Ronald Colman: Essential 1940s Movies

Ronald Colman was one of the most prominent and prolific Hollywood actors of the 1940s, having starred in dozens of celebrated films during that decade. His 1940s filmography includes many of his most iconic performances, ranging from romantic comedy to wartime, war-time dramas, romances, and suspenseful thrillers. Below is a list of the very best Ronald Colman movies from the 1940s. From romantic melodramas to intense espionage tales, these cinematic gems showcase Colman’s extraordinary range as an actor.

At the top of the list is Random Harvest, considered by many to be Colman’s masterpiece. This poignant drama follows a man suffering from amnesia who slowly unravels forgotten memories of love, war, and loss. Other standouts include A Double Life, which earned Colman an Oscar for his portrayal of an actor struggling with mental illness, and The Talk of the Town, a romantic comedy classic.

No matter your taste in films, there’s something special about Ronald Colman movies from the 1940s. Worldly yet tender, funny yet heartbreaking — these timeless films are guaranteed to captivate audiences to this day.

The 5 Best 1940s Ronald Colman Movies, Ranked

5. Lucky Partners (1940)

  • Genre: Romance / Comedy / Drama
  • Starring: Ronald Colman, Ginger Rogers, Jack Carson, Spring Byington
  • Directed by: Lewis Milestone

While Lucky Partners isn’t the greatest movie ever made, it’s still quite enjoyable and charming — thanks in part to its amazing cast, led by Colman and Rogers. This romantic comedy follows a bookkeeper (Rogers) who has a chance encounter with an artist (Colman) and begins to think that he brings her good luck. So, they buy a sweepstakes ticket together to try out this luck!

4. The Late George Apley (1947)

  • Genre: Romance / Comedy
  • Starring: Ronald Colman, Vanessa Brown, Richard Haydn, Charles Russell
  • Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Though The Late George Apley is a bit of an underrated film, it’s definitely one of the best 1940s Ronald Colman movies! This romantic comedy follows a stuffy Bostonian patriarch (Colman) who clings to tradition, all while his family and social circle are swept up in the winds of change. He struggles to deal with this change and his wayward kids… before he begins to realize what a staid man he truly is!

3. A Double Life (1947)

  • Genre: Film Noir / Crime / Drama
  • Starring: Ronald Colman, Edmond O’Brien, Signe Hasso, Shelley Winters
  • Directed by: George Cukor

In our opinion, Colman should’ve starred in more film noirs throughout his career — but particularly in the 1940s, when the genre became big. Looking at his work in A Double Life proves what an outstanding actor Colman is in this type of genre! In fact, his performance here earned him an Oscar win for Best Actor — his only Academy Award win!

A Double Life follows Shakespearean actor Anthony John (Colman) as he experiences a dangerous descent into madness when he becomes consumed by his role of Othello, blurring the line between reality and fiction — and ultimately finding himself involved in a murder.

2. The Talk of the Town (1942)

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

The Talk of the Town is also one of the best 1940s Ronald Colman movies! Colman, Arthur, and Grant in a love triangle? What Old Hollywood film dreams are made of!

The Talk of the Town follows a fugitive (Grant) who was sent to prison an innocent man on the run. He hides out with a little help from his old school friend (Arthur), whom he’s always had feelings for, as she believes he’s innocent.

However, this complicates things for her, as the law professor (Colman) renting a room from her also has eyes for her… and romantic comedy ensues!

Related — The Top 10 Best Jean Arthur Movies of All Time

1. Random Harvest (1942)

  • Genre: Romance / Drama
  • Starring: Ronald Colman, Greer Garson, Philip Dorn, Susan Peters
  • Directed by: Mervyn LeRoy

Random Harvest is, of course, the very best 1940s Ronald Colman movie. This romantic drama is absolutely amazing. If you love really dramatic tearjerkers, you’ll adore this film!

In Random Harvest, a World War I veteran (Colman) suffering from amnesia falls in love with a showgirl (Garson), even though he doesn’t have any memory of his past. He builds a new life with her — only to lose his memory once again when he’s traveling out of town by himself.

Now, with his older memories back in place, but his “newer” memories of married bliss now gone, he doesn’t know of the wife he’s left behind — or that she’s desperately trying to find him.

Colman’s wonderful work in this drama earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor!

Related — The Top 10 Best Ronald Colman Movies of All Time

What’s Your Favorite 1940s Ronald Colman Movie?

Now, let’s hear from you. What’s your favorite 1940s Ronald Colman movie? Do you agree with this ranking? Any films you feel we should’ve listed that we didn’t? Hit the comments below with all your thoughts and opinions! We’d love to hear what you think!

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