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Leading Lady Tournament Week 2: The 1940s


The 1940s; a time of femme fatales and exotic beauties, peekaboo hair, and dominant and aggressive women who knew what they wanted.  I had quite a few ladies worthy of this decade, but I think the final five present a formidable challenge.  Each has their own distinctive persona, despite three of them playing femme fatales in film noirs of the decade.  Thanks to a Facebook reader I remembered to put Ms. Lauren Bacall in this list, don’t know what type of tournament this would be without her.  Remember, voting runs from today to next Monday.  I’ll be updating the numbers on Thursday.  Let’s take a look at the nominees and how they shape up (clickable links will take you to anything I’ve reviewed of theirs).


Movies That Secured Her NominationTo Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, Dark Passage, Key Largo

My Thoughts on the Nominee: Lauren Bacall is one of my favorite actresses, and I hate that she’s up against another of my favorite actresses, in this very decade!  Bacall’s smoky voice made her one of the brightest discoveries of the 1940s.  Can you imagine anyone else saying “Anybody got a match” in a way that conveyed wanton sexuality in such a simple question?  Her work with Bogart epitomizes the decade, and their relationship made them one of the pre-eminent power couples of the day.  I’m hoping she puts up a fight for first place!


Movies That Secured Her NominationRemember the Night, The Lady Eve, Double Indemnity, Christmas in Connecticut

My Thoughts on the Nominee: There’s a die-hard group of Barbara Stanwyck fans, and I’ll be interested to see if they turn out to vote for Ms. Barbara Stanwyck.  Stanwyck is one of the sexual aggressors of this decade who was able to take that dominance and translate it into both drama and comedy.  If you look at the films I listed for her nomination, it’s a diverse group of screwball comedy and film noir, with the connection being that Stanwyck could be an independent woman who was able to maintain that persona (for the most part).


Movies That Secured Her NominationThe Philadelphia Story, Woman of the Year, Keeper of the Flame, Adam’s Rib

My Thoughts on the Nominee: Margaret of the blog The Great KH would have killed me if I didn’t include the lovely Katharine (with an “A” dammit) Hepburn.  She’s our resident comedienne of the group and the films above are all hilarious.  I really wish I had gotten my review of The Philadelphia Story out before, but that’ll be tomorrow.  Hepburn also held on to her indomitable independence throughout all her films, even though they all ended up with her falling for Spencer Tracy (another power couple of the decade).  I’ll be interested to see whether comedy transcends film noir here.

Movies That Secured Her NominationDr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Casablanca, Gaslight, Spellbound, Notorious

My Thoughts on the Nominee: I mentioned being interested in seeing if comedy wins out over the other actresses who have done dramatic work (although I know Hepburn has done dramatic as well), but I’m most interested in seeing where Ingrid Bergman falls.  I think Bergman is an anomaly here compared to the others.  She doesn’t necessarily look like the others, and while her roles did highlight her sexuality, her foreignness enhanced her qualities (she’s the one non-American within this decade.  Bergman put out three serious classics in this decade, two (three including one not listed) with the master Alfred Hitchcock.  Her resume is impressive, and hopefully that will reflect in votes.


Movies That Secured Her NominationSullivan’s Travels, This Gun for Hire, The Glass Key, I Married a Witch, The Blue Dahlia

My Thoughts on the Nominee: Did you really think I would include Veronica Lake in this tournament?  The woman personified the 1940s as evidenced by all the films she did in this decade, as well as establishing the famous peekaboo hairstyle that came to define the decade (I see Ms. Stanwyck wearing it in a few photos).  Lake did several film noirs but one of her most enduring roles is as the girl in Sullivan’s Travels.  She’s the outlier here, especially since she hasn’t enjoyed the longevity as the other actresses here.  Hoping she ends up with some votes.

Those are your nominees!  Voting closes Monday.

Kristen Lopez View All

A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.

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