1939: Hollywood's Zenith

While any opinionated film fanatic will readily argue a position on the greatest year in Hollywood's history, there's an incontestable reason movie historians tend to single out 1939 as an apex of the American film industry. This 12-month period produced an astonishing number of instant classics. Between the worst of the Great Depression and the onset of World War II, American movie studios exhibited a mastery of craft, rewarding audiences with films that spoke directly to prevailing social concerns while still providing much-needed escapism. Exemplifying how artistic vision and crowd-pleasing entertainment can co-exist, five genre-spanning films from this extraordinary year have been selected for the latest retrospective collaboration between Take-Up Productions and the Heights Theater, 1939: Hollywood's Zenith. On Thursday nights, the series will offer cinema's defining takedown of political corruption in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, arguably the greatest fantasy every filmed with The Wizard of Oz, hard-won heroism in the Old West via Destry Rides Again, a satiric view of bored Manhattan socialites in The Women, and a lusciously rendered adaption of the literary classic Wuthering Heights. In our current age, when studios measure success with opening-weekend returns, the films of 1939 remind us that movies needn't be ephemeral diversions, not when they can still transfix audiences 75 years down the line. (Pictured: Destry Rides Again)
Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. Starts: May 29. Continues through June 26, 2014

 
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