Celebrating the History of Motion Pictures from 1890 to 1960

1945 Timelines: 1940 to 1949

Olivia de Havilland wins a landmark decision in her contract dispute with Warner Bros. The Supreme Court has now set the outside limit of a studio–player contract at seven years, including periods of suspension.


7,000 members of the Conference of Studio Unions (CSU), made up of studio set designers, illustrators, decorators and other motion picture craftsmen, go out on strike for 32 weeks. When the strike is finally resolved, it has cost the strikers $15–16 million in lost wages, and the studios around $10 million in additional overhead. Called the “decorators strike”, Variety refers to it as “the most disastrous strike in the film industry’s history.”


President Harry Truman abolishes the Office of War Information (OWI) and its Bureau of Motion Pictures.


To facilitate overseas trade in the complex postwar global marketplace, the Motion Picture Export Association (MPEA) is created. It is a merger between the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the overseas branch of the government’s Office of War Information (OWI).


The House Un–American Activities Committee becomes a standing (permanent) committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.


Significant Films:

RKO releases “Bells of St. Mary’s”. A sequel to 1944’s “Going My Way”, it stars Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman and is nominated for eight Academy Awards.

Warner Bros. releases “Mildred Pierce”. Directed by Michael Curtiz, it wins an Academy Award for its star, Joan Crawford, and revives her career. The advertisements for the picture describe Crawford as a film noir femme fatale.

David Lean’s film “Brief Encounter” is released in London. Adapted by Noel Coward from his play, “Still Life”, this simple love story is deemed to be one of the finest examples of good, middle–class, British cinema ever made. It is nominated for three Academy Awards.

20th Century–Fox releases “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn”. Directed by Elia Kazan, and starring James Dunn and Peggy Ann Garner, it wins an Academy Award for James Dunn, reviving his career, and a Special Award for Ms. Garner for “Outstanding Child Actress of 1945”.

RKO releases a ten–minute short subject entitled “The House I Live In”. Starring Frank Sinatra, the film is a plea for racial tolerance. It receives a Special Academy Award.

Paramount releases “The Lost Weekend”. Directed by Billy Wilder, and starring Ray Milland and Jane Wyman, it wins four Academy Awards: “Best Motion Picture”, “Best Director”, “Best Actor”, and “Best Screenplay”.

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