Monday, February 15, 2016

1939 classics

Since the Academy Awards are approaching with some controversy I decided to go back in time, way back to 1939. It was arguably the greatest selection of movies ever made. Even up to now.

What about this:

Gone with the Wind
Dark Victory
Goodbye Mr. Chips
Love Affair
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Of Mice and Men
The Wizard of Oz
Wuthering Heights 

All of these movies today are still classics and still play on TCM and other places. Compare them with the 2015 movies which will probably be lost in the next few years. 

And what about the actors in 1939:

Robert Donat won best actor for Goodbye Mr. Chips  and Clark Gable, Laurence Olivier, Mickey Rooney and James Stewart lost. Will you remember this year's actors?

Vivian Leigh won best actress for Gone with the Wind. Bette Davis, Irene Dunne, Greta Garbo and Greer Garson lost.

Hattie McDaniel won Best Actress for Gone With The Wind. Olivia de Havilland, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Edna May Oliver lost. And notice that Hattie was the first African-American actress to win an Oscar. It took 24 years for another African-American to win an oscar - Sidney Poitier for Lilies of the Field.

I've seen everyone of these movies over the years and my favorites were Goodbye Mr. Chips, which has been remade several times. It's a story about a school teacher who's students remember him. Tear-jerker big time. Robert Donat was British.

Next is Stagecoach from John Ford, one of my favorite directors. He also made Drums Along The Mohawk in 1939 but not nominated. The year after he made Grapes of Wrath, one of the best movies ever. He didn't win.

Actually a rule came up in 1939 that directors could be nominated for only one film. Ford and some others often made two or three movies a year!

And Wizard of Oz had six nominations but won only Best Song and Best Original Score. 

Here's some movies made in 1939 that didn't get anything:

Hunchback of Notre Dame with Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara
Young Mr. Lincoln with Henry Fonda
Only Angels Have Wings with Cary Grant (I watched it last week on TCM)
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex with Errol Flynn & Bette Davis  
Gunga Din with Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington with James Stewart, Claude Rains and Harry Carey
Intermezzo with a "new" actress named Ingrid Bergman. 
Lon Chaney lost out in Of Mice and Men.

And Judy Garland won a "special juvenile Oscar" for Wizard of Oz.

And which movie won? 

 Gone With The Wind.

One heck of a year. 


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