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 dustin hoffman (5)

Tuesday
Jan052016

January 5

Cavalcade premiers in New York City, 1933. Throughout the course of the film, the Boer War is fought, Queen Victoria dies, the Titanic sinks and The Great War breaks out, all mere backdrops in the lives of Jane and Robert Marryot, the British couple at the center of Noël Coward’s drama. The London stage play opened in September of 1931, ran for 405 performances and was deftly snapped up by Fox Film in Hollywood. The movie became the studio’s first Best Picture Oscar winner.

Robert Duvall is born in San Diego, California, 1931. As a struggling actor in the mid-to-late 1950s, Duvall shared a New York apartment with fellow thespians Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman, a grouping that would later yield a total of 19 Oscar nominations and five wins.

Hans Conried dies of a heart ailment in Burbank, California, 1982. His memorable turn as dictatorial piano teacher Dr. Terwilliker in The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. (1953) proved to be the stuff of nightmares, at least for the movie’s adolescent protagonist Bartholomew Collins (Tommy Rettig). Conried’s other performance highlights included the voice of Captain Hook in Disney’s animated feature Peter Pan (1953) and Uncle Tonoose on television’s Make Room for Daddy (1953).

Diane Keaton is born in Los Angeles, 1946. Before Something’s Gotta Give (2003), her forays into directing, her involvement with Warren Beatty—even before her early film career with Woody Allen—she was a Broadway performer in one of the seminal musicals of the 1960s. Of her experience in Hair, for which she was an understudy and eventual replacement for the Sheila character, Keaton remarked, “At the time it was astonishing to have a job. It was odd. Before the show opened we got a shot by a Dr. Bishop. A vitamin shot, only it was not vitamins. It was like methamphetamines. You were flying. A lot of people got addicted.” Her next show—Allen’s Play It Again, Sam—earned her a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play. Her personal relationship with Allen led to the couple performing in eight films together, including the 1972 movie version of the play.

Wednesday
Oct292014

Sydney Pollack on Tootsie (1982)

You can sometimes use improvisation to solve a writing problem, and sometimes an acting problem. The party scene near the start was scripted, but it never worked and eventually everyone gave up trying to fix it. Elaine May said, “You’ll just have to throw a party.” You can’t make it real on paper. So I called an ex-student of mine to bring his acting class to the set for the party scene. The only person who literally improvised was Bill Murray. You can’t write that stuff. What I did was make a list of what had to happen in the scene. To Dustin and Bill I said, “What are your obligations here?” What do I, as a director, want the audience to know by the end of the scene?

One of the things, for example, is that Michael’s roommate is a playwright who is so esoteric that his work is essentially unsalable, and that Michael is going to try to raise eight thousand dollars and produce his play. Another is that Michael has to be established as a chauvinist. This is a guy in his mid-forties; he’s unmarried and lives with a roommate. He is incapable of treating women with any respect. This was important because it works against the change that happens by the end of the story. I went back to the spine of a man who becomes a better man for having been a woman. I wanted to set that up at the party and show how that character was not entirely wholesome. By the end of the film, we see how he’s changed. We wanted to start him out as far away as possible from where we wanted him to end up. One of the ways was to show him dealing ineptly and caringly with a baby, and then we had him make passes at three different women using the same line with each of them.

I began to visualize the scene in two sets of three beats. Dustin and Bill have three beats each. The whole structure of the party is a series of intercuts between the two of them. For Bill I needed a table of people that slowly deserts him. I asked him, “Can you make up something that sounds dangerously close to being profound but is actually nonsense?” He said, “Sure, I can do that.” I didn’t know what he was going to say. With Bill Murray what you see in the film is the first take every time. The extras in the scene didn’t know it was meant to be nonsense. I didn’t tell them. Take one he says, “I wish I had a theater that was only opens when it rains.” As soon as take one was over, I told some of the extras to step out of the shot. I added some more empty beer bottles, messed up his hair, unbuttoned his shirt, and he was ready for the next take with “I don’t like it when people come up to me and say they liked my play.” The third is, “I did a thing about suicides of American Indians.” With Dustin it was as simple as telling him to say the same thing to each girl: “You’re an actress?”

Excerpt from The Great Moviemakers: The Next Generation, compiled and edited by George Stevens, Jr. 

Wednesday
Aug082012

August 8

Dustin Hoffman is born in Los Angeles, 1937. “I got into acting so that I could meet girls,” the actor once said. “Pretty girls came later. First, I wanted to start off with someone with two legs, who'd smile at me and look soft.” A graduate of Los Angeles High School, Hoffman took an acting course at Santa Monica City College before dropping out and training at the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and The Pasadena Playhouse. In Pasadena he met Gene Hackman, who eventually left the Playhouse to eek out a living as a New York actor. Hoffman followed suit and, for a time, slept on the kitchen floor of Hackman’s one-bedroom Kips Bay apartment. Hoffman’s movie breakthrough was to have been the role of Franz Liebkind in The Producers (1968). Director Mel Brooks, however, let him audition for another movie just prior to the start of production—a role for which Brooks safely considered Hoffman completely wrong for. He ended up getting the part and getting out of his Producers contract to assume the role of Benjamin Braddock opposite Brooks’s wife, Anne Bancroft, in The Graduate (1967).

Saturday
Sep172011

September 17

Anne Bancroft is born in The Bronx, 1931. Though she gave acclaimed performances in such noteworthy films as The Pumpkin Eater (1964), The Turning Point (1977) and Agnes of God (1985)—and won a Best Actress Oscar for The Miracle Worker (1962)—the role of Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate (1967) is perhaps the part Bancroft is most strongly identified with. As the older woman to Dustin Hoffman, she was, in reality, 35 years old—just five years older than Hoffman and a mere eight years older than Katharine Ross, who played her daughter. “Film critics said I gave a voice to the fear we all have,” Bancroft once said of her portrayal, “that we'll reach a point in our lives, look around and realize that all the things we said we'd do and become will never come to be—and that we're ordinary.” Paul Simon sang “Mrs. Robinson” at her memorial in June 2005 following her death from uterine cancer.

Wednesday
Aug242011

Ten Screen Tests

Knowing what we know now, with Vivien Leigh's portrayal firmly established in our minds, it's rather entertaining to view how other actresses took on Scarlett O'Hara in their screen tests for Gone With the Wind (1939). Leigh, of course, beat out a legion of actresses who—Paulette Goddard excepted—barely came close to the bulls-eye. With that in mind, here are a handful of screen tests sure to elicit one of three responses: "No wonder they got the role," "Too bad they didn't get the role" and "Thank heaven they didn't get the role!"

Edith Head takes us through preperations for Roman Holiday (1953), including Audrey Hepburn's personality and wardrobe tests.

Marlon Brando's 1947 audition for Warner Bros. has him using a partially completed script for Rebel Without a Cause. Brando was not auditioning specifically for the movie, nor did the film, eventually completed in 1955, use any of the scripts written in the 1940s.

Ann-Margret's exquisite rendition of "It Might As Well Be Spring" serves as her first screen test for the remake of State Fair (1962). She landed the movie, but not the role of Margy Frake (who sings the song), which went to Pamela Tiffin. Ann-Margret instead played the more vivacious role of Emily Porter.

Sandy Dennis gave a remarkable screen test in the role of Honey opposite Roddy McDowell's Nick for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). She would go on the win the Oscar for her performance.

James Dean and Paul Newman team up for a personality test for East of Eden (1954)

Sharon Tate acquits herself well in this test for Valley of the Dolls (1967) with Tony Scotti.

Among the young actresses auditioning for the role of Liesl in The Sound of Music (1965) were, according to imdb.com, Liza Minnelli, Patty Duke, Kim Darby, Lesley Ann Warren and Sharon Tate. Here is Mia Farrow’s take on the role.

Marilyn Monroe plays a gangster’s girlfriend in a 1950 screen test for Cold Shoulder, a film that was never made.

Dustin Hoffman's screen and costume test for Tootsie (1982) reveal an early incarnation of the Dorothy Michaels character.

Joan Bennett, Melvyn Douglas, Lana Turner and others try, with varying degrees of success, to embody Margaret Mitchell's characters.