- Two acting teams make their debut, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, and Abbott and Costello.
- Katerine Hepburn arrives at MGM. Her first picture is the acclaimed The Philadelphia Story with Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart.
- Hitchcock moves to Hollywood
- Young actor Orson Welles makes his directorial debut in Citizen Kane. He and cinematographer Gregg Toland expand the borders of the filming process. It is still considered to be the greatest American film.
- John Huston makes his directorial debut with The Maltese Falcon.
- Ford's The Grapes of Wrath
- First teaming of Katerine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in Woman of the Year.
- Casablanca, directed by Michael Curtiz, stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains.
- Capra's war documentary propaganda series Why We Fight.
- Double Indemnity, a classic film noir is released. Directed by Billy Wilder. It stars Fred MacMurry,
Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson.
- The Best Years of Our Lives enjoys a long run at the box office.
- It's A Wonderful Life, directed by Frank Capra. Isn't well received when first released but will become a legend to future audiences.
- Cannes Film Festival founded
- Rope, directed by Hitckcock, is the first thriller filmed in color and with no edits*. (*Only film changes)
- Marilyn Monroe appears in her first major role, Ladies of the Chorus.
- Hamlet, directed by and starring Laurence Olivier is the first non-American film to win the Oscar for Best Picture.
- October 20th. House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) begins hearings on Communist influence in Hollywood