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1939 - 70th Anniversary of Hollywood's Greatest Year
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Gone With the Wind

Introduction to 1939, Hollywood's Greatest Year

Seven decades after Hollywood's greatest year, TCM celebrates the amazing accomplishments of 1939 with – what else? – 39 examples of the great filmmaking that abounded during this golden era. It was a relatively carefree time for the country; we had survived the Great Depression, had yet to enter World War II, and were relishing the fruits of the studio system as it reached new heights of productivity and expertise.

Our tribute showcases a sparkling array of 1939's ground-breaking classics grouped by genre. Musicals and Comedies include The Wizard of Oz, which grew over the years into the best-loved musical fantasy of all time; and The Women, a bitingly hilarious, all-star film version of Clare Boothe Luce's satire of bitchy Manhattan socialites.

Among the year's great Westerns was John Ford's definitive Stagecoach, which set the pattern for countless sagebrush sagas to follow and brought stardom for John Wayne. Crime Dramas flourished during the period, and The Roaring Twenties – with James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart as rival bootleggers-is a thrilling example. Action and Adventure epics include the TCM premiere of the stirring biographical drama Stanley and Livingstone, with Spencer Tracy as the heroic 19th century journalist and Cedric Hardwicke, we presume, as the missionary missing in Africa.

Another exciting TCM premiere, Of Mice and Men, falls into the category of Literary Adaptations, being a screen treatment of John Steinbeck's wrenching story of a tragic friendship between itinerant farm workers. Romances don't come any more spectacular than Gone With the Wind, the crown jewel of a truly dazzling year with its historical sweep, riveting story and iconic performances led by Vivien Leigh as spitfire Civil War heroine Scarlett O'Hara.

The festival also features the premiere of the new Warner Home Video documentary 1939 (2009), which recounts the astonishing accomplishments of Hollywood during this historic film year.

by Roger Fristoe

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