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Majestic Hollywood : the greatest films of 1939
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  Library Journal Review

By 1939, Hollywood's studio system was a well-oiled, highly profitable industry. Seeking an escape from the lingering Depression and growing war fears, people flocked to the nation's 18,000-plus theaters, for an average weekly attendance of 60 million. Actors and directors worked at a frantic pace, sometimes making as many as four pictures a year. -Vieira (Sin in Soft Focus: Pre-Code Hollywood) provides a well-illustrated survey of classic films produced in 1939, arranged as they were released, month by month. The author provides brief essays for each film, along with production notes, box office grosses, and critical reactions. Some background is given on why 1939 represents the pinnacle of achievement, soon to be eclipsed by the loss of lucrative European markets and changing moviegoing taste and habits caused by America's plunge into war. -VERDICT Readers will be struck by how studios catered to every audience in their production of Westerns, biopics, screwball comedies, elaborate historical epics, and costume dramas. Although there have been other periods of creative filmmaking, notably the "new wave" of the late 1960s and early 1970s, it's unlikely we will see a Golden Age like 1939 again. This popular history, complete with rare film stills, is recommended for vintage film fans.--Stephen Rees, formerly with Levittown Lib., PA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
<p>1939 was a watershed year. The Great Depression was barely over; economics, politics, and culture braced for war. There was a lull before the storm and Hollywood, as if expecting to be judged by posterity, produced a portfolio of masterpieces. No year before or since has yielded so many beloved works of cinematic art: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Gunga Din, Only Angels Have Wings, Destry Rides Again, Beau Geste, Wuthering Heights, The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, Ninotchka, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Dark Victory, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Women , and of course, Gone With the Wind .<br></p> <p> Majestic Hollywood showcases fifty films from this landmark year, with insightful text on the cultural significance of each movie and entertaining plot descriptions. Also included are stories from the legendary artists who made the films: directors William Wellman and John Ford; cinematographers Arthur Miller and Lee Garmes; actors Judy Garland, Rosalind Russell, Ray Milland, Sir Laurence Olivier, and Olivia de Havilland.<br></p> <p>This world of entertainment is illustrated by rarely seen images. Made during the most glamorous era in movie history, whether scene stills, behind-the-scenes candids, portraits, or poster art, the photos are as distinctive, evocative, and powerful as the films they were meant to publicize. Presenting the best of these images and the stories behind them, this book is a cavalcade of unforgettable films from 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year.<br></p>
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