1939: Hollywood’s Greatest Year
Most movie buffs are aware that a disproportionate number of Hollywood’s greatest films were released in 1939. The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Stagecoach, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington are among the 510 titles of the golden age of the Silver Screen that opened in 1939. What film fans may or may not know is the myriad number of films that came out in that amazing year. Whether you are cognizant of this or not, you will most definitely enjoy a new book that has just been released by Rowan & Littlefield Press: 1939: Hollywood’s Greatest Year by Thomas S. Hischak.
Hischak has constructed a fascinating book that explores the films of 1939, setting them side by side with the news, history and major events that were unfolding on each day that a film debuted. Broadway, radio, the music business, literature, and sporting events of the year are also covered. He even goes so far as to include discussion of cartoons and newsreels. The book is laid out chronologically, giving the reader the full scope of those 365 days that were not only overflowing with cinematic masterpieces, but full of rich and compelling national and world events. What makes the book so unique (and a must-read) is the opportunity to see what was going on in the world when each film premiered, witnessing how Hollywood dealt with a troubling time in America by creating a world of escapism and magic.
1939: Hollywood’s Greatest Year is a glorious hardcover tome, featuring a variety of black and white pictures from the year in film, including movie posters and publicity shots. Hischak writes with the judicious objectivity of a well-researched historian (his many books on film and theatre support this), the erudite precision of a scholar, and the passion of a true classic film enthusiast. You will find yourself pouring through the book, looking up your favorite films while stumbling upon others that you have never heard of and devouring the new information with insatiable curiosity. I read it chronologically, which offered a true understanding of what the year 1939 is about. If you are interested in film and its place in our history, or you are simply a film fanatic who likes to dig a little deeper, this is a book that will most assuredly be welcome on your bookshelf or on your digital reader.