Gone With the Wind. The Wizard of Oz. Stagecoach. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Wuthering Heights.
What these great films have in common is the year in which they hit America’s movie screens. Film critics regard 1939 as the greatest year in Hollywood history, when more memorable movies were released than at any other time.
Throughout 2014, the Kansas City Public Library recreates the movie going experience enjoyed by audiences 75 years earlier. Each week, the free series Hollywood’s Greatest Year will present a movie from 1939.
The series embraces comedies, musicals, Westerns, heavy-hitting dramas, crime stories, horror, romance – virtually the entire range of films released by the major movie studios. Included are 1939’s entries from such long-running series as Sherlock Holmes, The Thin Man, Andy Hardy, and Tarzan.
Virtually every star then in front of the camera is represented: Henry Fonda, Greta Garbo, Ginger Rogers, John Wayne, Clark Gable, Jean Arthur, Cary Grant, Laurence Olivier, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Humphrey Bogart, Paul Muni, Judy Garland, Spencer Tracy, Mickey Rooney … the list seems endless.
Hollywood’s Greatest Year screens on Saturdays at 1:30p.m. in the Stanley H. Durwood Film Vault at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
To kick off the series, Robert W. Butler — former Kansas City Star movie critic, now with the Library’s public affairs department — gives an introductory talk, 1939: Hollywood’s Greatest Year , on Sunday, December 29, 2013, at 2 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.
A reception follows the event on December 29. Admission is free.
About the Author
Robert W. Butler  is a lifelong Kansas City area resident, a graduate of Shawnee Mission East High School and the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. For several decades he was the movie editor of the Kansas City Star; he now writes a movie-themed blog at butlerscinemascene.com . He joined the Library's Public Affairs team in 2012.