Movies Celebrating a 75th Anniversary in 2018 (1943 In the Movies)

I began 2018 with a celebration of 1918 in the movies. Now I move onto 1943, a year celebrating its 75th anniversary along with its film releases and important milestones. I hope you enjoy this entry as much as I did putting it together. 1943 falls smack dab in the middle of my favorite movie era. This entry illustrates why that is.

The Movies

What a year this was! Not only was Hollywood intent of focusing on the war in pictures, Hollywood stars gathered frequently to entertain Americans and the silver screen spotlighted the best of all of it.

Michael Cutiz’s Casablanca – you may have heard of it – enjoyed its wide U. S. release on January 23, 1943 and stayed steady at the box-office to end the year among the top ten box-office earners. I included the ever popular classic in my 1942 celebration so that’s all I’ll say about it here. Other box office champs of 1943 were…

Sam Wood’s For Whom the Bell Tolls

Henry King’s The Song of Bernadette

Michael Curtiz’s This is the Army

George Sidney’s Thousands Cheer

Taurog’s and Berkeley’s Girl Crazy

Disney’s Saludos Amigos

Howard Hawks’ Air Force

Delmer Daves’ Destination Tokyo

Victor Fleming’s A Guy Named Joe

Walter Lang’s Coney Island

 

Here’s a gallery of films released in 1943 aka a mind-numbing array of fabulousness:

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The Stars

Although the top money-making star of 1943 can vary depending on the list based on criteria I’m going with the one that could take audience minds off the war like no other, Betty Grable. Following three movies released in 1942 audiences’ love for Grable was grand in 1943 and in two year’s time she’d be the highest paid Hollywood star. Some of her popularity was due to 20th Century Fox distributing three million copies of Grable’s famous white swimsuit photo, the picture that spotlights her famous gams. The actress’ handprints (and one leg) were immortalized in cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood on February 15, 1943. Also that year Lloyds of London insured her legs for up to one million dollars.

Betty starred in two 1943 releases, the hugely successful Coney Island directed by Walter Lang and my personal favorite, Sweet Rosie O’Grady directed by Irving Cummings. Grable’s popularity kept her in the top echelon of box-office winners for a dozen years, no small feat when you consider the stars that were working at the time.

Betty Grable

 

Here’s the top ten money-making stars of 1943 (may vary by poll/list):

Betty Grable

Bob Hope

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello

Bing Crosby

Gary Cooper

Greer Garson

Humphrey Bogart

James Cagney

Mickey Rooney

Clark Gable

 

The Debuts

Another reason to love 1943 in movies are the number of legends that made their feature film debuts that year. Among them…

 

Brilliant, Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa began his 57-year career with the release of Sanshiro Sugata. This movie was not released in the US until 1974.

 

The Passings

Among actors who passed on in 1943 were these fine talents…

The Happenings

I’m purposefully ignoring the many important events happening the world over in 1943 and concentrating strictly on movie and entertainment-related news and events.

  • The following Hollywood Cavalcade newsreel shows popular Hollywood stars in Washington D. C. for a bond rally:

“White Christmas” brought in the new year at the top of the charts having enjoyed record-breaking popularity. But at the end of the year the following topped the popularity charts…

1. Paper Doll – Mills Brothers
2. Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’ – Bing Crosby
3. As Time Goes By – Rudy Vallee
4. Oklahoma! – Alfred Drake
5. I’ve Heard That Song Before – Harry James with Helen Forrest
6. Sentimental Lady – Duke Ellington
7. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore – The Ink Spots
8. That Old Black Magic – Glenn Miller
9. Stormy Weather – Lena Horne
10. Taking a Chance on Love – Benny Goodman

Visit Radio History: 1943 for tidbits about the year in radio and visit Jim Ramsburg to read about the 1943-1944 season.

Events

  • January 18 – “Cover Girl” Rita Hayworth appears in one of the few 1943 covers of Life Magazine not related to WWII. Here she’s seen enjoying a Rootbeer float.

  • January 23 – Duke Ellington plays at Carnegie Hall in New York City for the first time.
  • February 6 – Frank Sinatra debuts on radio’s “Your Hit Parade”
  • February 6 – A Los Angeles jury finds Errol Flynn not guilty of statutory rape.
  • February 20 – American film studio executives agree to allow the Office of War Information to censor films.
  • The 15th Academy Awards are held at the Cocoanut Grove of the Ambassador Hotel on March 4, 1943 to honor 1942 achievement in movies. Among the winners…
Outstanding Motion Picture: Mrs. Miniver from MGM
Best Director: William Wyler
Best Supporting ActorVan Heflin – Johnny Eager
Best ActressGreer Garson – Mrs. Miniver
Best Supporting Actress: Teresa Wright – Mrs. Miniver
Writing (Original Screenplay)Woman of the Year – Ring Lardner, Jr., Michael Kanin
Writing (Screenplay)Mrs. Miniver – Arthur Wimperis, George Froeschel, James Hilton, Claudine West
1943 Academy Awards
  • March 25 – Jimmy Durante and Garry Moore premiere on radio.
  • March 31 – Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” premieres in NYC.
  • May 25 – Agnes Moorehead appears in “Sorry, Wrong Number” on the radio program “Suspense”, her most successful appearance. Here is that broadcast…
  • March 20 – Droopy Dog makes his debut in MGM’s Dumb-Hounded directed by Tex Avery.
  • May –The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) was created during May by Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley. The purpose of the league was to try to fill empty baseball stadiums and provide entertainment during World War II.
  • May 25 – Columbia Pictures released its first Technicolor film, The Desperadoes (1943) with Glenn Ford and Randolph Scott.
  • May 31 – “Archie” comic strip makes its radio debut.
  • July 16 – Batman becomes the first Detective Comics (DC) character to have his own serial thanks to Columbia Pictures’ 15-episode cliffhangers. It starred Lewis Wilson as Bruce Wayne/Batman, “America’s No. 1 crime fighter.”
  • July 29 – Director Dorothy Arzner‘s last feature film is released, First Comes Courage starring Merle Oberon.
  • August 23 – Olivia de Havilland files a lawsuit against her studio, Warner Bros, eventually winning in a 1945 ruling called the De Havilland Law, which imposed a 7-year limit on contracts.
  • August 23 – The Lindy Hop is featured on Life.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite classic Hollywood photos, which was taken in 1943 for MGM’s 20th anniversary. The studio that boasted more stars than there were in the heavens knew how to deliver.

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