1939 April to June

2nd April 1939 – on the screen – THE MAD MISS MANTON

MAD MISS MANTON – showing from Sunday for seven days – a 1938 American screwball comedy-mystery film from RKO, directed by Leigh Jason and starring Barbara Stanwyck as fun-loving socialite Melsa Manton and Henry Fonda as newspaper editor Peter Ames. Melsa and her debutante friends hunt for a murderer while eating bonbons, flirting with Ames, and otherwise behaving like silly young women. Ames is also after the murderer, as well as Melsa’s hand in marriage. This was the first of three screen pairings for Stanwyck and Fonda, the others being The Lady Eve and You Belong to Me.

The trailer for The Mad Miss Manton

It was coupled with – WHILE NEW YORK SLEEPS – a 1938 20th Century Fox crime film directed by H. Bruce Humberstone and written by Frances Hyland and Albert Ray. The film stars Michael Whalen, Jean Rogers, Chick Chandler, Robert Kellard, Joan Woodbury, Harold Huber and Marc Lawrence.


On the screen – for seven days – OLD BONES OF THE RIVER – is a British comedy film released by GFD in 1939 starring British actor Will Hay with Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt and directed by Marcel Varnel, based on the characters created by Edgar Wallace. The film is a spoof of the 1935 movie, Sanders of the River.

Watch the film: – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKwEMK-JCKk

The programme was completed by – Tenth Avenue Kid – a 1938 American crime film from Republic,  directed by Bernard Vorhaus and written by Gordon Kahn and Adele Buffington. The film stars Bruce Cabot, Beverly Roberts, Ben Welden, Horace McMahon, John Wray and Jay Novello.

16th April – CRACKERJACK

On the screen – for seven days – EMPIRE – CRACKERJACK is a 1938 British comedy crime film directed by Albert de Courville and starring Tom Walls, Lilli Palmer and Noel Madison. It was made at Pinewood Studios by Gainsborough Pictures and tells the story of Jack Drake, a man with a hundred faces and in reality a modern-day Robin Hood known only as Crackerjack who thrills all England with his exploits of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.

View the film in its entirety – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxdvtO4k46Y

The support was THE GLADIATOR, a 1938 American comedy and fantasy film starring Joe E. Brown, Dickie Moore and June Travis. The movie is an adaptation of Philip Gordon Wylie’s 1930 novel Gladiator, which is often credited with having influenced the creation of Superman.

A scene from Crackerjack


On the screen – for seven days – EMPIRE – JUST AROUND THE CORNER, a 1938 American musical comedy film directed by Irving Cummings from 20th Century Fox. The screenplay by Ethel Hill, Darrell Ware, and J. P. McEvoy was based on the novel Lucky Penny by Paul Gerard Smith. The film focuses on the tribulations of little Penny Hale (Temple) and her architect father (Farrell) after he is forced by circumstances to accept a job as janitor. The film was the fourth and last cinematic song and dance pairing of Shirley Temple and Bill Robinson.

A short extract from the film

The supporting film was DOWN ON THE FARM, a 1938 American comedy film directed by Malcolm St. Clair and starring Jed Prouty, Spring Byington and Louise Fazenda. It was part of Twentieth Century Fox’s Jones Family series. The family go to stay at their aunt’s farm.


on the screen – for seven days – EMPIRE – THE COWBOY AND THE LADY, a 1938 American western romantic comedy film from United Artists and directed by H.C. Potter, and starring Gary Cooper and Merle Oberon. Written by S.N. Behrman and Sonya Levien, based on a story by Frank R. Adams and veteran film director Leo McCarey, the film is about a beautiful socialite masquerading as a maid who becomes involved with an unpretentious, plain-spoken cowboy who is unaware of her true identity. The Cowboy and the Lady won an Academy Award for Sound Recording and was nominated for Original Score (Alfred Newman) and Original Song (“The Cowboy and the Lady” by Lionel Newman and Arthur Quenzer).

View the trailer

Supporting feature was Universal Picture’s HIS EXCITING NIGHT, is a 1938 American comedy film directed by Gus Meins and written by Pat C. Flick, Edward Eliscu and Morton Grant. It is based on the 1934 play Adam’s Evening by Katharine Kavanaugh. The film stars Charlie Ruggles, Richard Lane, Maxie Rosenbloom, Marion Martin, Stepin Fetchit and Ona Munson.

7th May – KENTUCKY

On the screen – for seven days – Kentucky is a 1938 20th Century Fox Technicolor film with Loretta Young, Richard Greene, and Walter Brennan. It was directed by David Butler. It is a Romeo and Juliet story of lovers Jack and Sally, set amidst Kentucky horseracing, in which a family feud goes back to the Civil War and is kept alive by Sally’s Uncle Peter.

Watch a short excerpt from the film

There was a supporting programme of short interest films.


On the screen – for seven days – SO THIS IS LONDON – a 1939 British comedy film directed by Thornton Freeland and starring Robertson Hare, Alfred Drayton and George Sanders. It is adapted from the 1922 play So This Is London by Arthur Goodrich which had previously been adapted into a 1930 film. An American clashes with an Englishman over the merits of their respective countries, only to find that their children have fallen in love. It was made at Pinewood Studios by 20th Century Fox’s British subsidiary.

ILLEGAL TRAFFIC completed the programme, a 1938 American crime film directed by Louis King and written by Robert Yost, Lewis R. Foster and Stuart Anthony. The film stars J. Carrol Naish, Mary Carlisle, Robert Preston, Judith Barrett, Pierre Watkin, Buster Crabbe and George McKay. The film was released by Paramount Pictures.


On the screen – for seven days – CLIMBING HIGH, a 1938 British comedy film from Associated British (owners of the ABC Cinema chain) directed by Carol Reed and produced by Michael Balcon with a screenplay by Sonnie Hale, Marion Dix and Lesser Samuels. It stars Jessie Matthews, Michael Redgrave, Noel Madison, Margaret Vyner and Alistair Sim. It tells the story of Nicky Brooke (Michael Redgrave) a wealthy young man who despite his engagement to the aristocratic (and broke) Lady Constance Westaker (Margaret Vyner) falls for hard-up model Diana Castles (Jessie Matthews) after nearly running her over with his car. In an effort to distance himself from ‘tabloid’ created tales of his playboy lifestyle, he changes his name and attempts to woo Diana by pretending to be poor.

View the film in its entirety – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHwCULF_pwE

The support STRANDED IN PARIS was originally titled “Artists and Models” is a 1938 film made by Paramount Pictures directed by Mitchell Leisen, starring Jack Benny and Joan Bennett. The screenplay was written by Ken Englund, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse.


on the screen – for seven days – STORM OVER BENGAL – EMPIRE – a 1938 adventure film that was nominated at the 11th Academy Awards for Best Score, the nomination was for Cy Feuer. Set during the British Raj, the film’s working title was Bengal Lancer Patrol. The film was shot in Owens Valley, California. The film stars Patric Knowles in his first film after leaving Warner Bros. as well as Richard Cromwell and Douglass Dumbrille who played similar roles in Lives of a Bengal Lancer.

View the film in its entirety – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVKctO6nSLE

The support was DISBARRED a 1939 film about a crooked lawyer starring Gail Patrick and Robert Preston. The supporting cast includes Otto Kruger, Virginia Vale and Sidney Toler. The movie was directed by film noir specialist Robert Florey.

4th June – TRADE WINDS

On the screen – for seven days – TRADE WINDS, a 1938 American comedy film distributed by United Artists, directed by Tay Garnett, and starring Fredric March and Joan Bennett, with a supporting cast featuring Thomas Mitchell, Ralph Bellamy, and Ann Southern. The screenplay was written by Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell, and Frank R. Adams, based on story by Tay Garnett. It tells the story of former police detective Sam Wye (Fredric March) who is on the trail of socialite Kay Kerrigan (Joan Bennett), accused of fatally shooting millionaire cad Thomas Bruhme (Sidney Blackmer). Trade Winds is a strange film it can’t quite make up its mind to be a mystery, comedy, or drama it truly defies classification. One thing we do know is that right away we’re given information regarding the forensics that Joan Bennett is innocent. If she had not run, but stayed behind she’d have known right away and we’d have had no film.

In support, CONVICTS CODE a 1939 American film directed by Lambert Hillyer. A man is framed and sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. When he is let out on limited parole, he sets out to clear his name and find the real criminals.

See Convict’s Code in full – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhZUFKdhe5Q

11th June – CAFE SOCIETY

On the screen – for seven days – CAFÉ SOCIETY, a 1939 American romantic comedy film from Paramount Pictures and directed by Edward H. Griffith, starring Madeleine Carroll, Fred MacMurray and Shirley Ross. In this story, Fred MacMurray plays a reporter. Through some contrived writing, he and a society lady (Madeleine Carroll) get married and they barely know each other…apparently due to a bet. Not surprisingly, things don’t work out wonderfully. The husband resents the wife and her worthless rich friends and she thinks he’s amazingly judgmental assuming they are all spoiled. Despite the problems, you know by the end of the film they’ll somehow work through this. No major surprises…nothing great either. Just a time-passer featuring a couple good actors.

Watch the film in full – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRD3_GdteV0

Support was HOLD THAT GIRL a 1934 American comedy film directed by Hamilton MacFadden and written by Dudley Nichols and Lamar Trotti. The film stars James Dunn, Claire Trevor, Alan Edwards, Gertrude Michael, John Davidson and Robert McWade. The film was released, by Fox Film Corporation.


On the screen – for seven days – THE GREAT MAN VOTES, a 1939 American drama film from RKO, starring John Barrymore as a widowed professor turned drunkard who has the deciding vote in an election for mayor. It was based on the short story of the same name by Gordon Malherbe Hillman published in the November 1933 issue of American Magazine.

An excerpt from The Great Man Votes

The bill was shared with HOMICIDE BUREAU is a 1939 American action film, directed by Charles C. Coleman for Columbia Pictures. It stars Bruce Cabot, Rita Hayworth, and Marc Lawrence.


On the screen – for seven days -THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, a 1938 American comedy film from 20th Century Fox, directed by William A. Seiter, written by Curtis Kenyon and Harry Tugend, and starring Adolphe Menjou, Jack Oakie, Jack Haley, Arleen Whelan, Tony Martin and Binnie Barnes. Promoters set up a radio contest to find the average American and use him to sell food, apparel and notions. All goes well until he falls in love with a girl who upsets things. A potentially interesting piece of satire — Jack Haley can predict precisely the consuming habits of the nation, so Adolphe Menjou in fast-talking mode and Jack Oakie use him as a guinea pig — gets turned into a rather silly and pointless farce.

Tony Martin sings the title song

Completing the programme was MR MOTO’S LAST WARNING, the sixth in a series of eight films starring Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto. Moto thwarts a ruthless band of international agents who try to create an international incident by mining the entrance to the Suez Canal and blaming the British.

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