1939 in Film
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1939 in Film

The year 1939 in film is widely considered the most outstanding one ever,[1] when it comes to the high quality and high attendance at the large set of the best films that premiered in the year (considered as a percentage of the population in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom at that time).


Nominations for the Academy Award for Best Picture

The year 1939 was one in which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated ten films for Best Picture:

These films came from a wide variety of film genres and sources for their stories and settings, including: historical fiction (Gone with the Wind), contemporary affairs (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Of Mice and Men), love stories, classic novels (Wuthering Heights), fantasies/musicals, (The Wizard of Oz), tragic plays (Dark Victory), westerns (Stagecoach), and comedies (Ninotchka).

Each of the five nominees for Best Director of 1939 went on to become a legendary film director with multiple acclaimed films to his credit: Frank Capra, Victor Fleming, John Ford, Sam Wood, and William Wyler.[]

Top-grossing films

These figures, as reported in the Box Office Digest of March 1940,[4] are not necessarily the sums that were taken in during 1939 - and in particular for films that made their premieres in October, November, and December. Note that the number one film in this list premiered in mid-December, and it certainly did not take in $200,000,000 in December 1939. At the time, box office numbers were reported as a percentage of business for each theater in comparison to "normal" business. For example, Jesse James performed at 182% and The Wizard of Oz at 156%. This puts the astounding 388% that Gone with the Wind performed at in perspective for the time. This type of reporting is one reason that exact dollar grosses for films of this period are unreliable at best.

Academy Awards

1939 film releases






Notable films released in 1939

U.S.A. unless stated












Comedy film series

Animated short film series





  1. ^ Giltz, Michael (February 15, 2008). "Michael Giltz: DVDs: 1939 - The Best Year For Movies...Ever!". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012.
  2. ^ Fristoe, Roger. "Introduction to 1939, Hollywood's Greatest Year". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2011.
  3. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (October 2, 2009). "1939: Film's finest year". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2011.
  4. ^ Box Office Digest, March 1940, p.18
  5. ^ Bloomberg.com / Box Office Mojo.com
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Top Grossing Movies of 1939 - UMR". www.ultimatemovierankings.com.
  7. ^ Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p56
  8. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (2013). The Making of The Wizard of Oz (75th Anniversary ed.). Chicago Review Press. p. 288. ISBN 978-1613748329.
  9. ^ Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p57
  10. ^ Ninotchka on IMDb
  11. ^ 52 FEATURE FILMS ON FOX '39-40 LIST: Five Will Cost $2,000,000 Each--Zanuck to Supervise 24 Large Productions 'THE RAINS CAME' ON BILL 'Drums Along Mohawk', 'Little Old New York', 'Brigham Young' Scheduled Edmonds's Story in Color Elsa Maxwell Featured New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 04 Apr 1939: 29.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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