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Join Lawrence Toppman in loving the movies of 1939

LAUGHTON HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
- ASSOCIATED PRESS
Charles Laughton as the hunchback in 1939’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

Observer arts writer Lawrence Toppman is blogging about the best year in film history, 1939. Learn about the first two movies in his monthly series – “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Ninotchka” – at charlotteobserver.com/arts or stateoftheartclt.blogspot.com. Here’s a snippet:

“Ninotchka” was marketed with the tagline “Garbo laughs!” Greta Garbo had been one of Hollywood’s tragedy queens for more than a decade when she earned her fourth and final Oscar nomination in the title role of this Ernst Lubitsch comedy.

Director Lubitsch, a German emigre and three-time Oscar nominee himself, made two films about Europe during World War II: “Ninotchka” and “To Be or Not To Be.” His urbane comedies often dealt with serious subjects in a witty way, whether lampooning Hitler in “To Be or Not To Be” or mocking Soviet totalitarianism in “Ninotchka.”

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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

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