Watching 1939: Another Thin Man (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: 
Another Thin Man (1939)

Release date: 
Nov. 17, 1939

William Powell, Myrna Loy, Asta, Virginia Grey, Otto Kruger, C. Aubrey Smith, Ruth Hussey, Nat Pendleton, Patric Knowles, Tom Neal, Phyllis Gordon, Don Costello, Harry Bellaver, William A. Poulsen, Muriel Hutchison, Marjorie Main, Abner Biberman, Dick Elliott (uncredited), Shemp Howard (uncredited), Carmen D’Antonio (uncredited), Miguel Fernández Mila (uncredited),


W.S. Van Dyke

Nick (Powell) and Nora (Loy) Charles return to New York after a vacation with their dog Asta and their one-year-old baby Nickie, Jr. (Poulsen). An old family friend, Colonel MacFay (Smith) calls them to his home, because he believes there is a threat on his life as he receives threats. When he is killed, Nick and Nora investigate the murder. Suspects include the Colonel’s adopted daughter (Grey), a strange nurse (Hussey), the daughter’s boyfriend (Neal) and the person sending threats to the Colonel, Phil Church (Leonard).

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Watching 1939: Blackmail (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: Blackmail

Release date: Sept. 9, 1939

Cast: Edward G. Robinson, Ruth Hussey, Gene Lockhart, Bobs Watson, Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams, John Wray, Arthur Hohl, Esther Dale, Willie Best (uncredited)

Studio:  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director: H.C. Potter

Plot: John Ingram (Robinson) has a successful business fighting oil fires and lives a happy life with his family (Hussey, Watson). But his not so savory past comes to light when he’s seen in a newsreel and someone tries to blackmail him.

1939 Notes:
• Edward G. Robinson was only in two films in 1939.
• Bob Watson was in five films released in 1939.
• Ruth Hussey was in seven films released in 1939.
• Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams was in nine films in 1939.

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Birthday Blogathon: Film #2 The Uninvited 1944

This is part of the 2nd Annual Birthday mini-blogathon, sharing my favorite movies leading up to my birthday week.

Starring: Ray Milland as Rick, Ruth Hussey as Pamela, Gail Russell as Stella, Donald Crisp as Stella’s grandfather the commander, Cornelia Otis Skinner as Miss Holloway, Alan Napier as Dr. Scott

Brief Plot: Brother and sister Rick and Pamela move into a beautiful, abandoned home along the English seaside. Rick falls in love with mysterious Stella who was born in the house and is strangely drawn to it. Rick and Pamela discover the house is haunted and Stella is connected to the ghosts.

Pamela (Ruth Hussey) and Rick (Ray Milland) listen to ghostly sobbing.
Screencap by J.P.

Why I love it: I’m not a fan of scary movies, but “The Uninvited” has the perfect mix of class, suspense and comedy to draw in a scaredy-cat like me. The film movies at a fairly quick pace and has an intriguing twist at the end.

The Actors:  Ruth Hussey and Ray Milland are an interesting pair to be the leads in a film as brother and sister, Pamela and Rick. Hussey is usually seen in a supporting role. In “The Uninvited,” she may also be considered a supporting star to Gail Russell, but the two may have equivalent screen time.

Milland and Hussey may not be names that casual movie fans would know, which make them even more entertaining to watch.

To round out the cast, Gail Russel’s exotic beauty is perfect for the haunting character of Stella, and Donald Crisp is always the perfect curmudgeon old man, as Stella’s grandfather.

One actor I enjoy spotting in classic films is Alan Napier who plays a doctor in the film. You may know Napier as Alfred, Batman’s butler, in the 1960s “Batman” television show.

It is also a real treat to see Cornelia Otis Skinner as batty Miss Holloway. Skinner was primarily on Broadway and also author of books such as “Our Hearts Were Young a Gay,” a book about Skinner’s youth. Oddly enough, Gail Russell went on to play Skinner in the film adaptation of the book.

Stella is in a trance during the sceance.

Scary:  I have a hard time with scary films, but I enjoy 1940s horror films such as “The Uninvited.” Unlike horror movies of the 1970s to today, “The Uninvited” has some scary moments but has enough heart and humor to balance it out.

A few scenes hair raising scenes (spoilers):

-Pamela and Rick standing on top of the stairs, looking down into the darkness and hearing ghostly sobbing.

-Fresh flowers dying in the room that seems the most haunted

-The fact that they hold a séance and then Stella goes into a trance and starts speaking other languages.

Mad mama ghost

-When they realize they have two ghosts

-When Stella’s dead mom appears in ghost form and is out to get her

You can also learn some lessons on how to tell if your house is haunted. For example, if your dog and cat refuse to go up the stairs, and rooms suddenly get cold, your home may be haunted. Also, if a woman like Cornelia Otis Skinner has a 20 foot painting of her dead best friend in her office, she may be off her rocker.

It’s really unnatural to have such a large photo of your dead best friend, as Cornelia Otis Skinner does.

Comedic: Though “The Uninvited” is categorized as mystery and horror, it has some very funny scenes:

-As Rick and Pamela are listening to the sobbing ghost, Pamela is calm and Rick is freaking out. He says to his calm sister, “Take hold of yourself, Pam, I’m going to search the place. There has to be a logical explanation for this” when Rick is the one out of his wits.

-Rick goes sailing with Stella and gets sea sick

-Some humorous lines, such as prior to the séance Rick discusses how they are foolish, “People just get messages from Uncle Oswald on how to find an old tooth brush.”

 To review: The English seashore setting, the actors and the touching plot all wrap up to be a perfect present of a film. The 1940s seem to have produced some of my favorite movies, with perfect casting and scripts. “The Uninvited” isn’t just suspenseful but also funny and heartfelt.

This concludes Day 2 of Birthday Blogathon Week. Please stop by again tomorrow for another favorite film of mine!

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