The year 1940 in film involved some significant events, including the premieres of the Walt Disney classics Pinocchio and Fantasia.


February 7 - Walt Disney's animated film Pinocchio is released. February 10 - Tom and Jerry make their debut in the animated cartoon Puss Gets the Boot. May 17 - My Favorite Wife is released. May - A reproduction of "America's First Movie Studio", Thomas Edison's Black Maria, is constructed. July 27 - Bugs Bunny makes his official debut in the animated cartoon A Wild Hare. October 15 - Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, a satirical comedy starring him, is released. November 13 - World premiere of Walt Disney's Fantasia, the first film to be released in a multi-channel sound format (see Fantasound). The film also marked the first use of the click track while recording the soundtrack, overdubbing of orchestral parts, simultaneous multitrack recording and is cited as a key chapter in the conception and development of the multi-channel surround system. December 5 - Release of The Thief of Bagdad, pioneering the use of chroma key effects. In the United Kingdom, the Crown Film Unit supersedes the GPO Film Unit in the production of documentary films.

Top-grossing films (U.S.)[1]

At the time, box office numbers were reported as a percentage of business for each theater in comparison to 'normal' business. For example, Boom Town performed at 232% and Pinocchio at 130%. This is why exact dollar grosses for films are unreliable at best.

Rank Title Studio Actors Directors Gross
1. Rebecca United Artists Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine Alfred Hitchcock $6,000,000
2. Boom Town MGM Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy Jack Conway $5,000,000
3. The Great Dictator United Artists Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard Charlie Chaplin $5,000,000
4. Strike Up the Band MGM Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney Busby Berkeley $3,494,000
5. The Philadelphia Story MGM Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart George Cukor $3,259,000
6. Northwest Passage MGM Spencer Tracy, Robert Young King Vidor $3,150,000
7. Andy Hardy Meets Debutante MGM Mickey Rooney, Lewis Stone, Judy Garland George B. Seitz $2,623,000
8. The Grapes of Wrath 20th Century-Fox Henry Fonda John Ford $2,500,000
9. Kitty Foyle RKO Ginger Rogers, Dennis Morgan Sam Wood $2,385,000
10. Comrade X MGM Clark Gable, Hedy Lamarr King Vidor $2,079,000
11. My Favorite Wife RKO Irene Dunne, Cary Grant Garson Kanin $2,057,000
12. The Sea Hawk Warner Bros. Errol Flynn Michael Curtiz $2,000,000
13. Down Argentine Way 20th Century-Fox Don Ameche, Betty Grable and Carmen Miranda Irving Cummings $2,000,000
14. Road to Singapore Paramount Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour Victor Schertzinger $1,600,000
15. Virginia City Warner Bros. Errol Flynn, Miriam Hopkins Michael Curtiz unknown
16. I Love You Again MGM William Powell, Myrna Loy W. S. Van Dyke unknown
17. All This, and Heaven Too Warner Bros. Bette Davis, Charles Boyer Anatole Litvak unknown
28. Pinocchio* Disney Cliff Edwards $84,300,000*[2]
unknown Fantasia* Walt Disney Studios Deems Taylor and Leopold Stokowski unknown

* After theatrical reissues

Academy Awards

Best Picture: Rebecca - David O. Selznick, United Artists Best Director: John Ford - The Grapes of Wrath Best Actor: James Stewart - The Philadelphia Story Best Actress: Ginger Rogers - Kitty Foyle Best Supporting Actor: Walter Brennan - The Westerner Best Supporting Actress: Jane Darwell - The Grapes of Wrath

Notable films released in 1940

  1. Rebecca


Adventures of Red Ryder, directed by William Witney and John English Deadwood Dick, directed by James W. Horne Drums of Fu Manchu, starring Henry Brandon and Robert Kellard, directed by William Witney and John English Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, starring Buster Crabbe The Green Archer, starring Victor Jory, directed by James W. Horne The Green Hornet Strikes Again!, starring Warren Hull Junior G-Men, starring the Dead End Kids King of the Royal Mounted starring Allan Lane, directed by William Witney and John English Mysterious Doctor Satan, starring Eduardo Ciannelli, directed by William Witney and John English The Shadow, starring Victor Jory, directed by James W. Horne Terry and the Pirates, starring William Tracy, directed by James W. Horne Winners of the West, starring Dick Foran and Anne Nagel

Short film series

Buster Keaton (1917–1941) Laurel and Hardy (1921–1943) Our Gang (1922–1944) Charley Chase (1924-1940) The Three Stooges (1934–1959)

Animated short film series

Krazy Kat (1925-1940) Mickey Mouse (1928–1953) Looney Tunes (1930–1969) Terrytoons (1930–1964) Merrie Melodies (1931–1969) Scrappy (1931–1941) Popeye (1933–1957) Color Rhapsodies (1934–1949) Donald Duck (1937–1956) Pluto (1937–1951) Walter Lantz Cartunes (also known as New Universal Cartoons or Cartune Comedies) (1938–1942) Goofy (1939–1955) Andy Panda (1939–1949) Knock Knock! (first appearance of Woody Woodpecker)

Tom and Jerry (1940-1958) Puss Gets the Boot




Dana Andrews - Lucky Cisco Kid Robert Ryan - The Ghost Breakers Gene Tierney - The Return of Frank James Forrest Tucker - The Westerner


1.Jump up ^ Box Office Digest, April 1941, p. 18

2.Jump up ^ Pinocchio (1940 film)

  1. Box Office Digest, April 1941, p. 18
  2. Pinocchio (1940 film)
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