This collection of vintage newsreel footage and audio material presents an interesting look at 1939, a pivotal year that saw the beginning of World War II. About an hour's worth of old Movietone film footage (news material shot to be shown in movie theaters) provides a widely varied look at the year's events. Though everyone seemed to be awaiting a cataclysm in Europe, President Roosevelt is seen keeping American chins up with his rousing speech that optimistically opened the 1939 World's Fair in New York City. A major event in baseball history, Lou Gehrig's dramatic farewell address at Yankee Stadium, is also shown, and there are various segments on boat shows, movie premieres, and a holiday pageant on Broadway. But the focus is very much on the beginning of World War II, with clips of Hitler visiting his troops after their invasion of Poland, action footage of a German bomber attacking a British destroyer in the Atlantic, and ominous scenes of British civilians practicing air raid drills. An audio portion of the program (which is accompanied by still photos on the screen) contains a complete half-hour news broadcast from September 21, 1939, a program from Los Angeles featuring music from The Wizard of Oz performed by Judy Garland and other cast members, and a live broadcast of a show by bandleader Louis Prima. Rounding out the disc is a selection of five movie trailers, including one for the John Ford classic Stagecoach, starring John Wayne. --Robert J. McNamara

Director(s): Richard Donner
Production: Paramount Pictures
Rotten Tomatoes:
PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)

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