The year 1938 in film
involved some significant events.
- January — MGM announces that Judy Garland would be cast in the role of "Dorothy" in the upcoming Wizard of Oz motion picture. Ray Bolger is cast as the "Tinman" and Buddy Ebsen is cast as the "Scarecrow". At Bolger's insistence, the roles are switched between the two actors. MGM announces Bert Lahr has been cast as the "Cowardly Lion" on July 25.
- April 5 — Noel Langley completes the first script for The Wizard of Oz.
- May 7 — Lyricist Edgar Yipsel Harburg and composer, Harold Arlen, begin work on the musical score for The Wizard of Oz.
- October 13 — Filming starts on The Wizard of Oz.
- October 21 — Buddy Ebsen suffers from a near fatal allergic reaction to the aluminum dust used in his "Tinman" make-up on the set of The Wizard of Oz. Ebsen is replaced by Jack Haley.
- December 23 — Margaret Hamilton is severely burned during a mishap on the set of The Wizard of Oz. Hamilton, who was cast in the role of the "Wicked Witch", left the film for six weeks.
Top grossing films (U.S.)
Films released in 1938
- Adiós Buenos Aires
- The Adventures of Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland
- Alexander Nevsky, starring Nikolai Cherkasov
- Alexander's Ragtime Band, starring Tyrone Power, Don Ameche and Alice Faye
- The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse, starring Edward G. Robinson
- Angels with Dirty Faces, starring James Cagney and Pat O'Brien
- La Femme du Boulanger (The Baker's Wife)
- Block-Heads, starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy
- Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, starring Gary Cooper
- Boys Town, starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney
- Bringing up Baby, starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn
- A Christmas Carol, starring Reginald Owen
- The Citadel, starring Robert Donat and Rosalind Russell; directed by King Vidor
- Dangerous to Know
- The Dawn Patrol, starring Errol Flynn
- The Divorce of Lady X, with Laurence Olivier
- The Drum, with Sabu
- Ferdinand the Bull
- Fools for Scandal
- Four Daughters, starring Claude Rains
- Gunga Din, featuring Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Sam Jaffe
- Having Wonderful Time Starring Ginger Rogers and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
- Holiday, starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant
- Jezebel, starring Bette Davis
- Judge Hardy's Children Starring Lewis Stone, Mickey Rooney, Cecilia Parker, Fay Holden
- Kentucky, starring Loretta Young, Richard Greene, and Walter Brennan.
- If I Were King
- Love Finds Andy Hardy, starring Lewis Stone, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Cecilia Parker, Fay Holden
- La Bête humaine (The Human Beast)
- The Lady Vanishes, starring Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood; directed by Alfred Hitchcock
- The Mad Miss Manton
- A Man to Remember, starring Anne Shirley and Edward Ellis.
- Marie Antoinette, starring Norma Shearer and Tyrone Power
- Merrily We Live, starring Brian Aherne, Constance Bennett, Billie Burke, Patsy Kelly, and Billie Burke
- Out West with the Hardys Lewis Stone, Mickey Rooney, Cecilia Parker, and Fay Holden
- Pygmalion, starring Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller
- Radio City Revels
- Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, starring Shirley Temple
- ''Red River Range, starring John Wayne
- Room Service, starring the Marx Brothers
- Suez, a 1938 epic film starring Tyrone Power and Loretta Young
- Sweethearts, starring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy
- Test Pilot, starring Clark Gable and Myrna Loy
- There Goes My Heart, Frederic March, Virginia Bruce, Arthur Lake (actor) and Patsy Kelly
- Vivacious Lady, starring Ginger Rogers and James Stewart
- White Banners
- You Can't Take It with You
Short film series
Animated short film series