BUTTERFLY MCQUEEN
Her roles were largely stereotypical, yet her charm and goofiness made her memorable. Here’s a look at her work beyond Gone With the Wind.

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

KEYE LUKE
An examination of the lengthy career of the Chinese-American character actor, from Charlie Chan to Woody Allen.

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

CHILL WILLS
Our look at the Texas actor’s 43-year film career, including an ill-advised Oscar campaign. 

MARGARET HAMILTON
A look at the professional life of an actress who proved to be much more than just the Wicked Witch of the West.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

OUTER SPACE HORROR
Aliens and mutants take center stage in twenty-five spectacular movie posters from the 1950s.

INGMAR BERGMAN
Our list of ten must-see films—ten artful depictions of the human condition—by one of the world’s most influential directors.

10 DIRECTORS / 10 FILMS 
Accomplished directors from the past 50 years talk about their triumphs and challenges in bringing a story to the big screen.

JACK CARSON
We single out five films that display the talent and range of the Warner Bros. character actor.

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

BILLIE BURKE
Five films that best represent the fluttery voiced character actress’s charms.

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

BESTSELLERS

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


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

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.

EDNA MAY OLIVER
A tribute to a character actress who’s made aunts and spinsters her specialty.

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

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.

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.

ELVIS PRESLEYFive essential films for the Elvis movie fan.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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


Friday
Feb052016

February 5

Thelma Ritter dies of a heart attack in New York, 1969. She had a small but memorable role as a beleaguered Christmas shopper in Miracle on 34th Street (1947), her film debut. From there, she became regularly employed and oft-nominated, receiving six Oscar nods (and no wins) for Best Supporting Actress for the films All About Eve (1950), The Mating Season (1951), With a Song in My Heart (1953), Pickup on South Street (1953), Pillow Talk (1959) and Birdman of Alcatraz (1962).

In the early 1960s, Ritter appeared in two features that strangely echoed each other. The Second Time Around, a comedy-western about a New York widow having to work as an Arizona farmhand, was released to theaters on December 22, 1961. A year later, How the West Was Won, a Cinerama production about the settling of the American West as seen through the eyes of two families, premiered (oddly enough) in London. In both films, Ritter played almost identical types and acted opposite Debbie Reynolds. And, in both films, her character was named Aggie.

Charlotte Rampling is born in Sturmer, England, 1946. From her first film, The Knack…and How to Get It (1965), to later successes like Swimming Pool (2003), she has never been less than terrific. She was Lynn Redgrave’s sharp-edged flatmate in Georgy Girl (1966), a sadomasochistic concentration camp survivor in The Night Porter (1974) and a treacherous mate for Paul Newman in The Verdict (1982). But it is her performance as the emotionally complex Dorrie in Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories that is my favorite.

The movie, about filmmaker Sandy Bates (Allen) who rather begrudgingly endures a film festival of his work and the fans it attracts, is to Federico Fellini what Allen’s Interiors (1978) was to Ingmar Bergman—direct beneficiaries of the legendary directors’ themes and visual styles. "She was just right for that part.” Allen once said. “I mean, she is so beautiful and so sexy and so interesting. She has an interesting neurotic quality." The actress was similarly laudatory towards her director, calling him “brilliant at creating entertaining reality, opening up closed doors and exposing monsters."

One scene involving Rampling stands apart: Dorrie, in a psychiatric hospital, gets a visit from Bates and talks directly to the camera in a series of jump cuts shot in extreme close-up. It is a Jean-Luc Godard moment in a sea of Fellini, a nod to Breathless (1960) in Woody’s own private 8 1/2 (1963).

Here's the scene:

Sunday
Jan312016

January 31

The Hollywood Reporter announces that Fred Astaire will costar with Audrey Hepburn and Kay Thompson in Funny Face, 1956. To get both Astaire and Hepburn to do the George Gershwin musical, each was told that the other was already on board, and the ploy worked. Hepburn turned down the title role in Gigi (1958) to do Funny Face and successfully maneuvered to have the Paris shoot coincide with husband Mel Ferrer’s Paris filming for Elena and Her Men (1956), a Jean Renoir picture starring Ferrer, Ingrid Bergman and Jean Marais.

Samuel Goldwyn dies of heart failure in Los Angeles, 1974. Hollywood’s top independent producer was famously known for his mishandled words and curious logic—Goldwynisms, as they came to be known:
“When you’re a star, you have to take the bitter with the sour.”
“Go see it and see for yourself why you shouldn’t see it.”
“I never put on a pair of shoes until I’ve worn them five years.”
“Don’t pay attention to the critics. Don’t even ignore them.”
“My wife’s hands are very beautiful. I’m going to have a bust made of them.”

But among the more humorous quotes are a few that reflect Goldwyn’s keen eye towards moviemaking and an affinity for what audiences want:
“It’s a mistake to remake a great picture because you can never make it better. Better you should find a picture that was done badly and see what can be done to improve it.”
“A producer shouldn’t get ulcers—he should give them.”
“Motion pictures should never embarrass a man when he brings his wife to the theater.”

The producer of Wuthering Heights (1939), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) and Guys and Dolls (1955) died of heart failure at the age of 94 and is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetary in Glendale, California.

Saturday
Jan302016

January 30

City Lights premiers at the Los Angeles Theater in downtown Los Angeles, 1931. In the audience, at the invitation of Chaplin, was Albert Einstein, who was said to have teared up at the film’s famous climax. The event was the culmination of a 179-day shoot and a $1.5 million expenditure, but the screening of what many critics would consider Chaplin’s best film was marred mid-way through when the manager of the venue interrupted the movie to boast about the state-of-the-art theater the spectators were experiencing. “I could not believe my ears," a furious Chaplain recalled. "I went mad. I leaped from my seat and raced up the aisle: 'Where's that stupid son of a bitch of a manager? I'll kill him!'" Overwhelmed by boos from the audience, the theater manager cut his speech short and resumed the film.

Vanessa Redgrave is born in London, 1937. A prominent figure in one of England’s most prestigious acting dynasties, she did, in fact, come into the world while her father, Michael Redgrave, was appearing in Hamlet, with costar Laurence Olivier announcing at the curtain call that “tonight a great actress was born.” Talented genes extended to Vanessa, sister Lynn, brother Corin and daughters Natasha and Joely Richardson. A performer on stage in London, Redgrave eventually hit the big screen in 1966 in Morgan!, playing ex-wife to David Warner’s character in an eccentric comedy about a man’s steadfast escapes from reality. An Oscar nomination for that movie pitted her performance against that of her sister Lynn in Georgy Girl, with Elizabeth Taylor winning for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The sisters would work together twice—in a garish television remake of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1991) and again in The White Countess (2005), starring Natasha Richardson.

Friday
Jan292016

January 29

Jimmy Durante dies of pneumonia in Santa Monica, California, 1980. “Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are” was the comic actor’s standard sign-off for his television, radio and nightclub appearances. Who Mrs. Calabash was, exactly, was a mystery to his audiences for the bulk of his career. One theory was that it was in reference to Lurlene Calabash, a character played by Billie Dove in Blondie of the Follies (1932), in which Durante starred. Other speculation drifted towards a favorite restaurant of Durante and his wife Jeanne that was located in Calabash, North Carolina. As the story goes, the actor wished to publicly honor the owner, whose name he never learned, and thus “Mrs. Calabash” was born. In 1966, Durante finally revealed that his catch phrase was a tribute to Jeanne, who died in 1943. It remains unclear if Calabash refers to the Carolina town they both liked, or his wife’s alleged mispronunciation of Calabasas, a town about 25 miles northwest of Los Angeles where the Durantes resided the final years of Jeanne’s life.

Alan Ladd dies from a combination of alcohol and sedatives in Palm Springs, California, 1964. “Introducing Alan Ladd as Raven” is how he was billed in This Gun for Hire (1942), Ladd’s 34th feature film and the one that made him a star. What followed were a series of similar tough-guy roles, six more opportunities to work with Veronica Lake and an immense popularity that lasted throughout the ‘40s. His last big hit was Shane (1953), a role he won after Montgomery Clift and William Holden proved unavailable. As the decade progressed, Ladd’s career waned and his drinking increased. In November 1962, a suicide attempt left him unconscious with a bullet wound in his chest. Speculation continues over whether his fatal overdose in 1964 was deliberate or accidental.

Thursday
Jan282016

January 28

Alan Alda is born in New York City, 1936. Known primarily for his work on TV’s M*A*S*H (1972-1983), the actor began work in feature films in 1963 with Gone Are the Days!, an adaptation of Ossie Davis’s 1961-1962 Broadway play Purlie Victorious. To date, he has appeared in 33 motion pictures and worked with such prominent directors as David O. Russell (for 1996’s Flirting with Disaster) Martin Scorsese (receiving an Oscar nomination for 2004’s The Aviator), and, most recently, Steven Spielberg (for 2015’s Bridge of Spies). Alda performed in three Woody Allen films, the best of which was Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), with the actor earning raves for his performance as an arrogant television producer. But the director for which Alan Alda has worked most often is Alan Alda, who directed himself in The Four Seasons (1981), Sweet Liberty (1986), A New Life (1988) and Betsy’s Wedding (1990).

Freaks has its world premiere at the Fox Theater in San Diego, 1932. In spite of his detractors, MGM producer Irving Thalberg was firmly committed to bringing the unusual tale of romance and deception set in the world of circus sideshow performers to the screen. Screenwriter Willis Goldbreck was given the task of adapting Spurs, the Clarence Aaron “Tod” Robbins’s story that served as the genesis for Freaks, with the sole stipulation from Thalberg that it should be “horrible.” Complaints on the lot to Thalberg about the pinheads, dwarfs, limbless people, conjoined twins and others that comprised most of the cast were met with a reminder that, at MGM, all kinds of movies were being made and that director Tod Browning knew what he was doing. A dreadful test screening spurred Thalberg to make several edits, but not in time for the premiere in San Diego, which became the only theater to ever show the uncut version of the film. Lines were around the block and the Fox Theater enjoyed unprecedented business.