Majestic Hollywood: The Greatest Films of 1939

Running Pr. 2013. 208p. photos. index. ISBN 9780762451562. $22.95; ebk. ISBN 9780762451647. FILM
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.
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