Best Movies of 1939

1.

Gone with the Wind

6.7

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
Release date: 1939-12-15
2.

The Wizard of Oz

6.3

Young Dorothy finds herself in a magical world where she makes friends with a lion, a scarecrow and a tin man as they make their way along the yellow brick road to talk with the Wizard and ask for the things they miss most in their lives. The Wicked Witch of the West is the only thing that could stop them.

Starring: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley
Directed by: Victor Fleming
Release date: 1939-08-15
3.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

5.9

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
4.

Stagecoach

5.7

A group of people traveling on a stagecoach find their journey complicated by the threat of Geronimo, and learn something about each other in the process.

Starring: Claire Trevor, John Wayne, Andy Devine, John Carradine, Thomas Mitchell
Directed by: John Ford
Release date: 1939-03-02
5.

Wuthering Heights

4.7

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
6.

Of Mice and Men

4.0

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
7.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

4.0

King Louis XI is a wise and old king and Frollo is the Chief Justice. Frollo gazes on the gypsy girl, Esmeralda, in the church during Fool's Day and sends Quasimodo to catch her. Quasimodo, with the girl, is captured by Phoebus, Captain of the Guards, who frees the girl. The courts sentence Quasimodo to be flogged, and the only one who will give him water while he is tied in the square is Esmeralda. Later, at a party of nobles, Esmeralda again meets both Frollo, who is bewitched by her, and Phoebus. When Phoebus is stabbed to death, Esmeralda is accused of the murder, convicted by the court and sentenced to hang. Clopin, King of the Beggars; Gringoire, Esmeralda's husband; and Quasimodo, the bellringer, all try different ways to save her from the gallows.

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

Gunga Din

4.0

British army sergeants Ballantine, Cutter and MacChesney serve in India during the 1880s, along with their native water-bearer, Gunga Din. While completing a dangerous telegraph-repair mission, they unearth evidence of the suppressed Thuggee cult. When Gunga Din tells the sergeants about a secret temple made of gold, the fortune-hunting Cutter is captured by the Thuggees, and it's up to his friends to rescue him.

Starring: Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Sam Jaffe, Eduardo Ciannelli
Directed by: George Stevens
Release date: 1939-01-24
9.

Young Mr. Lincoln

3.9
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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
10.

Beau Geste

3.9

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
11.

Peace on Earth

3.9
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Two baby squirrels ask grandpa to explain what "men" are when he comes in singing "peace on earth, goodwill to men". Grandpa tells the story of man's last war. This classic animation short was an Academy Award Best Short Subject, Cartoons nominee.
Starring: Mel Blanc
Directed by: Hugh Harman
Release date: 1939-12-09
12.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

3.9

On his uncle's death Sir Henry Baskerville returns from abroad and opens up the ancestral hall on the desolate moors of Devonshire. Holmes uncovers a plot to have Sir Henry murdered by a terrible trained hound. First casting of Rathbone and Bruce as Holmes and Watson.

Starring: Richard Greene, Basil Rathbone, Wendy Barrie, Nigel Bruce, Lionel Atwill
Directed by: Sidney Lanfield
Release date: 1939-03-31
13.

The Four Feathers

3.9

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
14.

Destry Rides Again

3.9

When a tough western town needs taming, the mild-mannered son of a hard-nosed sheriff gets the job.

Starring: James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, Mischa Auer, Charles Winninger, Brian Donlevy
Directed by: George Marshall
Release date: 1939-11-30
15.

The Ugly Duckling

3.8
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A remake of an earlier (1931) Silly Symphony retells the story of an outcast duckling whose search for a family to accept him leads to constant rejection before learning his true identity as a swan.
Directed by: Jack Cutting, Clyde Geronimi
Release date: 1939-04-07
16.

Each Dawn I Die

3.8

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
17.

The Little Princess

3.7

The classic Shirley Temple film in which a little girl goes in search of her father who is reported missing by the military during the Second Boer War.

Starring: Shirley Temple, Richard Greene, Anita Louise, Ian Hunter, Arthur Treacher
Directed by: Walter Lang
Release date: 1939-03-17
18.

Bachelor Mother

3.7

Polly Parrish, a clerk at Merlin's Department Store, is mistakenly presumed to be the mother of a foundling. Outraged at Polly's unmotherly conduct, David Merlin becomes determined to keep the single woman and "her" baby together.

Starring: Ginger Rogers, David Niven, Charles Coburn, Frank Albertson, E.E. Clive
Directed by: Garson Kanin
Release date: 1939-06-30
19.

Dodge City

3.7

Michael Curtiz's epic Western stars Errol Flynn as Wade Hatton, a wagon master turned sheriff who tames a cow town at the end of a railroad line.

Starring: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Ann Sheridan, Bruce Cabot, Frank McHugh
Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Release date: 1939-03-31
20.

The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle

3.7

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

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