Watching 1939: Tarzan Finds a Son! (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:
Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939)

tarzan finds a son

Release date:
June 16, 1939

Cast:
Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan, Johnny Sheffield, Ian Hunter, Frieda Inescort, Henry Stephenson, Henry Wilcoxon, Laraine Day, Morton Lowry

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Richard Thorpe

Plot:
When a plane crashes in the jungle, Cheetah the Ape finds there is a baby on board. Bringing the baby to Tarzan (Weissmuller) and Jane (O’Sullivan), they raise the child as their own in the jungle. When five years pass, relatives of the baby bring a search party (Hunter, Inescort, Stephenson) to find survivors of the crash, because an inheritance is at stake.

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Watching 1939: Within the Law (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.

within the law1939 film:
Within the Law (1939)

Release date:
March 17, 1939

Cast:
Ruth Hussey, Tom Neal, Paul Kelly, William Gargan, Paul Cavanagh, Rita Johnson, Samuel S. Hinds, Lynne Carver, Sidney Blackmer, James Burke, Frank Orth,

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Gustav Machatý

Plot:
Mary Turner (Hussey) is falsely accused of grand larceny when stolen goods are planted on her. She’s sent to jail for a three year stretch, and while she’s there, she studies law books. When she gets out, she learns how to break the law … but within the law.

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Watching 1939: The Under-Pup (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.

under pup1939 film:
The Under-Pup (1939)

Release date:
Aug. 24, 1939

Cast:
Gloria Jean, Robert Cummings, Nan Grey, Beulah Bondi, C. Aubrey Smith, Virginia Weidler, Margaret Lindsey, Shirley Mills, Paul Cavanagh, Billy Gilbert, Raymond Walburn, Frank Jenks, Billy Gilbert, Samuel S. Hinds, Ernest Truex, Doris Lloyd, Dickie Moore, Cecil Kellaway (uncredited), Jean Porter (uncredited)

Studio:
Universal Studios

Director:
Richard Wallace

Plot:
Pip Emma (Jean) lives in New York City and is streetwise, loyal to her family and a beautiful singer. She wins a contest to go to summer camp with wealthy girls. Her excitement turns to dismay when they (Gillis, Mills) make fun of her. She only befriends one girl, Janet Cooper (Weidler), who is sad because her parents are getting a divorce. As Pip Emma stands up for herself, the girls slowly start to like her.

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Watching 1939: Calling Dr. Kildare (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: 

Calling Dr. Kildare (1939)

calling dr. kildare3

Release date: 

April 28, 1939

Cast: 

Lew Ayres, Lionel Barrymore, Laraine Day, Lana Turner, Nat Pendleton, Marie Blake, Frank Ortho, Bobs Watson, Lynn Carver, Emma Dunn, Samuel S. Hinds, Walter Kingsford, Alma Kruger, Phillip Terry, Harlan Briggs, Henry Hunter, Reed Hadley, Nell Craig, Reed Hadley, George Offerman Jr.

Studio: 

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director: 

Harold S. Bucquet      

Plot:

When James Kildare (Ayres) and physician leader Dr. Gillespie (Barrymore) have an argument, Dr. Gillespie fires Dr. Kildare from Blair General Hospital and has him work at a community clinic. To keep an eye on him, Dr. Gillespie hires nurse Mary Lamont (Day). While at the clinic, a Dr. Kildare cares for a patient with a gunshot wound and doesn’t report it to the police. Dr. Kildare gets entangled in the crime associated and with the patient’s sister, Rosalie (Turner).

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Watching 1939: Tell No Tales (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: 
Tell No Tales (1939)

Release date: 
May 12, 1939

Cast: 
Melvyn Douglas, Louise Platt, Gene Lockhart, Douglass Dumbrille, Florence George, Halliwell Hobbes, Zeffie Tilbury, Harlan Briggs, Sara Haden, Hobart Cavanaugh, Oscar O’Shea, Theresa Harris, Esther Dale, Phillip Terry (uncredited)

Studio: 
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director: 
Leslie Fenton

Plot:
On the 75th anniversary of The Evening Guardian newspaper, the publisher Matt Cooper (Dumbrille) tells editor Michael Cassidy (Douglas) that the newspaper is being shut down. Cooper also owns a scandal paper that Cassidy thinks is trash. To help prove The Evening Guardian’s value, Cassidy works on solving a prominent kidnapping case by tracing a $100 bill tied to the case. He seeks out Ellen Frazier (Platt), a teacher who was the only witness to the kidnapping. Cassidy and Frazier work together to solve the case so that Cassidy can save the newspaper.

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Watching 1939: Private Detective (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: 
Private Detective (1939)

Release date: 
Dec. 9, 1939

Cast: 
Jane Wyman, Dick Foran, Gloria Dickson, John Eldredge, Maxie Rosenbloom, John Ridgely, Morgan Conway, Joseph Crehan, Vera Lewis, Joseph Crehan, Willie Best, Henry Blair, Leo Gorcey (uncredited)

Studio: 
Warner Bros.

Director: 
Noel Smith

Plot:
Ex-husband and wife Millard Lannon (Eldredge) and Mona Lannon (Dickson) are fighting for custody of their son Bobby (Blair), with Millard trying to take the son from his wife. When Millard is killed, Mona is suspected, and private detective Myrna Winslow (Wyman) takes the case to prove she’s innocent. This is to the chagrin of her police officer boyfriend, Jim Rickey (Foran), who just wants to get married.

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Watching 1939: Nick Carter, Master Detective (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: 
Nick Carter, Master Detective (1939)

Release date: 
Dec. 13, 1939

Cast: 
Walter Pidgeon, Rita Johnson, Henry Hull, Stanley Ridges, Donald Meek, Addison Richards, Sterling Holloway, Frank Faylen, Henry Victor, Milburn Stone, Martin Kosleck, Andrew Tombes (uncredited)

Studio: 
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director: 
Jacques Tourneur

Plot:
Undercover detective Nick Carter (Pidgeon) is hired to investigate how top-secret blueprints continuously go missing from the Radex Airplane Factory. The airplane plant is working to develop a high-speed plane for the government, and spies are working to get their hands on the plans.

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Watching 1939: Winter Carnival (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: 
Winter Carnival (1939)

Release date: 
July 28, 1939

Cast: 
Ann Sheridan, Richard Carlson, Helen Parrish, James Corner, Alan Baldwin, Robert Armstrong, Marsha Hunt, Joan Leslie (billed as Joan Brodel), Jimmy Butler, Virginia Gilmore, Cecil Cunningham, Morton Lowry, Robert Walker (uncredited)

Studio: 
Walter Wanger Productions, released through United Artists

Director: 
Charles Reisner

Plot:
After a well-publicized divorce to Count Olaf Von Lundborg (Lowry), Jill Baxter (Sheridan) visits Dartmouth College during its Winter Carnival. Upon her return, she finds her old boyfriend, John Wilden (Carlson), who is now a professor at the school and was jilted by Jill when she was crowned queen of the Winter Carnival years earlier. Jill’s younger sister Ann (Parrish) is also attending the carnival and falls for the head of the ski team, Mickey Allen (Corner), but as she receives attention from the other athletes, it looks like Ann may follow in Jill’s footsteps.

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Watching 1939: The Spirit of Culver (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 Spirit of Culver (1939)

Release date: 
March 8, 1939

Cast: 
Jackie Cooper, Freddie Bartholomew, Andy Devine, Henry Hull, Tim Holt, Jackie Moran, Gene Reynolds, Kathryn Kane, Walter Tetley, Pierre Watkin, John Hamilton, Irving Bacon (uncredited), Lon McCallister (uncredited), Charles Smith (uncredited)

Studio: 
Universal Pictures

Director: 
Joseph Santley

Plot:
Tom Allen (Cooper) is an orphan who’s father was killed in World War I and his mother died shortly after. Now living on the streets, Tom meets Tubby (Devine) who works at an American Legion soup kitchen for teens. Tubby gives Tom a job and learns that Tom’s father was a war hero and was awarded the Medal of Honor. Because of this, Tom is given a scholarship to attend Culber Military Academy. Starting off with a chip on his shoulder, Tom isn’t well-liked by the students. But his roommate Bob Randolph (Bartholomew) works past his differences with Tom to help him fit in and warm up to the other students.

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Watching 1939: Mystery Plane (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: 
Mystery Plane (1939)

Release date: 
March 8, 1939

Cast: 
John Trent, Marjorie Reynolds, Milburn Stone, Jason Robards Sr., George Lynn (billed as Peter George Lynn), Polly Anne Young, Lucien Littlefield, Tommy Bupp, Betsy Gay

Studio: 
Monogram Pictures

Director: 
George Waggner

Plot:
As a child, “Tailspin” Tommy Tompkins idolizes World War I aviation hero, ‘Brandy’ Rand (Lynn), who became a stunt flier after the war. After meeting Brandy as a child, Tommy doesn’t hear about his whereabouts again and Tommy himself becomes an aviator as an adult. Tommy and his aviation partner Skeeter (Stone) design a radio-controlled bombing device, which they would like to present to the U.S. Army. Little do they know that a ring of spies is also eager to get their hands on the device – including Tommy’s childhood hero.

1939 Notes:
• By the Numbers:
– John Trent was in four films released in 1939. In all of those films, he was billed as “Tailspin Tommy.” Trent was an aviator who went into films and left films by 1941.
– Peter George Lynn was in 10 films released in 1939. Later billed as George Lynn, in 1939, he was billed as Peter Lynn and Peter George Lynn.
– Polly Ann Young was in four films released in 1939.
– Lucien Littlefield was in seven films released in 1939.

Other trivia: 
• One of four “Tailspin Tommy” films released in 1939, all released by Monogram Pictures. Prior to the feature-length 1939 series, there were Tailspin Tommy serials in 1934.
• The character of Tailspin Tommy is based on a comic strip by Hal Forrest and Glenn Chaffin.

My review: Searching for the “1939 feature”:
In the 1930s, Hollywood talent scouts seemed to pluck any every day (but good-looking) person from their daily life and put them in front of the cameras.

One of those people was John Trent, a commercial pilot noticed by a film executive on a flight. Trent was given a screen test, signed a contract, and made 15 films from 1931 to 1941 before giving up on his film career.

Towards the end of his career, Trent was cast as the comic strip character Tailspin Tommy, which followed a young aviator’s adventures.

Tailspin Tommy was first seen in serial shorts in the mid-1930s, and Trent brought the character to screen in four feature-length films in 1939.

The first of these films is today’s 1939 film, “Mystery Plane.”

The film begins in the 1920s as we see former World War I hero, Brandy Rand, performing aviation stunts with a group of children marveling at his performance. One of those children is Tommy, who gets the opportunity to meet his hero and is encouraged to work towards an aviation career.

As an adult, Tommy is working his dream job as a pilot and inventing aviation materials to aid the Army. Enemy spies are also interested in Tommy’s work – including Brandy Rand.

For a low-budget Monogram film, “Mystery Plane” is a fun film. I had never heard of Tailspin Tommy before watching “Mystery Plane,” so it was interesting to learn about that character. I also love discovery stories like John Trent’s.

The film co-stars Marjorie Reynolds (who has recently been in several of our 1939 features) as a female aviator. We also see Loretta Young’s sister, Polly Ann Young, who sounds just like her sister if you close your eyes.

Running at only an hour, this film does jump around a bit and potentially have some plot holes, but if you are looking for mindless, brief entertainment, this won’t disappoint.

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