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 charles mcgraw (3)

Saturday
Jan092016

January 9

Steve Brodie (above right, with Charles McGraw in Armored Car Robbery (1950)) dies of cancer in Los Angeles, 1992. The movie tough guy found success in B-movie westerns and crime dramas, occasionally finding bit parts in A-list films like Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), Anchors Aweigh (1945), Out of the Past (1947) and Crossfire (1947). He was born John Stephens, a name that did nothing for him when looking for acting jobs. “I couldn't get arrested in New York,” the actor recalled about his early efforts. “Then I got an idea: why not come up with a name that people will remember and possibly even want to exploit? The next time I went to a tryout, I told the fella taking names that I was Steve Brodie. ‘Are you any relation to the guy who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge?’ ‘Yes,’ I answered. ‘He was my uncle. We're both considered the black sheep of the family.’ And the following morning I received a phone call telling me I had the job.”

Vilma Bánky is born in Nagydorog, Austria-Hungary (now Hungary), 1898. The silent film star acted in European cinema from 1920 until her discovery in 1925 by American producer Samuel Goldwyn. Lacking fluency in English, Bánky was instructed by Goldwyn to simply say “Lamb chops and pineapples” if reporters asked her any questions. Dubbed The Hungarian Rhapsody, the actress found great popularity onscreen alongside Ronald Colman and Rudolph Valentino. With Colman, she made five films; with Valentino, she made The Eagle (1925) and The Son of the Sheik (1926)—the heartthrob’s final film. In 1927, Bánky married fellow movie star Rod La Roque in an extravagant celebration at Goldwyn’s expense. She made The Rebel, her final film, in 1933. She was married to La Roque until his death in 1969. In 1991, Bánky died of cardiorespiratory arrest in Los Angeles.

Thursday
May292014

Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival 2014: The Killers (1946)

In 1927, Ernest Hemingway’s The Killers, a short story about two guys putting a hit on a former boxer, was first published. In the movie version, directed by Robert Siodmak and adapted by screenwriter Anthony Veiller, the entirety of Hemingway’s tale is depicted in the first reel. In those ten minutes of celluloid, two tough guys (Charles McGraw and William Conrad) arrive in a small town to bump off the aforementioned boxer nicknamed “the Swede” (Burt Lancaster), a man who realizes that it’s the end of the road for him and rather casually accepts his fate. For the remaining 93 minutes, Veiller concocts a back-story that involves insurance investigator John Riordan (Edmond O’Brien), whose investigation of the Swede’s life insurance policy reveals the dead man’s complicated connection to organized crime and a mysterious woman named Kitty Collins (Ava Gardner).

For audiences that saw The Killers upon its release in 1946, this film contained two “Who the hell is that?” performances. One belonged to its star, 32-year-old Lancaster, a former acrobat who received first billing on this, his movie debut. The newcomer enjoyed a brief career on the New York stage before being snatched up by Hollywood, where a screen test impressed producer Mark Hellinger enough to take a chance on Lancaster over initial choices Wayne Morris and Sonny Tufts. Making a similarly strong impression on moviegoers was Gardner, who by that time had appeared in movies for five years in mostly decorative roles. The Killers gave her considerably more to chew on as Kitty, a gorgeous, duplicitous character tailor-made for film noir. As with Lancaster, her notices were glowing.

Thursday
May152014

Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival 2014: Roadblock (1951)

I suspect Charles McGraw would have made a very good Dick Tracy. His gruff voice, no-nonsense masculinity and rugged profile seem custom made for the role, which was instead performed by less-than-strapping actors Ralph Byrd and Morgan Conway throughout the thirties and forties. In Roadblock, McGraw plays an insurance detective named Joe Peters who falls under the spell of a spoiled woman and turns to shady doings in order to finance her standard of living. Joan Dixon plays Diane, a cold, determined woman with expensive tastes. One lonely Christmas Eve she learns the true meaning of life (or maybe it was the true meaning of Christmas) and, in short order, becomes an old softy who just wants to settle down with her man. (Her effortless careening from crafty and calculating to boring and uncomplicated serves to remind the audience that the screenplay was written by men.) It’s serviceable noir, cheap-looking around the edges but sincerely delivered.