Best History Movies of 1939
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.
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.
In coastal Cornwall, England, during the early 19th Century, a young woman who's come there to visit her aunt, discovers that she's married an inkeeper who's a member of a gang of criminals who arrange shipwrecking and murder for profit.
The Four Feathers
A disgraced officer risks his life to help his childhood friends in battle.
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.
After railroad agents forcibly evict the James family from their family farm, Jesse and Frank turn to banditry for revenge.
Drums Along the Mohawk
Albany, New York, 1776. After marrying, Gil and Lana travel north to settle on a small farm in the Mohawk River Valley, but soon their growing prosperity and happiness are threatened by the sinister sound of drums that announce dark times of revolution and war.
Stanley and Livingstone
When American newspaperman and adventurer Henry M. Stanley comes back from the western Indian wars, his editor James Gordon Bennett sends him to Africa to find Dr. David Livingstone, the missing Scottish missionary. Stanley finds Livingstone ("Dr. Livingstone, I presume.") blissfully doling out medicine and religion to the happy natives. His story is at first disbelieved.
The newly-named emperor Maximilian and his wife Carlota arrive in Mexico to face popular sentiment favoring Benito Juárez and democracy.
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
This period drama frames the tumultuous affair between Queen Elizabeth I and the man who would be King of England.
The Story of Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell falls in love with deaf girl Mabel Hubbard while teaching the deaf and trying to invent means for telegraphing the human voice. She urges him to put off thoughts of marriage until his experiments are complete. He invents the telephone, marries and becomes rich and famous, though his happiness is threatened when a rival company sets out to ruin him.
Man about town and First Class cricketer A.J. Raffles keeps himself solvent with daring robberies. Meeting Gwen from his schooldays and falling in love all over again, he spends the weekend with her parents, Lord and Lady Melrose. A necklace presents an irresistible temptation, but also in attendance is Scotland Yard's finest, finally on the trail.
Tower of London
In the 15th century Richard Duke of Gloucester, aided by his club-footed executioner Mord, eliminates those ahead of him in succession to the throne, then occupied by his brother King Edward IV of England. As each murder is accomplished he takes particular delight in removing small figurines, each resembling one of the successors, from a throne-room dollhouse, until he alone remains. After the death of Edward he becomes Richard III, King of England, and need only defeat the exiled Henry Tudor to retain power.
The Oklahoma Kid
McCord's gang robs the stage carrying money to pay Indians for their land, and the notorious outlaw "The Oklahoma Kid" Jim Kincaid takes the money from McCord. McCord stakes a "sooner" claim on land which is to be used for a new town; in exchange for giving it up, he gets control of gambling and saloons. When Kincaid's father runs for mayor, McCord incites a mob to lynch the old man whom McCord has already framed for murder.
South western Pennsylvania area of colonial America, 1760s. Colonial distaste and disapproval of the British government is starting to surface. Many local colonists have been killed by American Indians who are armed with rifles supplied by white traders.
The Monroe Doctrine
The story of President Monroe's response to attempts by Spain to interfere in South America.
The Bill of Rights
This short subject is a lavish costumed color production which dramatizes the birth of the American Bill of Rights. It depicts leading political figures of the American Revolution and the despotic British colonial rule which led to the creation of the Bill of Rights.
The Story of Alfred Nobel
This John Nesbitt's Passing Parade short tells the story of Alfred Nobel, who invented dynamite, and later established the Nobel Prize.
Stand Up and Fight
A southern aristocrat clashes with a driver transporting stolen slaves to freedom.
Prophet Without Honor
This short film portrays the story of Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806-1873), an American Naval officer who developed the first maps that charted the oceans' winds and currents.
Sons of Liberty
Set during the American Revolution, this colorful 2 reel short tells the story of Haym Salomon, American patriot and financier of the American Revolution.
The Middleton Family at the New York World's Fair
"An average American family", the Middletons, visit the 1939 World's Fair and witnesses the advent of future technology, encountering robots and dishwashers for the first time.
The Night Riders
Talbot uses a phony land grant to rule thirteen million acres, taxing everyone heavily and evicting those who won't pay. The Three Mesquiteers becomes mysterious "night riders" to fight this evil.
Man of Conquest
The story of Sam Houston, hero of the Texas revolution, statesman, and first president of the Republic of Texas.
Starting in 1913 movie director Connors discovers singer Molly Adair. As she becomes a star she marries an actor, so Connors fires them. She asks for him as director of her next film. Many silent stars shown making the transition to sound.
Porky balks at learning the Pledge of Allegiance until Uncle Sam appears to him in a dream and gives him a lesson in American history.
The Story of Dr. Jenner
This short focuses on the story of Dr. Edward Jenner, who developed vaccination.
Land of Liberty
This film tells the history of the United States from pre-Revolution through 1939.
The Story That Couldn't Be Printed
This John Nesbitt's Passing Parade short tells the story of John Peter Zenger, who in Colonial New York was tried for sedition based on what he printed in his newspaper.
Angel of Mercy
This MGM Passing Parade series short tells the story of Clara Barton, the founder of the Red Cross.
Yankee Doodle Goes to Town
Made just before America would be forced into the Second World War, this short subject is a brief dramatized history of American democracy. It targets a perceived threat to democracy from board room and soapbox fascists who advocated a government based upon contemporaneous European models.
The "new roadways" of the title refer to various projects, carried out in the USA's research laboratories, that benefit mankind. These include solar energy projects, making glass that can be rolled up like a carpet, and diet experiments with mice that might lead to a cure for color blindness.
A Dream of Love
Aging composer Franz Liszt lives in an abbey. On his birthday, a priest brings him a box that was just delivered; there is no return address. In the box he finds a single flower. The flower brings back memories of his lost love of long ago, who inspired him to compose his unforgettable melodies.
The Giant of Norway
This short tells the story of Norwegian explorer and diplomat Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930). After a life of adventure, he was instrumental in resettling tens of thousands of refugees and displaced persons resulting from World War I. He continued this work in 1922 after the war between Greece and Turkey. The film ends by reminding moviegoers to think of the plight of contemporary refugees caused by the fighting in Europe.
Lincoln in the White House
This short chronicles Abraham Lincoln's presidency from his inauguration through delivery of the Gettysburg Address.
One Against the World
This short film presents the story of Dr. Ephraim McDowell, who came under scrutiny for his pioneering of surgical practices.