Program Details

1939: The Year Hollywood Could Do No Wrong

Kurt F. Stone
Video Catch-up

Course Description

Almost every field of human endeavor has a favorite year, a calendar date that pulsates with meaning. In terms of cinema, that year is unquestionably 1939. For that year, Hollywood's 25th, all the stars aligned. Consider that the nine nominees for Best Picture included "Gone With the Wind," "Ninotchka," "Goodbye Mr. Chips," "Stagecoach," and "The Wizard of Oz." In this eight-week series, we will view eight great films from 1939. Join us for great films and Dr. Stone's "Behind the Silver Screen Insights."


  1. "Young Mr. Lincoln": Director John Ford's brilliant film about the life of the young Abraham Lincoln, starring Henry Fonda in one of his best-loved roles.
  2. "The Roaring Twenties": Directed by Raoul Walsh and starring James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, and Gladys George, an homage to the great gangster films of the 1930s.
  3.  "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle": Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in their 9th and final pairing for RKO. This film is also Fred and Ginger's only musical biography, the story of America's greatest dance innovators.
  4. "Confessions of a Nazi Spy": Edward G. Robinson stars in a taut documentary-style film based on true events. This is the first film to have the word "Nazi" in its title. In 1939, this film was considered both controversial and courageous.
  5. "Hollywood Cavalcade": A film made in celebration of Hollywood's Silver Anniversary, Alice Faye stars as a young performer making her way in the early days of Hollywood, from slapstick silents to sound, with Don Ameche and Buster Keaton.
  6. "Jesse James": A western based on the notorious outlaw's life and career, starring Henry Fonda, Tyrone Power, Randolph Scott, and John Carradine.
  7. "Only Angels Have Wings": Starring Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Thomas Mitchell, and, in the role that made her a star, Rita Hayworth. Howard Hawks' suspenseful adventure about pilots, their lives, and loves, braving the dangers of flying over the Andes.
  8. "Destry Rides Again": James Stewart as a Western sheriff who won't strap on a gun and Marlene Dietrich, in her best role, as a tough-as-nails dance hall queen with a heart of gold. A great romp of a Western comedy.

About the Instructor

  • FAU's "Hollywood Brat," Dr. Kurt F. Stone is now in his 26th year with Lifelong Learning. A man who wears many, many hats (medical ethicist, best-selling author, essayist, historian, blogger and ordained rabbi), Kurt is the recent recipient of the "Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award" by "Who's Who in America." His intense love and knowledge of film is, as he has long said, "is the best part of my genetic make-up." ." In 2023, Dr. Stone was the recipient of the “Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award” presented by “Who’s Who in America.”

    Recipient of the 2004 Excellence in Teaching Award