorite Wife did and is a great film. While not as magical and hysterical as The Awful Truth, Grant and Dunne’s first collaboration, this film is still a great time. Plus, we get to see Grant interact with Randolph Scott here, which is always VERY interesting. The movie tells the story of a shipwrecked woman who is rescued just in time for her husband’s re-marriage. Hysterical, delightful fun.

My Favorite Wife was nominated for three Academy Awards, though it didn’t end up taking home any wins.

7. Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)

  • Genre: Comedy / Romance
  • Starring: Cary Grant, Myrna Loy
  • Directed by: H.C. Potter

Another Cary Grant and Myrna Loy movie collaboration! Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is a fun, comedic movie about a New York businessman’s dream of having a country home. His dream is shattered when he ends up buying a tumbledown rural shack. It’s a lot of fun, and Loy and Grant are both experts in their comedic bits. It’s a lighthearted, fun film, and we feel like it definitely deserves a spot at #7 on this list!

6. The Bishop’s Wife (1947)

  • Genre: Comedy / Fantasy / Drama
  • Starring: Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven, Monty Woolley, James Gleason, Gladys Cooper, Elsa Lanchester
  • Directed by: Henry Koster

A stellar cast that consists of Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven (not to mention the OUTSTANDING supporting cast), The Bishop’s Wife has become a go-to winter holiday movie for many Old Hollywood fans. And for good reason. It’s a fun film that never really gets old. It also happens to be one of the best movies Cary Grant made in the 1940s! The movie follows an angel (played by none other than Grant) who helps set an ambitious bishop on the right track.

The Bishop’s Wife was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It only won one Oscar, though (for Best Sound Recording).

Related: The Top 10 Best Loretta Young Movies of All Time

5. Suspicion (1941)

  • Genre: Film Noir / Thriller / Mystery
  • Starring: Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Heather Angel
  • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Now we’re getting into some real dramatic territory. While Grant acted in some serious productions in the 1930s, he really started making amazing dramas in the 1940s — and that would only continue into the 1950s and 1960s as he completed some of his best dramatic films. Suspicion is one of the earliest examples of the great work Grant could make under the helm of Alfred Hitchcock. The movie follows a wealthy wallflower who suspects her penniless playboy husband of murder.

Suspicion was nominated for three Oscars, including Best Picture. The film only took home one win, though: Joan Fontaine won Best Actress in a Leading Role.

4. His Girl Friday (1940)

  • Genre: Comedy / Romance / Drama
  • Starring: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy
  • Directed by: Howard Hawks

One of the best movies EVER, His Girl Friday is stellar. Everything about it, from the acting to the writing, is perfect. If you haven’t seen this film, YOU NEED TO, regardless of whether you’re a Grant film or not. His Girl Friday follows an unscrupulous editor who plots to keep his star reporter (and ex-wife) from re-marrying. Grant and Russell play the divorced couple, with Ralph Bellamy the new potential husband. It’s hysterical and so much fun.

And, for those interested, it’s also a part of the Criterion Collection at spine #849!

3. The Philadelphia Story (1940)

  • Genre: Comedy / Romance
  • Starring: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, Ruth Hussey
  • Directed by: George Cukor

Also considered one of the best movies of all time, The Philadelphia Story also happens to be one of the best movies Cary Grant made in the 1940s. When you think of a dream Old Hollywood cast, you probably think of the stars in this movie. The whole thing is so funny and SO perfect. It never gets old! The film follows tabloid reporters who crash a society marriage. It’s a whole mess, which makes the movie so good.

The Philadelphia Story was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It ended up winning only two Oscars. It is also a part of the Criterion Collection at spine #901 for those interested!

Related: The Best Movies From the 1940s: ‘The Philadelphia Story’ (1940)

2. Arsenic and Old Lace (1943)

  • Genre: Comedy / Crime / Thriller
  • Starring: Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, Raymond Massey, Jack Carson, Peter Lorre, James Gleason
  • Directed by: Frank Capra

A delightfully screwy comedy, I was a little surprised when I learned that Grant and others didn’t like the finished product of Arsenic and Old Lace back when it was released. Today, it’s a really fun Old Hollywood comedy that SO many people adore. It’s not just one of the best Cary Grant movies from the 1940s. It also happens to be one of his most popular movies today.

Arsenic and Old Lace follows a young man, who’s about to get married, who absolutely (rightly) freaks out when he discovers the two aunts who raised him have been poisoning old men. If you’re looking for a FUN crime movie, this is it.

1. Notorious (1946)

  • Genre: Drama / Film Noir / Romance
  • Starring: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains
  • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Ah. Did you really expect anything else? Whether you like comedic Cary Grant or dramatic Cary Grant, 1940s Cary Grant doesn’t get any better than Notorious. Opposite Ingrid Bergman (the duo is always excellent together) and again working with director Alfred Hitchcock, Notorious is just about everything you want from a sexy, dramatic, spy-filled movie. The film tells the story of a U.S. agent who recruits a German expatriate to infiltrate a Nazi spy ring in Brazil.

Notorious was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Actor in a Supporting Role (for Claude Rains) and Best Original Screenplay Writing. The film was also nominated for the Grand Prize of the Feature Film award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1946.

The film is also a part of the Criterion Collection at spine #137!

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