We all know 1939 is widely considered to be Hollywood’s greatest ever year. You’ve got Gone with the Wind and all that business about ‘finding Scarlett’, you’ve got The Wizard of Oz, Ninotchka, Dark Victory, Wuthering Heights, Stagecoach, Mr Smith goes to Washington, The Women, etc… And then there’s the outstanding Oscar nominees that year, from Jimmy in Mr Smith, to Garbo in Ninotchka, as well as the powerhouse that is Ben Hecht and his screenplay for Wuthering Heights, and the fantastic Hattie McDaniel and her historic win for Gone with the Wind. A triumphant year in every way possible. However, has anybody thought about what could be the second greatest year in Hollywood history? It’s completely pointless, it’s never going to come up in a pub quiz, but have you thought about it? Just for fun, if we were to come up with the second greatest year, I think 1944 would be a very strong candidate. 1944 was on fire, noir-wise: Double Indemnity, Laura, Murder my Sweet and The Woman in the Window being the four big ones. It was also the year that started Bogie and Bacall’s on and off screen partnership, with To Have and Have Not. Then there’s the musicals. Pin-up Girl, Cover Girl and Meet me in St Louis. A marathon with those three wouldn’t be half-bad, would it? And then, of course, there’s the spooky mysteries The Uninvited and Gaslight (and Ingrid’s spectacular Oscar-winning performance). Then, we’ve got Going my Way, the year’s Best Picture, Arsenic and Old Lace, Lifeboat, National Velvet, not to mention the star-studded Hollywood Canteen, set in, you guessed it, the Hollywood Canteen, the famous club founded by Bette Davis and John Garfield, that offered food and entertainment to servicemen during the war, before they went overseas. Overall, not a bad year at all, was it? Look, anybody could make a case for almost any year (1950, 1967 and 1976 particularly), and I am certainly no authority in this, but 1944 just seems too good to overlook.