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July 2, 2009

A public service annoucement from My Daily List

True movie lovers know that 1939 was Hollywood’s greatest year with more high-quality, entertaining movies than any other single year. To honor these movies’ 70th anniversary, Turner Classic Movies is airing 39 great movies from 1939. I won’t recommend obvious choices like Gone With the Wind or The Wizard of Oz. Instead, here are 10 that might have been forgotten.

1. Ninotchka (sorry, it’s already aired) Garbo first talked in 1930 but this is the movie in which she first laughed. Screenplay by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder and Walter Reisch and directed by Lubitsch. If these names mean nothing to you, consider this movie the start of your education.

2. Babes in Arms (sorry, it was on after Ninotchka) Mickey Rooney is on my list of people I’d be excited to meet – it’s a one person list right now. If you’ve ever had the urge to put on a show in the barn, this is the movie that put that thought in your mind.

3. Bachelor Mother (airs July 3, 9:00 AM) Ginger Rogers proved that she didn’t need Fred Astaire to make a great movie. Directed by Garson Kanin

4. Idiots Delight (airs July 3, 7:00 AM) If you loved Young Frankenstein singing “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” you should see Clark Gable give it a try. This ain’t no musical though. Expect lots of anti-war dialog that, while not mentioning Nazis, is clearly commenting on world events of the time.

5. Stagecoach (airs July 9, 2009) Okay, “The Searchers” may be the greatest western but this is a close second in my book. This is John Wayne’s first major movie and you can tell from the moment he appears in a wonderful (if slightly shaky) zoom shot, that he was destined to be the Duke from that moment forward.

6. Gunga Din (airs July 16, 2:00 AM) This is the sort of movie that Michael Bay would have made if he were making movies in 1939 (and was talented.) The action scenes and story are top-notch. Plus, you get Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Victor McLaughlin on the screen at the same time.

7. The Roaring Twenties (airs July 10, 6:45 AM) If you’re going to see Johnny Depp in “Public Enemies,” you should also try this movie with James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. It is no slight to Depp, ‘cause he’s really cool, but even in their graves Cagney and Bogart are WAAAYYYY cooler than Johnny Depp. (I think he’d agree.)

8. Dark Victory (airs July 23, 10:00 PM) This one’s for the ladies who are weeping through Cameron Diaz’s newest cry for attention. It’s a tear-jerker but Bette Davis is so fun to watch and has so many great lines that it’s worth every moment. The best line? “I think I’ll have a large order of prognosis negative.”

9. Goodbye, Mr. Chips (airs July 23, 12:00 AM) Okay, this movie is hokey but what modern audiences call hokey, I call charming. What happens when life prevents you from achieving your dreams? Maybe you end up accomplishing more than you ever dreamed possible. (Man! That’s good, I should write movie posters.)

10. On Borrowed Time (airs July 24, 8:00 AM) You’ve seen this movie parodied on a Tree House of Horrors episode of “The Simpsons” and on “The Family Guy”. In a nutshell, Mr. Potter from “It’s A Wonderful Life” traps Death so that no one can die.

For the full list of 39 movies click here. It's worth noting that there are more great movies from 1939 than the 39 being aired on TCM -

Destry Rides Again
Drums Along the Mohawk
The Four Feathers
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Young Mr. Lincoln
Another Thin Man
At the Circus
Dodge City
Jesse James


  1. It is amazing how many classic movies were made that year. I guess I could make it a goal to see all 39 and do a blog about each one. Hmmm . . .

  2. Michael: Sounds like a great idea. I've tried a few blogs like this but I haven't found the right format yet.

    By the way, are you the same Michael Rivers who had his letter read on the Daily Giz Wiz?