Yes, Hollywood did have a golden age and, for those of you who don’t know when that time period was, it was 1939. During that year, we received so many great box-office hits like Gone With the Wind, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and, of course, The Wizard of Oz.
“Audiences were appreciating movies that had a more upbeat, romantic tone to them,” Turner Classic Movies host Dave Karger exclusively tells Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “That’s what a lot of the great 1939 movies share.” He isn’t wrong!
“You could argue that 1939 was when the Hollywood factory was at its peak efficiency in turning out entertainments that were well produced, well designed, well directed and well acted,” Ty Burr, author of Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame, also tells Closer. “Everybody knew what they were doing, and they had it down not to a science, but to a craft, and arguably an art.”
Making The Wizard of Oz took a lot of effort too. Producer Mervyn LeRoy hired Judy Garland to play Dorothy after the first pick, Shirley Temple (a.k.a America’s Sweetheart), was unavailable. Once the film hit theaters, it didn’t live up to it’s hype. The fantasy flick only won two Oscars and one of them was for Best Song with “Over the Rainbow.”
“It was perceived as overdone,” Ty explains, but years later America came to love it once it aired annually on TV and gained a massive following.
“It had great music, an amazing cast and brilliant Technicolor,” William Stillman, author of The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion, tells Closer. “It was the perfect storm.”
Since then, Hollywood has made a lot of great movies that could compete with it’s 1939 classics, but still nothing comes close to the golden age of films. “These are movies that generations of families have passed down,” Dave says. “They exemplify the best of classic Hollywood.”
After all, nothing can ever beat a classic!
For more on your favorite stars, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more exclusive news!