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The year 1939 in motion pictures is widely considered the most outstanding one ever, when it comes to the high quality and high attendance at the large set of the best films that premiered in the year (considered as a percentage of the population in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom at that time).
The year 1939 was one in which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated ten films for Best Picture:
These films came from a wide variety of film genres and sources for their stories and settings, including: historical fiction (Gone with the Wind), contemporary affairs (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Of Mice and Men), love stories, classic novels (Wuthering Heights), fantasies/musicals, (The Wizard of Oz), tragic plays (Dark Victory), westerns (Stagecoach), and comedies (Ninotchka).
Each of the five nominees for Best Director of 1939 went on to become legendary film directors with multiple acclaimed films to their credit: Frank Capra, Victor Fleming, John Ford, Sam Wood, and William Wyler.
These figures, as reported in the Box Office Digest of March 1940, are not necessarily the sums that were taken in during 1939 – and in particular for films that made their premieres in October, November, and December. Note that the number one film in this list premiered in mid-December, and it certainly did not take in $200,000,000 in December 1939. At the time, box office numbers were reported as a percentage of business for each theater in comparison to "normal" business. For example, Jesse James performed at 182% and The Wizard of Oz at 156%. This puts the astounding 388% that Gone with the Wind performed at in perspective for the time. This type of reporting is one reason that exact dollar grosses for films of this period are unreliable at best.
U.S.A. unless stated
|1.||Gone with the Wind||MGM/Selznick||Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland, Leslie Howard, Hattie McDaniel and Butterfly McQueen||$198,676,459|
|2.||Jesse James||20th Century Fox||Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda||$9,460,000|
|3.||Mr. Smith Goes to Washington||Columbia||James Stewart, Jean Arthur and Claude Rains||$9,600,000|
|4.||The Rains Came||20th Century Fox||Myrna Loy, Tyrone Power and George Brent||$9,400,000|
|5.||Babes in Arms||MGM||Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney||$9,240,000|
|6.||Dodge City||Warner Bros.||Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and Bruce Cabot||$6,750,000|
|7.||Goodbye, Mr. Chips||MGM/Denham||Robert Donat and Greer Garson||$3,252,000|
|8.||The Wizard of Oz||MGM||Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Billie Burke and Margaret Hamilton||$38,757,196|
|9.||The Hunchback of Notre Dame||RKO||Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara||$3,155,000|
|10.||Gunga Din||RKO||Cary Grant||$2,807,000|
|11.||Ninotchka||MGM||Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas||$2,279,000|
|12.||The Women||MGM||Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell and Joan Fontaine||$2,270,000|
|13.||Drums Along the Mohawk||20th Century Fox||Claudette Colbert and Henry Fonda||$2,000,000|
|14.||Stanley and Livingstone||20th Century Fox||Spencer Tracy||$8,000,000|
|15.||Union Pacific||Paramount||Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea||$5,550,000|
|16.||Another Thin Man||MGM||William Powell and Myrna Loy||$6,090,000|
|17.||The Old Maid||Warner Bros.||Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins||$6,660,000|
|18.||Hollywood Cavalcade||20th Century Fox||Alice Faye and Don Ameche||$4,000,000|
|19.||Destry Rides Again||Universal||Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart||$2,900,000|
|20.||Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever||MGM||Mickey Rooney and Lewis Stone||$6,240,000|
|21.||Gulliver's Travels||Paramount||voices of Sam Parker and Pinto Colvig||$3,270,000|
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