Year 1941

The Movies, 1941

On May 1, Citizen Kane, consistently rated as one of the finest movies of all time, was premiered at the Palace Theatre, New York, while on October 3 The Maltese Falcon, now regarded as a film noir classic, was released. However, neither movie made the top ten year-end highest grossing chart.

Highest Grossing Movies, 1941

#3 Louisiana Purchase, a musical political comedy starring Bob Hope, his first feature film in Technicolor.

Personally, I prefer the movie listed number four on this list, How Green Was My Valley.

#2 Honky Tonk, a Western starring Clark Gable and Lana Turner. When cast, Turner was only twenty, twenty years younger than Gable. Initially, Gable was not impressed with Turner. He said, “She couldn’t read lines. She didn’t make them mean anything; it was obvious she was an amateur.”

Nevertheless, the couple clicked in their steamy scenes, which annoyed Mrs Clark Gable, Carole Lombard. Lombard knew that Gable was attracted to blondes so she made surprise visits to the sets. Indeed, she was noticeably present during Turner and Gable’s bedroom scene. Turner was so intimidated by Lombard’s presence that she went into her dressing room and refused to come out. 

Turner vehemently denied rumours that she and Gable were involved in an affair, but Hollywood legend states that they did have an affair and that that affair prompted Lombard’s last minute decision to take a plane back to Los Angeles rather than a train, resulting in the crash that claimed her life. 

#1 Sergeant York, a biographical movie about the life of Alvin C. York, one of the most decorated American soldiers of World War One.

Timing is everything in life and Sergeant York received a box office boost when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour. The film’s patriotic theme helped recruit soldiers. Indeed, many young men went straight from the movie theatre to military enlistment offices.

Notable Movie Debuts, 1941

Cyd Charisse in The Gay Parisian

After recovering from polio, Cyd Charisse entered movies in the 1940s, usually as a dancer alongside Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Her real name was Tula Ellice Finklea. Tula, incidentally, is the main character in my forthcoming novel of that name. Charisse’s nickname was Sid, later altered to Cyd, while Charisse was the surname of her first husband.

Ava Gardner (Dec 24, 1922 – Jan 25, 1990) featured in five uncredited roles in 1941. Her breakthrough occurred in 1946 in The Killers.

After viewing a screen test of Ava Gardner, studio boss Louis B. Mayer sent the following telegram: “She can’t sing, she can’t act, she can’t talk, she’s terrific!”

Referring to Ava Gardner’s third husband, Frank Sinatra, Ian McKellen said, “If you’ve been married to Frank Sinatra, you don’t need an agent.”

1920s – 1960s