Monday, January 27, 2014

1939: A film odyssey

Before we get too far into the new year, I'd like to take a moment and acknowledge 2014 as the 75th anniversary of the Class of '39, believed by many to be the greatest year for movies of all. I have no doubt that throughout the year, we'll see 75th anniversary celebrations for the big two movies, Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, but it would be nice if some of the other big movies from that year were publicly acknowledged as well. I imagine the average person isn't aware of those other films, much less that they all came out in the same year. If you want a more comprehensive rundown, the folks over at the Classic Movie Blog Association devoted a blogathon to the 1939 films a few years ago. 

Here are the ones I've written about so far (in addition to the big two):

Dark Victory Golden Boy Of Mice and Men The Flying Deuces The Roaring Twenties Each Dawn I Die

Of course, I've seen more than these. I've seen most of the ones that most film fans already know and love - Ninotchka, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Women, etc. It might be more informative to mention the films I haven't seen from 1939 that I'd like to, eventually:

- The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I saw a little bit of this on TCM one day and it was enough to convince me I wanna see the rest. Charles Laughton in that make-up is freaky.

- The Hound of the Baskervilles. Not a big Holmes fan but this is supposed to be one of the all-time best.

- The Rains Came.  Myrna Loy's supposed to be great in this one.

- Destry Rides Again. If only to see how Marlene Dietrich functions in a Western.

- Midnight. Early Billy Wilder screenplay.

Further suggestions would be appreciated.


  1. Midnight is one of my favorite Billy Wilder scripts. It ends silly, but is so good most of the way. From '39 I also recommend: At the Circus (even average Marx Bros. is good), The Man in the Iron Mask, Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game and Stagecoach (so influential, all the way up to Joss Whedon's Firefly). FWIW, I think 1939 is far from Hollywood's best year. I think it's thought so only because two extraordinarily popular movies were coincidentally made in the same year.

  2. I didn't wanna go into a great big list of what I've seen from the '39 group (maybe I should've), but I have seen 'Stagecoach' (great movie), and I saw 'Rules of the Game' once, back in my video store days.

    You could be right about '39 not being the all-time best. I've seen arguments for other years - I'd be willing to put 1999 up with the greats, for example. But '39 was also such a pivotal turning point in world history, and I suspect that's part of the reason why the movies from that year linger in the collective memory. Maybe.


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