Hollywood’s Greatest Year: 1939

This summer, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be running a film series on Monday nights showcasing the ten (yes, 10) Best Picture nominees of 1939. It’s the 70th Anniversary of what many consider the Hollywood’s greatest year. The celebration will include restored prints of such films as Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Stagecoach, Gone With the Wind and of course, The Wizard of Oz.

In addition to the feature films, each week will include a chapter of Universal’s Buck Rogers serial with Buster Crabbe (surely this must be the first time a serial is screened at the Academy!) and a 35mm print of a select 1939 cartoon. The cartoon line up hasn’t been announced, but it is sure to include Disney’s The Pointer (above), The Ugly Duckling, MGM’s Peace on Earth and Warner’s Detouring America. I believe the restored Popeye two reeler Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp will also be screened.

When I get the get the cartoon schedule I will post an update. In the meantime, mark your Monday’s from May 18th through August 3rd. The series ticket is $25. for all ten films – that’s $2.50 per screening! For more information check the Academy website. See you there!


  • kenneth kahn

    It would be great if series like this would be made available ‘remotely’ so those that don’t live in driving distance of the theater would be able to share in these great events. I would certainly be willing to pay for this privilege. Maybe some type of PPV option, like they do with prize fights (which is not my style).

  • http://saturdaymorningcentral.com/ Tommy Day

    Sometimes I really wish I lived in California.

    I hope they play Goofy and Wilbur too, thats always been one of my favorites. Its crazy how much I watch cartoons that are older than my parents.

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    I’ve long been interested in “Peace On Earth.” To me, it was one of the last gasps of isolationism rather than mere pacifism as it side-stepped the question of why wars happen — one sequence pretty much reduces human conflict to the level of carnivores vs. herbivores. Still, I liked the rotoscoped depiction of human soldiers as monsters, as well as the scene where the animals start to come out of hiding after the last two humans have killed each other. It gets more than a little preachy after that, but overall it’s a pretty powerful vision of the meek inheriting the earth.

  • http://voyagesextraordinaires.blogspot.com Cory

    *weeps a little bit inside*

    Times like this, I wish I actually did live in LA.

  • Robert Barker

    It looks like they’re only interested in color cartoons. 1939 was a bit of a sparse patch for Fleischer. Still, I think the Color Classic ‘Small Fry’ is better than ‘Aladdin’, the weakest of the Popeye two-reelers.

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com Jerry Beck

    Robert Barker – I was involved in the cartoon selection, and I guarantee you we haven’t forgotten about black and white cartoons. The Academy is still working on securing rare prints – that’s why we haven’t announced the cartoon line up. But I’d expect a b/w Scrappy and perhaps a b/w Fleischer…

  • http://segaltoons.com Steve Segal

    Here are some more worthwhile titles from that year (all of which I’m sure you’ve already considered)
    Hare-um Scare-um by Hardaway & Dalton
    Prest-O Change-O by Chuck Jones
    and the two Milt Gross extravaganzas, especially Wanted: No Master

  • J Lee

    Looking back, 1939 really wasn’t that great a year for Warner Bros. animation — the studio pretty much found its comedy voice in 1938, and spent ’39 and the early part of 1940 trying to figure out how to best improve their animation to work with the gag-oriented cartoons. “Detouring America” got an Oscar nomination, but it’s kind of a “meh” cartoon as far as what Warners was becomming. “Hamatuer Night” or “Thugs With Dirty Mugs” are probably better representations of Tex, even if the Academy and/or Leon, Ray and Henry didn’t think so at the time.

    And if you’re going to use the “Aladdin” two-reeler for Popeye’s 1939 contribution — though I think “Wotta Nightmare” or “It’s the Natural Thing To Do” would get a better audience reaction — that kind of leaves you with the final season of Betty Boop cartoons as your only B&W options (I’d go with “Musical Mountaineers” or “So Does an Automobile”, though if you’re feeling ticked at the Academy for some reason, there are a couple of 1939 Pudgy shorts you could pick for the screening…)

  • http://www.germanshible.com German S.

    very curious to see what lands on the animation list!! Too bad that only the locals will be able to appreciate the films in a proper theater. The rest of us will have to make due with dvds and living rooms.

  • http://www.inthebalcony.com Laughing Gravy

    10 week schedule… but there are 12 episodes of Buck Rogers… If they don’t show the final 2 episodes, ya’ll can come to my house ‘n’ watch ‘em….

  • Geoff Gardner

    Just a dream, but wouldn’t a DVD box set collecting all of the films being screened be nice …

  • David Breneman

    Yes, Geoff, it’s nice to dream. It’s a shame that those of us who can’t afford to drive south can’t enjoy this collection of films.

  • Nic Orizaga

    I have quite a bit of 1939 movies in my collection….Oz, Gone With The Wind, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith, Only Angels Have Wings, Dark Victory, Four Feathers, Goodbye Mr. Chips, You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man, Gulliver’s Travels, Ninotchka, Dodge City, Gunga Din, Prvt. Lives Of Elizabaeth & Essex, The Women, Another Thin Man, Tarzan Finds A Son, Intermezzo, Young Mr. Lincoln, Babes In Arms, Flying Deuces, At The Circus, Drums Along The Mohawk, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Of mice & Men, The Rains Came, Mr. Moto movies, The Return of Doctor X, Hound of The Baskervilles….whoo!!!

    kind of a hobby of mine…collecting movies from this year…

    I definitely think Goofy & Wilbur should be played…also a few of the Our Gang shorts…Donald Duck in Autograph Hound, Barney Bear (The Bear Who Couldn’t Sleep)…this sounds like a lot of fun…