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.


Entries in 10 directors 10 films (11)

Friday
Oct032014

Alan J. Pakula on Klute (1971)

The reason I did Klute was the character of Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda). It’s the story of a girl who is destroyed by her own compulsions. It’s a melodrama in which the girl’s tragic flaw nearly destroys her. If she didn’t have this obsessive need to seduce men, she wouldn’t have gotten herself into this situation, and that fascinated me. If she were an accidental victim I don’t think I would have been so interested. But the fact that she’s a prostitute with an obsessive compulsion pushed me to make the film. I’m fascinated by compulsions, by bright, rational people who behave in ways they can’t control. She has a compulsion to seduce men. She feels impotent and the only way she feels any sense of power is when she is sexually in control. This is the compulsion that almost destroys her.

I had a call girl sit down with us and tell Jane everything. The first thing she explained is that you get your money first, because once it’s over you’re not going to get as much. Two, you make sure that the man thinks he’s different from all the other johns, that he really is special, that he turns you on, and the only reason you’re doing it is because you need the money even through you would rally rather do it for free. She said, “They all believe you. I’ve lost all respect for men, because psychiatrists, judges, doctors, politicians all believe they’re different, every one who comes along.” The other thing is to get him excited as fast as possible because time is money.

The call girl gave Jane all those things, and Jane came in the next day ready to play the scene with the john. Of course she was wonderful. She came up with things I never would have thought of, like when she whispered in his ear and said, “What do you want? Come on, tell me what you want.” He whispers something in her ear and she says, “Oh, I like your mind.” This came out of Jane being in character and having a simple action, which was to turn on this man as much as possible, to make him think he was exciting to her. Once she was really in character, she couldn’t do much that was wrong.

Excerpt from The Great Moviemakers: The Next Generation, compiled and edited by George Stevens, Jr. 

Wednesday
Aug132014

Steven Spielberg on The Sugarland Express (1974)

[I]t wasn’t a box office success. It cost $1.8 million, but even with television sales it’s barely going to break even. I averaged about four printed takes per shot, which meant we went over budget in raw stock and printing by $50,000. But it was important for Goldie [Hawn], because she had never played a consistently dramatic role before, and I had to print a lot of takes to get rid of all her cutesy-pie crust, and then select the most subtle ones in the cutting room. I must say that she’s totally different than she’s ever been before. I wanted to do anything possible to keep the Goldie Hawn Tinkerbell-light away from her, and in the end she really did keep all that sugarplum stuff to a minimum. I even thought that if I shot the whole picture during overcast weather, the look of the shots would play against the lightness of the script and the fluffiness of Goldie’s images. I think I was right.

There are many reasons why the film wasn’t a success, not the least of which is that the Goldie Hawn fans didn’t want to see her in that kind of movie and the non-Goldie Hawn fans weren’t willing to give her a shot in a dramatic role. Audiences fell right through the cracks. I also have a feeling that the down ending turned a lot of people off, certainly in light of things like American Graffiti and The Sting and other films that premiered months before us that were kind of lighthearted and carefree. Audiences weren’t expecting Goldie to be in a motion picture in which one of the major actors is shot and killed and the film ends on a low note. They wanted her to go off into the sunset.

Beyond that, the distribution wasn’t good. The ad campaign sold Goldie Hawn with a smile on her face and a teddy bear next to her. It looked like a romp in the woods. When the film opened in New York there was a line of kids waiting to see the picture. The movie was misrepresented more than anything else, and when it came time for the studio to back up their mistake with money, that’s when the distribution men at Universal got cold feet and said sort of sotto voce, “We’ll allow it to play out its Easter run and let it close out.” That’s exactly what happened. The film opened and closed in three weeks. It was very disappointing for me. Later Universal rereleased the film, using another tactic that I wasn’t amused with: “From the director of Jaws.” The film still didn’t do well.

Excerpt from The Great Moviemakers: The Next Generation, compiled and edited by George Stevens, Jr. 

Thursday
Jul312014

John Sayles on Lone Star (1996)

I can give you an example of how visual ideas connect directly with story. Joe Morton’s character in Lone Star is very sure of himself, and the camera is always a little below his eye line. Filming from below is the strongest position in a wide-screen frame. He starts the film dead center in the frame. He’s the colonel, talking down to the sergeants and enlisted guys. As he starts to have his crisis of faith, he starts moving toward the edges of the frame and we start shooting from above.

Almost the exact opposite happens with Mercedes, Miriam Colón’s character, who at first is seen out of focus in the background. She’s just a lady at the cash register, but then as we get to know her character and know something about her past she gains stature. We move the camera down on her until finally in the last scene you see her when the people who have just waded through the river are asking her for help. You realize this is an incredible woman. She’s gone through all this stuff and suddenly becomes a three-dimensional character. She’s not just the lady who runs the cash register at the restaurant.

Even the initial decision to shoot in wide screen means a lot. You have to ask yourself whether you’re making a horizontal movie or not. For me, Lone Star was very much a wide-screen story because I wanted to show the horizon stretched out. The landscape in Texas isn’t mountainous, it’s long and flat, and shooting in wide screen gave the opportunity to isolate characters in the frame.

Excerpt from The Great Moviemakers: The Next Generation, compiled and edited by George Stevens, Jr. 

Thursday
Jul242014

William Friedkin on The Exorcist (1972)

[Linda Blair] mouthed everything, but we also recorded her own voice as a guide track and for a while I thought we might use that recording. When I started the picture, I thought, “I’m just going to get a good, ballsy, masculine voice to do this thing.” But it occurred to me that it would be much more believable if I could get a female voice that had some masculinity to it. Most of her voice is replaced by Mercedes McCambridge’s, but some of the voice is her own. The stuff that was most effective was recorded in sync to her own dialogue, line for line. All Linda Blair did was mouth the words as best she could. Mercedes McCambridge, who smokes heavily, was able to speak in that emphysemic voice and get that wonderful wheezy sound. We would experiment. She would swallow three raw eggs and drink some Jack Daniel’s and then we had her tightly tied to a chair. It sounds like she has three or four screaming animals in her throat. We recorded that very close up and then made a loop out of it. After we had dubbed the girl’s voice I felt there was something wrong. It occurred to me that I had to keep the demonic presence alive, even when it wasn’t talking, and that’s when we decided to put the looped wheeze in.

The media makes up shit that you can’t believe. They said after making The Exorcist Linda Blair was in a mental hospital or something. She was a delightful little twelve-year-old girl, and every time we’d do a take of the most monstrous things imaginable the prop man would hand her a milkshake. I made every scene a game with her.

I knew that the only way I could make this movie was if I had a child who was able somehow to grasp and deal with this horrible stuff that had to be performed. I really thought I might never find such a person. We had casting directors look at thousands of women across the country, starting at age twelve. Then we started looking for sixteen-year-old young women who looked younger. We couldn’t find anyone, and I seriously thought it wouldn’t be possible to make the film. Then in comes this eleven-year-old girl with her mother. I ask her the same questions I asked the others. I said, “Do you know what this story is about?” She said, “Yes, I read the book. It’s about a little girl who’s possessed by the devil and she does a lot of bad things.” I said, “Like what? What sort of bad things?” She said, “Well, she pushes a man out a window and she hits her mother in the face and she masturbates with a crucifix.” I said, “What?” I’d never heard that from an eleven-year-old. I said, “What does that mean?” She said, “What?” I said, “What does ‘masturbate’ mean?” She said, “It’s like jerking off, isn’t it?” I said, “Uh-huh.” Then I said, “Have you ever jerked off?” and she said, “Sure. Haven’t you?” I said, “You’re hired.”

Excerpt from The Great Moviemakers: The Next Generation, compiled and edited by George Stevens, Jr. 

Monday
Jul212014

David Lynch on Mulholland Dr. (2001)

I don’t know where [the story of Mulholland Dr. came from]. In this case it came from ideas from the ether. They sometimes come in the form of a book and sometimes in the form of a screenplay, but before a book and before a screenplay the ideas come from somewhere, and that’s the trick: where these ideas come from and how they come to us and how we can get them and what we do with them once they have come to us. It seems as if they come from outside of us, and for me they come in fragments. It would be beautiful if they came all at once and it was one big thing and it was possible to pick it up and you were off and running. The first fragment in this case was the words “Mulholland Dr.” married with a certain knowledge of that road, and then it went to night and then the sign at night with the wind and headlights just gently illuminating that sign. That was the beginning of it.

I can’t remember how it unfolded, but there was always going to be a girl coming to Hollywood. How it got to where it is now was a pretty long journey. Sometimes when I get enough things together I dictate the script, because I don’t know how to type. I think that the dictating is, for me, really very good and useful, because there is someone in the room and that person has to be a certain type of person so you don’t feel a fool for saying things or going down a wrong road. I was dictating and I began to speak about the cowboy and just like that he walked right in and began to speak. And that’s how it happened. The ideas come in fragments. I don’t know where anything is going. When a few fragments start hooking themselves together and they marry to a fragment that you didn’t think was going to relate at all, it’s a big surprise. It’s such a huge, long process and some ideas come while you’re shooting and then more ideas come toward the end. It’s ongoing and never finished until it’s finished.

Excerpt from The Great Moviemakers: The Next Generation, compiled and edited by George Stevens, Jr.