Celebrating the History of Motion Pictures from 1890 to 1960

1941 Timelines: 1940 to 1949

William Randolph Hearst forbids any mention of the film “Citizen Kane” in his newspapers. He considers the film to be defamatory.


The government makes public the salaries earned by the heads of well–known companies. Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM, is the highest paid executive in the country with an annual salary of approximately $700,000.


The American Federation of Labor (AFL) has called for a boycott of all Disney productions in support of strikers at Disney who have been battling for higher wages and recognition of their union.


The Hollywood director, Frank Capra, announces his intention to join the Cinema Services section of the Armed Forces to use his knowledge to further democracy.


The screen star, Greta Garbo, announces her retirement from motion pictures.


Ten days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor , FDR appoints Lowell Mellett to serve as a liaison between the government and the motion picture industry. In his letter of appointment, FDR tells Mellett: “The American motion picture is one of the most effective mediums in informing and entertaining our citizens. The motion picture must remain free in so far as national security will permit. I want no censorship of the motion picture.” Mellett forms the Bureau of Motion Pictures (BMP).


Significant Films:

RKO releases “Citizen Kane”. Directed by, and starring Orson Welles, the movie fails at the box–office, although later generations will declare it to be one of, if not “the”, greatest motion picture ever made.

Warner Bros. releases “The Maltese Falcon”. Based on a novel by Dashiell Hammett, and starring Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor, this is the first film directed by John Huston, who also wrote the screenplay.

Warner Bros. releases the Howard Hawks film “Sergeant York”. In it, Gary Cooper plays a conscientious objector who becomes a war hero in World War I. The film is nominated for 10 Academy Awards and becomes the #1 box–office hit of the year.

20th Century–Fox releases “How Green Was My Valley”. Directed by John Ford, and starring Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O’Hara and Roddy McDowall, the film is nominated for nine Academy Awards and wins five, including the Oscar for “Outstanding Motion Picture”.

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