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 Berlinale 2012 (15)


Berlinale 2012 in Review


Berlinale 2012 at Random

Celebrity Sightings
Jake Gyllenhaal and director Mike Leigh in the men’s room at the CinemaxX Theater in Potsdamer Platz. Robert Pattinson signing autographs on Alte Postdamer Strasse. Legendary German cultural figure Rosa con Praunheim at Billy Wilder’s Restaurant in the Sony Center.

I didn’t have any screenings at my favorite Berlin theater, the grand Soviet-sector movie barn Kino International. Another favorite, the historic Zoo Palast, was closed for renovation the second film festival in a row.

Filmmuseum Berlin
Located in Potsdamer Platz, this beautifully designed repository of costumes, scripts, props and other memorabilia is my favorite place in town. Highlights are the Marlene Dietrich costume gallery, an eight-foot model of the ship in Fitzcarraldo (1982) and a nifty 1:24-scale model of the sets for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).

Your German Lesson for Today

Are there any major film festivals that don’t have in their lineup a film with the title Tabu or Asfalto? Best movie title of the festival: Don’t Clean Up This Blood. Honorable mention: The Woman in the Septic Tank.

Currywurst—the easiest thing to get and devour quickly while you’re rushing to your next movie.

Many English-language films have no German subtitles. Most non-English-language films have English subtitles, but a few do not. (I learned early on to look for a little “E” with a circle around it next to any listing for a foreign language feature.) For Q&A sessions, directors who need translators can really drag out the proceedings. I got a kick out of a Thai director interrupting his English translator to correct her, then continued the rest of the Q&A in English.

Bitter cold the first half of the festival with snow cover. Milder temperatures towards the end. Light snowfall or rain about every other day.


Berlinale 2012: Among Men—Gay Men in East Germany (2012)

If a bit staid, this documentary, by Markus Stein and Ringo Rösener, is nevertheless thoughtful and enlightening. Six men from various parts of the German Democratic Republic, of different ages and vocations, tell similar stories of the secrecy and oppression that accompanied their being gay behind the iron curtain in the latter half of the 20th century. One of the younger gentlemen profiled, who chose to remain in the small, conservative town in which he grew up, speaks of his fear of just one person in his enclave finding out about his sexual orientation and having the information spread in a flash. And that’s exactly what happened, the news met with startling, universal acceptance. At movie’s end, we see him walking down the town’s empty streets wearing a white beauty pageant gown with sash and waving to no one in particular. It is an odd, stagey moment in an otherwise sincere piece of journalism.


Berlinale 2012: A Kiss from Mary Pickford (1927)

The poster for A Kiss from Mary Pickford (1927) is a work of art. The film? Not so much. The Sergei Komarov feature and the short subject preceding it—One of Many (1927)—prove to be two bulls in a china shop, keen on paying homage to the chases and physical comedy of Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin without any clue how to do it.

In One of Many, a spectacularly amateurish actress longs to leave Russia for Hollywood in order to meet Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Keaton, Lloyd and Chaplin. She packs her bag to head for California and apparently can’t stay awake long enough to head out the door for sunnier skies. What follows is a chaotic and crudely drawn animated dream sequence that apes the silent films of her idols. Involving cliffhangers and narrow escapes—and making no sense whatsoever—the dream terrifies our little chickadee enough to make her abandon her ambitions and stay in Moscow.

A Kiss from Mary Pickford presents a similarly untalented lead actor who dreams of leaving his job as a movie usher to make it big in the movies. Finding stunt work, a series of flukes lead to him playing a romantic scene with Mary Pickford, visiting the Moscow studio with her seriously tan husband, Douglas Fairbanks. With one kiss from the American star, our hero suddenly becomes the “It” boy, chased by the press and public until he longs for a simpler life.

Both films screen as part of The Red Dream Factory, the Retrospektive Programme of movies produced by Mezhrahpom-Film. One is grateful for the opportunity to view these rare artifacts, and leaves the theater wishing they were better.


Berlinale 2012: Vito (2012)

There are two things that are can’t miss when delivering an emotional punch to the gut—the Holocaust and the AIDS epidemic. The latter looms large in the biographical documentary about gay activist Vito Russo, a man best known for The Celluloid Closet—a series of lectures that evolved into a book and then a documentary about homosexual themes and characters throughout motion picture history. But what is also traced here in Jeffrey Schwartz’s quietly effective piece is Russo’s budding gay activism in the early 1970s, his leadership strongly tested at a 1973 Washington Square pride rally that degenerated into a shouting match until buddy Bette Midler showed up to sing “Friends.” The latter part of the film details Russo’s involvement, politically and personally, in the AIDS crisis of the 1980s—he lost his partner in 1986 and his own life in 1990. Like We Were Here at last year’s Berlinale, Vito is a sobering reminder of staggering loss.