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 bosley crowther (8)


Good Mother, Bad Mother

Actress Margaret Wycherly had the good fortune to play mother to two of the biggest movie stars of the 1940s, and in two of the biggest movies of that decade as well. And the roles could not have been more different.

As with many of Hollywood’s character actors, Margaret Wycherly is not a household name. Born in London and a veteran of many successful stage plays, Wycherly began her film career in 1915 at the age of 34. She acted in a total of 22 motion pictures, along the way earning good notices for The Yearling (1946) and Forever Amber (1947). But it would be Sergeant York (1941) and White Heat (1949) where Wycherly would make her biggest impact.

Sergeant York (1941)
Gary Cooper plays a hillbilly marksman turned World War I war hero in director Howard Hawks’s biopic of Alvin C. York. Producer Jesse Lasky tested Mary Nash, Katharine Hepburn’s mother in The Philadelphia Story (1940), before casting Wycherly as the firm, patient and deeply religious matriarch of the York family. The picture topped the box office for the year and received 11 Academy Award nominations, including one for Wycherly’s performance. Cooper received the first of his two Best Actor Oscars for this film.

White Heat (1949)
Wycherly plays Ma Jarrett to James Cagney’s ruthless, psychotic gangster Cody Jarrett in director Raoul Walsh’s energetic drama. Every bit as crooked as her son, Ma is nevertheless more rigidly determined and far less volatile. To call their relationship close is an understatement. She mollycoddles and consoles him; he continually craves for and bathes in her attention. At one point he even sits on her lap. It was a story point inspired by outlaws Ma Barker and her boys, though New York Times critic Bosley Crowther took issue with it, stating “Perhaps [Ma Jarrett’s] inclusion in the story is its weakest and most suspected point, for the notion of Mr. Cagney being a ‘mama's boy’ is slightly remote. And this motivation for his cruelty, as well as for his frequent howling fits, is convenient, perhaps, for novel action but not entirely convincing as truth.”

After White Heat, Wycherley acted in movies for only four more years, with The President’s Lady (1953) her last feature film. She died at the age of 74 in New York City on June 6, 1956.


February 20

Sidney Poitier is born in Miami, 1927. He made history on April 13, 1964, by becoming the first black person to win the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in Lilies of the Field (1963). He wasn’t nominated at all in 1967, though not for lack of cinematic effort. In that year, no less than three Sidney Poitier films were released, all to solid critical and popular acclaim.

To Sir, with Love led the way, finally released on June 14, 1967, after sitting on the shelf for more than a year. Set in London’s East End, the film is noteworthy for Poitier’s cool-headed teacher of unruly teens as well as the title tune sung by Lulu, which raced up the pop charts to number one. As New York Times critic Bosley Crowther noted at the time, “there is little intrusion of or discussion about the issue of race: It is as discreetly played down as are many other probable tensions in this school.”

In the Heat of the Night hit movie theaters shortly afterwards, premiering in New York on August 2 and in Los Angeles on August 23, 1967. The racially charged murder mystery costarred Rod Steiger as a bigoted Chief of Police in a small Mississippi town, a role that won him an Oscar for Best Actor. In his review, Crowther wrote of ‘the magnificent manner in which Mr. Steiger and Mr. Poitier act their roles, each giving physical authority and personal depth to the fallible human beings they are.” The film also won Oscars for Best Picture, screenplay, sound and editing and ranks as Poitier’s favorite among his films.

Capping the year was a groundbreaking mainstream movie about interracial romance called Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, which rolled out on December 12, 1967, nationwide. Poitier later said how intimated he was to share the screen with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, citing a preference to performing to empty high-backed chairs instead of the legendary pair. About his acting, Crowther proclaimed him “splendid within the strictures of a rather stuffy type.”


August 5

Dial M for Murder begins filming, 1953. It says a lot about director Alfred Hitchcock’s body of work when a solid, satisfying thriller like Dial M for Murder is considered one of his lesser movies. Going nowhere near the psychological heights of Vertigo (1958), it nevertheless avoided the dull depths of Jamaica Inn (1939) and proved to be a popular, enduring effort. The tale—retired tennis pro Ray Milland schemes to bump off wealthy wife Grace Kelly— was shot in 3-D at a time when the fad was fading, prompting Hitchcock to later remark about the process, “It's a nine-day wonder, and I came in on the ninth day.” A limited number of screenings showed it in 3-D upon its initial release, though most theaters screened it flat.

The movie pivots on the scene in which Kelly, alone at home one night, is attacked by the killer while answering the phone. The script called for Kelly to get out of bed when the phone rang, put on her robe and go answer it. The actress balked at this, suggesting to Hitchcock that no woman, especially one that was alone in her home, would put on a robe to go and answer the phone. The director agreed, and the actress performed the scene wearing only a nightgown. It would be the first of many costume decisions Hitchcock allowed Kelly to make for their later film collaborations. An added challenge came with the shot of the scissors that Kelly grabs and plunges into the killer’s back. "This is nicely done,” the director said about the first few takes, “but there wasn't enough gleam to the scissors, and a murder without gleaming scissors is like asparagus without the hollandaise sauce—tasteless."

New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther, reflecting the sensibilities of 1950s film audiences, called the scene “an ugly, gory encounter, one of the toughest Mr. H has ever staged.”


July 23

Montgomery Clift dies of a coronary occlusion in New York City, 1966. He was often compared to Marlon Brando and, in 1958, the two shared the big screen for the first and only time in The Young Lions, an adaptation of Irwin Shaw’s novel about three World War II soldiers from different backgrounds. Dean Martin, in his first major dramatic role, rounded out the cast and was ably assisted by Clift, who helped him rehearse his big scenes. Clift and a grateful Martin would remain close friends, with Martin bringing the actor along with him to social functions after Hollywood gave the troublesome Clift the cold shoulder. 

Though some attacked the film for featuring a sympathetic Nazi (Brando), Variety praised the performances, stating that “Marlon Brando’s interpretation of Anhalt’s modified conception of the young Nazi officer; Montgomery Clift, the drafted GI of Jewish heritage; Dean Martin as a frankly would-be draft-dodger until the realities of war catch up with him are standout all the way.” Bosley Crowther of The New York Times saw Clift’s performance differently, writing “Mr. Clift is strangely hollow and lackluster as the sensitive Jew. He acts throughout the picture as if he were in a glassy-eyed daze.” No less an authority on Montgomery Clift performances than Montgomery Clift weighed in as well, saying, “Noah from The Young Lions was the best performance of my life. I couldn't have given more of myself. I'll never be able to do it again. Never.”


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."