Union Pacific was slated to debut at the first ever festival in Cannes in 1939, but the festivities were cancelled due to the onset of WWII. Nevertheless, Cannes awarded the Palme d’Or to Cecil B. DeMille’s screen adaptation of Ernest Haycox‘ novel.
The prize was awarded by a 2002 jury.
Here in the US in 1939, the invasion of Poland did nothing to deter the festivities surrounding the release of DeMille’s latest blockbuster. The National Guard was called out to help police the excited citizenry of Omaha, where the movie premiered.