James Stewart Ingrid Bergman

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Click on one of these decades to read about the major stars and movies of the time:

Intro | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s

Films are listed as winners in the year the ceremony was held

As Hollywood grew in stature and size, so did the number of stars.

Ingrid Bergman was nominated four times in the decade, winning the best actress Oscar for Gaslight in 1944.

British stage star Laurence Olivier transferred successfully to Hollywood, earning six nominations for his acting and directing, while James Stewart earned three of his five nominations in the decade, winning for The Philadelphia Story in 1940.

The pioneering giants of American cinema - Frank Capra, Billy Wilder, John Ford and Orson Welles - all made arguably their strongest work in this decade.

In 1940 Gone With the Wind swept most of the major awards but, while the film is still revered as a classic, director Victor Fleming is now largely forgotten.

At the 1941 ceremony the best picture race was very tight between The Grapes of Wrath, Rebecca, The Philadelphia Story and The Great Dictator.

Hitchcock's Rebecca won - but as the producer always collects the best picture award, Hitchcock himself did not get his hands on the Oscar.

John Ford beat Hitchcock to the director's award, and the British director's failure to win an Oscar was to be repeated many times over the years.

In 1942 Walt Disney received the Irving G. Thalberg award for lifetime achievement - it came in the year his great personal project Fantasia flopped and the animator was in tears as he admitted the film had been a box office failure. Ironically, Fantasia is now considered an animation classic.

That 1942 ceremony was one of the most controversial - How Green Was My Valley, directed by John Ford, beat Orson Welles' masterpiece Citizen Kane to the best picture award. Ford also triumphed over the debutant Welles in the race for best director. It remains, arguably, one of the great injustices in Oscar history.


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