Best History Movies of 1939


Wuthering Heights

7.5/10 IMDB

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, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Hugh Williams, Leo G. Carroll, Miles Mander, Cecil Kellaway ..
Directed by: William Wyler
Release date: 1939-04-07

Young Mr. Lincoln

7.5/10 IMDB

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, Pauline Moore, Richard Cromwell, Donald Meek, Judith Dickens, Eddie Quillan ..
Directed by: John Ford
Release date: 1939-06-09

Jamaica Inn

6.3/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Charles Laughton, Horace Hodges, Maureen O'Hara, Hay Petrie, Frederick Piper, Emlyn Williams, Herbert Lomas, Clare Greet, William Devlin, Jeanne De Casalis ..
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Release date: 1939-05-11

The Four Feathers

7.4/10 IMDB

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, Jack Allen, Donald Gray, Frederick Culley, Clive Baxter, Robert Rendel ..
Directed by: Zoltan Korda
Release date: 1939-04-20
Best History Movies of 1939 : The Man in the Iron Mask

The Man in the Iron Mask

7.0/10 IMDB

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, Walter Kingsford, Miles Mander, Bert Roach, Marion Martin, Montagu Love ..
Directed by: James Whale
Release date: 1939-07-13

Jesse James

7.0/10 IMDB

After railroad agents forcibly evict the James family from their family farm, Jesse and Frank turn to banditry for revenge.

Starring: Tyrone Power, Henry Fonda, Nancy Kelly, Randolph Scott, Henry Hull, Slim Summerville, J. Edward Bromberg, Brian Donlevy, John Carradine, Donald Meek ..
Directed by: Henry King
Release date: 1939-01-14

Drums Along the Mohawk

7.0/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Claudette Colbert, Henry Fonda, Edna May Oliver, Eddie Collins, John Carradine, Dorris Bowdon, Jessie Ralph, Arthur Shields, Robert Lowery, Roger Imhof ..
Directed by: John Ford
Release date: 1939-11-10
Best History Movies of 1939 : Stanley and Livingstone

Stanley and Livingstone

7.0/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Spencer Tracy, Nancy Kelly, Richard Greene, Walter Brennan, Charles Coburn, Cedric Hardwicke, Henry Hull, Henry Travers, Miles Mander, David Torrence ..
Directed by: Henry King, Otto Brower
Release date: 1939-08-18


6.9/10 IMDB

The newly-named emperor Maximilian and his wife Carlota arrive in Mexico to face popular sentiment favoring Benito Juárez and democracy.

Starring: Paul Muni, Bette Davis, Brian Aherne, Claude Rains, John Garfield, Donald Crisp, Joseph Calleia, Gale Sondergaard, Gilbert Roland, Henry O'Neill ..
Directed by: William Dieterle
Release date: 1939-06-10

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex

7.0/10 IMDB

This period drama frames the tumultuous affair between Queen Elizabeth I and the man who would be King of England.

Starring: Errol Flynn, Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Donald Crisp, Alan Hale, Vincent Price, Henry Stephenson, Henry Daniell, James Stephenson, Nanette Fabray ..
Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Release date: 1939-11-11

The Story of Alexander Graham Bell

7.0/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Don Ameche, Loretta Young, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn, Gene Lockhart, Spring Byington, Sally Blane, Polly Ann Young, Georgiana Young, Bobs Watson ..
Directed by: Irving Cummings
Release date: 1939-04-04
Best History Movies of 1939 : Raffles


6.4/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: David Niven, Olivia de Havilland, May Whitty, Dudley Digges, Douglas Walton, E. E. Clive, Lionel Pape, Margaret Seddon, Hilda Plowright, Gilbert Emery ..
Directed by: Sam Wood
Release date: 1939-11-11
Best History Movies of 1939 : Tower of London

Tower of London

6.6/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Barbara O'Neil, Ian Hunter, Vincent Price, Nan Grey, Ernest Cossart, John Sutton, Leo G. Carroll, Miles Mander ..
Directed by: Rowland V. Lee
Release date: 1939-11-17
Best History Movies of 1939 : The Oklahoma Kid

The Oklahoma Kid

6.4/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Rosemary Lane, Donald Crisp, Harvey Stephens, Hugh Sothern, Charles Middleton, Edward Pawley, Ward Bond, Lew Harvey ..
Directed by: Lloyd Bacon
Release date: 1939-03-11
Best History Movies of 1939 : Allegheny Uprising

Allegheny Uprising

6.3/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Claire Trevor, John Wayne, George Sanders, Brian Donlevy, Wilfrid Lawson, Robert Barrat, John F. Hamilton, Moroni Olsen, Eddie Quillan, Chill Wills ..
Directed by: William A. Seiter
Release date: 1939-11-10
Best History Movies of 1939 : The Monroe Doctrine

The Monroe Doctrine

6.1/10 IMDB

The story of President Monroe's response to attempts by Spain to interfere in South America.

Starring: Grant Mitchell, Charles Waldron, James Stephenson, Frank Wilcox, George Reeves, Nanette Fabray, Sidney Blackmer, Tom Chatterton, Ted Osborne, Emmett Vogan ..
Directed by: Crane Wilbur
Release date: 1939-10-14
Best History Movies of 1939 : The Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights

6.0/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Ted Osborne, Moroni Olsen, Leonard Mudie, Vernon Steele, John Hamilton, Raymond Brown, Tom Chatterton, Sidney Bracey, Creighton Hale, John Harron ..
Directed by: Crane Wilbur
Release date: 1939-08-19
Best History Movies of 1939 : The Story of Alfred Nobel

The Story of Alfred Nobel

6.1/10 IMDB

This John Nesbitt's Passing Parade short tells the story of Alfred Nobel, who invented dynamite, and later established the Nobel Prize.

Starring: John Nesbitt, Paul Guilfoyle, Eric Mayne, Eleanor Wesselhoeft ..
Directed by: Joseph M. Newman
Release date: 1939-02-18

Stand Up and Fight

6.4/10 IMDB

A southern aristocrat clashes with a driver transporting stolen slaves to freedom.

Starring: Wallace Beery, Robert Taylor, Florence Rice, Helen Broderick, Charles Bickford, Barton MacLane, Charley Grapewin, John Qualen, Robert Gleckler, Clinton Rosemond ..
Directed by: W.S. Van Dyke
Release date: 1939-01-06
Best History Movies of 1939 : Prophet Without Honor

Prophet Without Honor

6.2/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Carey Wilson, Tom Neal ..
Directed by: Felix E. Feist
Release date: 1939-05-20
Best History Movies of 1939 : Sons of Liberty

Sons of Liberty

5.7/10 IMDB

Set during the American Revolution, this colorful 2 reel short tells the story of Haym Salomon, American patriot and financier of the American Revolution.

Starring: Claude Rains, Gale Sondergaard, Donald Crisp, Montagu Love, Henry O'Neill, James Stephenson, Al Bridge, Harry Cording, Charles Frederick Lindsley, Frank Reicher ..
Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Release date: 1939-05-20
Best History Movies of 1939 : The Middleton Family at the New York World's Fair

The Middleton Family at the New York World's Fair

5.1/10 IMDB

"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.

Starring: Marjorie Lord, Jimmy Lydon, Ruth Lee, Harry Shannon, Adora Andrews, Douglas Stark, George J. Lewis, Georgette Harvey, Helen Bennett, Ray Perkins ..
Directed by: Robert R. Snody
Release date: 1939-04-30
Best History Movies of 1939 : The Night Riders

The Night Riders

5.7/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: John Wayne, Ray Corrigan, Max Terhune, Doreen McKay, Ruth Rogers, George Douglas, Tom Tyler, Kermit Maynard, Sammy McKim, Walter Wills ..
Directed by: George Sherman
Release date: 1939-04-12
Best History Movies of 1939 : Man of Conquest

Man of Conquest

6.2/10 IMDB

The story of Sam Houston, hero of the Texas revolution, statesman, and first president of the Republic of Texas.

Starring: Richard Dix, Gail Patrick, Edward Ellis, Joan Fontaine, Victor Jory, Robert Barrat, George 'Gabby' Hayes, Ralph Morgan, Robert Armstrong, C. Henry Gordon ..
Directed by: George Nichols Jr.
Release date: 1939-05-15

Hollywood Cavalcade

6.5/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Alice Faye, Don Ameche, J. Edward Bromberg, Alan Curtis, Stuart Erwin, Jed Prouty, Buster Keaton, Donald Meek, George Givot, Al Jolson ..
Directed by: Irving Cummings, Malcolm St. Clair, Buster Keaton
Release date: 1939-10-13
Best History Movies of 1939 : Old Glory

Old Glory

5.2/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Mel Blanc, John Deering, John Litel ..
Directed by: Chuck Jones
Release date: 1939-07-07
Best History Movies of 1939 : The Story of Dr. Jenner

The Story of Dr. Jenner

6.7/10 IMDB

This short focuses on the story of Dr. Edward Jenner, who developed vaccination.

Starring: John Nesbitt, Matthew Boulton, Helen Brown, Harry Cording, Fay Helm, Raymond Severn, William Tannen ..
Directed by: Henry K. Dunn
Release date: 1939-03-18
Best History Movies of 1939 : Land of Liberty

Land of Liberty

7.3/10 IMDB

This film tells the history of the United States from pre-Revolution through 1939.

Starring: Gayne Whitman, Erville Alderson, Don Ameche, Heather Angel, George Arliss, Edward Arnold, Felix Aylmer, George Bancroft, Binnie Barnes, John Barrymore ..
Release date: 1939-06-15

The Story That Couldn't Be Printed

6.9/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: John Nesbitt, Victor Kilian ..
Directed by: Joseph M. Newman
Release date: 1939-07-22
Best History Movies of 1939 : Angel of Mercy

Angel of Mercy

6.5/10 IMDB

This MGM Passing Parade series short tells the story of Clara Barton, the founder of the Red Cross.

Starring: John Nesbitt, Sara Haden, Oscar Apfel, William Bailey, Barbara Bedford, Cliff Danielson, Claire McDowell, Barry Norton, Ann Rutherford, Emmett Vogan ..
Directed by: Edward L. Cahn
Release date: 1939-05-20
Best History Movies of 1939 : Yankee Doodle Goes to Town

Yankee Doodle Goes to Town

5.7/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: John Nesbitt, Clem Bevans, Joe Devlin, Robert Dudley, Albert Russell ..
Directed by: Jacques Tourneur
Release date: 1939-06-17

New Roadways

5.6/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: John Nesbitt, Richard Cramer, Howard M. Mitchell, Tom Quinn, Phillip Terry, Richard Cramer ..
Directed by: Basil Wrangell
Release date: 1939-01-28

A Dream of Love

5.6/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: Ian Colin, Sylvia Marriott, Cathleen Nesbitt, Cecil Ramage, Julie Suedo, Bertram Wallis, Fanny Wright ..
Directed by: James A. FitzPatrick
Release date: 1939-01-28

The Giant of Norway

5.6/10 IMDB

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.

Starring: John Nesbitt, Lumsden Hare, Hugh Sothern ..
Directed by: Edward L. Cahn
Release date: 1939-06-24
Best History Movies of 1939 : Lincoln in the White House

Lincoln in the White House

5.4/10 IMDB

This short chronicles Abraham Lincoln's presidency from his inauguration through delivery of the Gettysburg Address.

Starring: Frank McGlynn Sr., Dickie Moore, John Harron, Raymond Brown, Erville Alderson, Sibyl Harris, Nana Bryant, Earl Dwire, Gordon Hart, Edward LeSaint ..
Directed by: William C. McGann
Release date: 1939-02-11

One Against the World

6.3/10 IMDB

This short film presents the story of Dr. Ephraim McDowell, who came under scrutiny for his pioneering of surgical practices.

Starring: Jonathan Hale, John Nesbitt, Harold Goodwin, Claire McDowell, Charles Middleton, Dick Rich ..
Directed by: Fred Zinnemann
Release date: 1939-08-19

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