The official timeline of the Cannes Film Festival makes it clear that the glitzy celebration of cinema began in 1946. So why was TIME reporting in July of 1939 that the festival would take place that autumn?
The plans were even concrete enough to promise readers an exact set of dates:
For six years the world’s fair of the cinema world has been the International Film Festival at Venice. In the past this annual, late-summer gathering to pick the world’s best films has chosen such universally acclaimed cinemas as
Man of Aran, Anna Karenina, Mayerling, La Kermesse Héroïque. But two years ago B. Mussolini began to take a personal, political interest in the cinema business, and last year cinemindustries not bedded in the Rome-Berlin axis began to feel its centrifugal force. The No. 1 prize, the Mussolini Cup, went jointly to Nazi Leni Riefenstahl’s 1936 Olympic Games film (four hours running time) and to Vittorio Mussolini’s Luciano Serra, Pilota, an ecstatic drama of Italian wings over Ethiopia. Walt Disney’s world favorite, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, was favored with a special Hors Concours (out of competition) Medal.
Last week France, Great Britain and the U. S. decided to let Venice be bygones, were reported getting together on a new international film festival to be held this year at Cannes, September 3-17.
Poster for the planned first Festival International du film de Cannes, September 1939. The event was postponed until after World War II and the first festival was held in 1946. RDA—Getty Images
The September 1939 film festival, of course, never happened — and, based on the reasons for the film festival’s establishment, it’s not hard to guess why. The coming of World War II derailed all plans to launch a rival to the Venice film festival, and it wasn’t until after the peace came that the festival in Cannes finally took place. As these photos show, the bash was, appropriately, a happy occasion.
French Actress Michele Morgan poses in a bathing suit at the 1st Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France in 1946. Serge DE SAZO/Gamma-Rapho—Getty Images Poster presenting the french films in the competition of the 1st Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France in 1946. Serge DE SAZO/Gamma-Rapho—Getty Images Actress Josette Day presents the Film "Beauty and the Beast" directed by Jean Cocteau at the first Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France in 1946. Serge DE SAZO/Gamma-Rapho—Getty Images Jean-Pierre Aumont and Maria Montez at Cannes Film Festival, 1946. Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone—Getty Images Tyrone Power in Cannes, France, 1946. Serge DE SAZO/Gamma-Rapho—Getty Images Pierre Dudan in Cannes, France in 1946. Serge DE SAZO/Gamma-Rapho—Getty Images French actress Michele Morgan with artist and filmmaker Jean Cocteau on the beach during the Cannes Film Festival, 1946. Tallandier/RDA—Getty Images Miss Cannes in Cannes, France, 1946. Serge DE SAZO/Gamma-Rapho—Getty Images Edith Piaf on the Carlon Hotel's Terrace at the first Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France In 1946. Serge DE SAZO/Gamma-Rapho—Getty Images The Actress Celia Johnson and the director David Lean being awarded the Paris Grand Prix of Cannes Film Festival for the movie Brief Encounter. The prize is given by Georges Huisman, (left) first President of Cannes Film Festival. Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone—Getty Images More Must-Reads From TIME Inside the White House Program to Share America's Secrets Meet the 2024 Women of the Year East Palestine, One Year After Train Derailment The Closers: 18 People Working to End the Racial Wealth Gap Long COVID Doesn’t Always Look Like You Think It Does Column: The New Antisemitism The 13 Best New Books to Read in March Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time