Watching 1939: Idiot’s Delight (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: Idiot’s Delight (1939)

Release date:  Premiered Jan. 27, 1939

Cast:  Norma Shearer, Clark Gable, Edward Arnold, Charles Coburn, Joseph Schildkraut, Burgess Meredith, Laura Hope Crews, Richard ‘Skeets’ Gallagher, Peter Willes, Pat Paterson, Hobart Cavanaugh (uncredited), Mitchell Lewis (uncredited), Frank Faylen (uncredited)
Les Blondes: Virginia Grey, Virginia Dale, Paula Stone, Bernadene Hayes, Joan Marsh, Lorraine Krueger

Studio:  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:  Clarence Brown

Plot:
After World War I, Harry Van (Gable) hopes to break into show business. He travels around the country performing and runs into an acrobat, Irene (Shearer). After a brief acquaintance, the two are separated for more than 20 years. Harry is later traveling through Europe in 1939 with his dance group, Les Blondes en route to Geneva. Their train is stopped and can’t cross the frontier because of the political climate and the impending possibility of war. Harry and his troupe have to stay at an Alpine hotel with other stopped due to the conflict including a scientist (Coburn), honeymooners (Paterson, Willes), a political activist (Meredith), and a munitions tycoon (Arnold) and his mistress, Russian countess, who Van thinks he recognizes as Irene.

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Watching 1939: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (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:Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939)

Release date: Oct. 17, 1939

Cast: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold, Guy Kibbee, Thomas Mitchell, Eugene Pallette, Beulah Bondi, Harry Carey, H.B. Warner, Astrid Allwyn, Ruth Donnelly, Grant Mitchell, Porter Hall, H.B. Warner, Larry Simms (as Baby Dumpling), Billy Watson, Delmar Watson, Garry Watson, Harry Watson, Edward Brophy (uncredited), Jack Carson (uncredited), Craig Stevens (uncredited), Robert Sterling (uncredited), Milton Kibbee (uncredited), Dickie Jones (uncredited), Frances Gifford (uncredited), Ann Doran (uncredited)

Studio:  Columbia Pictures

Director:  Frank Capra

Plot:
When a senator dies, corrupt political boss Jim Taylor (Arnold) needs to fill the position with someone he can control. Patriotic but unexperienced Jefferson Smith (Stewart) is appointed in the place by his governor (Kibbee) and he is guided by Senator Paine (Rains), who is also controlled by Taylor, in his journey to Washington, D.C. Smith’s secretary Clarissa Saunders (Arthur), thinks Smith’s patriotism is bunk and tries to railroad him with a bad press story, but once she sees he is sincere supports him. While Smith is supposed to be a “Yes” man, he becomes determined to fight the corrupt senate politics.

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