Best Drama Movies of 1939

1.

Gone with the Wind

6.7
8.1/10

The spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner is forced to use every means at her disposal to claw her way out of poverty, following Maj. Gen. William Sherman's destructive "March to the Sea,” during the American Civil War.

Starring: Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland, Leslie Howard, Hattie McDaniel
Directed by: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood
Release date: 1939-12-15
2.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

5.9
8.1/10

Naive and idealistic Jefferson Smith, leader of the Boy Rangers, is appointed to the United States Senate by the puppet governor of his state. He soon discovers, upon going to Washington, many shortcomings of the political process as his earnest goal of a national boys' camp leads to a conflict with the state political boss.

Starring: Jean Arthur, James Stewart, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold, Guy Kibbee
Directed by: Frank Capra
Release date: 1939-10-19
3.

Wuthering Heights

5.4
7.6/10

The Earnshaws are Yorkshire farmers during the early 19th Century. One day, Mr. Earnshaw returns from a trip to the city, bringing with him a ragged little boy called Heathcliff. Earnshaw's son, Hindley, resents the child, but Heathcliff becomes companion and soulmate to Hindley's sister, Catherine. After her parents die, Cathy and Heathcliff grow up wild and free on the Moors and despite the continued enmity between Hindley and Heathcliff they're happy -- until Cathy meets Edgar Linton, the son of a wealthy neighbor.

Starring: Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier, David Niven, Flora Robson, Donald Crisp
Directed by: William Wyler
Release date: 1939-04-13
4.

The Women

4.9
7.8/10

A happily married woman lets her catty friends talk her into divorce when her husband strays.

Starring: Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Mary Boland, Paulette Goddard
Directed by: George Cukor
Release date: 1939-01-01
5.

The Roaring Twenties

4.8
8.0/10

After World War I, Armistice Lloyd Hart goes back to practice law, former saloon keeper George Hally turns to bootlegging, and out-of-work Eddie Bartlett becomes a cab driver. Eddie builds a fleet of cabs through delivery of bootleg liquor and hires Lloyd as his lawyer. George becomes Eddie's partner and the rackets flourish until love and rivalry interfere.

Starring: James Cagney, Priscilla Lane, Humphrey Bogart, Gladys George, Jeffrey Lynn
Directed by: Raoul Walsh
Release date: 1939-10-23
6.

Only Angels Have Wings

4.7
7.7/10

Geoff Carter is the head of a crumbling air freight service in desperate need of a replacement pilot. He is forced to hire a descredited aviator who arrives with his wife, Carter's ex-lover. Meanwhile, traveler Bonnie Lee tries to get close to the emotionally closed-off Carter.

Starring: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Richard Barthelmess, Rita Hayworth, Thomas Mitchell
Directed by: Howard Hawks
Release date: 1939-05-15
7.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

4.2
7.8/10

Paris, France, 1482. Frollo, Chief Justice of benevolent King Louis XI, gets infatuated by the beauty of Esmeralda, a gypsy young girl. The hunchback Quasimodo, Frollo's protege and bell-ringer of Notre Dame, lives in peace among the bells in the heights of the immense cathedral until he is involved by the twisted magistrate in his malicious plans to free himself from Esmeralda's alleged spell, which he believes to be the devil's work.

Starring: Charles Laughton, Cedric Hardwicke, Thomas Mitchell, Maureen O'Hara, Edmond O'Brien
Directed by: William Dieterle
Release date: 1939-12-29
8.

On Borrowed Time

4.1
7.7/10

Young Pud is orphaned and left in the care of his aged grandparents. The boy and his grandfather are inseparable. Gramps is concerned for Pud's future and wary of a scheming relative who seeks custody of the child. One day Mr. Brink, an agent of Death, arrives to take Gramps "to the land where the woodbine twineth." Through a bit of trickery, Gramps confines Mr. Brink, and thus Death, to the branches of a large apple tree, giving Gramps extra time to resolve issues about Pud's future.

Starring: Lionel Barrymore, Cedric Hardwicke, Beulah Bondi, Una Merkel, Bobs Watson
Directed by: Harold S. Bucquet
Release date: 1939-07-07
9.

Goodbye, Mr. Chips

4.1
7.9/10

A shy British teacher looks back nostalgically at his long career, taking note of the people touched his life.

Starring: Robert Donat, Greer Garson, Terry Kilburn, John Mills, Paul Henreid
Directed by: Sam Wood
Release date: 1939-07-28
10.

Of Mice and Men

4.0
7.9/10

A mentally retarded giant and his level headed guardian find work at a sadistic cowboy's ranch in depression era America.

Starring: Burgess Meredith, Betty Field, Lon Chaney Jr., Charles Bickford, Roman Bohnen
Directed by: Lewis Milestone
Release date: 1939-12-30
11.

The Old Maid

4.0
7.6/10

After disappearing for two years, Clem Spender returns on the day his former fiancée, Delia, is marrying another man. Her cousin Charlotte sneaks away with Clem, who enlists in the Union Army the next day and dies soon after. Charlotte and Clem's child, Clementina, grows up not knowing critical Charlotte is her mother. Jealous of Charlotte's affair, Delia pretends to be Clementina's mother, sabotaging mother and child's relationship.

Starring: Bette Davis, Miriam Hopkins, George Brent, Jane Bryan, Donald Crisp
Directed by: Edmund Goulding
Release date: 1939-09-02
12.

Young Mr. Lincoln

3.9
7.6/10
Young Mr. Lincoln
In this dramatized account of his early law career in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln is born into a modest log cabin, where he is encouraged by his first love, Ann Rutledge, to pursue law. Following her tragic death, Lincoln establishes a law practice in Springfield, where he meets a young Mary Todd. Lincoln's law skills are put to the test when he takes on the difficult task of defending two brothers who have been accused of murder.
Starring: Henry Fonda, Alice Brady, Marjorie Weaver, Arleen Whelan, Eddie Collins
Directed by: John Ford
Release date: 1939-06-09
13.

Another Thin Man

3.9
7.5/10

Not even the joys of parenthood can stop married sleuths Nick and Nora Charles from investigating a murder on a Long Island estate.

Starring: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Virginia Grey, Otto Kruger, C. Aubrey Smith
Directed by: W.S. Van Dyke
Release date: 1939-01-01
14.

Dark Victory

3.9
7.6/10

A flighty heiress discovers inner strength when she develops a brain tumor.

Starring: Bette Davis, George Brent, Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan
Directed by: Edmund Goulding
Release date: 1939-04-22
15.

The Four Feathers

3.9
7.5/10

A disgraced officer risks his life to help his childhood friends in battle.

Starring: John Clements, Ralph Richardson, C. Aubrey Smith, June Duprez, Allan Jeayes
Directed by: Zoltan Korda
Release date: 1939-04-20
16.

Beau Geste

3.9
7.7/10

Academy Award winners Gary Cooper and Ray Milland star along with Robert Preston in the epic adventure Beau Geste. When three brothers join the Foreign Legion to escape a troubled past, they find themselves trapped under the command of a sadistic sergeant deep in the scorching Sahara. Now the brothers must fight for their lives as they plot mutiny against tyranny and defend a desert fortress against a brutal enemy. Nominated for 2 Academy Awards, Beau Geste has been universally acclaimed by generations of critics and audiences alike as a true motion picture classic.

Starring: Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, Robert Preston, Brian Donlevy, Susan Hayward
Directed by: William A. Wellman
Release date: 1939-07-24
17.

Each Dawn I Die

3.8
7.3/10

A corrupt D.A. with governatorial ambitions is annoyed by an investigative reporter's criticism of his criminal activities and decides to frame the reporter for manslaughter in order to silence him.

Starring: James Cagney, George Raft, Jane Bryan, George Bancroft, Maxie Rosenbloom
Directed by: William Keighley
Release date: 1939-08-19
18.

The Man in the Iron Mask

3.7
7.1/10
The Man in the Iron Mask
Tyrannical King Louis XIV learns that he has an identical twin brother, Philippe, who was raised from birth by his late father's trusted friend D'Artagnan and his faithful musketeers, Porthos, Athos and Aramis. After Philippe falls for the king's betrothed, Spanish Princess Maria Theresa, Louis imprisons him, forcing his brother to don an iron mask that will slowly suffocate him -- and it's up to D'Artagnan to rescue him.
Starring: Louis Hayward, Joan Bennett, Warren William, Joseph Schildkraut, Alan Hale
Directed by: James Whale
Release date: 1939-07-13
19.

The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle

3.7
6.9/10

In 1911, minor stage comic, Vernon Castle meets the stage-struck Irene Foote. A few misadventures later, they marry and then abandon comedy to attempt a dancing career together. While they're performing in Paris, an agent sees them rehearse and starts them on their brilliant career as the world's foremost ballroom dancers. However, at the height of their fame, World War I begins.

Starring: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edna May Oliver, Walter Brennan, Lew Fields
Directed by: H. C. Potter
Release date: 1939-03-29
20.

Juarez

3.7
7.1/10

The newly named emperor Maximilian and his wife Carolotta arrive in Mexico to face popular sentiment favoring Benito Juraez and democracy..

Starring: Paul Muni, Bette Davis, Brian Aherne, Claude Rains, John Garfield
Directed by: William Dieterle
Release date: 1939-06-10

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