Watching 1939: Wuthering Heights (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:  Wuthering Heights (1939)

Release date:  March 24, 1939

Cast:  Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier, David Niven, Flora Robson, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Hugh Williams, Leo G. Carroll, Cecil Kellaway, Miles Mander, Sarita Wooton, Rex Downing, Douglas Scott, Donald Crisp

Studio:  The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Director:  William Wyler

Plot:
Mr. Earnshaw (Kellaway) lives with his two children Hindley (Scott) and Cathy (Wooton) at the family farmhouse, Wuthering Heights. When returning from a trip to London, Earnshaw brings home a young gypsy waif, Heathcliff (Downing). Heathcliff is raised as Earnshaw’s own with Hindley and Cathy – Hindley hates Heathcliff and Cathy befriends him, eventually falling in love with him. After Earnshaw dies the three grow up, Hindley (Williams) becomes the master of Wuthering Heights, drinks too much, and puts Heathcliff (Olivier) where he feels he belongs, as a servant. Cathy (Oberon) falls in love with Heathcliff, but he doesn’t behave in the grand manner she wants out of life and she doesn’t feel he can give her the life she wants. Their paths divide and come back together, and their mutual love destroys everything around them.

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Watching 1939: Pacific Liner (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:  Pacific Liner (1939)

Release date:  Jan. 6, 1939

Cast:  Victor McLaglen, Chester Morris, Wendy Barrie, Barry Fitzgerald, Alan Hale, Emory Parnell, Halliwell Hobbes, Allan Lane, Paul Guilfoyle, Cy Kendall, Florence Lake (uncredited), Douglas Walton (uncredited), Ernest Whitman (uncredited)

Studio:  RKO Radio Pictures

Director:  Lew Landers

Plot:
Set in 1932, Crusher “The Dragon” McKay (McLaglen) is the engineer of a cruise ship heading from Shanghai to San Fransisco. McKay is no-nonsense and works his men hard, especially in the boiler room, so that the ship will run at a fast pace and make good time. When there is a cholera outbreak in the decks below, Doctor Craig (Morris) takes over and calls the shots.

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Watching 1939: Lady of the Tropics (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:  Lady of the Tropics (1939)

Release date:  Aug. 11, 1939

Cast:  Robert Taylor, Hedy Lamarr, Joseph Schildkraut, Mary Taylor, Ernest Cossart, Gloria Franklin, Charles Trowbridge, Frederick Worlock, Cecil Cunningham, Natalie Moorhead, Willie Fung (uncredited), Charles Judels (uncredited)

Studio:  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:  Jack Conway, Leslie Fenton (uncredited)

Plot:
A wealthy, jet setting vacation group is seeing the world on a yacht and stop in French Saigon, or Indochina. The party includes American playboy Bill Carey (Taylor), who is traveling with the family of his fiancee Dolly (Mary Taylor). When they arrive, the tourists learn about people of mixed race who are half French, half Asian. A priest, Father Antoine (Cossart) who describes these individuals as flying fish “trying to stay, flying above the water only to fall into the ocean and die.” One woman who is both French and Indochinese is Manon DeVargnes (Lamarr), who desperately wants to go to Paris. Bill and Manon fall in love and marry, but society keeps them from being happy or leaving Saigon.

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Watching 1939: Blondie Takes a Vacation (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: Blondie Takes a Vacation (1939)

Release date: July 20, 1939

Cast: Penny Singleton, Arthur Lake, Larry Simms, Danny Mummert, Daisy the Dog, Donald Meek, Donald MacBride, Thomas W. Ross, Elizabeth Dunne, Robert Wilcox, Harlan Briggs, Irving Bacon, Milton Kibbee (uncredited)

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Director: Frank R. Strayer

Plot:
After originally missing their vacation, Blondie (Singleton), Dagwood (Lake) and Baby Dumpling (Simms) head to the mountains on vacation and meet a series of issues. After their reservations are canceled at their first hotel, they end up as the only guests at a mountain resort whose business is failing. The family helps get the resort back up on its feet, making their trip more work than a vacation.

1939 Notes:
• The third Blondie film of the 28 film series from 1938 to 1950.
• Three Blondie films were released in 1939: Blondie Meets the Boss, Blondie Takes a Vacation, Blondie Brings Up Baby

Other trivia:
• Harry Davenport was originally going to co-star in this film but had to drop out due to his role in “Gone with the Wind” (1939), according to the Hollywood Reporter.
• Filmed at Cedar Lake and Big Bear in California

Larry Simms, Penny Singleton, Arthur Lake in “Blondie Takes a Vacation”

My review: Searching for the “1939 feature”:
The Blondie comic strip was re-created as a radio show and then a film series.

The film series, starring Arthur Lake, Penny Singleton and Larry Simms, had 28 films, and three of those were released in 1939: Blondie Meets the Boss, Blondie Takes a Vacation, and Blondie Brings up Baby.

“Blondie Takes a Vacation” is the usual mad-cap story with Blondie (played by Penny Singleton) putting up with Dagwood (played by Arthur Lake) being a knucklehead. Larry Simms as Baby Dumpling probably has the most sense of anyone in the family.

While “Blondie Meets the Boss” had some painful moments, “Blondie Takes a Vacation” is better. There are some slapstick moments that are predictable, like Baby Dumpling thinking he finds a “kitty,” but it’s a skunk. Or a vacuum bag swelling up like a balloon and floating to the ceiling. But I like this one because it puts the family in a different setting – on vacation.

The family goes to the mountains on the vacation that they were denied in the last film (“Blondie Meets the Boss”). But things, of course, run afoul. On the train to vacation, they irritate a man sitting near them (Donald MacBride) who happens to own the resort they are going to. When he sees the family enter, he kicks them out and refuses to house them. The family finds a nearby hotel, which is nice but failing because of the other resort. Rather than resting during their vacation, Blondie and Dagwood spend their trip working to help the elderly couple make their hotel a success.

This series of films can be tiresome to me, but these serial films were generally cheap to make and did alright in theaters. There were 28 blondie films in all. This one is more interesting because they are out of their home and also helping others.

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Watching 1939: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (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 Huckleberry Finn (1939)

Release date:  Feb. 10, 1939

Cast:  Mickey Rooney, Rex Ingram, Walter Connolly, William Frawley, Lynne Carver, Clara Blandick, Elisabeth Risdon, Minor Watson, Jo Ann Sayers, Victor Kilian, Irving Bacon (uncredited), Delmar Watson, Billy Watson, Harry Watson

Studio:  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:  Richard Thorpe

Plot:
Huckleberry Finn (Rooney) is a troublemaking orphan living with a widow (Risdon) and her sister (Blandick). Huckleberry skips school, lies and smokes pipes. Huckleberry feels bad when he realizes that he is going to disappoint the Widow because he isn’t going to advance at school. When his father who is believed to be dead (Kilian) shows up, he kidnaps his son. Huckleberry runs away, travels down the river and finds Jim (Ingram), the Widow’s slave that Huckleberry befriended.

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Watching 1939: …One Third of a Nation… (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:  …One Third of a Nation… (1939)

Release date:  Feb. 10, 1939

Cast:  Sylvia Sidney, Leif Erickson, Sidney Lumet, Myron McCormick, Hiram Sherman, Muriel Hutchison, Percy Waram, Charles Dingle, Otto Hulett, Iris Adrian, Baruch Lumet

Studio:  Paramount Pictures

Director:  Dudley Murphy

Plot:
The tenement building where Mary Rogers (Sidney) and her family lives catches on fire. Her brother Joey (Lumet) falls from a fire escape and is injured and has to walk with crutches and a brace on his leg. The owner of the tenement building, Peter (Erickson) passes the fire as its happening and helps the Rogers. Peter is inspired to improve the buildings his family has owned for years, but he meets opposition from his sister and lawyer.

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Watching 1939: Made for Each Other (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:  Made for Each Other (1939)

Release date:  Feb. 10, 1939

Cast:  Carole Lombard, James Stewart, Charles Coburn, Lucile Watson, Bonnie Belle Barber, Eddie Quillan, Alma Kruger, Irving Bacon, Louise Beavers, Ward Bond, Esther Dale, Harry Davenport, Olin Howland, Ruth Weston, Donald Briggs (uncredited)

Studio:  Selznick International Pictures

Director:  John Cromwell

Plot:
While in Boston for business, attorney John Mason (Stewart) marries Jane (Lombard) after only knowing her for a few days. Not everyone is excited about the new couple’s marriage. John’s demanding boss, Judge Doolittle (Coburn), isn’t a fan of the marriage and doesn’t approve of honeymoons. Gossip also paired John with Doolittle’s daughter, Eunice (Weston). John’s mother (Watson) also passed out dead in a faint and is critical of everything Jane does. The couple faces tensions as they get to know each other, particularly with John’s job. The couple has a baby and on New Year’s Eve of 1938-39, the child comes critically ill.

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