Film historians always point to 1939 as the year Hollywood made an exceptional number of great pictures.
This was the year, after all, that generated Gone With The Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, Ninotchka, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Wuthering Heights, Goodbye, Mr. Chips and Jesse James, among other canons of the classic library.
Today, we decided to look at the films of that year which grossed the most money… and that translates to the films seen by the most moviegoers. Certainly, Gone With The Wind tops the list, and remains perhaps the biggest grossing blockbuster of all time when adjusted for inflation.
And, surprise! Among the most successful films of the year were two which might be deemed programmers from MGM.
Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever — the seventh in the series of 16 Andy Hardys — which starred Mickey Rooney, Lewis Stone (there they are above) and Ann Rutherford. In this one, the young Andy falls for his drama teacher, played by the all-but-forgotten Helen Gilbert. And guess what? It grossed over $6,000,000! That was a huge sum back in 1939.
And then there is the third of six films in the Thin Man series, Another Thin Man, with the usual cast of characters, also grossed over 6 Million dollars. William Powell and Myrna Loy, of course, on are on hand as Nick and Nora Charles. In this installment, they untangle a crime plot accompanied by a new baby. A solid cast includes Virginia Gray, Tom Neal and Sheldon Leonard.
Is there any wonder that Mickey Rooney, not to mention Powell and Loy, were among the biggest stars of the era?