Thursday, December 15, 2011

Greatest year in Hollywood Film 1939

The Greatest Year for Films Ever: 1939
Gone With the Wind - 1939The most distinguished, pinnacle year in the movies has to be 1939, with many of the greatest, most diverse and superlative movies ever produced in one year. There were ten films nominated for Best Picture that year (not five) for Academy Awards, and four of them were independent productions - (1) Hal Roach's Of Mice and Men (1939), (2) Walter Wanger's Stagecoach (1939) - director John Ford's only Western during the 1930s - a frontier classic that revitalized the A-budget Western, emphasized characterizations, and catapulted the career of John Wayne out of routine, small-scale roles, (3) Sam Goldwyn's and William Wyler's tale of ill-fated lovers in Wuthering Heights (1939) [the Yorkshire moors were realistically re-created on land 50 miles from Hollywood], and the eventual winner (4) David O. Selznick's and MGM's Gone With the Wind (1939) with Victor Fleming credited as director among others. The Best Picture winner sold more tickets than any other picture - and Hattie McDaniel's Best Supporting Actress Oscar win (for her role as Mammy) made her the first African-American Oscar winner. It was also the first color film to win the 'Best Picture' award.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips - 1939The other six nominated films in 1939 were MGM's big-budget The Wizard of Oz (1939) (credited as directed by Victor Fleming) with emerging star Judy Garland in the colorful magical Munchkinland and land of Oz, MGM's Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) starring Robert Donat and Greer Garson, Columbia's and Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), MGM's Ninotchka (1939) - Garbo's first starring comedy in which she "laughs," WB's Dark Victory (1939), and RKO's Love Affair (1939). Two other lesser-known Westerns, besides Ford's, also contributed to the rebirth of the Western in the 30s: Dodge City (1939), an Errol Flynn Western-style swashbuckler, and Cecil B. DeMille's epic, Union Pacific (1939).
1939 boasted other great classic films of enduring quality: The Roaring Twenties (1939), Destry Rides Again (1939) - Marlene Dietrich's come-back film, Only Angels Have Wings (1939), Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), Beau Geste (1939), the all-female The Women (1939), a re-make of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) with Charles Laughton, and The Old Maid (1939) with Bette Davis.
As a footnote to the decade, three of the best directors in the decade of the 1970s were born in the year 1939: Francis Ford Coppola, William Friedkin, and Peter Bogdanovich.