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.


Monday
Aug152011

The Band Wagon (1953)

The Vincente Minnelli musical is often considered one of the best of the genre and, as with every film—accomplished or not—it has its share of mistakes. Nanette Fabray, on one of The Band Wagon's DVD extras, recalls a doozy that occurs during the "Louisiana Hayride" number: "You must be very, very quick and you will see a stagehand walk through the back of the set. If you're watching the picture, see if you can catch that stagehand. I would guess he assumed that they had moved away from where he was and he just took off. Nobody caught it."

The stagehand appears at the 4:27 mark.

Sunday
Aug142011

August 14

Gale Sondergaard dies at the age of 86 in Woodland Hills in 1985. Discovered by director Mervyn LeRoy, Sondergaard made her film debut in Anthony Adverse (1936), for which she won the first Academy Award given for Best Supporting Actress. For The Wizard of Oz (1939), she tested twice for the Wicked Witch of the West—an ugly version and a beautiful one inspired by the wicked queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Producers decided on the ugly version, causing Sondergaard to withdraw and Margaret Hamilton to step into the role. A memorable performance in The Letter (1940) and an Oscar-nominated turn in Anna and the King of Siam (1946) followed. Her career was seriously damaged in the early 1950s when her husband, Herbert Biberman, was named as one of the Hollywood Ten. Sondergaard refused to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee and was blacklisted.

Sunday
Aug142011

Ten Beautiful Women

The task of selecting ten lookers from an industry that is a hotbed of physical beauty is a fool's mission—obnoxiously subjective on our part and destined to be dismally incomplete. But we did it anyway, and left several gorgeous creatures on the cutting room floor. Let us know who you would put on the list.

"Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid." — Hedy Lamarr

"I never really thought of myself as a sex goddess; I felt I was more a comedian who could dance." — Rita Hayworth

"No one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl. All little girls should be told they're pretty, even if they aren't." — Marilyn Monroe

"Every time you picture is taken, you lose a part of your soul." — Anna May Wong

"I don't have sex appeal and I know it. As a matter of fact, I think I'm rather funny looking. My teeth are funny, for one thing, and I have none of the attributes usually required for a movie queen, including the shapeliness." — Audrey Hepburn

"I was unique in that I was a kind of black that white people could accept. I was their daydream. I had the worst kind of acceptance because it was never for how great I was or what I contributed. It was because of the way I looked." — Lena Horne

"After my screen test, the director clapped his hands gleefully and yelled, 'She can't talk! She can't act! She's sensational!'" — Ava Gardner

"I don't want to dress up a picture with just my face." — Grace Kelly

"Sex appeal is fifty percent what you've got and fifty percent what people think you've got." — Sophia Loren

"I have the emotions of a child in the body of a woman. I was rushed into womanhood for the movies. It caused me long moments of unhappiness and doubt." — Elizabeth Taylor

Saturday
Aug132011

August 13

"On Sunday, August 13th, 1961, the eyes of America were on the nation's capital, where Roger Maris was hitting home runs number 44 and 45 against the Senators. On that same day, without any warning, the East German Communists sealed off the border between East and West Berlin. I only mention this to show the kind of people we're dealing with...real shifty!" — C.R. MacNamara (James Cagney), One Two Three (1961)

Coming midway in One Two Three's shooting schedule, the erection of the Berlin Wall required moving the cast and crew of the Billy Wilder comedy to Munich in order to complete scenes set at the Brandenburg Gate. A replica of the monument's lower half was constructed at Bavaria Film Studios near Munich.

Also on this date, in London in 1899, William and Emma Jane Hitchcock proudly welcome their son Alfred into the world.

In 1982, Charles Walters, MGM choreographer and director of Easter Parade (1948), High Society (1956) and The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964) dies of lung cancer in Malibu.

Fidel Castro is born in 1926 in Biran, Cuba. Legend has it that the Cuban leader was an extra in two MGM films of 1946: Holiday in Mexico and Easy to Wed. Though his involvement has been disputed, his two-picture filmography on imbd.com nevertheless stands.

Saturday
Aug132011

Fred Astaire: Five Lively Numbers

Clever choreography, attention to detail, authoritative footwork and sincere emotion are hallmarks of Fred Astaire's dance routines on film. A few of them rank as art: Fred dancing on the ceiling, with a hat rack, with Ginger at RKO. A great many others are simply fun to watch. Here are a handful of the latter—playful routines united by bouncy tunes, boundless energy and high spirits.

 

"Sluefoot" from Daddy Long Legs (1955) Astaire shows up at a college dance and, with Leslie Caron, shows everyone how it's done.

"Stiff Upper Lip" from A Damsel in Distress (1937) George Burns and Gracie Allen join Astaire in a George and Ira Gershwin number set in a funhouse.

 

"Bouncin' the Blues" from The Barkleys of Broadway (1949) Fred and Ginger reunite in this MGM musical, which chronicles the ups and downs of a husband and wife musical comedy team.

 

"Slap That Bass" from Shall We Dance (1937) A pristine, Art Deco engine room (!) is the setting for an Astaire solo dance that gradually builds up steam and ends in a spinning flourish. Song by George and Ira Gershwin.

 

"Coffee Time" from Yolanda and the Thief (1945) It’s almost unheard of that a floor—in this case a wavy, black-and-white striped op-art beauty on which Astaire and Lucille Bremer hold court—threatens to upstage those who perform on it. I suspect that Ruby Keeler and Nijinsky could rise from the dead, perform a muzurka on that zebra squiggle and my eyes would still be looking footward. (So, no doubt, would Ruby Keeler's.) Not to be outdone, though, Astaire and Bremer deliver a jaunty, hand-clapping routine set to a pip song by Harry Warren and Arthur Freed.

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