This is the big year for classic movies. 1939. And as Sinatra would sing, this was a very good year. I’m sure everyone’s 1939 list differs. I offer up mine. Again, these are movies that I like above all else I’ve seen. I know I’ve got a long loooong way to go to watch more films from the 30’s. Don’t worry, I’m on it. Oh, and if you haven’t tired of this yet, stay tuned and I’ll let you know what films are my tip top ten favorite films for each year of this decade. I lost some brain cells doing THAT list. You’ll just think I’m crazy.
ANDY HARDY GETS SPRING FEVER – ( W.S. Van Dyke )
You might think this is canned heartwarming family fare. And that Mickey Rooney is a brash little thing. But I cannot deny young Rooney was a good actor, convincing doing comedy or drama ( “The Human Comedy” ). In this Andy Hardy outing, Andy falls in love with an older woman, a twenty-something year old teacher ( the beautiful Helen Gilbert ). And when she breaks his heart, as she must, my heart is broken too. My favorite of ALL the Hardy movies.
( ASIDE: Did you know Helen Gilbert was, at one time, Mrs. Johnny Stompanato?? )
DARK VICTORY – ( Edmund Goulding )
This film is a trifecta of filmmaking with a great score by Max Steiner, solid direction from Goulding…and one of the brightest stars of classic cinema, Bette Davis. She’s a socialite with a fatal disease. This transforms her into a caring human being. An understated film, it might’ve been worth all of Bette’s battles with the Brothers Warner, to be able to be given this movie.
EACH DAWN I DIE – ( William Keighley )
I like it rough and tough and that’s what this is. Cagney’s sent to prison on trumped up charges and he must survive by his wits, and the help of his new friend, George Raft. Their bond is beautiful. And so is this prison gangster film. My favorite shot is of Cagney at the end of the movie, smelling fresh air. Love it! Putting Cagney in prison is like catching lightning in a bottle.
GONE WITH THE WIND – ( Victor Fleming )
Perfect. Epic. A perfect epic. Vivien Leigh carries that movie on her back. Gable? Robbed of an Academy Award ( in my humblest-and-most-pissed-off-opinion! ) The film is not dated. It’s about love, and resilience, and doing what you HAVE to, to survive.
IN NAME ONLY – ( John Cromwell )
A well-done marital triangle. Lovers Grant’s and Lombard’s love is pitted against the machinations of that dark angel, Kay Francis. The movie sets us up. We know who we want to win.
LOVE AFFAIR – ( Leo McCarey )
I’m a sucker for shipboard romances. So you throw in the dashing Continental charms of Boyer, then the all-American classy beauty of Irene Dunne. Put a little tragic circumstances in the mix, and POOF! Voila! You have a classique. Hey, I don’t have to explain romance to you, do I?
MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON – ( Frank Capra )
Capra-corn? Maybe, but oh how I wish the world worked like this. Man against the political Machine. James Stewart is soooooo engaging and disillusioned and a fighter in this. He really should have SHARED an Academy Award with Gable. He gives a great performance. Kudoes to Capra. This movie gets me, right…there!
THE ROARING TWENTIES – ( Raoul Walsh )
You’ve got unrequited love, mixed up with not being able to get a job, the Prohibition, the rise of gangsters. What’s not to love in this granddaddy of ‘em all. Music, violence, love. Warner Brothers knows how to do this like nobody’s business.
THE WOMEN – ( George Cukor )
You’re kidding. Of course it’s included. This has great lines…and a great cast.
Stay tuned for my tip top top ten favorite films for the 1930’s……
( H O M E )