Watching 1939: Off the Record (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:  Off the Record (1939)

Release date:  Jan. 21, 1939

Cast: 
Pat O’Brien, Joan Blondell, Bobby Jordan, Alan Baxter, William B. Davidson, Morgan Conway, Moroni Olsen, Tommy Bupp (uncredited), David Gorcey (uncredited), Barbara Pepper (uncredited), Pat Flaherty (uncredited)

Studio: 
Warner Bros.

Director:  James Flood

Plot:
When his mother dies, Mickey Fallon (Jordan) has no one to care for him. Just before he is sent to an orphanage, Mickey’s gambler brother Joe (Baxter) returns home and promises to watch Mickey. Mickey gets involved with Joe’s gambling contacts. Reporter Jane Morgan (Blondell) spots Mickey gambling with pinball machines and writes about it in her column. Her column sparks citywide concern and Mickey will be sent to reform school. Feeling guilty, that he will go to reform school, Jane marries her reporter boyfriend Breezy (O’Brien) so they can adopt Mickey, which brings its own bought of issues.

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Watching 1939: The Lion Has Wings (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:  The Lion Has Wings (1939)

Release date:  Oct. 30, 1939

Cast:  Merle Oberon, Ralph Richardson, June Duprez, Brian Worth, Robert Douglas, Bernard Miles, Anthony Bushell, Austin Trevor

Studio:  London Film Productions and Alexander Korda Film Productions, distributed by United Artists

Director:  Adrian Brunel, Brian Desmond Hurst, Michael Powell

Plot:
Primarily filmed as a documentary mixed with fiction storytelling, the film shows what life in England was like when the country was at peace and not at war. It continues to illustrate how life changed once Great Britain declared war on Germany, and how the English were continuing to keep a “stiff upper lip.” To represent the changes, Mr. Richardson (Richardson) and his wife (Oberon) adapt their lives because of the war. Mr. Richardson joins the RAF and becomes a wing commander. Mrs. Richardson becomes a nurse, and she and her friend June (Duprez) support each other while their husband and sweetheart are away.

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Watching 1939: The Return of Doctor X (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:  The Return of Doctor X (1939)

Release date: 
Nov. 23, 1939

Cast: 
Humphrey Bogart, Rosemary Lane, Wayne Morris, Dennis Morgan, John Litel, Lya Lys, Huntz Hall, Charles C. Wilson, Vera Lewis, Olin Howland, John Ridgely, William Hopper (as DeWolf Hopper), Ian Wolfe (uncredited)

Studio: 
Warner Bros.

Director: 
Vincent Sherman

Plot:
Reporter Walter Garrett (Morris) starts discovering strange murders where each victim seems drained of their blood, and each has the same blood type. The police and Walter’s editors don’t believe him about the murders. With the help of doctor Michael Rhodes (Morgan), the two try to uncover the murderer. They go to hematologist Dr. Francis Flegg (Litel) and meet his strange, pale assistant Marshall Quesne (Bogart).

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Watching 1939: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (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: 
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)

Release date: 
Sept. 1, 1939

Cast: 
Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Ida Lupino, Alan Marshal, Terry Kilburn, George Zucco, Henry Stephenson, E. E. Clive, Arthur Hohl, Mary Gordon, May Beatty, Peter Willes, Mary Forbes

Studio: 
20th Century Fox

Director: 
Alfred L. Werker

Plot:
Set in 1894, criminal Professor Moriarty (Zucco) is acquited of murder. Just as the trial ends, Sherlock Holmes (Rathbone) has evidence, but it’s too late. Holmes compliments his criminal mind and Moriarty vows to himself that he’s going to give Holmes a puzzle. On the same day, Ann Brandon (Lupino) with a strange drawing she received. Since her father received the same drawing before he died, she’s worried that she and her brother are in danger. It’s all part of the web Moriarty weaved for Holmes.

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Watching 1939: Torture Ship (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: 
Torture Ship (1939)

Release date: 
Oct. 28, 1939

Cast: 
Lyle Talbot, Irving Pichel, Julie Bishop (as Jacqueline Wells), Sheila Bromley, Anthony Averill, Russell Hopton, Skelton Knaggs

Studio: 
Sigmund Neufeld Productions

Director: 
Victor Halperin

Plot:
Dr. Herbert Stander (Pichel) who wants to do experiments to learn more about the criminal mind. He charters a ship captained by his nephew, Lt. Bob Bennett (Talbot), who was unaware of his uncle’s plans. All of the passengers on the ship are criminals and will be tested by Dr. Stander. Joan Martel (Bishop/Wells) mistakenly gets on the boat and Bob tries to keep her from going under Dr. Stander’s knife.

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Watching 1939: The Gorilla (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:  The Gorilla (1939)

Release date:  May 26, 1939

Cast:  Jimmy Ritz, Harry Ritz, Al Ritz (the Ritz Brothers), Anita Louise, Patsy Kelly, Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi, Joseph Calleia, Edward Norris, Paul Harvey, Art Miles

Studio:  20th Century Fox

Director:  Allan Dwan

Plot:
The Gorilla is a murderer on the lose, and Walter Stevens (Atwill) is warned that he has just 24 hours to live. His niece Norma (Louise) and her finance Jack (Norris) come to visit on the eve of this threat. Stevens hires the Ritz Brothers of the Acme Detective Agency to protect him.

1939 Notes:

  • “The Gorilla” (1939) resulted in the end of The Ritz Brothers’ relationship with 20th Century Fox. The film was delayed when The Ritz Brothers’ father died. Because of this, Fox placed a $150,000 suit against the Ritz brothers for a breach of contract as the film was slated to start production. “The Gorilla” is one of three films the Ritz Brothers were in in 1939.
  • Lionel Atwill was in nine films released in 1939.
  • Patsy Kelly’s only film of 1939.
  • Anita Louise was in six films released in 1939.
  • Joseph Calleia was in five films in 1939.
  • Paul Harvey was in nine films released in 1939.

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Watching 1939: The Human Monster/The Dark Eyes of London (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: The Human Monster/The Dark Eyes of London

Release date:  Oct. 19, 1939 (London)

Cast:  Bela Lugosi, Hugh Williams, Greta Gynt, Edmon Ryan, Wilfred Walter

Studio:  John Argyle Productions

Director:  Walter Summers

Plot:
There is a string of drowning deaths in London. Scotland Yard feels insurance salesman Dr. Orlof (Lugosi) is connected, as they are all single men with no family who have taken out insurance claims with his company. Detective Holt (Williams) and Lt. O’Reilly from America (Ryan) investigate the murders.

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