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Saturday Art: The Greatest Year in Movies 75 Years Later

Stagecoach (1939)

Stagecoach (1939)

I’m taking a break today from my series on personally Influential Authors to talk about movies. Specifically, movies from 1939, a year that I (and many film critics) consider the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time.) This is not a unanimous choice as a couple of links will show. Nevertheless, if you do a Google search of “greatest movie year of all time” the first item is the wiki page for “1939 in film” which opens with:

The year 1939 in motion pictures is widely considered the most outstanding one ever,[1] when it comes to the high quality and high attendance at the large set of the best films that premiered in the year (considered as a percentage of the population in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom at that time).

A few years ago I did an eighteen diary series for Saturday Art on “Essential Movies” as defined by me (the link is to the last diary which has links to the other seventeen diaries). I’m not going to go through all the diaries and list all the 1939 movies I discussed but I can guarantee that there are numerous movies from the year that I covered.

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Saturday Art: The Greatest Year in Movies 75 Years Later

Stagecoach (1939)

Stagecoach (1939)

I’m taking a break today from my series on personally Influential Authors to talk about movies. Specifically, movies from 1939, a year that I (and many film critics) consider the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time.) This is not a unanimous choice as a couple of links will show. Nevertheless, if you do a Google search of “greatest movie year of all time” the first item is the wiki page for “1939 in film” which opens with:

The year 1939 in motion pictures is widely considered the most outstanding one ever,[1] when it comes to the high quality and high attendance at the large set of the best films that premiered in the year (considered as a percentage of the population in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom at that time).

A few years ago I did an eighteen diary series for Saturday Art on “Essential Movies” as defined by me (the link is to the last diary which has links to the other seventeen diaries). I’m not going to go through all the diaries and list all the 1939 movies I discussed but I can guarantee that there are numerous movies from the year that I covered.

Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz are in the top ten of The American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Movies. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is number twenty-six on the list. All three were nominated for Best Picture from that year’s Academy Awards. There were ten Best Picture nominations that year and the other seven nominees were Dark Victory, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Love Affair, Ninotchka, Of Mice and Men, Stagecoach, and Wuthering Heights. Gone with the Wind of course, won the Best Picture award that year.

Thomas Mitchell, winner of the 1939 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Stagecoach also appeared in Gone with the Wind (Gerald O’Hara, Scarlett O’Hara’s father), and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. He also had roles in two other 1939 movies, Only Angels Have Wings (Cary Grant and Jean Arthur) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Charles Laughton and Maureen O’Hara).

1939 brought the first movie with Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles. Later that year, the second Rathbone Holmes appears with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The year also brought the first two appearances by George Sanders as The Saint with The Saint Strikes Back and The Saint in London.

I think I have seen all of the movies I have mentioned so far although maybe not Ninotchka but there are a whole lot of other 1939 movies that I have seen besides these. From the list of the Top 20 Grossing films for the year there’s Jesse James with Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda, Dodge City with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Haviland, Gunga Din with Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, Drums Along the Mohawk with Claudette Colbert and Henry Fonda, Another Thin Man with William Powell and Myrna Loy, and Destry Rides Again with Jimmy Stewart and Marlene Dietrich.

A few more movies from 1939 that I know are good are Allegheny Uprising with John Wayne and Claire Trevor, the Marx Brothers in At the Circus, Beau Geste with Gary Cooper, Each Dawn I Die with James Cagney and George Raft, Jamaica Inn another starring Charles Laughton and Maureen O’Hara (to go with The Hunchback of Notre Dame), Shirley Temple’s The Little Princess, Louis Hayward in The Man in the Iron Mask, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex with Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, and Olivia de Haviland, W. C. Fields in You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man, and Young Mr. Lincoln with Henry Fonda.

This by no means is any where near an inclusive listing of the movies produced in 1939. Just the great movies from that year that I have seen, often more than once as they are visual tales told well.

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dakine01

dakine01

Small town Kentucky country boy lived all over the country. Currently in Ruskin, FL