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.

Entries in ava gardner (6)


July 13

Alla Nazimova dies of a coronary thrombosis in Los Angeles, 1945. The Russian-born actress established herself on stage in Moscow and St. Petersburg before heading to America, where, in 1906, she made her Broadway debut. She remained a wildly popular stage star for the next several years, with dramas by Ibsen and Chekhov her specialty. Though initially a hit in movies, Nazimova’s overall work on screen was more of a mixed bag. Early roles tended towards the outlandish and lustful, and audiences ate her up in pictures like Revelations (1918), The Red Lantern (1919) and Camille (1921). Her success was tempered considerably when she began to produce her own films—a handful of daring abstractions that left critics and audiences cold. After My Son in 1925, she took a break from moviemaking until the early 1940s, when she made a spate of five films that included Escape (1940), as Robert Taylor’s mother, and Blood and Sand (1941), as Tyrone Power’s mother. She left on a high note, a small part in the critically acclaimed wartime drama Since You West Away (1944).

In 1919, at the height of her film popularity, she purchased a Spanish-style home on Sunset Boulevard that sat on 2.5 acres between Crescent Heights and Havenhurst. Dubbed The Garden of Alla, a reference to the similarly titled 1905 novel The Garden of Allah by Robert S. Hichens, the home would become a key destination for the era’s Hollywood party people. In 1926, financial problems led her to construct 25 villas on the property and convert it to a residential hotel, which underwent a slight spelling change in 1930 when Nazimova sold it to Central Holding Corporation. The Garden of Allah, as it was now designated, became temporary lodging for many famous folk, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Marlene Dietrich, Artie Shaw, Buster Keaton, Ava Gardner, Humphrey Bogart and Ernst Lubitsch. In 1938, Nazimova, returned to the property and rented out Villa 24, where she lived until her death.

The Garden of Allah was operated by a succession of various owners throughout the thirties, forties and fifties, with final owner Bart Lytton, owner of a savings and loan company, demolishing home and surrounding villas in 1959 to make room for a bank.


Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival 2014: The Killers (1946)

In 1927, Ernest Hemingway’s The Killers, a short story about two guys putting a hit on a former boxer, was first published. In the movie version, directed by Robert Siodmak and adapted by screenwriter Anthony Veiller, the entirety of Hemingway’s tale is depicted in the first reel. In those ten minutes of celluloid, two tough guys (Charles McGraw and William Conrad) arrive in a small town to bump off the aforementioned boxer nicknamed “the Swede” (Burt Lancaster), a man who realizes that it’s the end of the road for him and rather casually accepts his fate. For the remaining 93 minutes, Veiller concocts a back-story that involves insurance investigator John Riordan (Edmond O’Brien), whose investigation of the Swede’s life insurance policy reveals the dead man’s complicated connection to organized crime and a mysterious woman named Kitty Collins (Ava Gardner).

For audiences that saw The Killers upon its release in 1946, this film contained two “Who the hell is that?” performances. One belonged to its star, 32-year-old Lancaster, a former acrobat who received first billing on this, his movie debut. The newcomer enjoyed a brief career on the New York stage before being snatched up by Hollywood, where a screen test impressed producer Mark Hellinger enough to take a chance on Lancaster over initial choices Wayne Morris and Sonny Tufts. Making a similarly strong impression on moviegoers was Gardner, who by that time had appeared in movies for five years in mostly decorative roles. The Killers gave her considerably more to chew on as Kitty, a gorgeous, duplicitous character tailor-made for film noir. As with Lancaster, her notices were glowing.


John Huston on The Night of the Iguana (1964)

The adaptation was based on suggestions within the play that would be interesting to put on screen. The actual operation was done with a collaborator, a very dear friend of mine named Tony Veiller. We worked extremely well together. Our method was that I’d write a scene and Tony would write a scene and I would hand mine over to him, and his to me.

One thing I couldn’t reconcile in the film was the part Ava Gardner played. She was in Tennessee [Williams’s] original play, and despite a certain charm and humor she had in the original, she turned into a kind of great bloated spider that consumed this man. I didn’t change the character out of any desire to sentimentalize the material, but she just defied being put into that role on film. So one day we changed her completely so far as the end of the story and their relationship is concerned. I talked to Tennessee about this and he said it wasn’t what he’d intended at all. I accused him of hating women and twisting her to his own devices and purposes. He said maybe there was that, and agreed my changes were permissible. I wanted his approval, as I have too high a regard for him to have just gone blindly in another direction.

The scene I’m talking about is in Mexico where the girl comes to Richard Burton’s room to importune him. She’s trying to seduce him, but he’s had an unfortunate background so far as the seduction of maidens is concerned and he’s doing his level best to avoid this one. But she comes into the room, and this dialogue scene ensues where he tries to explain to her why he chooses not to make love to her. I’d written the scene, Tony had worked on it, but it still wasn’t very good. The dialogue was good, but the scene wasn’t satisfactory, so I asked Tennessee to look at it and see if he had any ideas. He came back the next morning with the scene he’d written, and if you’ve seen the picture you’ll know what I’m talking about.

It opens with Burton standing before a chiffonier and there is a bottle of whiskey on the chiffonier, and the girl opens the door and startles him. He’s shaving and he cuts himself, and the bottle falls off the chiffonier. The dialogue then continued as he walks on broken glass barefoot. Presently the girl, in the spirit of martyrdom, joins him walking on broken glass, and the scene proceeded in that vein. As these lines bounced back and forth between them they were walking on broken glass, something that served to dramatize the scene. The scene was the same except for broken glass on the floor, and this gave it something extraordinary. It’s an example of real dramatic genius, one of the best scenes in the picture.


December 24

Ave Gardner is born in Grabtown, North Carolina, 1922. MGM noticed her beauty when she was 18 years old and put her under contract, where she stayed from 1941 through 1958. Asked during an interview if her time at the studio was fun, the actress replied, “Christ, after seventeen years of slavery, you can ask that question? I hated it, honey. I mean, I'm not exactly stupid or without feeling, and they tried to sell me like a prize hog.” One bit of pleasure in the midst of her time at the studio occurred during the filming of The Bribe (1949), a drama set in Central America concerning stolen aircraft engines and a federal agent (Robert Taylor) drawn to the chief suspect’s wife (Gardner). “I knew him as a warm, generous, intelligent human being,” the actress said of her leading man. “Our love affair lasted three, maybe four months—a magical little interlude...I think Bob, despite all his efforts, couldn't break the mold of the beautiful lover. The film world remembers him that way, and I have to say that I do, too.”


August 28

The Killers opens in New York at the Winter Garden Theater in 1946. Based on a short story by Ernest Hemingway, the film would see the debut of Burt Lancaster, with Ava Gardner on hand to ensure that the movie's sex appeal go through the roof. Prior to the movie's release, a special screening was arranged for Hemingway, armed a bottle of gin and a bottle of water to soften the impact of a bad movie. "Didn't need 'em!" he remarked, holding up the full bottles as he emerged from the screening.