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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.


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.

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

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

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

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

We select three movie musicals we deeply wish the sunny singer/actress would have made.

Twelve examples of what made the late actor such an enduring movie star.

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.

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.

« Behind the Scenes: 25 Great Photos | Main | Berlinale 2014: We Come as Friends (2014) »

Twelve Random Thoughts about This Year's Oscars

The Oscars don’t simply honor the best of the year, they unleash a carnival of criticism about the host, the speeches, the parade of glamorous frocks, the show’s performances and the ceremony at large. And who am I not to offer my own bombastic pronouncements on what transpired? Here are a few observations and opinions I just have to get off my chest.

Darlene Love Belts One Out
The terrific pop singer and star of Best Documentary 20 Feet from Stardom let wail during the acceptance speech with an a cappella “Eye on the Sparrow.” I found it to be more yelled than sung, though the ensuing standing ovation suggested that my opinion was firmly in the minority.

Looking Good
In an industry splendidly overpopulated with gorgeous people, a few stood on an even higher plane on Oscar night: pretty man Jared Leto, unerring fashion plate Lupita N’yongo, Chris Hemsworth (above) in a swell burgundy tuxedo, a dapper, bearded Bradley Cooper, a stunningly beautiful Kate Hudson and an elegant-in-Armani Cate Blanchett.

The Comic Stylings of Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey alluded to the fact that he’s never been nominated, and, as The Truman Show (1998) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MInd (2004) proved, he is indeed a darn good actor. But I confess to never caring much about his sledgehammer approach to comedy. It was a turnoff at the time of his movie breakthrough 20 years ago and today still strikes me as abundantly and unfunnily grotesque.

Shout Outs
Bill Murray (above, with fellow presenter Amy Adams) neatly and unexpectedly tipped his hat to the late Harold Ramis while presenting the Oscar for Best Cinematography, mentioning their work together on Caddyshack (1980), Ghostbusters (1984) and Groundhog Day (1993). Bono set his brief tribute to music, shouting out “Darlene Love!” at the end of U2’s performance of their nominated song “Ordinary Love.”

I’m not sure why this show needs any theme besides “The Year’s Best.” Certainly the Academy’s display of movie heroes—animated, everyday and popular—seemed half-hearted and intrusive to the business of the evening, with the various montages revealing a wholesale avoidance of many films pre-1970.

Actors Writing Their Own Lines
In her Best Actress acceptance speech, Cate Blanchett pointedly commented about industry folk “who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people!” Best Actor Matthew McConaughey engaged in a loopy, semi-stream-of-consciousness ramble wherein he revealed the identity of his personal hero: Matthew McConaughey. Lupito N’yongo continued to be the model of articulation, grace and humility in her acceptance of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. And Best Supporting Actor Jared Leto movingly paid tribute to his mother and brother as well as the depressingly large section of humanity affected by AIDS. For the first time I can recall, all four winners in acting categories gave memorable, at times eloquent, speeches.

Travolta's Failed Anagram Attempt
I’m not sure what was plaguing John Travolta as he butchered Idina Menzel’s name when introducing her performance of “Let It Go.” Perhaps he forgot his reading glasses and “Idina Menzel” looked like “Adele Dazeem.” Dyslexia might have been the culprit. Maybe good rehearsals do indeed lead to a lousy performance. In any event, the misstep was all the rage the day after, even inspiring someone to devise a Travoltify Your Name widget. For the record, “Cinemagumbo” in Travolta-speak is “Cameron.”

Novak and Poitier
I love the idea of having old Hollywood royalty be a part of the festivities. The reality, however, can be hit and miss. In 2003, an 86-year-old Olivia de Havilland showed up to introduce a tribute sequence. She was charming, lovely and lucid. In 1987, a 78-year-old Bette Davis presented the Best Actor trophy to Paul Newman. She was outspoken, untamed and unpredictable, and because of it, for a while afterwards, she became a running joke. This year, history was represented by Kim Novak and Sidney Poitier, 81 and 87 years old, respectively. Poitier, paired with Angelina Jolie to present Best Director, and always a slow, deliberate speaker, fared well. Novak, who presented Best Animated Feature with Matthew McConaughey, was another matter. Appearing slightly befuddled, speaking haltingly, she made a strange Magic Mike comment and went off script to thank the Academy for inviting her to the show. Though not by any means a fiasco, I wonder if her wobbly presence might scare away other legends like Doris Day from ever making a similar showing at the future ceremonies.

Setting the Stage
Though I was no fan of the intricate design on the stage floor, the backdrops showed a cool style, from vintage incandescent light bulbs and manual typewriters to a series of lit-from-within Oscar figures.

In Memoriam
This year, In Memoriam was an odd play in two acts, with Act One seeing the usual montage of deceased movie folk set to dignified music. The film clips ended and that was that…until Bette Midler began Act Two by singing her power ballad from a quarter century ago, “Wind Beneath My Wings.” I kept wondering if she only agreed to sing if they keep the camera on her the entire time. Otherwise, it was a curious and lengthy approach to this award-show staple.

Pink's Turn of Phrase
Her voice was strong, but what’s up with her phrasing? She took breaths in the most peculiar places, turning “Over the Rainbow” into “Oh, Ver the Rainbow.” If producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan are eyeing her for the lead in Peter Pan, NBC’s next live musical television production, I trust they will find her a crackerjack vocal coach.

Ellen Works the Room
In a broadcast that had few highs and lows, Ellen DeGeneres was predictably affable and amusing, with a solid opening monologue that contained something rare for her—a joke with a sting. Her quip about Liza Minnelli actually being a Liza Minnelli impersonator—a direct steal from The Simpsons—was perhaps more Ricky Gervais than Ellen DeGeneres, replete with an awkward reaction from the joke’s target. Selfies and pizza delivery bits were entertaining time wasters as she played jester to a celebrity court completely on her side. Except for, perhaps, Liza Minnelli.

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