Monday, July 20, 2009

1939 Hollywood's Great Year of Film!

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Hollywood’s greatest year, 1939. So, Turner Classic Movies has been celebrating the anniversary this month by showing 39 films released in 1939, starting with The Wizard of Oz. TCM also screened a new documentary, 1939: Hollywood’s Greatest Year narrated by the lovely Kenneth Branagh. It gives wonderful insight into the best films made that year as well as what each of the studios were up to. So, why that year? A few aspects should be considered.
Firstly, we should consider the way the Hollywood system was set up. Studios employed actors and actresses under contracts the studios wrote up themselves. Together, with the reinforced Production Code they worked to create a product that reflected ideas, morals, and situations that their audience could identify with. Though they spent great deals of money on projects they did not spend a great deal of time appeasing one particular actor or actress. They catered only to their audience which is also why Hollywood, in it's beginning years was so patriotic.
Secondly, by the mid-thirties, the studios pretty much had everything in hand. They had been churning out entertainment for quite a few years and had a repoire not only with everyone who worked within the studio but the audience or more importantly the fans of that particular studio's stars. Besides owning their own theaters around the country for audiences to view their pictures in, each studio also possessed a fierce publicity machine that churned out the story behind the scenes of all their stars.
Thirdly, the social climate was changing, which would eventually harm more than help the studios with the onset of WWII. But in 1939 America was coming out of their worst decade yet, the Depression had left its mark on everyone and now they were just getting back on solid ground. It was cause for celebration, just not like that of the roaring 20's, no one wanted the expense of that decadence again!
So, below is a list of the films that were made in 1939. Sadly, I have seen very few.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever
Another Thin Man*
The Arsenal Stadium Mystery
Ask a Policeman
At the Circus
Babes in Arms
Bachelor Mother
Beau Geste
Boys' Reformatory
Confessions of a Nazi Spy
Dark Victory*
Daughter of The Tong
Destry Rides Again
Dodge City
Drums Along the Mohawk
Each Dawn I Die
Everything Happens At Night
The Four Feathers
Five Came Back
Frontier Marshal
Gone with the Wind*
Goodbye, Mr. Chips*
The Gorilla (1939)
Gulliver's Travels
Gunga Din
The Hardys Ride High
Hollywood Cavalcade
The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Marines Fly High
In Name Only
Jamaica Inn
Jesse James
Judge Hardy and Son Starring Lewis Stone
King Of The Underworld
Le Jour se lève (Daybreak)
Let Us Live
The Light that Failed
The Little Princess
Love Affair
Mexicali Rose
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington*
The Oklahoma Kid
Of Mice and Men
On Dress Parade
Only Angels Have Wings
On Your Toes
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex*
Q Planes
Range War
The Roaring Twenties
The Rules of the Game
Seven Little Australians
Son of Frankenstein
The Spy in Black
They Shall have Music
Stanley and Livingstone
The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums
The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle
Susannah of the Mounties
The Three Musketeers
Three Texas Steers
Tower of London
The Wizard of Oz*
The Women*
Union Pacific
Wuthering Heights
Wyoming Outlaw
Young Mr. Lincoln*

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