Tuesday, July 25, 2017

5 Off My Head: Siri Says 1939

When I did one of my "Siri Says" posts for the year 1938 I made mention that the following year (meaning 1939) is notorious for being one of the greatest years in all of cinema history. It's a big damn year. Cut to today and color me surprised when Siri's actually handed me The Movies of 1939 to evaluate and in doing so has gone and made me realize that I have seen a shockingly small number of this year's classics! I mean sure, yes, I've seen the biggies, the ones everybody thinks of when you say "1939!" (AKA the ones that Victor Fleming and/or George Cukor both directed.) But the list is short, and there are many from this year I'm clueless about. Huh. So while I ruminate on my cinematic phoniness, you ruminate on my list.

My 5 Favorite Movies of 1939

(dir. George Cukor)
-- released on September 1st 1939 --

(dir. Victor Fleming)
-- released on December 15th 1939 --

(dir. Edmund Goulding)
-- released on April 22 1939 --

(dir. Victor Fleming)
-- released on August 25th 1939 --

(dir. William Dieterle)
-- released on December 29th 1939 --


Runners-up: Golden Boy (dir. Gene Feldman),  Ninotchka (dir. Ernst Lubitsch), Intermezzo: A Love Story (dir. Gregory Ratoff), Union Pacific (dir. Cecil B. DeMille), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (dir. Chuck Jones), Mr Smith Goes to Washington (dir. Frank Capra), Wuthering Heights (dir. William Wyler)

Never seen: Stagecoach (dir. John Ford), Goodbye Mr Chips (dir. Sam Wood), The Spy in Black (dir. Powell / Pressburger), The Rules of the Game (dir. Jean Renoir), The Rains Came (dir. Clarence Brown), Love Affair (dir. Leo McCarey), Jesse James (dir. Henry King), Gunga Din (dir. George Stevens), Destry Rides Again (dir. George Marshall), Beau Geste (dir. William A. Wellman), Young Mr. Lincoln (dir. John Ford), Son of Frankenstein (Rowland V. Lee)


What are your favorite movies of 1939?


DCameron said...

The Rules of the Game - Resnais??? It's Jean Renoir, Sweetie.

DCameron said...

Sorry, didn't mean to sound so condescending.

joel65913 said...

That’s a great top 5 several of which would make mine as well. Dark Victory is just a killer, probably my favorite Bette Davis performance.

Such a year! All those you listed as needing to see are very good, some of course better than others. I highly recommend The Rains Came. A great cast, interesting story and special effects good enough to win the first Oscar award in that category. They still hold up today.

As is my wont I know that I won’t be able to keep it to five. I’ll do a top 12 and throw in some other recommends for lesser known titles.

My top 12 alphabetically:

Dark Victory

Dodge City-Errol Flynn & Olivia de Havilland reteam in one of the better westerns of the period.

Dust Be My Destiny-Good crime drama of lovers on the run from a murder charge with John Garfield and Priscilla Lane.

Five Came Back-Sleeper of a 12 passengers that crash in the Amazon and their struggle to get the plane airborne with a very young Lucille Ball, as a shady lady, in the cast.

Gone with the Wind

In Name Only-Great drama with a very fine Cary Grant & Carole Lombard but best of all Kay Francis as a totally evil bitch.

On the Night of the Fire aka The Fugitive-Excellent drama with Ralph Richardson as a man whose life spirals massively out of control because of one foolish impulsive decision.

The Rains Came

The Roaring Twenties-Cagney, Bogart and Gladys George tear this one up.

The Wizard of Oz

The Women

Wuthering Heights

Some more obscure but worthwhile films:

Babes in Arms-Judy Garland & Mickey Rooney put on a show in a barn to save their parents bacon.

Beauty for the Asking-This was a very busy year for Lucille Ball and this is an interesting drama where Lucy becomes a cosmetics tycoon.

Fast and Loose-Breezy comedy mystery in The Thin Man vein with Rosalind Russell and Robert Montgomery.

Good Girls Go to Paris

Idiot’s Delight

It’s a Wonderful World

Kid Nightingale-John Payne spends practically the entire running time in boxing trunks, when he’s not singing! He looks very good indeed.

The Lady and the Mob-Fay Bainter takes on the mob.

The Light That Failed

Midnight-Fizzy comedy with Claudette Colbert.

Naughty but Nice- A good showcase for Ann Sheridan. Zany comedy of stuffy classical music teacher Dick Powell writing pop tunes for brazen chanteuse Sheridan when drunk.

Of Mice and Men

Old Maid-Bette Davis & Miriam Hopkins snipe at each other for an hour and a half. Great fun.

Rose of Washington Square-Almost a total rip-off of Fanny Brice’s marriage to Nick Arnstein with Alice Faye and Tyrone Power in those roles. So much so that Fanny sued and won a lawsuit. Many shades of Funny Girl.

The Spellbinder
St. Louis Blues-Dorothy Lamour as a Broadway star who hides out on a riverboat.

They Made Me a Criminal

Twelve Crowded Hours-Another of Lucy’s early appearances.

Within the Law-Young innocent girl Ruth Hussey is railroaded to prison while there she studies the law and when released the wised up gal becomes a scam artist “within the law”

By the way that picture of William Holden is swoon worthy. He certainly was a beauty in his youth.

Pierce said...

With respect to your never seens from 1939, frankly, I’ve never been able to sit through Stagecoach, Love Affair or Gunga Din. Goodbye Mr. Chips is nice, but you really must see Rules of the Game. It’s an utter delight. So is Destry Rides Again, because it’s a marvelous paring for Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart.

That said:
Adventures of Huckleberry Fin is quite good.
At the Circus is weak Marx Bros, but it’s better than no Marx Bros.
Babes in Arms has dated badly, but Busby Berkeley’s production numbers are amazing as always.
Dark Victory is, along with Jezebel, Now Voyager and Mr. Skeffington, one of Davis’ greatest performances.
The Four Feathers is a very fine movie of this story
Golden Boy is terrific. It made William Holden a star.
Gone with the Wind. Enough said.
Hunchback of Notre Dame is almost as good as the 1923 Lon Chaney film.
Intermezzo is lovely
Idiot’s Delight is the best paring of Norma Shearer and Clark Gable at MGM.
Jamaica Inn, a marvelous version of the Du Maurier novel.
The Little Princess is, frankly, Shirley Temple’s Best movie!
The Mikado is utterly delightful.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is one of James Stewart’s best roles ever.
Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase is loads of fun.
Ninotchka: Garbo laughs. Lubitsch directs. What’s not to like?
The Old Maid. You have Bette Davis. Do you need more?
Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. Ditto.
Stanley and Livingstone has dated badly, but it’s quite good.
Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, minor Astaire-Rodgers, but quite nice.
They Made Me a Criminal, made John Garfield a star
They shall Have Music, a lovely movie if you can find it.
Tower of London, Basil Rathbone as Richard III, Brilliant!
The Wizard of Oz, a masterpiece
The Women, still sparkles.
Wuthering Heights. Olivier and Oberon directed by Wyler? Magnificent.

Bill Carter said...

1939 was such an incredible year for film that it's impossible to narrow it down to the five best. You could almost pick five at random, and defend the selection.

With your list, the only thing I'd change would be to drop "The Women" to make room for "Wuthering Heights."

Anonymous said...

Stagecoach has some thrilling sequences (seriously, even by today's standards) but problematic racial relations, IIRC.