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A 20th Century Fox Retrospective Scrapbook : 1939


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In what was called the golden year of Hollywood, 20th Century Fox ventured more into making films in Technicolor, came up with two Henry Fonda classics, presented the last big hits of Shirley Temple (though she'd still be there in 1940), brought in a new Charlie Chan, and started (but did not go beyond making the first two) the long beloved Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes series.

The year began with the introduction of the new Charlie Chan, Sidney Tolar, in Charlie Chan in Honolulu.

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Mr. Moto's Last Warning followed shortly thereafter. This series was close to wrapping up, but this wasn't the final one. 2 more were left in the Peter Lorre series. Both would be out by year's end.

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A Gracie Fields comedy, Keep Smiling, was retitled as Smiling Along, as Fox had just used the film's original title for a Jane Withers vehicle.

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Jesse James was one of the first A-budget Westerns. This one starred Tyrone Power, Henry Fonda, Nancy Kelly, and Randolph Scott and was filmed in blazing Technicolor.

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Tail Spin was about female aviators, a relatively rare subject for Hollywood outside of Christopher Strong and Flight for Freedom. This one though starred Alice Faye, Constance Bennett, Nancy Kelly, Jane Wyman, Joan Davis, and Charles Farrell

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The Arizona Wildcat again put Jane Withers in a Western comedy

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A comic version of the Three Musketters fount the three of the title played by the Ritz Brothers. Don Ameche was the other swashbuckler, while Gloria Stuart was the queen, and Binnie Barnes was Milady.

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Lynn Bari starred in Pardon Our Nerve, a comedy with a background in boxing.

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Wife, Husband and Friend starred Loretta Young, Warner Baxter, and Binnie Barnes in these three roles respectively in a love triangle comedy. it was so successful that  it was remade as Everybody Does It a decade later.

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Inside Story put Michael Whalen on newspaper detail.

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The Little Princess, based on the classic children's tale, was the first Temple film to be photographed in Technicolor. Its also the only one of her starring vehicles to fall into the public domain. Anyway, its one of her fans' favorites and a childhood classic for many.

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The Jones family reappeared for the first time in 1939 in Everybody's Baby.

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One of the great movie series then started when Basil and Nigel were cast as Holmes and Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles. A very atmospheric entry, it was a great entertainment and a wonderful film

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Peter Lorre continued the mystery trend of early 1939 with Mr. Moto in Danger Island

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The Story of Alexander Graham Bell was one of Don Ameche's most famous films. It took liberties with the real life story, but the film was much liked by audiences everywhere. Loretta Young and Henry Fonda co-starred.

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Boxing was back on the menu in Winner Take All, starring Tony Martin and Gloria Stuart.

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Inspector Hornleigh came by way of England. The inspector himself was played by Gordon Harker, with Alistair Sim in support.

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Return of the Cisco Kid found Warner Baxter reprising his Oscar winning role (from In Old Arizona) for the fifth and final time.

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Chasing Danger was an adventure B with Preston Foster and Lynn Bari.

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Rose of Washington Square, a successful musical, was regarded by many as being an in-disguise tale of the Fanny Brice story. It starred Alice Faye, Tyrone Power, and Al Jolson.

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Jane Withers turned 13, and Fox decided that it was time to give her her first on-screen romance in Boy Friend.

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The Gorilla mixed horror and comedy, with the Ritz Brothers, Patsy Kelly, Anita Louise, and Bela Lugosi.

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Young Mr. Lincoln was an undisputed John Ford classic. With Henry Fonda as the future presedent, it has remained a highly valued film for the past 80 years.

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For their next on-screen frolic, The Jones Family headed to the movie capital....

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Charlie Chan in Reno saw the super-sleuth investigating a new case.

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Susannah of the Mounties was a bit different for Shirley Temple in that it was more dramatic than usual for her in a Western tale that featured only one song for her to sing briefly. 

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It Could Happen to You finished Gloria Stuart's contract at Fox. She would not be seen in any film that had a connection to them again until they handled Titanic in all territories outside of North America 58 years later.

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Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation was the penultimate entry in the 8 film series.

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Sonia Henie and Tyrone Power appeared in Second Fiddle, a musical comedy that poked fun at the exhaustive search for Scarlett O' Hara.

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News is Made at Night was a crime comedy with Preston Foster and Lynn Bari.

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The Ware Case was a British courtroom drama with Clyde Brook.

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Frontier Marshall found Randolph Scott playing Wyatt Earp.

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Hotel for Women was the screen debut for Linda Darnell, who would quickly become a Fox favorite star of the 1940s. Ann Sothern was also in it

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Chicken Wagon Family with Jane Withers had originally been a shelved title originally intended for Will Rogers 

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Stanley and Livingstone brought Spencer Tracy back to Fox (where he had briefly been under contract to in the pre-merjer days). The adventure title was much praised.

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The Jones were back again on the search for loot in Quick Millions

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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was the other Sherlock title done by Fox before the series went o0ver to Universal. Ida Lupino, on the cusp of stardom, was also featured here.

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Charlie Chan on Treasure Island was the third time out for Sidney Tolar in the part.

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The Rains Cames was suspensful disaster/adventure entertainment and a smooth, very entertaining ride. It won an Oscar for its visual effects. Note that Myrna Loy, an MGM star, is starring here. She opted for this loan-out rather than to play the wife in Goodbye Mr. Chips.

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Stop, Look, and Love was a B movie romance that unfolded its story in a mere 58 minutes.

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Here I am a Stranger was the tale of an estranged father and son coming to terms.

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The Escape was a B action thriller set amidst the slums of the big cities.

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I actually started watching the next film, Hollywood Cavalcade, today. It was a pet project of Darryl Zanuck's a nostalgic look back at the early days of film. Its very charming and funny so far, and completely fascinating.

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The Ritz brothers took to battle and encountered Jane Withers in Pack Up Your Troubles.

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20,000 Men a Year was a pilot training tale with Randolph Scott, perhaps a response to the success of MGM's Test Pilot.

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Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence might be of most interest today in being one of the earliest acting roles of Glenn Ford. That even though he wasn't the lead.

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Drums Along the Mohawk was a rollicking western, and one of the best of the genre. Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert were the leads, but Edna May Oliver, at her best, and that's saying a lot, stole every single scene she was in.

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Back to Jones country with Too Busy to Work.

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Linda Darnell, rising the ranks quickly, now secured a romantic lead opposite Tyrone Power, the studio's biggest male star in Day-Time Wife

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Then Charlie Chan made his final appearance of the year.

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Inspector Hornleigh then made a return  engagement for mystery fans.

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Barricade was released with lowered expectations. The adventure film with Warner Baxter and Alice Faye had been shelved for a while before it was actually released.

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The Honeymoon's Over starred Stuart Erwin in a comedy of troubled newlyweds.

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With Winter dawning again, Sonia Henie whipped out her skates for her newest film

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The Cisco Kid came back again, but with Caesar Romero in lieu of Warner Baxter this time around.

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The year was capped with Don Ameche playing Stephen Foster in Swanee River, and so with that as well, Fox exited the 30s and entered the 40s, the decade when they hit their full bloom.
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