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 20 directors 20 films (20)

Tuesday
Apr032012

William Wyler on The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

I have to have a script. I need a story that I like and that I think will make a good picture. I don’t go out improvising scenes as a rule, though if I can think of something that’s better than what was written, of course, I’d do that. But you’ve got to have a basis for what you’re going to do if you don’t get a better idea. I think a director is bound to make small changes, contributions to the screenplay, without necessarily being a writer. I’m not a writing director, but that doesn’t mean I don’t make changes.

An example is in The Best Years of Our Lives where we had Dana Andrews walking around the airfield seeing all these obsolete airplanes, which never saw action. All the script said was, “He walks around thinking of how the war had done him in.” But it’s because I did The Memphis Belle and rode in a bombardier’s compartment on a few missions that I got the idea that he would climb up into his own plane and have a dream and lose himself in the dream, or rather in hallucination. It was all invented on the spot because the airfield, those obsolete planes, were conducive to the basic idea of the film, of the man feeling lost. It would all come back in his mind, and he would hear in his mind’s eye the motors going, even though there were no motors there. It occurred to me that it would be good to hear each motor start, as before takeoff, over shots of the empty nacelles, as part of his hallucination. If I made the picture today, I would end it right there. I think it would be a better ending.

Monday
Apr022012

Stanley Kramer on The Defiant Ones (1958)

A film like The Defiant Ones was merely an inadequate attempt by a white filmmaker to deal with a contemporary problem. James Baldwin has been very critical of me, and though it hurt, what he said is true. He said I captured all the intellectual and moral viewpoints of my age but didn’t capture the soul of the black man. Well, who the hell does he think I am? I’m not black. The fact is that I am a white man who made films about human beings who happened to be black. I understood the problems of black men and women morally, socially and intellectually, but the damn soul kept slipping between my fingers. It had to be spoon-fed to me secondhand because I didn’t feel it or know it enough.

There are so many areas into which I’ve stepped under the umbrella of what is sometimes amusingly called the Establishment, Hollywood style. The reason I’m defensive about my films is that sometimes—just to get the job done—not enough of the artist and too much of the political tactician and social worker prevailed. That’s where my area of sensitivity is. It’s just like undressing in front of you and saying, “Well, look, this is where I’m vulnerable. Stab me there.”

I’ve always been what is laughingly called an independent. I say “laughingly” because latitude is comparative. I have usually had some latitude when casting, something I enjoy doing, but sometimes the distributor screams that you have to do something. The Defiant Ones was written for Brando and Poitier. But Brando got tied up in Mutiny on the Bounty. I wanted to go with Poitier and a new actor, but United Artists said, “You’re chaining two guys together and one of them is black. You’ve got to give us some stars.”

At the time I approached Lancaster, Douglas, Mitchum. You know, I went down a lot of the guys. It needed to be a pretty big guy opposite Poitier. Time went by and we just couldn’t wait, so I ended up with Tony Curtis. Now, that didn’t seem to be a particularly brilliant piece of casting to anyone, including me, but I couldn’t get anybody else to play the role. I cut Tony’s hair, we straightened his nose. I think he did very well with the role, but it certainly wasn’t written for him.

Sunday
Apr012012

Rouben Mamoulian on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

The key scene in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—the one to which everything in the story is geared—is when a young, handsome man is transformed into Hyde. I didn’t want to make this just a horror picture. I wanted to make it subjective, I wanted to let the audience feel, at least to the degree possible, the agonizing and fantastic experience. I said, “When I do the first transformation, I’ll have the camera be Jekyll.” Now, I can’t do that in the middle of the scene, out of a clear blue sky. It’s never been done before and it has to be established. That’s why I did the whole first reel with the camera being Jekyll.

I asked, “What kind of sound can we put with this? The whole thing is fantastic. You put a realistic sound and it will get you nowhere at all.” So again, you proceed from imagination and theory and if it makes sense, do it. I said, “We’re not going to have a single sound in this transformation that you can hear in life.” They said, “What are you going to use?” I said, “We’ll light the candle and photograph the light—high frequencies, low frequencies, direct from light into sound. Then we’ll hit a gong, cut off the impact, run it backward, things like that.” So I had this terrific kind of stew, a mélange of sounds that do not exist in nature or in life. It was eerie but it lacked a beat, and that’s where I had to introduce rhythm. So I said, “We need a beat.” We tried all sorts of drums, but they all sounded like drums. When you run all out of ideas, something always pops into your head. I said, “I’ve got it.” I ran up and down the stairway for two minutes until my heart was really pounding, too the microphone down and said, “Record me.” And that’s the rhythm of the big transformation. So when I say my heart was in Jekyll and Hyde, it’s literally true.

Actually, Jekyll and Hyde is not a horror story, although every book on horror films mentions it. Hyde is not a monster. What interested me about the story is that it’s a tragedy of man. Man with a capital M. Man who fights against the Establishment. Man who is a rebel. Man who is adventurous and courageous. Man who goes to the moon and climbs Mount Everest. It’s a noble part of human nature to achieve these adventurous things with the idea that they will subsequently benefit mankind. So here is a story of a man who does just that, and what he does ends up controlling him.

I explained to Freddie that Hyde is not evil to start with, that he is primitive like an animal. To an animal there is no evil. A tiger attacks to eat and sheds blood, and we don’t call that evil. But just as Jekyll gets gradually corrupted as he carries on this experiment, so does Hyde. With each stage he becomes worse. To me the most attractive person in the story is the first Mr. Hyde, full of exuberance and joy and freedom. He goes out to celebrate and it’s pouring rain. An Englishman always has an umbrella to protect himself, so I had him take his hat off, put his face up and love the rain. Then he goes into this music hall. Everything he does is wholehearted and vibrant; there is no evil there. He is fulfilling his impulse. Gradually he becomes worse, until the final tragedy.

Saturday
Mar312012

Raoul Walsh on The Thief of Bagdad (1924)

[Douglas Fairbanks] was a great fellow for athletics, and I did a little bit of that myself in the early days. He had a gym and asked me to come down and work out with him. Then he finally said, “Irish, I’m going to make a picture and I want you to direct it.” That was all. Now, I’d been making gangster pictures where everybody got murdered in the first and third scenes, and all of a sudden he picked me for this fantasy. So it was a relief. Anyhow, I took a chance with it and it turned out fairly good.

Fairbanks rehearsed for almost a month on his acrobatics before we started the picture. He kept in fine physical condition. He weighed a hundred fifty-two pounds and he’d mark what he weighed each day after he worked out. He had his own pool that he’d jump into after his steam bath. Charlie Chaplin used to come over every evening and the three of us would take a steam bath and talk about pictures.

We hired the best designer in the business at that time, a fellow named William Cameron Menzies, and told him the story. Then he went about his business and designed the sets—he’d bring them in and show them to Doug and myself. Fairbanks had his own organization, and they never set a schedule because sometimes he’d work for two or three days and then lay off to work on the script or something and then go again. I don’t think it took too long, maybe two months. That was one of the longest schedules ever given out.

Thursday
Mar292012

Alfred Hitchcock on Vertigo (1958)

In Vertigo, it was the end of the book before it’s revealed that it is one and the same woman. I decided halfway through to blow the whole thing, tell the audience the truth and not wait until the end. People were horrified. “What are you doing? Giving it all away?” I replied that if I didn’t, I’m starting another story. Jimmy Stewart has lost one woman. She’s dead, she’s gone, he was crazy about her, and she even drove him into a nursing home. Now he sees a girl on the street, he sees some resemblance, and he gets hold of her, gets into her room.

From that point on in the book, he endeavored to change the girl back into the image of the dead woman he wanted to renew. The reason I gave the whole thing away was to give additional values. First, we know who she is. Added value—what will Stewart do when he finds out? We know something that he doesn’t know. Now there is an element of suspense. Second, does the girl resist him? If you haven’t told the audience who she really is, you won’t understand her behavior—why she doesn’t want to wear a grey suit, why she doesn’t want her hair made blond.