By far the best western film of 1939, Stagecoach is a cinema treasure for a variety of different reasons, the most important being it was the film that put John Wayne on the movie map and also is the first major pairing of director John Ford and star Wayne.

Ford and Wayne made 14 films together. They were friends as well…buddies to the end. And, that friendship comes across on screen in each of their films. But, it all truly began with Stagecoach. I said earlier the pair had made 14 films together…well, that is not counting the seven films Ford made with Wayne as just an extra in the late 1920s/early 1930s.

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One of the most beloved and acclaimed movies of the 20th Century, Gone with the Wind is the winner of eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Best Actress winner Vivien Leigh stars as Scarlett O’Hara, who is one of the most timeless characters in cinema history, not to mention one of the prettiest Southern Belles ever. From Margaret Mitchell’s iconic novel on life in the South before, after, and during the Civil War, Scarlett becomes engrained in the American consciousness as the epitome of beauty and selfishness. She spends most of her time pining over a man she can never have (Ashley Wilkes), and when she wins him over, she wants the man she has had all along (the infamous Rhett Butler). Her fickleness comes off mostly as charming – the men in her life understand that this is how she is. And every time she is let down by one of her beaus, her Mammy (Best Supporting Actress winner Hattie McDaniel) is right there to help Scarlett survive. After all, tomorrow is another day!

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Ninotchka might be the greatest unknown treasure of 1939. Many people have never heard of it, yet alone seen it. It is one of the finest comedies of the 1930s, and in my opinion, Greta Garbo’s best role.

Ninotchka is most famous and known for the fact that it’s a Greta Garbo comedy. Garbo was a well-known actress – iconic almost – so when she made her first comedy, I guess it was natural that the film’s tagline of “Garbo Laughs” revolves around only her and not around the movie, director, or other cast members.

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When looking back throughout the history of cinema, there are years that standout: 1941 (Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon, Sergeant York, How Green Was My Valley, Ball of Fire, The Lady Eve and Sullivan’s Travels (both from Preston Sturges) and Joan Fontaine’s Oscar-winning performance in Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion), 1951 (The African Queen, A Streetcar Named Desire, An American in Paris, A Place in the Sun), 1969, (Midnight Cowboy, Easy Rider, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Wild Bunch) and 1974 (Chinatown, The Conversation, The Godfather, Part II, A Woman Under the Influence and Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein (both by Mel Brooks)) are all good film years. But, 1939 stands alone as the film year to beat all other film years.

Here’s a list of noted films that were released 75 years ago in 1939:

Babes in Arms

Beau Geste

Dark Victory (Best Picture (Outstanding Production) nominee)

Destry Rides Again

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