When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looked back at 1942, it gave its Best Picture award to Mrs. Miniver. I don't like that one. I do like these:
1. Cat People
Directed by Jacques Tourneur
Written by DeWitt Bodeen, from a story by Val Lewton
The first and greatest of the Val Lewton horror cycle.
2. The Magnificent Ambersons
Directed by Orson Welles
Written by Welles, from a novel by Booth Tarkington
You can tell when the studio's excisions begin, because a perfect picture suddenly becomes a choppy mess. If the director's cut ever surfaces, this movie will almost certainly rise to the #1 spot.
3. The Talk of the Town
Directed by George Stevens
Written by Irwin Shaw, Sidney Buchman, and Dale Van Every, from a story by Sidney Harmon
"What is the law? It's a gun pointed at somebody's head. All depends upon which end of the gun you stand, whether the law is just or not."
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Written by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, and Howard Koch, from a play by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison
When I see the beginning of this movie, I tell myself This isn't as good as I remember. By the time I get to the end, I say Oh, right. It is.
5. The Man Who Came to Dinner
Directed by William Keighley
Written by Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein, from a play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart
"I became a nurse because all my life, ever since I was a little girl, I was filled with the idea of serving a suffering humanity. After one month with you, Mr. Whiteside, I am going to work in a munitions factory."
6. The Palm Beach Story
Written and directed by Preston Sturges
"Sex always has something to do with it, dear."
7. The Major and the Minor
Directed by Billy Wilder
Written by Wilder and Charles Brackett, from a play by Edward Childs Carpenter
Here begins Billy Wilder's career as an American director.
8. To Be or Not to Be
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
Written by Edwin Justus Mayer, from a story by Melchior Lengyel
Hey, Chaplin. This is how you do an anti-Nazi comedy.
9. The Male Animal
Directed by Elliott Nugent
Written by Stephen Morehouse Avery, Julius J. Epstein, and Philip G. Epstein, from a play by James Thurber and Elliott Nugent
The most political jocks-vs.-nerds movie ever made.
10. The Road to Morocco
Directed by David Butler
Written by Frank Butler and Don Hartman
"I'll lay you eight-to-five that we meet Dorothy Lamour."
I'm not going to post a full honorable mentions list for this year, but I'll give a shoutout to Random Harvest and Holiday Inn.
Of the films of 1942 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in Eyes in the Night.