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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

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).

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
Jul302014

July 30

Michelangelo Antonioni dies at age 94 in Rome, 2007. Though a director since 1950, it was his trilogy L’Avventura (1960), La Notte (1961) and L’Eclisse (1962) that made him a solid art-house fixture for the better part of two decades. Blow-Up (1966), Zabriskie Point (1970) and The Passenger (1975) were among Antonioni’s other more notable movies, with audiences and critics—and fellow filmmakers—often split about the quality of his work. To some, he was an acquired taste at best and a bloody bore at worst. Others lauded his elegantly composed shots, spare visuals and enigmatic endings. Here are a few remarks about his cinematic style, from Antonioni himself as well as his peers.

I never discuss the plots of my films. I never release a synopsis before I begin shooting. How could I? Until the film is edited, I have no idea myself what it will be about. And perhaps not even then. Perhaps the film will only be a mood, or a statement about a style of life. Perhaps it has no plot at all. I depart from the script constantly. I may film scenes I had no intention of filming; things suggest themselves on location, and we improvise. I try not to think about it too much. Then, in the cutting room, I take the film and start to put it together and only then do I begin to get an idea of what it is about.
— Michelangelo Antonioni

L’Avventura gave me one of the most profound shocks I've ever had at the movies…Antonioni's film changed my perception of cinema, and the world around me, and made both seem limitless. I was mesmerized by L'Avventura and by Antonioni's subsequent films, and it was the fact that they were unresolved in any conventional sense that kept drawing me back. They posed mysteries—or rather the mystery—of who we are, what we are, to each other, to ourselves, to time. You could say that Antonioni was looking directly at the mysteries of the soul. That's why I kept going back. I wanted to keep experiencing these pictures, wandering through them. I still do.
— Martin Scorsese

Antonioni is the only important director I have nothing good to say about. He bores me; he's so solemn and humorless.
— François Truffaut

Antonioni was like a father figure to me. I worked with him because I wanted to be a film director and I thought I could learn from a master. He's one of the few people I know that I ever really listened to.
— Jack Nicholson, star of Antonioni’s The Passenger (1975)

I was a little bit disappointed because I felt that the character [in La Notte], this writer suffering a crisis, was a little bit conventional. Perhaps I would have preferred him to be more angry, more cynical, but then I probably wouldn't have been able to play him anyway. I suppose I felt that I had an example of a writer before me: my friend, Ennio Flaiano. And somehow or other, I don't know why, I felt that this writer should be like him, which obviously wasn't what Antonioni intended. So there was a sort of incomprehension between me and the director. As I went along I lost of that joy, that enthusiasm I had felt which had made me want to do the film. This was the state of mind I was while I was making the film. I would liked to be closer to Antonioni but it wasn't possible. I don't know if it was my fault or whether it was because he (and it is something he has always said) prefers not to have much interaction with the actors.
— Marcello Mastroianni

He's done two masterpieces; you don't have to bother with the rest. One is Blow-Up, which I've seen many times, and the other is La Notte, also a wonderful film, although that's mostly because of the young Jeanne Moreau. In my collection I have a copy of Il Grido and damn what a boring movie it is. So devilishly sad, I mean. You know, Antonioni never really learned the trade. He concentrated on single images, never realizing that film is a rhythmic flow of images, a movement. Sure, there are brilliant moments in his films. But I don't feel anything for L’Avventura, for example. Only indifference. I never understood why Antonioni was so incredibly applauded. And I thought his muse, Monica Vitti, was a terrible actress.
— Ingmar Bergman

It seems that boredom is one of the great discoveries of our time. If so, there's no question but that [Antonioni] must be considered a pioneer.
— Luchino Visconti

Tuesday
Jul292014

July 29

Luis Buñuel dies of liver and pancreatic cancer in Mexico City, 1983. The Spanish-born surrealist made 34 films in his lifetime, beginning with the landmark Un Chien Andalou (1929), a 17-minute abstract short on which he collaborated with fellow surrealist Salvador Dali. Subsequent films were more narrative, with L’Age d’Or (1930), Los Olvidados (1950), Viridiana (1961), Diary of a Chambermaid (1964), Belle de Jour (1967) and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) among his better-known titles.

Subversive attitudes, an open mocking of the Catholic church and dream sequences were common elements to his films. “I love dreams, even when they're nightmares,” Buñuel said, “which is usually the case. My dreams are full of the same obstacles, but it doesn't matter. My amour fou is for the dreams themselves as I shared with the surrealists. Un Chien Andalou was born of the encounter between my dreams and [Salvador Dali’s]. Later, I brought the dreams directly into my films, trying as hard as I could to avoid any analysis. 'Don't worry if the movie's too short', I once told a Mexican producer. 'I'll just put in a dream.' He was not impressed.”

Thursday
Jul242014

William Friedkin on The Exorcist (1972)

[Linda Blair] mouthed everything, but we also recorded her own voice as a guide track and for a while I thought we might use that recording. When I started the picture, I thought, “I’m just going to get a good, ballsy, masculine voice to do this thing.” But it occurred to me that it would be much more believable if I could get a female voice that had some masculinity to it. Most of her voice is replaced by Mercedes McCambridge’s, but some of the voice is her own. The stuff that was most effective was recorded in sync to her own dialogue, line for line. All Linda Blair did was mouth the words as best she could. Mercedes McCambridge, who smokes heavily, was able to speak in that emphysemic voice and get that wonderful wheezy sound. We would experiment. She would swallow three raw eggs and drink some Jack Daniel’s and then we had her tightly tied to a chair. It sounds like she has three or four screaming animals in her throat. We recorded that very close up and then made a loop out of it. After we had dubbed the girl’s voice I felt there was something wrong. It occurred to me that I had to keep the demonic presence alive, even when it wasn’t talking, and that’s when we decided to put the looped wheeze in.

The media makes up shit that you can’t believe. They said after making The Exorcist Linda Blair was in a mental hospital or something. She was a delightful little twelve-year-old girl, and every time we’d do a take of the most monstrous things imaginable the prop man would hand her a milkshake. I made every scene a game with her.

I knew that the only way I could make this movie was if I had a child who was able somehow to grasp and deal with this horrible stuff that had to be performed. I really thought I might never find such a person. We had casting directors look at thousands of women across the country, starting at age twelve. Then we started looking for sixteen-year-old young women who looked younger. We couldn’t find anyone, and I seriously thought it wouldn’t be possible to make the film. Then in comes this eleven-year-old girl with her mother. I ask her the same questions I asked the others. I said, “Do you know what this story is about?” She said, “Yes, I read the book. It’s about a little girl who’s possessed by the devil and she does a lot of bad things.” I said, “Like what? What sort of bad things?” She said, “Well, she pushes a man out a window and she hits her mother in the face and she masturbates with a crucifix.” I said, “What?” I’d never heard that from an eleven-year-old. I said, “What does that mean?” She said, “What?” I said, “What does ‘masturbate’ mean?” She said, “It’s like jerking off, isn’t it?” I said, “Uh-huh.” Then I said, “Have you ever jerked off?” and she said, “Sure. Haven’t you?” I said, “You’re hired.”

Excerpt from The Great Moviemakers: The Next Generation, compiled and edited by George Stevens, Jr. 

Wednesday
Jul232014

July 23

Montgomery Clift dies of a coronary occlusion in New York City, 1966. He was often compared to Marlon Brando and, in 1958, the two shared the big screen for the first and only time in The Young Lions, an adaptation of Irwin Shaw’s novel about three World War II soldiers from different backgrounds. Dean Martin, in his first major dramatic role, rounded out the cast and was ably assisted by Clift, who helped him rehearse his big scenes. Clift and a grateful Martin would remain close friends, with Martin bringing the actor along with him to social functions after Hollywood gave the troublesome Clift the cold shoulder. 

Though some attacked the film for featuring a sympathetic Nazi (Brando), Variety praised the performances, stating that “Marlon Brando’s interpretation of Anhalt’s modified conception of the young Nazi officer; Montgomery Clift, the drafted GI of Jewish heritage; Dean Martin as a frankly would-be draft-dodger until the realities of war catch up with him are standout all the way.” Bosley Crowther of The New York Times saw Clift’s performance differently, writing “Mr. Clift is strangely hollow and lackluster as the sensitive Jew. He acts throughout the picture as if he were in a glassy-eyed daze.” No less an authority on Montgomery Clift performances than Montgomery Clift weighed in as well, saying, “Noah from The Young Lions was the best performance of my life. I couldn't have given more of myself. I'll never be able to do it again. Never.”

Tuesday
Jul222014

July 22

A 1934 crime drama begins with childhood friends Blackie (Mickey Rooney) and Jim (Jimmy Butler) surviving a riverboat steamer accident on New York’s East River. Blackie grows up to become a racketeer and resemble Clark Gable, while Jim becomes a District Attorney and turns into William Powell. Myrna Loy plays Eleanor, the woman who leaves Blackie to become Jim’s wife. Blackie kills a man to help Jim’s chances at being elected governor. Jim the DA convicts Blackie and, later as governor, must decide whether or not to commute Blackie’s death sentence.

MGM called the film Manhattan Melodrama, and boy, were they right. But audiences loved the overwrought tale, and the film is important for three reasons. First, it introduced the song “Blue Moon”—sort of. In the movie, the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart song is called “The Bad in Every Man,” a spectacularly dark, downbeat ditty warbled by Shirley Ross. Hart wisely took it upon himself to rewrite the lyrics for a less pessimistic mindset. Second, Manhattan Melodrama marked the first time Myrna Loy and William Powell appeared in a picture together. They would go on to share billing in thirteen more movies. And, finally, this was the film gangster John Dillinger saw before he was gunned down by federal agents. Dillinger was shot outside Chicago’s Biograph Theater on this date, 1934.