The year 1939 in motion pictures is widely considered the most outstanding one ever,[1] when it comes to the high quality and high attendance at the large set of the best films that premiered in the year (considered as a percentage of the population in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom at that time).


Events

Motion picture and film historians often rate 1939 as "the greatest year in the history of Hollywood."[2][3] Hollywood movies produced in Southern California are at the height of their Golden Age (in spite of many cheaply made or indistinguished films also being produced, something to be expected with any year in commercial cinema), and during 1939 there are the premieres of an outstandingly large number of exceptional motion pictures, many of which become honored as all-time classic films. August 15 – The Wizard of Oz premiered at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. October 17 – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington premiered in Washington, D.C. December 15 – Gone with the Wind premiered in Atlanta, Georgia, with a three-day-long festival.

March 31 – Release of the 20th Century Fox film version of The Hound of the Baskervilles, first of a Sherlock Holmes film series starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson. Canada establishes a National Film Commission, predecessor of the National Film Board of Canada, with John Grierson as first Commissioner.

Nominations for the Academy Award for Best Picture

The year 1939 was one in which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated ten films for Best Picture: Dark Victory Gone with the Wind (Best Picture winner) Goodbye, Mr. Chips Love Affair Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Ninotchka Of Mice and Men Stagecoach The Wizard of Oz Wuthering Heights

These films came from a wide variety of film genres and sources for their stories and settings, including: historical fiction (Gone with the Wind), contemporary affairs (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Of Mice and Men), love stories, classic novels (Wuthering Heights), fantasies/musicals, (The Wizard of Oz), tragic plays (Dark Victory), westerns (Stagecoach), and comedies (Ninotchka).

Each of the five nominees for Best Director of 1939 went on to become legendary film directors with multiple acclaimed films to their credit: Frank Capra, Victor Fleming, John Ford, Sam Wood, and William Wyler.

Top-grossing films

These figures, as reported in the Box Office Digest of March 1940,[1] are not necessarily the sums that were taken in during 1939 – and in particular for films that made their premieres in October, November, and December. Note that the number one film in this list premiered in mid-December, and it certainly did not take in $200,000,000 in December 1939. At the time, box office numbers were reported as a percentage of business for each theater in comparison to "normal" business. For example, Jesse James performed at 182% and The Wizard of Oz at 156%. This puts the astounding 388% that Gone with the Wind performed at in perspective for the time. This type of reporting is one reason that exact dollar grosses for films of this period are unreliable at best.

Rank Title Studio Actors Gross
1. Gone with the Wind MGM/Selznick Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland, Leslie Howard, Hattie McDaniel and Butterfly McQueen $198,676,459 [2]
2. Jesse James 20th Century Fox Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda $9,460,000 [3]
3. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Columbia James Stewart, Jean Arthur and Claude Rains $9,600,000 [3]
4. The Rains Came 20th Century Fox Myrna Loy, Tyrone Power and George Brent $9,400,000 [3]
5. Babes in Arms MGM Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney $9,240,000 [3]
6. Dodge City Warner Bros. Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and Bruce Cabot $6,750,000 [3]
7. Goodbye, Mr. Chips MGM/Denham Robert Donat and Greer Garson $3,252,000
8. The Wizard of Oz MGM Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Billie Burke and Margaret Hamilton $38,757,196 [4]
9. The Hunchback of Notre Dame RKO Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara $3,155,000 [5]
10. Gunga Din RKO Cary Grant $2,807,000 [6]
11. Ninotchka MGM Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas $2,279,000 [7]
12. The Women MGM Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell and Joan Fontaine $2,270,000
13. Drums Along the Mohawk 20th Century Fox Claudette Colbert and Henry Fonda $2,000,000 [8]
14. Stanley and Livingstone 20th Century Fox Spencer Tracy $8,000,000 [3]
15. Union Pacific Paramount Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea $5,550,000 [3]
16. Another Thin Man MGM William Powell and Myrna Loy $6,090,000 [3]
17. The Old Maid Warner Bros. Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins $6,660,000 [3]
18. Hollywood Cavalcade 20th Century Fox Alice Faye and Don Ameche $4,000,000 [3]
19. Destry Rides Again Universal Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart $2,900,000[3]
20. Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever MGM Mickey Rooney and Lewis Stone $6,240,000 [3]
21. Gulliver's Travels Paramount voices of Sam Parker and Pinto Colvig $3,270,000 [3]

Academy Awards

Main article: 12th Academy Awards Best Picture: Gone with the Wind – David O. Selznick; Selznick International, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Best Director: Victor Fleming – Gone with the Wind Best Actor: Robert Donat – Goodbye, Mr. Chips Best Actress: Vivien Leigh – Gone with the Wind Best Supporting Actor: Thomas Mitchell – Stagecoach Best Supporting Actress: Hattie McDaniel – Gone with the Wind

Notable films released in 1939

  1. The Wizard of Oz

Serials

Buck Rogers, starrng Buster Crabbe Dick Tracy's G-Men, starring Ralph Byrd Daredevils of the Red Circle, starring Herman Brix and Charles B. Middleton Flying G-Men The Lone Ranger Rides Again Mandrake the Magician, starring Warren Hull The Oregon Trail Overland with Kit Carson The Phantom Creeps, starring Bela Lugosi Scouts to the Rescue Zorro's Fighting Legion, starring Reed Hadley

Comedy film series

Charlie Chaplin (1914–40) Lupino Lane (1915–39) Buster Keaton (1917–44) Laurel and Hardy (1921–45) Our Gang (1922–44) The Marx Brothers (1929–46) The Three Stooges (1933–62)

Animated short film series

Krazy Kat (1925–40) Mickey Mouse (1928–53) Silly Symphonies The Practical Pig The Ugly Duckling

Looney Tunes (1930–69) Terrytoons (1930–64) Merrie Melodies (1931–69) Scrappy (1931–41) Betty Boop (1932–39) Popeye (1933–57) Color Rhapsodies (1934–49) Donald Duck (1937–56) Walter Lantz Cartunes (also known as New Universal Cartoons or Cartune Comedies) (1938–42) The Captain and the Kids (1938–39) Goofy (1939–55) Andy Panda (1939–49) Nertsery Rhyme Cartoons (1939 only) Crackpot Cruise Cartoons (1939 only) Lil' Eightball (1939 only) Count Screwloose and J.R. (1939 only)

Births

Deaths

Debuts

Dirk Bogarde - Come on George! Richard Conte - Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence Anne Gwynne - Unexpected Father Veronica Lake - Sorority House Marcello Mastroianni - Marionette

References

1.Jump up ^ Giltz, Michael (February 15, 2008). "Michael Giltz: DVDs: 1939 – The Best Year For Movies...Ever!". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 10, 2012. 2.Jump up ^ Fristoe, Roger. "Introduction to 1939, Hollywood's Greatest Year". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved August 6, 2011. 3.Jump up ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (October 2, 2009). "1939: Film's finest year". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 6, 2011. 4.Jump up ^ Box Office Digest, March 1940, p.18 5.Jump up ^ Bloomberg.com / Box Office Mojo.com 6.^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h i j k l m http://www.ultimatemovierankings.com/top-grossing-movies-of-1939/ 7.Jump up ^ http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=releases&id=wizardofoz.htm 8.Jump up ^ Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p56 9.Jump up ^ Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p57 10.Jump up ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031725/business?ref_=tt_dt_bus

11.Jump up ^ 52 FEATURE FILMS ON FOX '39-40 LIST: Five Will Cost $2,000,000 Each--Zanuck to Supervise 24 Large Productions 'THE RAINS CAME' ON BILL 'Drums Along Mohawk,' 'Little Old New York,' 'Brigham Young' Scheduled Edmonds's Story in Color Elsa Maxwell Featured New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 04 Apr 1939: 29.

  1. Box Office Digest, March 1940, p.18
  2. Bloomberg.com / Box Office Mojo.com
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 http://www.ultimatemovierankings.com/top-grossing-movies-of-1939/
  4. http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=releases&id=wizardofoz.htm
  5. Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p56
  6. Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p57
  7. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031725/business?ref_=tt_dt_bus
  8. 52 FEATURE FILMS ON FOX '39-40 LIST: Five Will Cost $2,000,000 Each--Zanuck to Supervise 24 Large Productions 'THE RAINS CAME' ON BILL 'Drums Along Mohawk,' 'Little Old New York,' 'Brigham Young' Scheduled Edmonds's Story in Color Elsa Maxwell Featured New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 04 Apr 1939: 29.
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