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The History of American Cinema: 1941












January - September


Citizen Kane (1941)







10/1 -

The Hearst press is forbidden from publishing anything about Orson Welles’ forthcoming Citizen Kane, which is alleged to be based on the life of its owner William Randolph Hearst and his relationship with  actress Marion Davies.   Hearst also threatens legal action. [ADD]





15/1 -

Jean Renoir signs a year’s contract with 20th Century-Fox. [ADD]





31/1 -

Alfred Hitchcock’s comedy, Mr & Mrs Smith, starring Carole Lombard, is released. [ADD]





21/2 -

Raoul Walsh’s comedy The Strawberry Blonde gives Warner’s actress Rita Hayworth her first starring role.   She co-stars opposite James Cagney and Olivia de Havilland. [ADD]

    The Lady Eve (1941)




25/2 -

Barbara Stanwyck and Charles Coburn star as father and daughter card sharps opposite Henry Fonda as a hesitant brewery heir in Preston Sturges’ comedy, The Lady Eve. [ADD]





8/3 -

Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM, is declared the highest paid executive in the country with an annual salary of around $700,000. [ADD]





3/4 -

Married couple Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh co-star in That Hamilton Woman, which was produced and directed by Alexander Korda in Hollywood for United Artists.   The film chronicles the romance of Admiral Lord Nelson and Emma Hamilton, which is cut short by Nelson’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. [ADD]





11/4 -

After the success of last year’s Road to Singapore, Paramount re-unites principal cast members Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour for another journey, this time on the Road to Zanzibar. [ADD]





1/5 -

Citizen Kane, Orson Welles’ first film, is eventually released after being postponed from its original date of 14th February because of William Randolph Hearst’s press campaign against it.   The film premieres at the Palace Theater in New York.   It was Welles’ third choice project after a version of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Nicholas Blake’s The Smiler with the Knife.   While Hearst’s vehement denunciation of the film creates plenty of publicity, it is not a success and, despite receiving seven Academy Award nominations, it wins nothing. [ADD]





13/6 -

The American Federation of Labor (AFL) calls for a boycott of Disney productions in support of Disney workers who have been protesting for higher wages and the recognition of their union.   Following the strike, the Conference of Studio Unions is founded, and a group of animators defect from the Disney Studios to form the United Pictures of America. [ADD]





14/6 -

Screenwriter John Huston, son of the actor Walter Huston, begins shooting The Maltese Falcon, his first effort as a director. [ADD]





1/8 -

Orson Welles begins working on a scenario for an adaptation of Eric Ambler’s novel, Journey into Fear. [ADD]

    The Little Foxes (1941)




8/8 -

William Wyler’s adaptation of Lillian Hellman’s play The Little Foxes is released.   It stars Bette Davis as the scheming Regina Giddens. [ADD]





31/8 -

Ava Gardner signs a seven-year contract with MGM after she is spotted in a photograph. [ADD]





21/9 -

Harry Warner, the president of Warner Bros., defends his studio against accusations of ‘militarism and incitement to war’ while giving evidence to a Commission of Inquiry into ‘cinematographic propaganda’ in Washington. [ADD]





26/9 -

The Fleischers produce the first in a series of Superman cartoons for Paramount.   At a budget of around $100,000 per short, they are – in adjusted dollars – the most expensive animation series in film history.   They also present the first instance in which Superman is able to fly rather than merely ‘leap tall buildings in a single bound.  [ADD]





27/9 -

Gary Cooper plays the title role in Howard HawksSergeant York, a war film with a pacifist message which is based on the real-life exploits of Alvin York. [ADD]





The History of Cinema: 1941

    Canada - USSR
    Gt. Britain
    USA October - December


USA: 1940

USA: 1942




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