This year it's a different matter. There are a number of viable and interesting films which could be considered by voters for the 1941 Retro Hugos. The big problem is that most of them are less than 90 minutes, which is the current boundary between the Short Form and Long Form categories. There is wiggle room of 20% either way; a lot of them could be shifted to Long Form as they are 72 minutes or more in length; or alternatively, all but Fantasia and the serials could be classed as Short Form, being less than 108 minutes in length. I guess this year's Hugo administrators will decide pragmatically, on the pattern of nominations. (We won't have this particular problem next year - there will be no Retro Hugos for 1942 because there was no Worldcon in that year.)
Steve Davidson has done us all a service by listing some potential nominees for Best Dramatic Presentation from 1940, here and here. I've been doing a little browsing and have adapted his list, in order of popularity on IMDB, as follows:
Pinocchio - Wikipedia; IMDB; When You Wish Upon A Star. I'm surprised to see this ranked quite so high - I am not sure that I ever saw it all the way through. Anyway it seems that we will soon have a live action version from Disney to compare it with. A shade under 90 mins but clearly belongs in Long Form if that's the way the administrators decide to go.
Fantasia - Wikipedia; IMDB; Beethoven performed by winged horses
This has my vote. It's extraordinarily ambitious for its time, and full of myth and fantasy. At 125 mins, the only single-shot cinema release on this list that is too long to be put in Short Form.
The Thief of Bagdad - Wikipedia; IMDB; Mary Morris is a six-armed robot:
I saw the 1978 version in the cinema when it came out - looks like I have missed a treat with the 1940 version.
Dr. Cyclops - Wikipedia; IMDB; in full:
Mad scientist miniaturises visitors to his radium mine. According to John Brosnan (quoted in Wikipedia): "It's a fast-paced, inventive film though the dialogue is awful and the acting is undistinguished with the exception of Albert Dekker's portrayal of Dr Thorkel." Only 77 minutes but clearly belongs in Long Form if that's the way the administrators decide to go.
The Blue Bird - Wikipedia; IMDB; in full:
Shirley Temple plays a little girl who goes on a fantasy dream journey in search of the Blue Bird of Happiness, based on L'Oiseau bleu by Belgian Nobel Prize winner Maurice Maeterlinck. Patriotic fervour may move me to watch this. (Steve Davidson missed it in his list.) A shade under 90 mins but clearly belongs in Long Form if that's the way the administrators decide to go.
One Million B.C. - Wikipedia; IMDB; in full:
I'm familiar with the 1966 remake starring Raquel Welch; I'm not sure I need to familiarise myself with this one. 80 minutes but clearly belongs in Long Form if that's the way the administrators decide to go.
The Ghost Breakers - Wikipedia; IMDB; trailer:
Stars Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard; it's not clear to me that the ghost and zombie are "real"; maybe I'd better watch it and find out? 85 minutes but clearly belongs in Long Form if that's the way the administrators decide to go.
Beyond Tomorrow - Wikipedia; IMDB; in full:
Three ghosts help two young lovers who they knew in life. (Steve Davidson missed this one too.) 84 minutes but clearly belongs in Long Form if that's the way the administrators decide to go.
The Mummy’s Hand - Wikipedia; IMDB; in full; trailer:
Actually recycles bits of the 1932 film The Mummy which it basically rips off. Only 67 minutes, so below the 72-minute cutoff of Long Form eligibility.
Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe - Wikipedia; IMDB; in full starting with first episode:
Steve Davidson lists this in Short Form; it's pretty clear to me that the whole 12 episodes should be considered as a potential single Long Form finalist, at 220 mins in length, which is less than some recent winners.
The Invisible Man Returns - Wikipedia; IMDB; in full:
Not in fact a sequel to the 1933 Claude Rains The Invisible Man, but using (obviously) the same core idea, in Vincent Price's first horror role. I will check this one out. 81 minutes but clearly belongs in Long Form.
The Invisible Woman - Wikipedia; IMDB; trailer:
Same again, but played as comedy with an obvious twist in the lead character. 72 minutes, so Long Form / Short Form eligibility in question.
The Green Hornet - Wikipedia; IMDB; in full:
Another serial listed by Steve Davidson in Short Form, but which clearly should be considered as a potential Long Form nominee for all 258 minutes. However, I'm not convinced that it has sfnal content.
Black Friday - Wikipedia; IMDB; in full:
Brain transplant film starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Only 70 minutes, so below the 72-minute cutoff of Long Form eligibility.
The Fatal Hour - Wikipedia; IMDB
Listed by Steve Davidson, but I don't see any evidence that it is sfnal (even though it stars Boris Karloff).
The Ape - Wikipedia; IMDB; in full:
Stars Boris Karloff as a kindly mad scientist whose attempt to cure a young woman with an ape's spinal fluid goes horribly wrong. At only 62 minutes, it would surely fall into the Short Form category.
Doomed to Die - Wikipedia; IMDB
Sequel to The Fatal Hour; again, it's listed by Steve Davidson, but I don't see any evidence that it is sfnal (even though it also stars Boris Karloff).
Before I Hang - Wikipedia; IMDB; trailer:
Another Boris Karloff film, in which he plays a doctor facing execution for murder who secretly tries an experimental serum on himself, with unexpected results. At only 62 minutes, it would surely fall into the Short Form category.
Mysterious Doctor Satan - Wikipedia; IMDB;
Mysterious Doctor Satan Part1 Return of the...
Another serial, this one originally intended to be a Superman series until rights issues scuppered that plan; mysterious hero The Copperhead prevents Doctor Satan from taking over America.
Son of Ingagi - Wikipedia; IMDB; in full:
The first science fiction-horror film to feature an all-black cast. Once again, only 70 minutes, so below the 72-minute cutoff.
Weltraumschiff 1 startet (Spaceship 1 is launched) - German Wikipedia; IMDB (with incorrect date of 1937); in full, with English subtitles:
This is definitely from 1940, not 1937 as some sources say; there is a good article about it here; basically it was patched together from two shorter films which were not completed. It's also completely untrue to suggest (as Davidson does) that it's a Nazi propaganda film; it's simple sensawunda space travel stuff, only in German, with some excellent special effects of the rocket taking off and circling the moon. This and Flash Gordon appear to be the only things on this list with actual spaceships. However, at only 23 minutes, it clearly belongs in the Short Form rather than Long Form category.
As you know, Bob, online links to full-length films tend to have a short lifespan. I'd recommend that you have a quick look at these now, and ensure that you are able to watch the ones that interest you at your leisure. I'd be surprised if we are not able to fill out both categories of Best Dramatic Presentation this year. If you are a member of last year's Sasquan, this year's MidAmeriCon II, or next year's Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, you can nominate as long as you join by 31 January, which is a week from today; Worldcon 75's rates go up from that day too, so what are you waiting for?