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1939- Truly Hollywood's Best Year?


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I know that there have probably been a few threads dedicated to 1939-- Hollywood's so called greatest year of film.  I know that I personally participated in a thread that was dedicated to recognizing the great movies from other years of the 1930s and beyond-- the whole point of the thread was to determine whether 1939 really was the best year of film, or whether or not these films were overrated in comparison to another year's film output.  After completing 2013, there was of course no true consensus answering the question of whether or not 1939 truly was Hollywood's best year because everyone's list was subjective. 

 

I borrowed this book from the library: Majestic Hollywood: The Greatest Films of 1939 by Mark A. Viera.  Even though I borrowed it nearly three weeks ago, I've neglected to start looking at it.  Why? I really don't know.  Anyway, it is due back on July 1.  I tried renewing it and unfortunately someone put a hold on it; so I have to return it soon.  Anyway, I'm trying to finish reading/skimming it quickly as to not incur a fine.  As I'm reading through it, I'm amazed as to how many of these films I have yet to see. 

 

To get to the point of why I am writing this and perhaps nobody really cares and that's okay too, is that I've decided that I'm going to try and get through watching all the films detailed in this book.  Afterward, maybe I can decide if 1939 truly was the magical year in film it claims to be.  Fortunately, some of the films I've already seen.  Looks like my DVR will be getting busy if TCM airs any of these films.  My Netflix instant and mail to home queues may be seeing more action as well.

 

Let's see how this goes.

 

These are the films I’m going to attempt to watch over the next 100 years or so.  (okay, not that long, but it’ll take awhile).  I’ve crossed out the ones I’ve already seen; but I may re-watch them again just for the sake of doing so in the name of my personal endeavor.

  1. Son of Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff)
  2. Idiot’s Delight (Clark Gable, Norma Shearer)
  3. Jesse James (Tyrone Power, Henry Fonda, Nancy Kelly)
  4. They Made Me a Criminal (John Garfield, Ann Sheridan)
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mickey Rooney, William Frawley)
  6. Gunga Din (Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Joan Fontaine)
  7. You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man (Constance Moore, WC Fields)
  8. Stagecoach (John Wayne, Claire Trevor, John Carradine)
  9. The Little Princess (Shirley Temple)
  10. Midnight (Claudette Colbert, John Barrymore)
  11. The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire)
  12. Love Affair (Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer)
  13. Wuthering Heights (Laurence Olivier, Merle Oberon)
  14. Dodge City (Errol Flynn, Olivia deHavilland)
  15. The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (Henry Fonda, Loretta Young, Don Ameche)
  16. Dark Victory (Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart)
  17. Union Pacific (Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea)
  18. Confessions of a Nazi Spy (Paul Lukas, Edward G. Robinson)
  19. Rose of Washington Square (Alice Faye, Tyrone Power)
  20. Only Angels Have Wings (Jean Arthur, Cary Grant)
  21. Young Mr. Lincoln (Henry Fonda)
  22. Juarez (Bette Davis, Claude Rains)
  23. Five Came Back (Lucille Ball, Chester Morris)
  24. Beau Geste (Gary Cooper, Ray Milland)
  25. Goodbye Mr. Chips (Greer Garson, Robert Donat)
  26. Bachelor Mother (David Niven, Ginger Rogers)
  27. In Name Only(Cary Grant, Carol Lombard)
  28. Stanley and Livingstone (Spencer Tracy, Walter Brennan)
  29. The Wizard of Oz (Judy Garland)
  30. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone, Ida Lupino)
  31. The Women (Norma Shearer, Joan Fontaine, Rosalind Russell)
  32. The Old Maid (Bette Davis, Miriam Hopkins)
  33. Golden Boy (William Holden, Barbara Stanwyck)
  34. The Rains Came (Tyrone Power, Myrna Loy)
  35. Fifth Avenue Girl (Ginger Rogers, Walter Connelly)
  36. Intermezzo: A Love Story (Ingrid Bergman)
  37. Babes in Arms (Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland)
  38. Hollywood Cavalcade (Alice Faye)
  39. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Jimmy Stewart, Jean Arthur)
  40. At the Circus (The Marx Brothers)
  41. The Roaring Twenties (James Cagney)
  42. Ninotchka (Greta Garbo)
  43. The Cat and the Canary (Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard)
  44. Drums Along the Mohawk (Henry Fonda, Claudette Colbert)
  45. The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (Errol Flynn, Bette Davis)
  46. Tower of London (Basil Rathbone)
  47. Of Mice and Men (Lon Chaney)
  48. Destry Rides Again (Marlene Dietrich, Jimmy Stewart)
  49. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Charles Laughton, Maureen O’Hara)
  50. Gone With the Wind (Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh)

 

 

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I know that there have probably been a few threads dedicated to 1939-- Hollywood's so called greatest year of film.  I know that I personally participated in a thread that was dedicated to recognizing the great movies from other years of the 1930s and beyond-- the whole point of the thread was to determine whether 1939 really was the best year of film, or whether or not these films were overrated in comparison to another year's film output.  After completing 2013, there was of course no true consensus answering the question of whether or not 1939 truly was Hollywood's best year because everyone's list was subjective. 

 

If your cup of tea is "entertainment" movies, then 1939 can't be topped.  Fancy dress balls! Swashbuckling pirates and other kindly robbers!  Killers who get talked by a priest (with a friendly reminder from Pope Breen) into acting yellow on their execution day! Fantasies about political villains committing suicide and a lone idealistic Senator walking away with the nation and the girl!  And lots and lots of savages!

 

Of course if you favor a bit more realism and a lot less fantasy and historical amnesia, then 1939 is nowhere near the top of the list.  For people of this persuasion, 1932-33 or 1946 through 1950 would beat 1939 hands down, and probably many other years as well, right up to the present.  The truth is that there's not a single movie on that 1939 list below that's remotely connected to the real world, which is fine for some people but not for everyone.

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Every year had many great B-movies and programmers. 1939 was hardly unique in that respect.  The 1945-59 period was especially abundant with independent films produced by studios like Monogram, Allied, Eagle-Lion, Parklane, and others along the same line.

 

What would be a great idea, in fact, would to have an entire month that featured nothing BUT independently produced (or "Poverty Row") movies.  It's a total fantasy thought, of course, for many reasons, but I can't think of a nicer change of pace from the Same Old Same Old that's embodied in the so-called  "Essentials".

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Every year had many great B-movies and programmers. 1939 was hardly unique in that respect.  The 1945-59 period was especially abundant with independent films produced by studios like Monogram, Allied, Eagle-Lion, Parklane, and others along the same line.

I didn't say 1939 was unique in terms of B movies and programmers, but I do think they tend to get overlooked because many of the A films are so well-known and discussed.

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I know that there have probably been a few threads dedicated to 1939-- Hollywood's so called greatest year of film.  I know that I personally participated in a thread that was dedicated to recognizing the great movies from other years of the 1930s and beyond-- the whole point of the thread was to determine whether 1939 really was the best year of film, or whether or not these films were overrated in comparison to another year's film output.  After completing 2013, there was of course no true consensus answering the question of whether or not 1939 truly was Hollywood's best year because everyone's list was subjective. 

 

I borrowed this book from the library: Majestic Hollywood: The Greatest Films of 1939 by Mark A. Viera.  Even though I borrowed it nearly three weeks ago, I've neglected to start looking at it.  Why? I really don't know.  Anyway, it is due back on July 1.  I tried renewing it and unfortunately someone put a hold on it; so I have to return it soon.  Anyway, I'm trying to finish reading/skimming it quickly as to not incur a fine.  As I'm reading through it, I'm amazed as to how many of these films I have yet to see. 

 

To get to the point of why I am writing this and perhaps nobody really cares and that's okay too, is that I've decided that I'm going to try and get through watching all the films detailed in this book.  Afterward, maybe I can decide if 1939 truly was the magical year in film it claims to be.  Fortunately, some of the films I've already seen.  Looks like my DVR will be getting busy if TCM airs any of these films.  My Netflix instant and mail to home queues may be seeing more action as well.

 

Let's see how this goes.

 

These are the films I’m going to attempt to watch over the next 100 years or so.  (okay, not that long, but it’ll take awhile).  I’ve crossed out the ones I’ve already seen; but I may re-watch them again just for the sake of doing so in the name of my personal endeavor.

  1. Son of Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff)
  2. Idiot’s Delight (Clark Gable, Norma Shearer)
  3. Jesse James (Tyrone Power, Henry Fonda, Nancy Kelly)
  4. They Made Me a Criminal (John Garfield, Ann Sheridan)
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mickey Rooney, William Frawley)
  6. Gunga Din (Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Joan Fontaine)
  7. You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man (Constance Moore, WC Fields)
  8. Stagecoach (John Wayne, Claire Trevor, John Carradine)
  9. The Little Princess (Shirley Temple)
  10. Midnight (Claudette Colbert, John Barrymore)
  11. The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire)
  12. Love Affair (Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer)
  13. Wuthering Heights (Laurence Olivier, Merle Oberon)
  14. Dodge City (Errol Flynn, Olivia deHavilland)
  15. The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (Henry Fonda, Loretta Young, Don Ameche)
  16. Dark Victory (Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart)
  17. Union Pacific (Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea)
  18. Confessions of a Nazi Spy (Paul Lukas, Edward G. Robinson)
  19. Rose of Washington Square (Alice Faye, Tyrone Power)
  20. Only Angels Have Wings (Jean Arthur, Cary Grant)
  21. Young Mr. Lincoln (Henry Fonda)
  22. Juarez (Bette Davis, Claude Rains)
  23. Five Came Back (Lucille Ball, Chester Morris)
  24. Beau Geste (Gary Cooper, Ray Milland)
  25. Goodbye Mr. Chips (Greer Garson, Robert Donat)
  26. Bachelor Mother (David Niven, Ginger Rogers)
  27. In Name Only(Cary Grant, Carol Lombard)
  28. Stanley and Livingstone (Spencer Tracy, Walter Brennan)
  29. The Wizard of Oz (Judy Garland)
  30. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone, Ida Lupino)
  31. The Women (Norma Shearer, Joan Fontaine, Rosalind Russell)
  32. The Old Maid (Bette Davis, Miriam Hopkins)
  33. Golden Boy (William Holden, Barbara Stanwyck)
  34. The Rains Came (Tyrone Power, Myrna Loy)
  35. Fifth Avenue Girl (Ginger Rogers, Walter Connelly)
  36. Intermezzo: A Love Story (Ingrid Bergman)
  37. Babes in Arms (Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland)
  38. Hollywood Cavalcade (Alice Faye)
  39. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Jimmy Stewart, Jean Arthur)
  40. At the Circus (The Marx Brothers)
  41. The Roaring Twenties (James Cagney)
  42. Ninotchka (Greta Garbo)
  43. The Cat and the Canary (Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard)
  44. Drums Along the Mohawk (Henry Fonda, Claudette Colbert)
  45. The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (Errol Flynn, Bette Davis)
  46. Tower of London (Basil Rathbone)
  47. Of Mice and Men (Lon Chaney)
  48. Destry Rides Again (Marlene Dietrich, Jimmy Stewart)
  49. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Charles Laughton, Maureen O’Hara)
  50. Gone With the Wind (Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh)

 

Notice how few of these films are gangster or crime films. Only THE ROARING TWENTIES and THEY MADE ME A CRIMINAL. That's one reason I don't think 1939 was all that great.

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Notice how few of these films are gangster or crime films. Only THE ROARING TWENTIES and THEY MADE ME A CRIMINAL. That's one reason I don't think 1939 was all that great.

 

Bingo.  Once that godawful Breen code kicked in with full force in mid-1934, Hollywood movies in general became way too goody twoshoes for my taste, even though there were still some first rate exceptions, mostly in the screwball comedy genre. 

 

It wasn't until noir began to emerge in full force after Laura and Double Indemnity that the crackle that was so common in the pre-code era began to show up once again.  IMO 1933 and 1950 represent the two highlight years of the studio era, and for sheer quantity of sizzlers, no years before or since can match them.  1939 wasn't even close.

 

You can have your swashbucklers, epics, and musical spectaculars, just give me movies like these:

 

1933:

1. Bombshell
2. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
3. Heroes For Sale
4. Baby Face

5. The Story of Temple Drake
6. 42nd Street / Footlight Parade (tie)
8. The Mind Reader
9. Wild Boys of the Road
10. Lady For a Day

 

1950:

1. All About Eve
2. The Asphalt Jungle
3. Three Came Home
4. The Damned Don't Cry
5. Whirlpool
6. The Killer That Stalked New York
7. Panic In the Streets
8. Night in the City
9. The Baron of Arizona
10. No Way Out

 

 

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There is a slight "factory" quality about even the best films of 1939- many even coming from MGM and bearing the same, lion-embossed title card. and yet, it's a factory that's got their routine down.

 

I would say my personal favorites are (of course) The Wizard of Oz and GWTW- all flaws aside, it is a gorgeous, brilliantly acted and still-engrossing movie- Gunga Din. Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Women, The Lady Vanishes. I really find myself liking Love Affair more each time I see it- although you've got to beware bad PD prints of that one. Goodbye Mr. Chips is wonderful; and Robert Donat totally deserved the Oscar. Midnight is the great, unsung triumph of the year. It deserves more credit than it gets. Young Mr. Lincoln is a gem. I was able to see Destry Rides Again on youtube and it is terrific. It deserves to be shown on TCM SOON. On Borrowed Time is a unique fantasy. Only Angels Have Wings- Jean Arthur's failed performance aside- is a triumph of film acting. The Roaring Twenties is good.

 

I like Ninotchka. Son of Frankenstein is not without its merits, ditto The Rains Came.

 

Sue me- I think Wuthering Heights is a mess; The Old Maid and Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex not as good as they could be...Bette Davis's performance aside, I think Dark Victory is almost unwatchably dated- she's actually best in Juarez, a supporting role. Worst of all- I get that Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is great; but I don't care for it. I think it's overwrought; but Stewart and Rains are brilliant in it. There are other Ford films I vastly prefer to Stagecoach. Golden Boy stinks.

 

But as for whole years; I prefer 1940, 1943, 1950 and 1954.

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There is a slight "factory" quality about even the best films of 1939- many even coming from MGM and bearing the same, lion-embossed title card. and yet, it's a factory that's got their routine down.

 

 

I wonder if the great old Hollywood movie "factory" was the only art "factory" that actually produced better art than non-factory movies?

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I wonder if the great old Hollywood movie "factory" was the only art "factory" that actually produced better art than non-factory movies?

 

Hmmmm...well...not according to some Irish guy who was around here a while back, anyway! LOL

 

(...I think?...you people remember?...that guy?...don't ya?)

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There is a slight "factory" quality about even the best films of 1939- many even coming from MGM and bearing the same, lion-embossed title card. and yet, it's a factory that's got their routine down.

 

Sue me- I think Wuthering Heights is a mess; The Old Maid and Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex not as good as they could be...Bette Davis's performance aside, I think Dark Victory is almost unwatchably dated- she's actually best in Juarez, a supporting role. Worst of all- I get that Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is great; but I don't care for it. I think it's overwrought; but Stewart and Rains are brilliant in it. There are other Ford films I vastly prefer to Stagecoach. Golden Boy stinks.

 

I like The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, mostly because of my boy Errol; but I enjoy Bette Davis as well.  While I don't think her performance is as good as others on her resume, I appreciate her interpretation of Elizabeth I.  I do think that Flora Robson's portrayal in The Sea Hawk is better however.  The only thing that bothers me about Davis' portrayal is that she is too fidgety.  I read that Bette really went all out for this role-- both in acting and in physical modifications to her appearance, whereas Errol just kind of showed up, looked super hunky, read his lines and moved on.  Bette resented him for what she perceived as his lack of effort.  I read conflicting information in this book about Davis' mood when she made the film.  From all other accounts I've read, it was Davis' idea to shave her hairline and make the other modifications to her appearance.  However, in the book I read, the author made it sound like Davis was being subjected to having her hairline and eyebrows shaved and as a result, she was in a somewhat somber mood as she felt depressed because she felt so unattractive.  The author also stated that Flynn's being so much more attractive in the film than she did nothing to make her feel better.  I don't know if this is true or not as I feel like Davis wouldn't put so much stock in vanity, so I was not sure what to make of that tidbit of trivia stated in the book. 

 

Dark Victory is pretty good; although Humphrey Bogart's Irish accent is pretty bad.  It's definitely not a feel good movie and if I were in a Bette Davis mood, I'd be more apt to pop All About Eve or What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? into the DVD player than 'Victory.'

 

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was okay.  I'll admit that I'm not the biggest Jimmy Stewart fan.  I don't dislike him; but I don't actively seek him out.  If he just happens to be in the movie that I'm interested in watching than fine, I won't try to avoid seeing him.  I'm "whatever" about him.  However as far as Jimmy Stewart, Jean Arthur and Claude Rains roles go, I'd probably seek them out in something else other than 'Washington.'

 

Golden Boy was okay as well.  I am a fan of William Holden and Barbara Stanwyck.  I initially rented the movie from Netflix because I had read in the William Holden biography that I had just finished that it was his first film.  I don't remember if it was his first actual film or whether it was his first major part in a film.  Anyway, usually actors are for the most part more attractive when younger; but I think Holden actually became more attractive once he lost the boyish looks-- he really hit his peak attractive years during the 1950s.  If I didn't know it was Holden prior to watching the film, I don't think I'd have even recognized him.  The story was okay.  Stanwyck of course, was wonderful.  I don't think I'll need to add this film to my collection.  There are better Holden and Stanwyck films available.

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I like The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, mostly because of my boy Errol; but I enjoy Bette Davis as well.  While I don't think her performance is as good as others on her resume, I appreciate her interpretation of Elizabeth I.  I do think that Flora Robson's portrayal in The Sea Hawk is better however.  The only thing that bothers me about Davis' portrayal is that she is too fidgety.  I read that Bette really went all out for this role-- both in acting and in physical modifications to her appearance, whereas Errol just kind of showed up, looked super hunky, read his lines and moved on.  Bette resented him for what she perceived as his lack of effort.  I read conflicting information in this book about Davis' mood when she made the film.  From all other accounts I've read, it was Davis' idea to shave her hairline and make the other modifications to her appearance.  However, in the book I read, the author made it sound like Davis was being subjected to having her hairline and eyebrows shaved and as a result, she was in a somewhat somber mood as she felt depressed because she felt so unattractive.  The author also stated that Flynn's being so much more attractive in the film than she did nothing to make her feel better. 

 

I really do think Elizabeth and Essex is Flynn's finest screen performance; I think it was Burt Reynolds who told a story about watching the film with Davis and some others at a private screening at her home. According to Burt (I paraphrase here); "after smoking about 200 cigarettes, she pauses during one of his scenes and says of Flynn: he's damn good."

 

It seems like she also did an interview (w/ Frost? Cavett? Donahue?) where she mentioned she gave Flynn a hard time on the set (even slapping him with her ring turned round in her palm; which to me shows in Flynn's reaction during the scene)- but that she thought he was ultimately very good in the film.

 

I also like Davis- there's a deliberate comedy to some of the scenes and I love how she says "me" for "my." The photography is terrific; the sound and sets grand (love that tremendous electrical storm) but Elizabeth and Essex is just too drawn out and ultimately tedious to really enjoy.

 

I want to love Dark Victory the way I did when I was a kid, but the performances of all Bette's male costars in that one (Reagan, Bogart and Brent) are lacking to the point where it hurts the picture.

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I want to love Dark Victory the way I did when I was a kid, but the performances of all Bette's male costars in that one (Reagan, Bogart and Brent) are lacking to the point where it hurts the picture.

There was a bidding war for DARK VICTORY in the mid-30s. RKO wanted it for Katharine Hepburn.  And David Selznick wanted it for Garbo at MGM. He was trying to get her to drop ANNA KARENINA (Garbo insisted on continuing with ANNA KARENINA). DARK VICTORY, as we know, was eventually bought by Warners. 

 

I don't know how Hepburn would have done with it, but I think Garbo would have been quite good. This was before she did CAMILLE. And she would likely have had stronger male costars than Bette did-- in fact, Selznick would probably have used Fredric March (who did ANNA KARENINA) for the George Brent role.

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I really do think Elizabeth and Essex is Flynn's finest screen performance; I think it was Burt Reynolds who told a story about watching the film with Davis and some others at a private screening at her home. According to Burt (I paraphrase here); "after smoking about 200 cigarettes, she pauses during one of his scenes and says of Flynn: he's damn good."

 

It seems like she also did an interview (w/ Frost? Cavett? Donahue?) where she mentioned she gave Flynn a hard time on the set (even slapping him with her ring turned round in her palm; which to me shows in Flynn's reaction during the scene)- but that she thought he was ultimately very good in the film.

 

I also like Davis- there's a deliberate comedy to some of the scenes and I love how she says "me" for "my." The photography is terrific; the sound and sets grand (love that tremendous electrical storm) but Elizabeth and Essex is just too drawn out and ultimately tedious to really enjoy.

 

I want to love Dark Victory the way I did when I was a kid, but the performances of all Bette's male costars in that one (Reagan, Bogart and Brent) are lacking to the point where it hurts the picture.

I also read the same story about Davis slapping Flynn for real instead of pretending like she was supposed to.  I've read conflicting reports of whether this take was the actual take used in the film-- some sources (I think Flynn's own autobiography) state that she whacked him for real during a rehearsal and then did the fake hit when the camera was rolling.  Other sources have reported the opposite.  Judging from Flynn's reaction when she slaps him, I have to think that she really hit him.  He looks livid.

 

I think Davis also was upset because she had wanted Laurence Olivier for the role; but for whatever reason, either he turned it down or Warner Brothers didn't want him.  Anyway, Davis was upset with the casting of Flynn because she thought he lacked the skills to portray Essex effectively.  I have also heard the story that Lorna mentioned regarding Davis changing her mind decades later regarding Flynn's performance.  I hadn't heard that Burt Reynolds was involved; but I had heard that Davis actually thought he was excellent.  I believe on "The Dick Cavett Show," Cavett asked Davis about working with Flynn.  Davis stated that he admitted that he knew nothing about acting and she wholeheartedly agreed with him.  After acknowledging that he was (I'm paraphrasing here) one of the most gorgeous people ever in film, she stated that he was more of a personality person, as opposed to an actor.  I don't know if I completely agree with her as I think Flynn was quite a good actor.  It was just that he lacked the formal training that someone like Davis went through.  He was more of a natural actor.  I wonder if part of her issue with him is that she resented that he was good with minimal effort. 

 

I know she wanted Olivier for the role; but I'm glad Flynn won out in the end.  Oftentimes, I think Olivier's Shakespeare training in a way, held him back, as oftentimes, I think he's almost trying too hard. 

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I am looking forward to some of the films in my original post-- like Claudette Colbert's "Midnight."  I enjoy Claudette Colbert and the premise of the film sounded interesting enough.  The Gay Divorcee added some other films including "Another Thin Man," which I have seen and I love.  I adore all the 'Thin Man' films.  I don't care about varying qualities-- they're all excellent to me and better than like 90% of the stuff made today.  I find actual new release films I love, so I won't commit to the 100% figure.  Hehe. 

 

I'm not a big horror movie fan, so it'll be interesting to see how I feel about "The Son of Frankenstein" in the end.  I'm also not a fan of Ginger Rogers and it seems that 1939 was a big year for her.  Maybe I just haven't seen the right Ginger Rogers film.  I look forward to seeing if any of the films on my list change my opinion of her.  I'm happy there's a musical I get to watch-- The Story of Irene and Vernon Castle, even though it's an Astaire/Rogers film.  I like Fred Astaire, just not a fan of him and Ginger together.  I'm willing to give the film a shot though.  I did enjoy Ginger Rogers in Stage Door, so I don't dislike her entirely. 

 

I'm also looking forward to Ninotchka, I've seen the musical remake, Silk Stockings, and while I enjoy Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, the film was so-so.  I've never seen a Greta Garbo film, and I understand that Ninotchka is one of her best-- so I look forward to seeing her.  I watched a Greta Garbo documentary and wasn't particularly impressed by her.  She seemed dull-- I hope Ninotchka will help me see what the big deal is/was about her. 

 

What I've read about 1939, in the book I mentioned in the original thread, is that another reason that the year was seen as such a big film year was that it was the first year that the major studios went "all in" so to speak, for their films.  Prior to that, they only made a few "prestige" pictures and many other pictures.  It was more of a quantity over quality viewpoint.  In 1938, the independent movie theaters sued the major studios claiming that the studios were trying to put them out of business.  The studio-owned theaters got all the A-list pictures and the independent theaters got all the B/C/D-list pictures and all the second-run A-list pictures.  They wanted to be able to show the same films as the studio theaters.  The Supreme Court sided with them.  As a result of this lawsuit (and I'm sure other factors), the studios decided to invest more money into their films and try to release fewer, but higher quality, films.  This new business strategy was also attributed to the reason why the films of 1939 were of a higher quality as it was a conscientious decision from the start.

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I am looking forward to some of the films in my original post-- like Claudette Colbert's "Midnight."

 

 

Coincidentally, I just watched this again the other night.  This is a great, funny film and worth checking out.  John Barrymore is a particular devilish highlight. ;)

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