Your Guide to Classic Movie Theater Filmgoing!
Look What's Coming!
Step back in time to see what area movie theaters were presenting in August 1939. Film titles are linked to the Internet Movie Database.
The Wizard of Oz opened in Detroit on Thursday, August 24, 1939 at the United Artists theater. It helped people escape from the bad news in Europe, where World War II would start a week later. The movie had earlier opened in New York City on August 17, 1939.
"There is so much to be said in commendation of 'The Wizard of Oz' that your correspondent, who dates back to when the L. Frank Baum story was the eighth wonder of the stage, finds himself a bit bewildered in selecting a spot from which to take off," wrote Len G. Shaw in The Detroit Free Press on August 25, 1939. "Certainly no happier medium could have been chosen for reopening the United Artists Theater than this fantasy which Victor Fleming directed, Mervyn LeRoy produced and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer bankrolled without any reservations."
Other downtown Detroit movies when The Wizard of Oz opened were When Tomorrow Comes (Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer) at the Fox; Stanley and Livingstone (Spencer Tracy, Nancy Kelly, Richard Greene) at the Adams; Only Angels Have Wings (Cary Grant, Jean Arthur) and Maisie (Robert Young, Ann Sothern) at the Broadway-Capitol; Each Dawn I Die (James Cagney, George Raft) at the Michigan; and The Man in the Iron Mask (Joan Bennett, Louis Hayward) at the Palms-State.
The Redford was screening a double bill of the Republic western Man of Conquest (Richard Dix, Gail Patrick) and the crime drama Inside Information (Dick Foran, June Lang). The Senate was showing a double feature of John Ford's Young Mr. Lincoln (Henry Fonda, Alice Brady) and Blind Alley (Chester Morris, Ann Dvorak). On screen at the Fisher and other theaters outside of downtown Detroit was a twin bill of Only Angels Have Wings and Maisie.
Also on the bill with The Wizard of Oz at the United Artists were the short subject The Giant of Norway and Culinary Carving, a Pete Smith Specialty. The Wizard of Oz played at the United Artists until September 6, before being replaced with another famous movie of that great Hollywood year of 1939, Beau Geste.
Click here to see a PDF of newspaper images relating to the opening of The Wizard of Oz.
This web site is not affiliated with the Detroit Film Theatre, the Michigan Theater, or the Redford Theatre.
Web site copyright © 2014 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.
Launched November 25, 2005.
Last updated March 8, 2014.
Graphics courtesy of the Absolute Web Graphics Archive and Christmas Graphics Plus.
Videos courtesy of YouTube, Turner Classic Movies, and the Internet Archive.