Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1940

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

George Cukor (The Philadelphia Story)
John Ford (The Grapes of Wrath)
Alfred Hitchcock (Rebecca)
Sam Wood (Kitty Foyle)
William Wyler (The Letter)

Biggest Snub:

Charlie Chaplin – The Great Dictator

My Overall Thoughts:

This is another nice year with 5 great directors as nominees.  Once again, two of them are better than the rest and either could have taken home Gold for their work.

My Rankings:


5. Sam Wood
4. George Cukor
3. William Wyler
2. John Ford
1. Alfred Hitchcock


5. Kitty FoyleThis is a film that has an interesting idea that unfortunately just doesn’t feel as original as it probably could have been. I liked the way that they deal with social classes here and show the various struggles of the characters as they try to find a way to bridge the gap between them. Rogers definitely stands out in the lead role and deservingly won an Oscar for her performance.
4. The Philadelphia StoryInteresting screwball comedy from the 40’s, but very dated. Great cast.
3. The LetterDavis is great here as a woman who committed murder who she claims was in self-defense. The way they explore love, racism and even the way the court system work in foreign occupied countries are all done expertly by Wyler.
2. RebeccaInteresting psychological thriller when Hitchcock was still warming up. Nice cast and Hitchcockian twists galore. Seems a bit dated now tho.
1. The Grapes of WrathExcellent film that shows the true difficulties of families during the Depression who faced even more hardship when they moved along to “supposedly” better situations. Fonda is superb in the title role and is helped by some great supporting performances, most notably Jane Darwell as his mother. Ford knew how to create the right atmosphere for such a film and kept things feeling as realistic as possible as we follow the Joad family’s journey across the country.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Yes and No!  AH does a wonderful job with Rebecca and although the film managed to win BP, it lost BD to JF for TGoW.  I personally would have switched the wins between the two of them.

Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!

2 thoughts on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1940

  1. Good calls here. But again, calling “The Philadelphia Story” dated is a quirk you have. You’re watching a movie released in 1940 from the context of 2018. You have to stop that. You have to try to see it as audiences OF THE DAY did, not through the prism of being 78 years in the future. Otherwise, you’ll do the same when you get to “It Happened One Night” from 1934. Not fair to the films.They might have been considered cutting edge and with the times at the time they were made. Nothing stands up to that sort of scrutiny decades later.

    Liked by 1 person

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