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 betty grable (5)

Sunday
May112014

Happy Mother's Day!

It’s been 100 years since President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation that made Mother’s Day, an American celebration developed by one Anna Jarvis in 1908, a national holiday. In honor of dear old mom—and for the sheer heck of it—we thought we would corral a handful of films with “mother” in the title. Though one of the mothers is actually a male ambulance driver, the rest fall safely under the category of Family Matriarch. Here’s our list.

Bachelor Mother (1939)
Ginger Rogers stars as Polly Parrish, a department store clerk who finds a baby on a doorstep and tries to convince friends and coworkers that it isn’t hers. New York Times critic Frank S. Nugent called it “one of the season’s gayest shows…[O]ut of nowhere, like Polly’s’ baby, a merry comedy has come tripping, all new and brightly shining and full of the most unexpected nonsense.”

Mother Wore Tights (1947)
Betty Grable and Dan Dailey made four movies together, and Mother Wore Tights, a musical tale of a vaudeville family, was one of their best received. Peppered with such tunes as “M-O-T-H-E-R,” “Burlington Bertie from Bow” and “Daddy, You’ve Been a Mother to Me,” the picture was reported to be Grable’s favorite of all of her films.

Mother, Jugs and Speed (1976)
Bill Cosby plays Mother, an ambulance driver who doesn’t play by the rules. Harvey Keitel plays Speed, a police officer who also doesn’t play by the rules, as a suspension from the force for possible drug dealing would suggest. And, after a worldwide search for an actress to play Jugs, a buxom secretary, the producers decided to make do with mousy little Raquel Welch. Peter Yates directed the uneven black comedy, which couldn’t have less to do with motherhood.

‘night, Mother (1986)
The mother-daughter tug of war begins when Jessie Cates (Sissy Spacek) bids her mother Thelma (Anne Bancroft) goodnight and casually mentions her intent to kill herself before dawn. Marsha Norman’s Broadway play starred Kathy Bates and Anne Pitoniak, earned a slew of Tony Award nominations, ran for the better part of a year and nabbed the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The film, though generally well reviewed, made considerably less of a splash, opening in a mere 35 theaters at its widest release and receiving no Oscar nominations.

Mother (1996)
Albert Brooks wrote, directed and starred in this comedy about an adult son moving back in with his mom in order to gain insight into his personal relationships. To play the mother, some very famous names were bandied about, including Doris Day, Kathryn Grayson and Esther Williams. Nancy Reagan allegedly entertained the notion, but did not want to leave her ailing husband’s side. And so it was offered to the mother of Brooks’s good friend Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, who happily accepted. Many Oscar predictors had her pegged for a Best Actress nomination for her funny, subtle performance. It was, however, the year of three perceived snubs, and Reynolds was left out in the cold with Courtney Love (for The People vs. Larry Flynt) and Madonna (for Evita).

All About My Mother (1999)
Cecilia Roth plays a single mother whose son dies while trying to get an actress’s autograph, which in turn leads her to Barcelona to find the boy’s biological father. And that’s just the beginning of a complex, multi-character comedy-drama that explores love, death, friendship, accidental pregnancy, transvestites and the theater. The Pedro Almodovar picture—his 14th feature-length movie—went on to receive the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

Thursday
May092013

May 9

Alice Faye dies of stomach cancer in Rancho Mirage, California, 1998. Along with Greta Garbo and Deanna Durbin, the name of Alice Faye must be added to the very short list of movie stars who left the business at the peak of their careers. Faye, a singer with Rudy Vallee’s band in the early 1930s, followed the bandleader to Hollywood and made her motion picture debut when star Lilian Harvey left the cast of George White’s Scandals (1934). Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck took a liking to her, as did movie audiences of the 1930s and ‘40s, making her one of the era’s biggest stars. Hits included In Old Chicago (1937), Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938) and Hello Frisco, Hello (1943), which featured Faye singing “You’ll Never Know,” a Harry Warren/Mack Gordon song that became a standard and scooped up the Oscar for Best Song.

In 1940, Faye was teamed with Betty Grable for the musical Tin Pan Alley, playing singing sisters who propel a songwriting team to fortune and fame. The two remained close friends until Grable’s death in 1973, in spite of the Fox publicity department playing up rumors of a rivalry between the two. That same year, Grable replaced Faye when an illness forced her to pull out of Down Argentine Way. Over the next several years, Faye’s popularity remained strong, though Grable rose to become Fox’s next big musical comedy star, often assuming roles that were tailored for Faye. Pleased with her performance in Fallen Angel (1945) yet dismayed at the ham-fisted edit job given the picture, Faye decided to leave the movie business, returning years later in State Fair (1962) and The Magic of Lassie (1978). "When I stopped making pictures, it didn't bother me because there were so many things I hadn't done,” Faye remarked. “I had never learned to run a house. I didn't know how to cook. I didn't know how to shop. So all these things filled all those gaps."

Monday
Jul022012

July 2

Betty Grable dies of lung cancer in Santa Monica, California, 1973. In the 1940s she was the highest paid star in Hollywood, performing in vehicles that showed off her natural charm, her hoofing talent and her million-dollar legs.  “I'm a song-and-dance girl,” Grable explained. “I can act enough to get by. But that's the limit of my talents.” Her popularity lasted until her final film, How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955)—which proved to be, in Grable’s words, a turkey. Just a couple of years prior to that, she joined Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Monroe in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), where she rounded out a trio of Manhattan women angling for a rich husband but settling for true love instead. “Betty Grable was a funny, outgoing woman, totally professional and easy,” Bacall wrote in her autobiography, By Myself. “Marilyn was frightened, insecure—trusted only her coach and was always late…Grable and I decided we’d try to make it easier for her, make her feel she could trust us. I think she finally did.” Later, Grable would have this to say about Monroe: “It may sound peculiar to say so, because she is no longer with us, but we were very close. Once…I got a call on the set: my younger daughter had had a fall. I ran home and the one person to call was Marilyn. She did an awful lot to boost things up for movies when everything was at a low state. There'll never be anyone like her for looks, for attitude, for all of it.”

Monday
Apr162012

"It's Deductible"

Well, My Blue Heaven (1950) isn’t really a holiday film, and there are no movies that I know of that are entirely devoted to Tax Day—certainly none I wish to see. So we represent this most glorious of all holidays with a single musical number from Betty Grable and Dan Dailey.

Sunday
Dec182011

December 18

Betty Grable is born in St. Louis, Missouri, 1916. “I'm a song-and-dance girl,” the star once said. “I can act enough to get by. But that's the limit of my talents.” She began appearing in small movie roles in the 1930s—usually hoofing—and saw her screen time grow incrementally before her big splash in Down Argentine Way in 1940. In the decade that followed, Grable’s popularity skyrocketed and, in 1947, she became the highest-paid star in Hollywood. A popular pin-up queen during World War II, Grable was involved in a famous policy when Fox insured her legs with Lloyds of London for a million dollars. “There are two reasons why I am successful in show business,” Grable quipped, “and I am standing on both of them.”