Watching 1939: Stronger Than Desire (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: 
Stronger Than Desire (1939)

Release date: 
June 30, 1939

Cast: 
Virginia Bruce, Walter Pidgeon, Lee Bowman, Ann Dvorak, Ilka Chase, Ann E. Todd (billed as Ann Todd), Rita Johnson, Richard Lane, Paul Stanton, Ferike Boros, Barbara Bedford (uncredited), Tom Neal (uncredited),

Studio: 
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director: 
Leslie Fenton

Plot:
Elizabeth Flagg (Bruce) is the wife of successful lawyer Tyler Flagg (Pidgeon). Tyler stays busy with his cases and Elizabeth gets bored. To pass the time, she is courted by Michael McLain (Bowman). On the eve of traveling to Europe with her family, Michael blackmails Elizabeth for letters she wrote him. She shoots him, but Michael’s wife Eva (Dvorak) is accused of killing her husband.

Continue reading

Watching 1939: Full Confession (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:
Full Confession (1939)

Release date:
Sept. 8, 1939

Cast:
Victor McLaglen, Sally Eilers, Joseph Calleia, Barry Fitzgerald, Elisabeth Risdon, Pamela Blake (as Adele Pearce), Malcolm ‘Bud’ McTaggart, George Humbert (uncredited)

Studio:
RKO Studios

Director:
John Farrow

Plot:
Near Christmas, Pat McGinnis (McLaglen) kills a police officer during an attempted robbery, but then is is arrested for stealing a fur coat (to throw police off the trail of his other crime) and sent to prison for the theft. Months later, night watchman Michael O’Keefe (Fitzgerald) is arrested for being drunk and disruptive while celebrating his son’s wedding. While arrested, police hold O’Keefe for the murder of a police officer who was shot with his gun, which also had his fingerprints on it. While McGinnis is working toward parol, O’Keefe is going to be sent to the electric chair. Priest Father Loma (Calleia) tries to help both men, receives a confession that could help O’Keefe, but struggles with his religious ethics of sharing that confession or not.

Continue reading

Watching 1939: In Name Only (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:  In Name Only (1939)

Release date:  Aug. 4, 1939

Cast: 
Cary Grant, Carole Lombard, Kay Francis, Charles Coburn, Helen Vinson, Katharine Alexander, Jonathan Hale, Nella Walker, Peggy Ann Garner, Maurice Moscovitch, Alan Bates, Spencer Charters, Grady Sutton (uncredited)

Studio:  RKO Radio Pictures

Director:  John Cromwell

Plot:
Widowed mother and artist Julie Eden (Lombard) meets wealthy Alec Walker (Grant). As the two become friends and fall in love, Julie learns that he’s married to Maida (Francis), who Alec’s parents (Coburn, Walker) adore. Alec has long been unhappy with Maida, who he knows married him for his money, but Maida is unwilling to let him go.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading