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.

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Thursday
Jan302014

Publicity Photos

Of all the tools used to hawk a movie—contests, celebrity appearances, lunch boxes, fashion shows, paper dolls—the publicity photo has to be one of the simplest and most straightforward. Many are movie stills or candid shots of stars relaxing on the set or cheesecake poses from starlets in minor roles. All are dished up to various media by major studios trying to put butts in the seats. Represented in the list below, however, is a different, more ambitious kind of publicity photo, carefully contrived shots clearly set in a studio, removed from the physical context of the film yet vaguely representative of plot, setting and character. Some are artful, some are playful, and some are very silly indeed. Here are ten of our favorites.

Black Legion (1937)
Erin O’Brien-Moore, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan

Frank Taylor (Humphrey Bogart) loses a promotion to a foreign-born coworker and becomes susceptible to the xenophobic attitudes and mission of the Black Legion, a Ku Klux Klan-like organization that promotes “100 percent Americanism” through violence and intimidation. The story is based on the real-life Black Legion, a racist, “pro-American” group in Michigan that, in the mid-1930s, found itself involved in the murder of a WPA worker.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Jack Haley, Ray Bolger, Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Bert Lahr

The cast of one of the most beloved children’s films in movie history perches atop its source material, or at least an oversized novelty version of it. In all, author L. Frank Baum wrote 14 Oz books, beginning with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900 and ending with Glinda of Oz, published in 1920, a year after his death.

The Wild One (1953)
Peggy Maley, Marlon Brando, Yvonne Doughtry
Marlon Brando trades his leather jacket and biker hat for a simple t-shirt and neckerchief combo. If this photo it doesn’t quite capture the tough, defiant tone of the film, it’s at least fun to see Brando crack a smile.

Cover Girl (1944)
Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth tramples on musical notes with carefree abandon in this shot for the Columbia Pictures film about a chorus girl turned cover girl who becomes a Broadway star. The tale was warmed over rags-to-riches enlivened by costar Gene Kelly’s choreography and Jerome Kern’s tunes, which included Best Song Oscar nominee “Long Ago (and Far Away).”

A Day at the Races (1937)
Marx Brothers
The brothers Marx join forces to win a horse race and thereby save the farm in a Sam Wood-directed romp that sees Groucho as Doctor Hugo Hackenbush, a veterinarian who specializes in diseases of wealthy humans. MGM producer Irving Thalberg, who gave the world one of the Marx Brothers’ best films, A Night at the Opera (1935), died two weeks into the shoot.

Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Gloria Swanson

Gloria Swanson strikes a pose as Norma Desmond, faded star of the silent screen, in a series of shots involving the film’s lead actors and a lamppost. In October of 1960, Swanson would assume a similar position for photographer Eliot Elisofon amid the rubble of the partially demolished Roxy Theater in a famous image that graced the pages of Life Magazine. That photo, along with a New York Times article about a reunion of Ziegfeld Follies showgirls, was reportedly the inspiration for the 1971 Stephen Sondheim musical Follies.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
Fredric March

The Robert Louis Stevenson tale first went before the cameras in 1920, with director John S. Robertson at the helm and John Barrymore as the titular man and beast. Paramount wanted Barrymore to recreate his performance for their 1931 version, but the actor was under contract to MGM. Fredric March ended up with the meaty role and was directed by Rouben Mamoulian to a Best Actor Oscar. When MGM decided to create their own version of the story ten years later, they bought the rights to the Mamoulian film and proceeded to recall every print known to exist. Victor Fleming directed, Spencer Tracy starred and audiences were lukewarm at best. The picture’s failure prompted March to send Tracy a message of thanks for “the greatest boost to his reputation of his entire career.”

North by Northwest (1959)
Cary Grant

Cary Grant, as we know, possessed an abundance of charm and style and was one of the handsomest, most photogenic stars on film. In addition, he was an actor of many talents, adept at both comedy and drama. Yet, in this publicity shot for Hitchock’s cross-country thriller, even he looks ridiculous without a cornfield backdrop and crop duster antagonist.

Gorilla at Large (1954)
Anne Bancroft, George Barrows, Charlotte Austin
For a schlocky little horror film, Gorilla at Large had an impressive cast, which included Anne Bancroft, Lee J. Cobb, Raymond Burr, Cameron Mitchell and Lee Marvin. The story is pure claptrap about a carnival attraction named Goliath, the “world’s largest gorilla,” who may or may not be responsible for a man’s death. Inhabiting the furry skin of Goliath was actor George Barrows, who made it his specialty to play such hulking primates on film and on television. For bad movie fans, his biggest achievement was likely his role as Ro-Man, an alien creature in Robot Monster (1953) who resembles a gorilla wearing a diving helmet. It is widely considered to be one of the most idiotic space monsters ever devised.

The Birds (1963)
Tippi Hedren

A series of photos were taken with both director Alfred Hitchcock and star Tippi Hedren posing with one of the menacing winged critters of the title. A tongue-in-cheek quality defines the images, with one shot featuring a crow holding a lit match in its beak as Hedren leans in to light her cigarette.

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