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The 10 Best Films of the 1940s

8. Sullivan’s Travels (1941)

Preston Sturges’ masterpiece stars Joel McCrea as a socially conscious liberal Hollywood filmmaker who, inspired by a book called O Brother Where Art Thou?, decides to hit the road and pretend to be a hobo to see how the other half lives. What he learns is that making people laugh is a lot more rare than making people cry. This monumental satire of Hollywood cluelessness is also emotionally resonant and far ahead of its time in its  respectful treatment of black Americans.