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: Miracles for Sale (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:  Miracles for Sale (1939)

Release date:  Aug. 10, 1939

Cast: 
Robert Young, Florence Rice, Frank Craven, Henry Hull, Lee Bowman, Cliff Clark, Astrid Allwyn, Walter Kingsford, Gloria Holden, Frederick Worlock, William Demarest, Harold Minjir, Richard Loo (uncredited), Chester Clute (uncredited), Charles Lane (uncredited)

Studio:  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:  Tod Browning

Plot:
Michael Morgan (Young) is a former magician who has created “Miracles for Sale,” a business of selling illusions and magic tricks. Morgan also works to expose fake spiritualists and psychics. Morgan gets caught up in a series of murders after demon expert Dr. Sabbatt (Worlock) is killed. As other murders follow, Morgan and the police are stumped by the mysterious and magical ways people are killed.

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Watching 1939: The Family Next Door (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 Family Next Door (1939)

Release date:  March 31, 1939

Cast: 
Hugh Herbert, Ruth Donnelly, Joy Hodges, Eddie Quillan, Juanita Quigley, Benny Bartlett, James Bush, Thomas Beck, Cecil Cunningham, Frances Robinson, Delmar Watson (uncredited)

Studio:  Universal Studios

Director:  Joseph Santley

Plot:
Frazzled plumber George Pierce (Herbert) doesn’t make quite enough for his family. His wife, Rose (Donnelly) worries that their lack of money will prevent their oldest daughter Laura (Hodges) from catching a wealthy husband. The family’s home is badly in need of repair and their furniture is old. In an effort to look like they are in the social scene, Rose rents fancy furniture for their home to throw a party, and also invests in a construction deal her son Sammy (Quillan) is in. Rose’s cupid plans for Laura backfire, the land Sammy was sold is faulty, and her two youngest children (Quigley, Barlett) are constantly in trouble.

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Watching 1939: Intermezzo, A Love Story (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: Intermezzo, A Love Story (1939)

Release date: Oct. 6, 1939

Cast: Ingrid Bergman, Leslie Howard, Edna Best, John Halliday, Cecil Kellaway, Ann E. Todd, Enid Bennett, Douglas Scott

Studio: Selznik International Pictures

Director: Gregory Ratoff

Plot:
Successful concert violinist Holger Brandt (Howard) returns home to his wife (Best) and children (Scott, Todd) after a concert tour. He falls for his daughter’s piano teacher Anita Hoffman (Bergman). Holger leaves his wife and goes on tour with Anita.

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Watching 1939: Mad Youth (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:  Mad Youth (1939)

Release date:  July 1939

Cast:  Mary Ainslee, Betty Compson, Willy Castello, Betty Atkinson, Tommy Wonder, Lorelei Readoux, Margaret Fealy, Donald Kerr
Jitter Bugs: Ray Hirsch, Patty Lacey, Eugene Taylor, Aileen Morris, Maxine Taylor, Pearl Tolson

Studio:  Willis Kent Production

Director:  Melville Shyer

Plot:
Lucy Morgan (Compson) hires a male escort, Count DeHoven (Castello). While her mother is away, teenage Marian Morgan (Ainslee) has a big party while her mom was away, which includes jitterbug dancing and strip poker. When Lucy returns home with the Count, he falls for Marian. When Marian and Lucy have a falling out over the Count, Marian decides to go live with Helen, which ends up being a marriage-for-hire and sex trafficking organization.

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Watching 1939: Confessions of a Nazi Spy (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:  Confessions of a Nazi Spy

Release date: 
April 27, 1939

Cast: 
Edward G. Robinson, George Sanders, Francis Lederer, Paul Lukas, Henry O’Neill, Dorothy Tree, Lya Lys, Sig Ruman, Joe Sawyer, Grace Stafford, Ward Bond (uncredited), Regis Toomey (uncredited), John Ridgely (uncredited)

Studio:  Warner Bros.

Director:  Anatole Litvak

Plot:
Dr. Kassell (Lukas) travels from Germany to the United States to rally support for the Nazi party with German Americans. As support and spy activity grows in the United States, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation investigates Nazi activity in the U.S., led by Agent Ed Renard (Robinson).

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