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 frank sinatra (12)

Wednesday
Jan272016

January 27

Sabu is born in Karapur, Mysore, India, 1924. At age 12, the elephant stable boy attracted the attention of director Robert J. Flaherty, who cast him in the title role in Elephant Boy (1937). A natural in front of the camera, Sabu was quickly awarded a contract with Alexander Korda and grew popular in the forties with the films The Thief of Bagdad (1940) and Jungle Book (1942). His acting influence even stretched to a movie he wasn’t actually in. For Gunga Din, director George Stevens wanted Sabu for the pivotal title role, an idea quashed when Korda refused to loan him out for the 1939 RKO release. The part instead went to Sam Jaffe (an actor 33 years older than Sabu), who was well aware of Stevens’s first choice. Jaffe’s audition was an exercise in channeling the Indian youngster, with Jaffe’s mantra during the shoot becoming, “Think Sabu.”

Donna Reed is born in Denison, Iowa, 1921. She projected wholesomeness and Midwestern good sense in film after film until she was cast against type in From Here to Eternity (1953), playing a prostitute who romances Montgomery Clift (above, with Reed). If her character was a little too refined, blame the Hays Office, who kept a sharp eye on screenwriter Daniel Taradash’s adaptation of James Jones’s racy, robust novel. Like many spicy tomes of the times, the book was considered unfilmable, and Taradash, assigned to scrub up the story for polite audiences, reached a creative impasse. The breakthrough came while he was under the influence of a local anesthetic for a sore tooth he experienced during a drive through the southern United States. In the end, Taradash delivered a script that simultaneously retained the power of the book and appeased the censors. On Oscar night, From Here to Eternity won eight awards, including Best Picture, Fred Zinnemann for Best Director, Frank Sinatra for Best Supporting Actor, Taradash for Best Writing and—as one of the loveliest whores on the silver screen—Donna Reed for Best Supporting Actress.

Sunday
Jan242016

January 24

Gordon MacRae dies of oral cancer in Lincoln, Nebraska, 1986. The star of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (1955) got a chance to headline another of their film musicals when Frank Sinatra walked off the set of Carousel (1956). The picture was to be shot in two different formats, CinemaScope and CinemaScope 55, requiring each scene to be shot twice. When Sinatra arrived on the set and learned of the situation, the actor left immediately, opening the door for MacRae to assume the part. "Some of my friends have jokingly accused me of sticking pins into an image of Frank Sinatra or exercising some other kind of voodoo charm to get him out of the role of Billy in Carousel so that I could inherit the role…His decision on this matter, however, was reached without assistance—mystic, telepathic or otherwise—from me.”

Raintree County has its first preview at Santa Barbara’s Granada Theater, 1957. As sometimes is the nature of these things, it was a bumpy night for the 187-minute Civil War saga, which afterwards underwent judicious editing to bring the running time down to 168 minutes and retakes to smooth out the story. To appease some exhibitors, a trim, 151-minute version was offered to allow for more showings during the day. In the end, the movie proved to be no Gone With the Wind, and audiences and critics failed to embrace the Elizabeth Taylor-Montgomery Clift vehicle. Location footage was shot in Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana, but a gussied-up western set on MGM’s Backlot #3 served as the town of Freehaven in the film. In the early 1970s, the backlot was demolished and replaced with a series of condominiums known as Raintree Estates.

Sunday
Mar012015

March 1

Gregory La Cava dies of a heart attack in Malibu, California, 1952. Beginning in 1916, he directed dozens upon dozens of short films, eventually hitting his stride in feature films in the 1930s. His more popular titles include such middling efforts as The Age of Consent (1932), Gabriel Over the White House (1933), The Affairs of Cellini (1934) and She Married Her Boss (1935), along with the very good Stage Door (1937). The high point came in 1933 with the screwball comedy My Man Godfrey (above, on the set with Alice Brady, Carole Lombard, Mischa Auer, William Powell and Gregory La Cava).

Written by Morrie Ryskand and Eric Hatch and based on Hatch’s novel 1101 Park Avenue, My Man Godfrey is the story of madcap socialite Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard) and Godfrey (William Powell), the “forgotten man” she hires to become her eccentric family’s new butler. Shortly after Powell was cast, he suggested former wife Lombard for the part of Irene, citing similarities between their past real-life romance and the courtship they eventually portrayed on the big screen. Filling out the cast were a handful of the best character actors around: Alice Brady, Eugene Pallette, Mischa Auer and—in a bit part—the terrifically fussy and flustered Franklin Pangborn.

Any problems La Cava had with his two leads were minor. With Lombard, La Cava often had to reshoot a number of scenes where she ad-libbed using language that would never get by the Production Code. Powell’s problems ran deeper, as both director and actor disagreed about the way Godfrey should be played. A long talk in Powell’s dressing room compounded with a bottle of Scotch resolved the dilemma between the two men, though, the next morning, the actor sent a hung-over La Cava a telegram that read,” We may have found Godfrey last night but we lost Powell. See you tomorrow.”

The first soundtrack album made for a live-action movie musical is released by MGM Records, 1947. The film was Till the Clouds Roll By, a loose account of the life of composer Jerome Kern and a great excuse for MGM to trot out all their major musical players. Though the cast is littered with greats like Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, Judy Garland, Angela Lansbury, June Allyson, Tony Martin, Dinah Shore, Van Johnson and Kathryn Grayson, not everyone appeared on the initial recording, which consisted of four 78-rpm records. Lansbury and Johnson went missing, along with Sinatra and Shore, both of whom were under contract to Columbia Records. In later years, the film fell into public domain, and no authorized version of the film’s soundtrack has been released on CD.

Tuesday
Feb242015

February 24

Dinah Shore dies of ovarian cancer in Beverly Hills, 1994. She started show business as a radio singer first in Nashville, then New York City, and eventually recorded songs with bandleader Xavier Cugat. As with many photogenic pop stars, Shore was courted by Hollywood and gave movies a shot, acting in light fare such as Up in Arms (1944), Belle of the Yukon (1944) and Aaron Slick from Punkin Crick (1952). Many recording artists, like Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Doris Day, proved to be natural actors and compelling movie stars. Shore was not one of them, appearing likable and folksy, but missing that certain spark. By the early 1950s, Shore abandoned the big screen and moved to television, where her variety and talk shows earned her a total of eight Emmy Awards.

Wednesday
May232012

May 23

Betty Garrett is born in St. Joseph, Missouri, 1919. On screen she was cheerful and sarcastic in a number of MGM films of the late 1940s. Her first film was a drama, Big City (1948), which she followed with four musicals: Words and Music (1948), Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949) with Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and Jules Munshin, Neptune’s Daughter (1949) and On the Town (1948), in which she was reunited with Sinatra, Kelly and Munshin (above). Her momentum stalled considerably when husband Larry Parks testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee about a past connection to the Communist Party. Garrett later performed on television in All in the Family and Laverne & Shirley and on Broadway in Meet Me in St. Louis and Follies. The actress died in February 2011.