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 bette davis (19)


January 17

Shooting ends on Jezebel, 1938. The antebellum drama earned Bette Davis her second Oscar, elevated the career of Henry Fonda, and was well received by audiences and critics. But getting there was an exercise in patience, as delays seemed to plague the production at every turn. A chief cause was director William Wyler’s nature to shoot multiple takes. On the first day, for example, a dress shop scene was filmed 28 times. Another shot where Bette Davis lifts her skirt with a riding crop took 45 takes. And the Olympus Ball scene, scheduled for a half-day shoot, took Wyler five days to finish. Jane Fonda caused one of the interruptions simply by being born and pulling papa Henry away from work for a while. For a week and a half, Wyler had to wait before he could shoot any close-ups of Bette Davis due to an ill-timed pimple on her nose. And, finally, Davis was out sick on what was supposed to be the last day of filming, dragging the production a total of 29 days over schedule.

James Earl Jones is born in Arkabutla, Mississippi, 1931. Though the acclaimed actor is famous for his resonant, sonorous voice—as Darth Vader in the Star Wars trilogy, Mustafa in The Lion King (1994) and that fellow on TV who says “This is CNN!”—his ability to speak fluently was a challenge. “One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can't utter,” said the actor about the stutter that plagued him throughout his life. As a schoolchild, he dealt with it by writing poetry that he would read aloud to the class. Acting lessons later in life helped him further control the problem and, in 1964, Jones made his movie debut as a bombardier in Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. He reprised his 1969 Tony Award-winning performance as boxer Jack Jefferson in the 1970 film version of The Great White Hope (above, with costar Jane Alexander). The performance earned him an Oscar nod as Best Actor. Jones has worked steadily in television and theater and, to date, has made more than 70 films.


January 7

David O. Selznick writes a letter to Greta Garbo criticizing her decision to make Anna Karenina, 1935. At this point in her career, the actress could refuse to make any movie if the script was not to her liking, as was the case with the film Selznick wanted her to make instead—Dark Victory, written by Casey Robinson and slated to be directed by George Cukor, Garbo’s future director for Camille (1936) and Two-Faced Woman (1941). To bolster his argument, Selznick cited the lukewarm box office returns of two of Garbo’s recent features, Queen Christina (1933) and The Painted Veil (1934), along with a reluctance from proposed costar Fredric March to do any more costume pictures unless his studio ordered him to. In the end, Garbo got her way, and she and March made Anna Karenina (1935) while Bette Davis, four years later, headlined Dark Victory for director Edmund Goulding.

Trevor Howard dies of influenza and bronchitis in Bushey, England, 1988. The actor worked for director David Lean three times, the first in 1945 for Brief Encounter, his breakthrough. Based on Still Life, a one-act play by Noël Coward, the film delicately details the growing romance between a housewife and a doctor who meet by chance at a railway station. Of his costar, Howard remarked, “Celia Johnson was the best actress I've ever worked with. Beneath Celia's Women's Institute gentility there was a most lovable woman and a real trooper.” Howard went on to perform in Lean’s One Woman’s Story (1949), an underwhelming film that failed to find an audience. The actor’s last collaboration with the legendary director was Ryan’s Daughter (1970) playing Father Collins, a deeply influential figure throughout the Irish village that provides the setting for the story’s doomed romance. “Three hours was rather long for a trifling love story,” Howard said about the epic scale of the picture. Lean reportedly regretted that the actor was not young enough to portray Fielding in the director’s 1984 release, A Passage to India. James Fox ended up with the role.


Humphrey Bogart

Humphrey Bogart menaces Bette Davis and Leslie Howard in The Petrified Forest (1936).

“Even when I was carrying a gun, she scared the bejesus out of me.”
— Humphrey Bogart on frequent costar Bette Davis. Together, they appeared in eight motion pictures, including Marked Woman (1937), Kid Galahad (1937), Dark Victory (1939) and Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943).


Helen Lawson in Valley of the Dolls (1967)

The legendary howler Valley of the Dolls (1967)—which Bosley Crowther called “an unbelievably hackneyed and mawkish mish-mash of backstage plots and Peyton Place adumbrations”—came to the screen as a result of the staggering success of the Jacqueline Susann potboiler a year before. It is basically the story of three young, ambitious women who embark on careers in show business and deal with a mind-numbing array of successes, setbacks, men and drug addictions.

One of the more senior characters in this tacky stew is Helen Lawson (Susan Hayward), a legendary Broadway performer whose professional jealousy results in the firing of up-and-comer Neely O’Hara (Patty Duke). Inspiration and casting for the film circled back on itself a bit: the Neely O’Hara character was based in part on Judy Garland. In casting the Lawson character, Garland was signed and set about prerecording her character’s song, the dreadful “I’ll Plant My Own Tree,” and undergoing wardrobe tests. Garland disliked the song so much that she had Roger Edens write a new number for her called “Get Off Looking Good,” which the studio nixed. The press wasted no time covering Garland’s on-set behavior, causing her to remark, “The studio hadn't even built the set yet, and the tabloids had me walking off it.”

Soon thereafter Garland did walk (or was forced) off the set, a departure fueled in part by poor treatment at the hands of director Mark Robson. Without the studio's permission, she nabbed one souvenir of her short experience—a beaded pantsuit she subsequently wore in a series of concert performances. The producers considered replacing Garland with Bette Davis or Tammy Grimes before selecting Susan Hayward, who lip-synched to Margaret Whiting’s vocals.

Susan Hayward performing “I’ll Plant My Own Tree,” written by Andre and Dory Previn.

Judy Garland’s wardrobe tests for Valley of the Dolls.

Judy Garland’s version of “I’ll Plant My Own Tree.”

Judy Garland singing “Get Off Looking Good."


May 12

Katharine Hepburn is born in Hartford, Connecticut, 1907. Prior to her big comeback in The Philadelphia Story (1940), Hepburn was labeled “box office poison,” in no small part because of the John Ford-directed Mary of Scotland (1936), which opened to lukewarm critical response and disappointing box office. It was the story of Mary, Queen of Scots, and her return to an England under the reign of growing rival Queen Elizabeth I. Signing Hepburn to play Mary was the easy part. One of the biggest challenges was casting the role of Elizabeth, with Hepburn going so far as to suggest she tackle both parts, prompting costar John Carradine to ask her, “But if you played both queens, how would you know which one to upstage?” Bette Davis was mentioned, Ginger Rogers tested for it, and Ford campaigned for Tallulah Bankhead, but in the end it was Florence Eldridge, the wife of costar Fredric March, playing Earl of Bothwell, who nabbed the part.

Wrote critic Frank Nugent of The New York Times, “[A]lthough Katharine Hepburn's Mary Stuart shines brilliantly through most of the film's two-hour course, we were conscious of definite defects in her characterization…Miss Hepburn comes to it in a petitioning mood, pleads for justice and—even after she discovers Elizabeth's grim hatred—contents herself with a defy that is almost reproachful in tone. Mary Stuart was more inclined to show her claws than her tears…Miss Hepburn's performance is…at variance with the accepted notion of Mary in those moments where boldness, implacability and high resolve were needed; but she is altogether admirable in those scenes where the Queen was womanly, tender, impetuous and of high courage. Had she been able to meet both moods, she might have counted it her greatest characterization.”