REEFER TRILOGY
Three overwrought cautionary tales from the 1930s examine the perils of smoking marijuana in polite society.

DESIGN IN FILM: THE MODERN HOUSEAn eight-minute video montage of modern homes—real and fake—as seen on the silver screen.

BEHIND THE SCENES
Twenty-five cool photos reveal what goes on outside of movie camera range.

SILENT SURVIVORS
Our list of at least a dozen silent film performers that are happily still with us.

70MMThirty visually stunning films that illustrate the grandeur of large-format filmmaking.

12 GREAT MOVIE SONGSElvis, The Beatles and The Supremes join our list of favorite movie themes of the 1960s.

WILHELM SCREAMWe trace the history of one of the most famous and beloved sound effects in movies.

LOST HORIZONA dud receives its due as we explore the elements that made this 1973 musical so preposterously memorable.

GREAT CLOSING LINES
One hundred films whose final words of dialogue make indelible lasting impressions.

25 GREAT SILENT MOVIE POSTERSOur selection of artwork from the early days of motion pictures that expertly illustrate the tone and tale of the films they represent.

RAVES AND RASPBERRIES We select some choice bits from reviews by the late Roger Ebert.

ERROL FLYNN GETS WHACKEDThe actor recalls an unforgettable moment with Bette Davis on the set of The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.

CINEMATIC RIDESTen films where carnival attractions add to the plot and give their protagonists a cheap thrill.

20 DIRECTORS / 20 FILMSSome of the world’s best moviemakers from Hollywood’s Golden Era provide a behind-the-scenes look at their creations.

LOS ANGELES IN THE 1920SVintage clips offer a look at famous boulevards, studios, theaters, eateries and more.

BILLY WILDEROur favorite lines of dialogue from the Oscar-winning writer/director.

WOODY ALLENChoice lines of dialogue, from Take the Money and Run to Midnight in Paris.

KATHARINE HEPBURNTen authoritative moments when Kate's movie character speaks her mind.

UFA MOVIE POSTERSA look at the early one sheets from the longest standing film studio in Germany.

THE LANGUAGE OF NOIRWe celebrate tough talk from the best of Hollywood’s gritty crime dramas.

HELICOPTER OVER HOLLYWOOD

Aerial shots of Hollywood in 1958 includes Griffith Observatory, Grauman’s Chinese Theater and major studios.

AMERICAWe celebrate one of the most exuberant dance numbers committed to film, a thrilling showcase for freakishly talented folks with music in their bones.

HOLLYWOOD POSTCARDSTen vintage postcards revealing the glories of Southern California's movie mecca.

MAJOR FILMS, MINOR GAFFESTwenty-five mistakes in some of the greatest movies ever made.

NEBRASKANSA look at some of the memorable talentsfrom Astaire to Zanuck—to come from the Cornhusker State.

GEORGE GERSHWINTen classic songs as seen on the silver screen.

GREAT ENDINGSA memorable tussle in Death Valley caps Erich von Stroheim’s broken classic.

10 GREAT POSTERSOur look at striking works of art that just happen to sell movie tickets.

MUST READMGM: Hollywood's Greatest Backlot provides a fascinating look at a lost treasure.

IN THE COOL, COOL, COOL OF THE EVENINGJane Wyman and Bing Crosby charm with the Oscar-winning song from Here Comes the Groom (1951).

PLUNDER ROADFilm noir at its best—and most economical. No backstory, a lean look and just 72 minutes long.

W.C. FIELDSTen of his most memorable character names.

MOVIE MOMENTS THAT MAKE LIFE WORTH LIVINGOur collection of ten little moments of breathtaking beauty, expert craftsmanship and happy accidents that rank as our favorites.

CEDRIC GIBBONS
We take a good look at the work of MGM’s legendary art director.

JOHN QUALENFive of our favorite performances from the character actor’s lengthy career.

NOT STARRING DORIS DAY
We select three movie musicals we deeply wish the sunny singer/actress would have made.

MICKEY ROONEY’S BEST
Twelve examples of what made the late actor such an enduring movie star.

SPRING SPRING SPRING”
We take a closer look and listen at Johnny Mercer’s witty ditty about the coming of the season.

PUBLICITY PHOTOS
Ten artful, playful and downright silly shots from some of the most famous movies in existence.

JEFFREY HUNTERWe tip our hat to the underrated (and very pretty) actor best known for going toe-to-toe with John Wayne in The Searchers and hanging on the cross in Nicholas Ray’s King of Kings.

STARS ON STARS: 30 CANDID OPINIONSA collection of favorite quotes from movie folk discussing their peers.

ELVIS PRESLEYFive essential films for the Elvis movie fan.

BILL GOLD’S MOVIE POSTERSOur salute to the legendary graphic artist, including 25 of his posters for some of the most famous movies ever made.

BEAUTIFUL MENFilm giants Cary Grant and his ilk will have to wait. Here we look at ten not-so-obvious choices—actors blessed with incredible good looks, if not legendary status.

BEAUTIFUL WOMENTen of the most physically stunning females to grace the silver screen.

FOOTBALLFive classic films where gridiron shenanigans drive the plot. 

THE 43 FACES OF JOHNNY DEPPWe review the wide variety of characters the actor has played, from early teenager roles to larger-than-life eccentrics.

FRED ASTAIREFive lively numbers from the peerless hoofer.

THE ROAD TO HELEN LAWSONJudy Garland, Susan Hayward and the bumpy road Valley of the Dolls producers experienced in casting an important role in a truly lousy film.

 AMERICAN LANDMARKS ON FILM From the Empire State Building to the Golden Gate Bridge, we take a look at ten famous sights that added drama to the movies.

THE GIRL HUNT BALLETWe revisit the stylish Fred Astaire dream ballet from The Band Wagon (1953).

IOWA FILMS & STARSTen contributions the Hawkeye State has made to motion picture history.

SCREEN TESTSAudition footage from Monroe, Dean, Brando and others.

FOX THEATEROur fond look back at one of San Francisco’s grandest movie palaces.

AUTOBIOGRAPHIESTen great titles penned by industry legends.

THE BAND WAGONNanette Fabray recalls a glaring mistake in the 1953 classic musical.

TRIGGERWe celebrate the life and somewhat creepy afterlife of Roy Rogers's favorite mount.

CHARACTERS: AGNES GOOCHPeggy Cass's memorable turn as a plain Jane coaxed into living a little in Auntie Mame (1958).

DESIGNS ON FILMA handsome volume by author and designer Cathy Whitlock chronicles the history of Hollywood set design.

REBECCAFive screen tests for Hitchock’s 1940 classic, with comments by David O. Selznick.

AL HIRSCHFELDWe select our ten favorite movie posters by the famed caricaturist.

CHARACTERS: BABY ROSALIEIn a daffy send-up of Shirley Temple, June Preisser plays an aging child star in MGM's let's-put-on-a-show musical, Babes in Arms (1939).

OSCARS RECAP
Twelve observations about the event that was, from a diva’s pipes to how Ellen mastered the ceremonies.

PRESTON STURGESSnippets of dialogue from six of the writer/director’s best films.

ANSELMO BALLESTEROur gallery of ten striking one sheets from the Italian poster artist.

GREAT MOVIESCelebrating the cool jazz short, Jammin’ the Blues (1944).

BETTY HUTTONTwelve films that exemplify the charms of this freakishly energetic performer.

JOSEPH L. MANKIEWICZSmart dialogue from the Oscar-winning screenwriter.

BESTSELLERS

A dozen books that became publishing phenomena and, at times, well-made and popular films.


DESERT NOIROur report from this year’s Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in Palm Springs.

DIAMOND SETTINGSWe take a look at five of our favorite baseball movies of the ‘40s and ‘50s.

RED DREAM FACTORYWe profile eight films from a unique Russian-German film studio of the twenties and thirties.


Wednesday
Feb252015

South by Southeast

Julie Andrews, in her fourth starring role, takes direction from Alfred Hitchcock for the Cold War thriller Torn Curtain, 1965. In the 1966 release, Sarah (Andrews) suspects her fiancé Michael (Paul Newman) of cloak-and-dagger doings and follows him from Copenhagen to East Berlin, where a quest for a secret formula puts both their lives in danger. Though the film was one of Universal’s highest grossing for the year, Hitchcock was not happy with it, its top stars being two of the reasons why. His first choice, Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint, fell through because of their ages, with the studio deeming Saint too old and Grant considering himself a little long in the tooth. The director was also none too keen about spending $750,000 each for Andrews and Newman’s services. And, in the end, Hitchcock simply did not care much for Newman’s performance.

Tuesday
Feb242015

February 24

Dinah Shore dies of ovarian cancer in Beverly Hills, 1994. She started show business as a radio singer first in Nashville, then New York City, and eventually recorded songs with bandleader Xavier Cugat. As with many photogenic pop stars, Shore was courted by Hollywood and gave movies a shot, acting in light fare such as Up in Arms (1944), Belle of the Yukon (1944) and Aaron Slick from Punkin Crick (1952). Many recording artists, like Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Doris Day, proved to be natural actors and compelling movie stars. Shore was not one of them, appearing likable and folksy, but missing that certain spark. By the early 1950s, Shore abandoned the big screen and moved to television, where her variety and talk shows earned her a total of eight Emmy Awards.

Monday
Feb232015

Laurence Olivier

“Apart from her looks, which were magical, she possessed beautiful poise; her neck looked almost too fragile to support her head and bore with it a sense of surprise, and something of the pride of the master juggler who can make a brilliant maneuver appear almost accidental. She also had something else—an attraction of the most perturbing nature I had ever encountered.”
— Laurence Olivier on Vivien Leigh, to whom he was married from 1940 to 1960.

Monday
Feb232015

February 23

Five US Marines and a US Navy corpsman raise the American flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima, 1945. Photographer Joe Rosenthal received a Pulitzer Prize for his photo of the event, which became one of the most enduring images of World War II and served as the inspiration for a handful of well-made war movies. Two of the more recent films came from director Clint Eastwood: Flags of Our Fathers (2006), which followed the lives of the American men who raised the flag, and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), which focused on the experiences of the Japanese soldiers involved in the conflict. The very first film to tackle the subject was Sands of Iwo Jima, a 1949 picture directed by Allan Dwan starring John Wayne as John Stryker, a tough Marine sergeant who turns inexperienced fighters into hardened soldiers. Because of this film, Wayne received his first Oscar nomination and was invited to leave his hand- and footprints in cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. A special shipment of black sand from Iwo Jima was sent to Hollywood to be mixed into the cement.

Sunday
Feb222015

Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts

With the Oscars ceremony on top of us today, now would seem appropriate to opine on some, if not all, of the major nominees. Alas, unlike last year, I did not see many of the major nominees. By some rare lull in my schedule, I was able to attend screenings of The Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman, Boyhood (three times) and Into the Woods. No foreign films, no documentaries, no Selma or The Theory of Everything—a terrible showing on my part. But in one category I was able to take in all nominees, mainly because they were brief and were shown in one neat little screening at West L.A.’s Nuart Theatre. Here, then, are the nominees for Best Animated Short Film.

The Bigger Picture
The visuals have the style of a modern painting, and I suspect most stills from this short would look perfectly at home hanging in a gallery. With the use of stop-motion photography, paper mâché and full-size painted characters, Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees tell the somber tale of two brothers caring for their sick and dying mother. The script? Serviceable. The animation? Art.

The Dam Keeper
Somewhere in the film’s 18-minute run time is a tidy and effective story about bullying, peer pressure, friendship and fitting in. Unfortunately it is often elbowed aside by the set-up: A small pig must maintain an old windmill to stave off the town’s ruination by…water, as the title would imply? Nope. Air pollution, a weird component to a wholly superfluous plot element. Perhaps there is a metaphor or extended allegory here, just out of reach. At the core of The Dam Keeper, however, is something more compelling—a heartfelt relationship set in a grade school between the lonely, picked-on pig and a new student, a fox, who by all appearances is the picture of kindness and caring. Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi are the filmmakers.

Feast
Of the five nominees, this is undoubtedly the one that most people saw, as it was screened in theaters prior to the showing of Disney’s Big Hero 6, a film that has thus far earned $220 million domestically. As for the short, filmmakers Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed have crafted a charming and fast-moving tale of an adult relationship told through a dog’s meals, from Brussels sprouts to Cheetos. It’s a freewheeling and witty experience, with its only flaw perhaps a rather safe, cozy ending. One might also wonder how Winston, its canine star, retains his svelte figure despite his high calorie intake.

Me and My Moulton
The tale of three sisters who wish to have a bicycle has a meandering, stream-of-consciousness quality to it that touches upon a lot of the anxieties kids have as they figure out society at large and how everything in their immediate world compares. Torill Kove, previous winner in this category for The Danish Poet (2006), tells the tale in her signature spare, observant and gently humorous style.

A Single Life
Joris Oprins's two-minute film is the most fully realized of the lot, presenting an amusing concept—a magic 45-rpm record that allows a young woman to travel through various stages in her life—playing around with it cleverly and ending it with a twist. Its brevity may work against it in voters’ minds, but for me it was best in show.