Watching 1939: Over the Moon (1939)

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult. 

1939 film:  Over the Moon (1939)

Release date:  Oct. 13, 1939

Cast:  Merle Oberon, Rex Harrison, Ursula Jeans, Robert Douglas, Louis Borel, Peter Haddon, David Tree, Carl Jaffe, Mackenzie Ward, Ethel Griffies (uncredited)
As themselves: Elisabeth Welch

Studio:  London Film Productions

Director:  Thornton Freeland

Jane (Oberon) was a formerly wealthy girl who can’t make ends meet and is in love with the local doctor Dr. Freddie Jarvis (Harrison). However, Jane learns that she has inherited £18 million. Dr. Jarvis isn’t interested in being involved with Jane, because her money would ruin his ambition and her fun. Fortune hunters chase Jane, all the while she pines for Dr. Jarvis.

1939 Notes:
• Rex Harrison was in two films released in 1939
• Merle Oberon was in three films released in 1939, including Wuthering Heights. Oberon married producer Alexander Korda in 1939 as well.

Merle Oberon in “Over the Moon”

Other trivia: 
• Production started in 1937
• Singer Elisabeth Welch plays herself in the film
• Produced by Alexander Korda and his brother Vincent Korda worked in the art department
• Jewelry by Eugene Joseff and costume designs by René Hubert

Rex Harrison and Merle Oberon in “Over the Moon”

My review: Searching for the “1939 feature”:
In terms of 1939, when you think of actress Merle Oberon’s career and life, we often think of two things: her role as Cathy in “Wuthering Heights” and her marriage to producer Alexander Korda.

But one career aspect you shouldn’t overlook is the comedy, “Over the Moon” (1939). Produced by Korda, the film is a comedy focusing on Jane, played by Oberon, who gets rich and wants to have fun after many years of never having money. Her doctor boyfriend, played by Rex Harrison, finds her new life offputting and leaves to fulfill his own ambitions. Ironically, while Jane is living the high life with fortune-hunting men and family members surrounding her, the doctor creates a cushy job for himself in a luxury health sanitarium for women who aren’t ill.

While Rex Harrison co-stars, he has little screentime since his character wants nothing to do with Oberon.

The story itself is charming and fun, but the aesthetics surrounding the story make it even more delicious. The cinematography by Harry Stradling Sr. is simply gorgeous. The stars are outfitted in costumes by René Hubert and jewelry by Eugene Joseff. As Oberon’s character enjoys her wealth, we even get to enjoy a Hubert fashion show as she buys new clothes.

There are several laugh-out-loud moments in this comedy that just oozes with the feel of luxury, but also lightheartedness.

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