FAU Lifelong Learning Society, Jupiter
Kurt F. Stone, D.D.

Kurt F. Stone, D.D., is now beginning his 16th year with LLS and his passion for film is, he says, “genetic,” having been born in Hollywood, CA and raised both in and around the movie industry. A graduate of the University of California (B.A.), the Eagleton Institute of Politics and the Hebrew Union College (M.A.H.L. and D.D.), Kurt is the best-selling author of two books on the United States Congress and is currently hard at work on a new book about the history of Hollywood. A much sought-after lecturer, occasional actor and ordained rabbi, his political op-ed column “The K.F. Stone Weekly” has, over the past decade, developed an international following.

1939: The Year the Stars All Aligned For Hollywood

Almost every field of human endeavor has a favorite year – a calendar date that pulsates with meaning. Indeed, certain years bring to mind a lesson, a warning, or a hallowed memory. For example:

  • 49 BCE: The year Caesar crossed the Rubicon, has ever since connoted burning one’s bridges.
  • 1492: The year Columbus sailed the ocean blue, connotes the spirit of adventure.
  • 1776: The year of America’s birth. We still use the slogan “The Spirit of ’76.”
  • 1984: Orwell’s prophetic year of Big Brother, Doublespeak and Authoritarianism.

In terms of cinema, that year is, unquestionably, 1939. For that year, Hollywood’s 25th, the stars all aligned; the movie industry could literally do no wrong. In 1939, Hollywood studios produced more truly great films than at any other time in its nearly 100-year history. Consider that the nine nominees for best picture were “Gone With the Wind,” “Ninotchka,” “Dark Victory,” “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” “Love Affair,” “Of Mice and Men,” “Stagecoach,” “Wuthering Heights” and “The Wizard of Oz.” In this course we will view 8 great films from 1939. They include most every genre — western, romance, comedy, musical, crime and biography. Each session will begin with Dr. Stone’s introduction. Following each screening we will engage in conversation and learn about the “behind the screen” history of the film we've just viewed.

Eight Lectures
  1. “Young Mr. Lincoln” — Director John Ford’s brilliant film on 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 ninth and final pairing for RKO. It 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 its day, 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 silent pictures through the transition from silent to sound. Costars Don Ameche, Buster Keaton and Mack Sennett.
  6. “Jesse James” — A western based on the life and career of the notorious outlaw. 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.
Course # W8M6 — Eight Weeks
  Place:Lifelong Learning Complex, Jupiter Campus
  Dates:Mondays — January 12, 26; February 2, 9, 16, 23; March 2, 9; No class on January 19
  Time:7—8:30 p.m.
  Fee:$68/member; $98/non-member