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 bela lugosi (6)

Monday
Feb022015

February 2

Rondo Hatton dies of a heart attack in Los Angeles, 1946. Hatton, a former American soldier in World War I, was working as a journalist when noticed by director Henry King, who cast him in a small role in Hell Harbor (1930). From there, Hatton appeared in bit parts in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) and The Ox-Bow Incident (1943). He made his mark, however, playing a character known as The Creeper in a series of three films released by Universal Studios—The Pearl of Death (1944), House of Horrors (1946) and The Brute Man (1946). It was a role that exploited his acromegaly, a disease of the pituitary gland that had plagued him following his stint in the military, and one that causes abnormal growth of the bones in the head, hands and feet. He died before his last two Creeper movies were released. Universal’s newest horror movie actor would eventually achieve cult stardom years after his death.

Boris Karloff dies of emphysema in Midhurst, Sussex, England, 1969. He and fellow horror star Bela Lugosi were often depicted as rivals, though the actors, if not exactly bosom buddies, were friendly and respectful towards each other in real life. They made eight films together beginning in 1934 with The Black Cat (1934), a moody tale about a mad architect and his creepy basement on a dark and stormy night. “Poor old Bela,” remarked Karloff. “It was a strange thing. He was really a shy, sensitive, talented man who had a fine career on the classical stage in Europe, but he made a fatal mistake. He never took the trouble to learn our language. He had real problems with his speech and difficulty interpreting lines.” Both were later typecast as sinister fellows, with Lugosi’s struggles with English an added factor in the nature of roles he was given. “I find that, because of my language and gestures, that I am cataloged as what you call a heavy,” the Hungarian-born Lugosi once stated. “My accent stamped me, in the imagination of the producers, as an enemy. Therefore I must be a heavy.”

Tuesday
Sep032013

W.C Fields, Busby Berkeley and the Quake of '33

At 5:55 pm on March 10, 1933, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck a few miles offshore from Long Beach, California, a large shipping port 25 miles south of Los Angeles. Destroying hundreds of buildings from downtown Long Beach to southern Los Angeles, the quake claimed 120 lives and spurred lawmakers to immediately enact legislation requiring stricter seismic safeguards for new building construction.

Strong rumblings were felt in Hollywood as well, specifically on the sets of two major motion pictures that were in the midst of filming. At Warner Bros. in Burbank, director/choreographer Busby Berkeley hung by one hand from a camera boom after the temblor knocked him off his perch during the filming of “The Shadow Waltz” number in Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933). He managed to hoist himself up, but electricity to the entire soundstage was knocked out and the chorus girls, many on elevated walkways, were instructed to carefully sit where they were at until a door could be thrown open to let in some light.

Over at Paramount, director Edward Sutherland was filming International House (1933) a comedy about a new invention—television—that starred W.C. Fields, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Rudy Vallee, Cab Calloway and Bela Lugosi. Footage was shown in newsreels across the country of a scene involving Fields in which the earthquake struck, causing a chandelier to sway, the camera to shake and a table lamp to fall. Decades later, it was revealed to be a hoax, a tremor staged by Fields and Sutherland as a publicity stunt. "We shared a big laugh and an even bigger drink," the director remarked about putting it over on the public.

The earthquake clip begins at the 0:56 mark in this collection of studio outtakes.

Sunday
Apr152012

TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Three

Work, exhaustion and lousy weather kept me away from Day Two of the Turner Classic Movies festival taking place in Hollywood this weekend. Today, however, I was able to indulge in my favorite pastime and ended up with four movies under my belt. Here a brief rundown of what I saw.

Bonjour Tristesse (1958)
Jean Seberg is not a technically complex actress, but she has a contemporary style, an ease in front of the camera and a beauty, breathtaking and simple, that draws me in. Such qualities are burning at full incandescence in Bonjour Tristesse, only her second outing on the big screen and her second with director Otto Preminger. Seberg plays David Niven’s free-spirit daughter having to deal with his impending marriage to a rather rigid and oppressive Deborah Kerr. With wardrobe by Givenchy, everyone looks terrific. But Seberg is especially fetching in the famed couturier’s timeless creations.

The Black Cat (1934)
The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy interviewed Bela Lugosi, Jr. and Sara Karloff, the affable and well-spoken offspring of Black Cat stars Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. The stylish horror film also stars David Manners, Jacqueline Wells and Charles D. Hall’s striking art deco interiors—a nice change from the gothic manse horror protagonists typically encounter on a dark and stormy night.

Auntie Mame (1958)
I’ve seen Auntie Mame in a theater countless times and have the DVD committed to memory, so this was a rather uninspired choice for me. I thought about going to Kim Novak’s hand- and footprint ceremony in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese instead, but doubted my ability to get a good vantage point. So it was off to the Egyptian to hear the smart, funny and intensely likeable Todd Oldham introduce the Morton DaCosta picture. The audience was enthusiastic and knowing—one could almost feel them anticipate their favorite lines.

Girl Shy (1924)
Inside the Egyptian Theater, a sharp-looking print of Girl Shy was introduced by Leonard Maltin and Harold Lloyd’s granddaughter Suzanne and was accompanied by the great Robert Israel Orchestra. Outside the theater, a gentleman handed me a flyer indicating the perilous state of Harold Lloyd’s birthplace in Burchard, Nebraska. A Harold Lloyd Blogathon is scheduled for August 6-10 with a Harold Lloyd Celebration to follow on September 15. You can learn more at fb.com/savetheharoldlloydbirthplace or by emailing Trevor, tpjost@hotmail.com.

Sunday
Dec112011

December 10

Edward D. Wood, Jr. dies of heart failure in North Hollywood, 1978. Released the same year as The 400 Blows and Black Orpheus, 1959’s Plan 9 from Outer Space is often regarded as the worst film ever made and has become the wonderfully untalented director’s main contribution to cinema. We know the director from other stinkeroos he’s made, such as Glen or Glenda (1953), Bride of the Monster (1955) and Night of the Ghouls (1959). Many of his cult followers also know that he was an avid crossdresser whose first wife kicked him out of the house on their wedding night when it was revealed he was wearing women’s underwear. And, thanks in part to Johnny Depp’s portrayal of the hack director in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (1994), we know that he was eternally optimistic, hired equally no-talent actors from Hollywood's fringe, employed Bela Lugosi at his career’s end and had a propensity for wearing angora sweaters.

But what many people may not know about Wood is his military service. A Marine in World War II, Wood was a fierce combat soldier in the Pacific Theater and lost most of his front teeth in hand-to-hand combat with a Japanese soldier. He earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and a Sharpshooter’s Medal. And, true to his nature, he claimed to have worn women’s underwear under his uniform.

Wednesday
Nov092011

November 9

In 1938, shooting begins on Son of Frankenstein, directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring Basil Rathbone as the title character, Boris Karloff as The Monster and Bela Lugosi as Ygor, a mentally unhinged blacksmith. The Ygor character was not part of the original script, and much of the final screenplay was written as it was being shot. Lugusi saw his role expand as filming progressed, resulting in one of his best and most acclaimed performances. As for Karloff, it would be the last of his three feature film appearances as The Monster. Karloff’s home movies on the set (below) afford a rare look at what the character looks like in color. (The man Karloff is pretending to strangle is makeup artist Jack Pierce who, for four hours each morning, made Karloff sit still in a chair.) Shooting was completed on January 5, 1939, and—remarkably—the film was released in theaters eight days later.