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1939's Forgotten Ones


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I agree that it would be nice if Fox Movie Channel broadcast classics 24 hours a day.

 

I think there are 16 Jones Family films. I have never seen any of them. And the only Withers title I have seen is the one that aired on TCM last year, PADDY O'DAY. Though many are now becoming available on DVD thanks to the Fox Cinema Archives series-- possibly without restored prints, but available to audiences nevertheless.

 

Thanks for your comments.

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Paramount's Forgotten Ones of 1939

The year 1939 is an interesting, if not stellar one, for Paramount Pictures. There are 51 features in release. On the payroll are established stars like Dorothy Lamour, Akim Tamiroff, Charles Ruggles and Bob Hope who each appear in three movies for the studio. Other performers like Ellen Drew and Susan Hayward are just getting started, while someone like Helen Twelvetrees, who has been one of the decade's biggest stars will make her last film this year at Paramount.

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In January, Gail Patrick and Robert Preston costar in DISBARRED; while John Howard and Heather Angel bring ARREST BULLDOG DRUMMOND to the screen. Bing Crosby appears in the first of two pictures for Paramount in '39, headlining PARIS HONEYMOON with lovely European import Franciska Gaal. In the meantime, Gladys Swarthout and Lloyd Nolan deal with an AMBUSH; while Charles Ruggles and Mary Boland encounter BOY TROUBLE.

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February kicks off with Dorothy Lamour and Lloyd Nolan in ST. LOUIS BLUES. Lynne Overman and Patricia Morison star in PERSONS IN HIDING. Sylvia Sidney finishes out her contract with ...ONE THIRD OF A NATION... which costars Leif Erickson. And William Boyd makes the first of five B westerns for Paramount in 1939: SUNSET TRAIL as Hopalong Cassidy.

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Madeleine Carroll and Fred MacMurray are among CAFE SOCIETY in March. Anna May Wong and Akim Tamiroff thrill audiences with KING OF CHINATOWN. William Boyd is back for more Hopalong Cassidy adventures in SILVER ON THE SAGE. Charles Ruggles is paired with Marjorie Rambeau and they come across some SUDDEN MONEY. And the clock strikes MIDNIGHT for Claudette Colbert and Don Ameche, on loan out from 20th Century Fox.

April brings Martha Raye, top billed over Bob Hope in NEVER SAY DIE. Jimmy Lydon stars in a drama about the younger generation called BACK DOOR TO HEAVEN. George Raft learns that THE LADY'S FROM KENTUCY, and her name is Ellen Drew.

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In May, Cecil DeMille directs Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea in the smash hit UNION PACIFIC. Isa Miranda checks in to HOTEL IMPERIAL with Ray Milland. Bob Hope stars not with Tony Curtis or with Jack Lemmon, but with Shirley Ross in his version of SOME LIKE IT HOT. And Helen Twelvetrees bids farewell to the motion pictures with UNMARRIED, which costars Buck Jones and Donald O'Connor.

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Lloyd Nolan is an UNDERCOVER DOCTOR with Janice Logan in June. THE GRACIE ALLEN MURDER CASE stars (who else?) Grace Allen with Warren William. Donald Woods and Evelyn Venable head out west for HERITAGE OF THE DESERT; and Gail Patrick is back, this time with John Howard in GRAND JURY SECRETS.

July wouldn't be July without a chance to glimpse Betty Grable's MILLION DOLLAR LEGS; or the chance to see Jack Benny as an important MAN ABOUT TOWN with Dorothy Lamour on his arm. William Boyd hops along with RENEGADE TRAL. Akim Tamiroff is top billed in THE MAGNIFICENT FRAUD. And Paramount has a huge hit on its hands with BEAU GESTE, starring Gary Cooper and Ray Milland.

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The studio has five releases during August. First up is NIGHT WORK which pairs Mary Boland and Charles Ruggles for the last time. Anna May Wong is nearing the end of her studio contract with ISLAND OF LOST MEN. Bob Burns and Susan Hayward give us a story about OUR LEADING CITIZEN. Lynne Overman is back with DEATH OF A CHAMPION; and so is Bing Crosby in THE STAR MAKER with Louise Campbell.

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In September there are just two new Paramount pictures. The first one is RANGE WAR with William Boyd; and the second one is HONEYMOON IN BALI, which reteams Fred MacMurray and Madeleine Carroll.

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It's football season in October, which means Joe E. Brown and Martha Raye appear in their first picture together, $1000 A TOUCHDOWN. Meanwhile, William Henry and Judith Barrett appear in an interesting film called TELEVISION SPY; while Dorothy Lamour and Akim Tamiroff contend with a DISPUTED PASSAGE.

Five new motion pictures hit the screen during the month of November. Preston Foster stars a version of GERONIMO with Ellen Drew. Bob Hope makes his first picture with Paulette Goddard, THE CAT AND THE CANARY. William Boyd is back as Hopalong Cassidy in LAW OF THE PAMPAS. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Margaret Lockwood work nicely together in a British production called RULERS OF THE SEA. And then there's the duo of Fay Bainter and Frank Craven who play OUR NEIGHBORS THE CARTERS.

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Finally, in December, we have some more great Paramount offerings. The first of these is THE NIGHT OF NIGHTS, which features Pat O'Brien and Olympe Bradna, both borrowed from Warners. Next, we have THE GREAT VICTOR HERBERT with the great Allan Jones and the great Mary Martin. After that, we have Tito Guizar and Gale Sondergaard in THE LLANO KID; and Ronald Colman with Walter Huston and Ida Lupino in THE LIGHT THAT FAILED. And if all that is not enough, we discover to our surprise that ALL WOMEN HAVE SECRETS with Virginia Dale and Joseph Allen. It's no secret that I love classic film. How about you?

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Universal's Forgotten Ones of 1939

There are 45 feature films from Universal in 1939. W.C. Fields, who recently signed a contract with the studio after defecting from Paramount a year earlier, is going strong. So is young discovery Deanna Durbin, who had been let go from MGM.

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But the real break-out star for Universal in '39 is two year old Baby Sandy. Her motion picture career would be over by the time she went to kindergarten, but at this point, the little infant was stealing scene after scene from the likes of Bing Crosby, Hugh Herbert and Dennis O'Keefe.

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The studio's singing cowboy star, Bob Baker, kicks things off in January with THE PHANTOM STAGE. This is followed by PIRATES OF THE SKY, an action yarn with Kent Taylor and Rochelle Hudson. Basil Rathbone has frighteningly good company in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. And Bob Baker gets another quick credit on his film resume with HONOR OF THE WEST.

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There is only one feature film from Universal in February. It's YOU CAN'T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN with W.C. Fields. His partners in crime are Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy but they are unable to upstage a funny man like Fields.

Universal is doing brisk business in March with six new pictures. First, we have Preston Foster (who worked at almost every major studio in 1939) in SOCIETY SMUGGLERS. George Murphy is engaging in some RISKY BUSINESS, years before Tom Cruise found it fashionable to do so in his underwear. Jackie Cooper and Freddie Bartholomew, who previously worked together at MGM, are paired for SPIRIT OF CULVER. Deanna Durbin drops by to show us how THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP with Charles Winninger. Meanwhile, Bruce Cabot and Helen Mack solve the MYSTERY OF THE WHITE ROOM. And Hugh Herbert and his clan move into the neighborhood as THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR.

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Three releases represent Universal in April. First, Baby Sandy makes a big hit in EAST SIDE OF HEAVEN with Bing Crosby and Joan Blondell. Harry Carey and Frankie Thomas reveal the CODE OF THE STREETS. And June Lang and Robert Kent ponder life in FOR LOVE OR MONEY.

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In May, the studio has BIG TOWN CZAR with Barton MacLane and Tom Brown; while Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Basil Rathbone stay up late because THE SUN NEVER SETS.

Three new films hit screens in the month of June. First, Harry Carey is back with Dick Foran and June Lang, trying to learn some INSIDE INFORMATION; Dennis O'Keefe becomes the UNEXPECTED FATHER of Baby Sandy; and William Gargan takes up residence in THE HOUSE OF FEAR with Irene Hervey.

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There are just two releases in July. European import Sigrid Gurie will be very much-remembered in THE FORGOTTEN WOMAN with William Lundigan. Then, it's time for Richard Arlen and Andy Devine to costar in the first of several action adventures they will make for Universal this year: MUTINY ON THE BLACKHAWK.

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In August George Raft and Claire Trevor don't want you to tell the police or the I.R.S. that I STOLE A MILLION. Richard Arlen and Andy Devine are back in TROPIC FURY. And Irene Dunne makes the second of her three pictures with Charles Boyer: WHEN TOMORROW COMES.

Edmund Lowe and Wendy Barrie have a mystery on their hands when THE WITNESS VANISHES in September. Basil Rathbone is cast with Victor McLaglen and Sigrid Gurie in RIO. Gloria Jean takes center stage with THE UNDER-PUP. Plus, Duke Daly and Martha Mears are enjoying the rhythms at a place called SWING HOTEL.

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Johnny Mack Brown has been hired in October for the first of his B westerns at the studio-- he costars with Bob Baker in OKLAHOMA FRONTIER. Meanwhile, Anita Louise and Dick Foran headline HERO FOR A DAY. Baby Sandy has a LITTLE ACCIDENT with Hugh Herbert and Florence Rice. I am afraid to ask what kind of accident. Bob Baker and Johnny Mack Brown saddle up again for DESPERATE TRAILS. Then, Jackie Cooper and Freddie Bartholomew star in TWO BRIGHT BOYS; while Johnny Downs and Mary Carlisle enjoy some HAWAIIAN NIGHTS.

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Deanna Durbin experiences her FIRST LOVE with Robert Stack in November. The month also brings Basil Rathbone back with Boris Karloff in TOWER OF LONDON. Richard Arlen and Andy Devine are busy with LEGION OF LOST FLYERS. Charles Bickford and Doris Nolan face the grim reality of ONE HOUR TO LIVE. And Billy Halop and Huntz Hall, formerly known as the Dead End Kids at Warners, have been recruited by Universal to CALL A MESSENGER.

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Finally, in December, there are five new releases. The studio assigns Preston Foster and Irene Hervey to locate some MISSING EVIDENCE. Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart have a smash hit with DESTRY RIDES AGAIN. Richard Arlen and Andy Devine encounter THE MAN FROM MONTREAL. Jackie Cooper gets lessons on growing up from Victor McLaglen in THE BIG GUY. And Robert Cummings is no dummy when it comes to Edgar Bergen and CHARLIE MCCARTHY, DETECTIVE.

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Republic's Forgotten Ones of 1939

Today we are looking at one more Hollywood studio and its output in the year 1939. Republic Pictures had formed a few years earlier in 1935, and right from the start, it specializes in B westerns and other low-budget fare. In 1939, the leading cowboy stars at the studio are Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and John Wayne. This is a transition year for Wayne who has achieved great success in John Ford's STAGECOACH for United Artists. He returns to Republic and makes a few last-minute B westerns before graduating permanently to A pictures.

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The studio has several actresses that are used in westerns and other genres. In fact, Lynne Roberts (who is pictured above and billed as Mary Hart) appears in seven motion pictures. This is the same number as Rogers and slightly less than Autry. Meanwhile, Canadian actress June Storey becomes Autry's most frequent female costar, appearing in six of his nine pictures this year.

There are other stars in the 46 feature films turned out by Republic in 1939. Some of them are freelancing after finishing contracts at bigger studios. And some are loaned out to Republic, which may be done as punishment or as a way of finishing out contracts before they are let go. Republic also has one British production which may seem a bit surprising to some. Another surprise: two starlets who go on to have significant careers at other studios get their start at Republic in 1939. Who are they? Carole Landis and Jennifer Jones. Read on to find out more...

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In January, there are three releases. Ralph Byrd, who also appears in Republic's Dick Tracy serial, is cast in FIGHTING THOROUGHBREDS with Mary Carlisle. James Dunn stars in PRIDE OF THE NAVY with Rochelle Hudson; and Lynne Roberts has her first release of '39 with Michael Whalen in THE MYSTERIOUS MISS X.

February brings two new Republic pictures. Frieda Inescort, on loan from Warners, appears in WOMAN DOCTOR with Henry Wilcoxon and young Sybil Jason, who is finishing up her Warners contract. And Gene Autry has his first release of the year with June Storey in HOME ON THE PRAIRIE.

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During the month of March Lynne Roberts is back, this time with Roy Rogers, in ROUGH RIDERS' ROUND-UP. Before the end of the month, they will appear again in SOUTHWARD HO. Meanwhile, Barton MacLane and Beverly Roberts, loaned out from Warners, star in I WAS A CONVICT. And Gene Autry and Noah Beery headline MEXICALI ROSE.

In April there are four releases. It's time for a Three Mesquiteers picture with John Wayne, Ray Corrigan and Max Terhune called THE NIGHT RIDERS. Roy Rogers and Lynne Roberts return for FRONTIER PONY EXPRESS. Freelancer Charles Bickford walks down the STREET OF MISSING MEN with Harry Carey. And there is some business with a FORGED PASSPORT involving Paul Kelly and June Lang.

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Gene Autry and June Storey are back in May, living under BLUE MONTANA SKIES. Richard Dix is loaned out from RKO to star in MAN OF CONQUEST with Gail Patrick. Fourth-billed in this picture is a young Joan Fontaine, also under contract at RKO, who just finished another film at her home studio with Dix and Chester Morris where she was the leading lady. Frieda Inescort is back with Otto Kruger in THE ZERO HOUR.

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Beloved character actor (and occasional screenwriter) James Gleason gets top billing in MY WIFE'S RELATIVES, in this family series involving the fictional Higgins clan. An interesting piece of trivia is that in all the Higgins Family movies, Gleason's wife on screen is played by his real-life wife Lucile; and his son on screen is played by his real-life son Russell.

Next we have THREE TEXAS STEERS, another Mesquiteers adventure with John Wayne, Ray Corrigan and Max Terhune. This is the one where future 20th Century Fox star Carole Landis gets her big break, cast as Wayne's leading lady.

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June is just as jam-packed with new movies. First, there is S.O.S. TIDAL WAVE with Ralph Byrd and George Barbier; followed by Gene Autry and June Storey in MOUNTAIN RHYTHM. Roy Rogers is back with Lynne Roberts IN OLD CALIENTE. There's a new Mesquiteers release called WYOMING OUTLAW; though Max Terhune is temporarily replaced by Raymond Hatton. And Republic's British production POISON PEN has all the write stuff with Flora Robson, Robert Newton and Ann Todd.

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In July Ralph Byrd stars with Bruce Cabot and ZaSu Pitts in MICKEY THE KID. Musical star Phil Regan has an early lead role in SHE MARRIED A COP with Jean Parker. And the Gleasons are back in SHOULD HUSBANDS WORK? Let's give all the wives out there a chance to answer that!

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In August there are five new releases from the studio. Roy Rogers and Raymond Hatton team up for a picture that probably has the most intriguing title of the year: WALL STREET COWBOY. John Wayne is back for his last B western, NEW FRONTIER. It is interesting to note that this just happens to be the first picture ever made by Jennifer Jones. She plays Wayne's girl, billed under her real name, Phylis Isley. Next we have Gene Autry and June Storey IN OLD MONTEREY; then Rochelle Hudson with Barry MacKay, who may be trafficking some SMUGGLED CARGO; and Phil Regan starring with Jean Parker again-- this time they are catching a FLIGHT AT MIDNIGHT.

There are just two releases in September: CALLING ALL MARINES, with Don Barry and Helen Mack; and THE ARIZONA KID with Roy Rogers and Sally March.

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There are three new pictures in October. First, Arleen Whelan and Gordon Oliver star in a thriller called SABOTAGE, which sounds a bit Hitchcockian, if you ask me. Next, there is a western with Robert Livingston and Julie Bishop entitled THE KANSAS TERRORS. Then, Republic hires the Weavers for the first in their series of delightful hillbilly musicals: JEEPERS CREEPERS.

November is a busy month. Edward Ellis and Anita Louise star in MAIN STREET LAWYER. The Gleasons are back, this time with a young Mary Beth Hughes, in THE COVERED TRAILER. Gene Autry and Mary Carlisle are among the ROVIN' TUMBLEWEEDS. Roy Rogers and Don Barry star in SAGA OF DEATH VALLEY. And Robert Livingston takes over for John Wayne in the next Mesquiteers picture, COWBOYS FROM TEXAS, again with Carole Landis as the lead cowgirl.

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As the year draws to a close, Gene Autry heads SOUTH OF THE BORDER with June Storey. Roy Rogers and Don Barry reminisce about the DAYS OF JESSE JAMES (eleven months after 20th Century Fox featured Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda in its A-budget version of the James boys). The Gleasons return to screens as the Higgins family, and they have a stack of MONEY TO BURN. And finally, Charles Bickford is back in THOU SHALT NOT KILL, with Owen Davis. Thou shalt not get a better year of classic films than 1939.

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> {quote:title=obrienmundy wrote:}{quote}The Nancy Drew films are really fun to watch.

I was a huge fan of Nancy Drew as a tween (mostly becasue there was a huge dearth of good kid's books in the 70's--at least at my library anyway). As an adult, I dragged them out for my daughter, who had zero interest (who can blame her? by that time Harry Potter had come along and convinced publishers that there was money to be made in kids books outside of Goosebumps and the Babysitters' Club), but I re read a few and started looking for the original 1930's versions. I picked up the first 5 or 6 on ebay and wow. What a difference! 1930s Nancy is wa-a-ay sassier than the polite, well-mannered girl of the 1950's rewrites. She speeds around town in her roadster, tells off snotty rich people, hides things from the police, uses words of more than 2 syllables and in "The Hidden Staircase," she actually carries a gun (given to her by her father!)

 

I thought I would like the movies, but I really didn't. Bonita Granville's Nancy is too ditzy and silly and madcap, I think. Of course, the book Nancy (especially in later stories) became a little too much of a Daphne for my taste, so...

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Just a couple of quick comments: Paramount's MIDNIGHT is one of The Best of 1939's films. Superb cast, Great writing, and one the money direction.

 

By your standards on this thread TB, all of Monogram's and Republic's output are forgotten films.

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By your standards on this thread TB, all of Monogram's and Republic's output are forgotten films.

Yes, since most (if not all) of the Monogram output is now controlled by Warners, there is hope that some of these films will be rediscovered through the Warner Archives. But not many of them have been released on home video yet.

The Gene Autry Republic films are owned by the Autry estate and leased to the Encore Westerns channel. They even own SHOOTING HIGH, which he made at 20th Century Fox with Jane Withers, though I have not seen that one on Encore. All of them have been restored and transfered to DVD. So these films are not in danger of being forgotten.

The rest of Republic's catalogue, though, is probably going to remain forgotten. Unless someone comes along and breathes new life into it. A few titles do show up on Netflix streaming-- the Allan Lane westerns and Bill Elliott westerns and some of the Roy Rogers pictures. And a few non-westerns, too.

I agree that MIDNIGHT is a highlight of 1939. If you love Colbert and Ameche together as much as I do, make sure to see GUEST WIFE which reteamed them in the mid-40s, in another screwball comedy. They're wonderful as a screen couple.

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Thanks for the post.

 

I saw the first two on your MGM list. I didn't like Burn 'Em Up O'Connor but did like Fast and Loose, although the copy I watched had very poor sound and would like a chance to watch the movie again.

 

Did you like all of these movies (especially Ice Follies) or are just wondering why they didn't get a bigger push by the studio?

 

 

 

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Did you like all of these movies (especially Ice Follies) or are just wondering why they didn't get a bigger push by the studio?

Good question. I think some of them did get a good push from the studio during the initial release but didn't catch on. Or they were modest hits, but overshadowed by what later generations hail as the major classics.

I like ICE FOLLIES quite a bit. I think the casting is interesting, and any chance for Joan to do something different is welcomed by me.

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