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
Jan222016

January 22

Ann Miller dies of lung cancer in Los Angeles, 2004. Age was a big deal for Miller at the beginning of her career. Born in 1923, she entered the movie business at the tender age of 14 and kept it a secret from RKO, who, in 1937, wanted her as a contract player. The studio requested proof that she was 18, sending the youngster scrambling for a fake birth certificate listing the year she was born as 1919. The subterfuge worked and Miller soon found herself at age 15 playing wife to 31-year-old Dub Taylor in You Can’t Take It With You (1938). Miller’s other films made as a teen include Stage Door (1937), Room Service (1938) and Too Many Girls (1940).

Jim Jarmusch is born in Akron, Ohio, 1953. The independent director’s breakthrough came in 1984 when he received the Camera d’Or for his second film Stranger Than Paradise (1983), a comedy about a hipster and his visiting cousin from Hungary. To date, he has directed 12 full-length movies, including Down by Law (1986), Mystery Train (1989), Night on Earth (1991), Coffee and Cigarettes (2003) and Broken Flowers (2005). “I'm happiest when I'm shooting the movie.” the director remarked. “Filming is like sex. Writing the script is like seduction, then shooting is like sex because you're doing the movie with other people. Editing is like being pregnant, and then you give birth and they take your baby away. After this process is done, I will watch the movie one more time with a paying audience that doesn't know I'm there, and then I will never see it again. I'm so sick of it.”

Thursday
Jan212016

January 21

Peggy Lee dies of a heart attack in Los Angeles, 2002. Movie-wise, 1955 was a banner year for the singer/actress. She would receive critical acclaim—and eventually an Oscar nomination—as a boozy, washed-up jazz singer in Pete Kelly’s Blues. A month prior to that film’s release, audiences enjoyed a different side of Peggy Lee in Lady and the Tramp, Walt Disney’s animated romantic adventure about dogs from opposite ends of the social spectrum. With Sonny Burke, Lee wrote six songs for the film, including “He’s a Tramp” and “The Siamese Cat Song.” She also provided the voice of four characters, one of which was named after her. “Mamie Eisenhower was our First Lady at the time, and she always wore bangs,” Lee said. “The little dog has bangs and her name in the script was Mamie, so Walt was afraid someone might think we were being a little less than polite about the First Lady. That's why I have the honor of having the character named after me.” Besides Peg (formerly Mamie), Lee gave voice to Darling, the lady of the house who received Lady as a gift from her husband, and Si and Am, the fiendish Siamese cats. 

Cecil B. DeMille dies of a heart ailment in Hollywood, 1959. As a director, he was king of the biblical epics, such as The Ten Commandments (1923), The King of Kings (1927), The Crusades (1935)  and, again, The Ten Commandments (1956). Throughout his career he fully expected his performers to perform risky stunts, an attitude that ran counter to what actor Victor Mature was willing to do on the set of DeMille’s 1949 potboiler Samson and Delilah. Strong wind gusts during a battle scene saw a spooked Mature fleeing the set and heading for his dressing room. For the lion-killing scene, a tame, toothless beast was brought in to wrestle with the actor, who refused to go anywhere near it. In the finished film, a stuntman grapples with the big cat while close-ups show Mature manufacturing conflict with a lion pelt. "I have met a few men in my time,” DeMille remarked loudly for all cast and crew to hear. “Some have been afraid of heights, some have been afraid of water, some have been afraid of fire, some have been afraid of closed places. Some have even been afraid of open spaces—or themselves. But in all my thirty-five years of picture-making, Mr. Mature, I have not met a man who was 100% yellow."

Wednesday
Jan202016

January 20

Audrey Hepburn dies of cancer in Tolochenaz, Switzerland, 1993. “Playing the extroverted girl in Breakfast at Tiffany's was the hardest thing I ever did,” said the introverted actress about one of her most identifiable roles. The 1961 film, an adaptation of Truman Capote’s 1958 novella, is a portrait of a young Texas girl named Lula Mae Barnes who remakes herself as quirky Manhattan gadabout Holly Golightly, no stranger to café society, wealthy men and expensive presents. Jean Seberg, Kim Novak and Shirley MacLaine were considered for the role. When Novak and MacLaine turned it down, Marilyn Monroe (Capote’s choice) was cast with John Frankenheimer directing. Monroe left the project after her acting coach, Lee Strasberg, advised her not to do the film. Hepburn was then brought on board and Frankenheimer was replaced with Blake Edwards. Though the actress received a Golden Globe and Academy Award nomination for her performance, she considered herself miscast and felt insecure and self-conscious in the part, no more so than when Capote would pay a visit to the set.

Barbara Stanwyck dies of heart failure, lung disease and emphysema in Santa Monica, 1990. Among the names bandied about as the real-life inspiration for A Star is Born—the oft-told cinematic tale of an actress on the rise and her alcoholic, star-on-the-skids husband—you will find Colleen Moore and her alcoholic producer husband John McCormick. You might also hear that silent film star John Bowers, who committed suicide by drowning himself in the Pacific Ocean, or director Tom Forman, who shot himself through the heart, could have been the model for the Norman Maine character. To these names add Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Fay. In 1928, Stanwyck was a fresh face and a big hit in Burlesque, a Broadway production that costarred Fay, who she married on August 26 of that year. In short, she became a star in films while he flopped and drank to excess. They divorced in 1935 soon after an angry, inebriated Fay threw their adopted son in their swimming pool. Robert Taylor (above, with Stanwyck) was the next man in the actress’s life, a movie star in his own right who lived with Stanwyck for three years before they married on May 14, 1939. “The boy’s got a lot to learn, and I’ve got a lot to teach,” she remarked when asked about the four-year age difference between her and the younger Taylor. Though their marriage lasted for the twelve years, it got off to a questionable start when Taylor’s smothering mom insisted he spend his wedding night with her and not his wife.

Tuesday
Jan192016

January 19

House of Wax begins filming, 1953. The Vincent Price horror movie would be the first major studio release in 3D and was suggested to Warner Bros. by Andre de Toth, a director with only one eye. The picture, a remake of the 1933 Michael Curtiz film Mystery of the Wax Museum, proved to be a model of efficiency. Though de Toth’s budget was $1,250,000, the movie cost only $618,000 to make and was in the can after less than five weeks of shooting. Even post-production was straightforward and quick—the film was released on April 9, 1953, just 47 days after the final day of filming.

Tippi Hedren is born in New Ulm, Minnesota, 1930. “To be the object of somebody's obsession is a really awful feeling when you can't return it,” the actress once said about Alfred Hitchcock, who cast her in The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964). It all started with a simple commercial for a diet drink that the director saw on The Today Show in 1962. In the ad—and, as an inside joke, the opening sequence of The Birds—Hedren is seen walking down the street, acknowledging a man’s whistle with a smile. After the film wrapped, the future animal rights activist asked Hitchcock if she could keep the fur coat she wore in the film. He acquiesced, charging the production company for it.

Monday
Jan182016

January 18

Cary Grant is born in Horfield, Bristol, England, 1904. “I've worked with [Ingrid] Bergman. I've worked with [Katharine] Hepburn. I've worked with some of the biggest stars,” Grant once remarked, “but Grace Kelly was the best actress I've ever worked with in my life. That woman was total relaxation, absolute ease—she was totally there.” If their one movie together, Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief (1955), was not one of the director’s greatest works, the film was nevertheless a class act, buoyed by locations shots of the French Riviera and the cool chemistry between the two leads. Grant was 50 years old when he made the film (his character was 35 on paper) and Kelly was only 24, but any concerns the studio had over their age difference fell away when audiences responded enthusiastically their romantic shenanigans. “She was an extraordinarily serene girl,” Grant said of Kelly. “Both she and Hitchcock were Jesuit-trained. Maybe that had something to do with it.”

The Harvey Girls opens in theaters throughout the United States, 1946. The MGM film about entrepreneur Fred Harvey’s chain of restaurants and lodges was first conceived as a drama with Clark Gable and Lana Turner. With Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! all the rage on Broadway, producer Arthur Freed decided to make The Harvey Girls into a musical with Gable and Judy Garland heading the cast. John Hodiak took over to perform opposite Garland when Gable was channeled by the studio into the drama Adventure (1945). The Harvey Girls enjoyed great box office and good reviews, but the lion’s share of praise was heaped upon its musical centerpiece, the long, elaborate production number “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.” With music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Johnny Mercer, the catchy tune became a big hit in the six months prior to the release of The Harvey Girls, enjoying a 16-week run on the Billboard singles chart and reaching number one for seven of those weeks. Its staggering popularity spread, as three other successful versions of the song hit the airwaves during the same period. The cherry on top came on March 13, 1947: “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” took home the Academy Award for Best Song.

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