Best Foot Forward (1943), starring Lucille Ball, Harry James
A fun musical, that frequently had me asking, “When is Lucy coming back on screen?” Please understand, that even without Lucy on screen, it’s a fun musical farce. There are several nice musical numbers and some Wonderful music by the Harry James band. I was absolutely transfixed by their rendition of Flight of the Bumblebees. But there’s a definite decrease in the comedy, and in the pace of the film, when Lucille Ball is off-screen. With a few notable examples.
Calling Dr. Death (1943), starring Lon Chaney Jr., J. Carrol Naish, Patricia Morison
Synopsis of Calling Dr. Death
Losing his memories for the last few days, neurologist Dr. Steele is told his wife has been brutally murdered. Aware of his wife’s infidelity he believes he may have been the killer and enlists the aid of his pretty nurse to hypnotize him.
Hangmen Also Die! (1943), by Fritz Lang, starring Brian Donlevy, Walter Brennan, Gene Lockhart, Anna Lee
Synopsis of Hangmen Also Die
Hangmen Also Die is set in occupied Czechoslovakia. It revolves around the successful plot by the Czech resistance to assassinate Deputy Reich-Protector of Bohemia and Moravia Hangman Reinhard Heydrich. And the hunt by the Gestapo to track down the killers that follow.
Larry Talbot, the unwilling Wolf Man, is returned to life with the unwitting help of grave robbers. He wishes only to die, in order to avoid hurting anyone else as the Wolf Man. So, he gets the help of the old gypsy from the original Wolf Man film. He is striving to get the assistance of the reviled Dr. Frankenstein … A man who supposedly discovered the secrets of life and death. The doctor isn’t available, but Talbot uncovers his monster (played by Bela Lugosi). With a confrontation between the two monsters being inevitable.
Destination Tokyo (1943) starring Cary Grant, John Garfield
Synopsis of Destination Tokyo
It’s a daring and dangerous underwater adventure with Oscar-winner Cary Grant (The Awful Truth, Suspicion, North by Northwest) as the captain of a U.S. submarine bound for a search and destroy mission in Tokyo harbor during WWII. Co-starring Oscar-nominee John Garfield (Gentleman’s Agreement, The Postman Always Rings Twice). Look for the screen debut of young John Forsythe (TV’s Dynasty and the voice of Charlie on Charlie’s Angels). Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay.
Sahara (1943) starring Humphrey Bogart, Bruce Bennett, J. Carrol Naish, Lloyd Bridges
Sahara is, in short, an excellent movie — set in World War II, in the desert conflict, it involves a ragtag multi-national group of Allied soldiers (Humphrey Bogart, Bruce Bennett, Lloyd Bridges) as well as their Italian prisoner of war (played memorably by J. Carrol Naish) who come upon an oasis in the desert — a crumbling ruin.
The ruin has a cistern — not a well, but a storage place for water, that’s nearly dry. The GI’s no sooner find it than they’re surrounded by Nazi soldiers, who are dying of thirst — but are armed to the teeth.