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 frank sinatra (12)


May 17

Dennis Hopper is born in Dodge City, Kansas, 1936. He emerged on the silver screen in 1954 in Johnny Guitar and soon thereafter made a number of films that became classics: Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Giant (1956) and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). Hopper, never a shrinking violet, had this to say about his early days in Hollywood: “In the ‘50s, when me and Natalie Wood and James Dean and Nick Adams and Tony Perkins suddenly arrived…God, it was a whole group of us that sort of felt like that earlier group—the John Barrymores, Errol Flynns, Sinatras, Clifts—were a little farther out than we were. So we tried to emulate that lifestyle. For instance, once Natalie and I decided we'd have an orgy. And Natalie says, "Okay, but we have to have a champagne bath." So we filled the bathtub full of champagne. Natalie takes off her clothes, sits down in the champagne, and starts screaming. We take her to the emergency hospital. That was our orgy, you understand?”


May 14

Frank Sinatra dies in Los Angeles, 1998. When it came time to make Guys and Dolls (1955), Sinatra lobbied hard for the part of Sky Masterson, which instead went to non-singer Marlon Brando; Sinatra ended up with the smaller role of Nathan Detroit. The two men did not get along during the shoot, with Sinatra referring to Brando as “Mumbles” and Brando reportedly flubbing a scene in which Sinatra eats cheesecake over and over again so that Sinatra would get sick of it. In adapting the Broadway show for film, three numbers were added, including "Adelaide," sung by Sinatra. To further increase his singing role, the actor was also included in the title tune. Brando, on the other hand, was at the mercy of audio editors, who had to patch his songs together from multiple takes.


TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Four

I’m not sure if attendance is down slightly from previous years or if my choices today were merely unpopular, but there were seats to be had in the programs I went to on this, the final day of Turner Classic Movies’s orgy of movie going. Here’s what today yielded.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Robert Evans, at age 81, is still tanned and handsome. This morning at Grauman’s Chinese, the famed producer introduced his first collaboration with director Roman Polanski and recalled the moment in the middle of the shoot when star Mia Farrow was served with divorce papers from Frank Sinatra’s lawyers. A factor in the break-up was Farrow’s refusal to leave the over-schedule production of Rosemary’s Baby in order to appear in Sinatra’s film, The Detective (1968). How Polanski would have completed Rosemary’s Baby without his Rosemary is anyone’s guess. Farrow, who appears in every scene, shows how tremendous she can be with the proper director, and this film joins Broadway Danny Rose (1984), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) and Alice (1990) as examples of her very best work.

The Brown Derby
Mark Willems, coauthor with Sally Cobb of The Brown Derby Restaurant: A Hollywood Legend, gave a dandy presentation on the history of the famed eatery—or, more accurately, eateries, as there were four of them throughout the Los Angeles basin. The photos accompanying his presentation were so detailed that I found myself paying more attention to the food, matchbooks, menus and tableware in the shot than I did the movie stars.

Black Narcissus (1947)
Adventure is in the air whenever a film festival guest takes questions from the audience. I remember a screening of Irma la Douce (1963) years ago where a moviegoer raised his hand and said to Shirley MacLaine, “I see you are wearing red. Do you like red?” She handled it like a pro, saying something about red being a powerful color and wanting to project a powerful image that day. Fortunately at the Black Narcissus screening this morning, all the audience questions host Robert Osborne elicited for guest Thelma Schoonmaker were thoughtful, even erudite. Schoonmaker, of course, is Martin Scorsese’s frequent editor and the widow of director Michael Powell, who codirected Black Narcissus with Emeric Pressburger. The story of a community of nuns in the Himalayas won well-deserved Oscars for Jack Cardiff’s cinematography and Alfred Junge’s art direction, both of which benefitted from the stunningly pristine print screened at Mann’s Chinese Six Theater.

The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
The Mont Alto Orchestra did a lot of heavy lifting tonight, accompanying all 160 minutes of the Raoul Walsh-directed fantasy starring a lithe and athletic Douglas Fairbanks. Though the actor and his zero body fat impressed, what really struck me in the sharply restored print was the art direction of William Cameron Menzies, an early effort in his 37-year career.


March 14

Busby Berkeley dies in Palm Springs, California, 1976. The director and choreographer was best known for his overhead shots of geometrically arranged chorus girls. In addition to this signature style, he also favored close-ups of many of the young women who populated his concoctions. "Well, we've got all the beautiful girls in the picture,” Berkeley explained. “Why not let the public see them?" After a string of successful Warner Bros. musicals in the 1930s, Berkeley worked at MGM on four movies starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland and ended his directing career in 1949 with Take Me Out to the Ball Game, starring Gene Kelly, Esther Williams and Frank Sinatra. Reflecting on his contribution to the movies, Berkeley remarked, “In an era of breadlines, depression and wars, I tried to help people get away from all the misery...to turn their minds to something else. I wanted to make people happy, if only for an hour.”


December 25

Dean Martin dies of lung cancer and emphysema in Beverly Hills, 1995. The performer started as a nightclub singer, then, in 1946, became half of a comedy duo with Jerry Lewis. After nightclub gigs and a string of successful movies, the pair split up, with naysayers doubting that Martin could succeed on his own. He proved them wrong, of course, becoming a solid actor—in The Young Lions (1958), Some Came Running (1958) and Rio Bravo (1959)—recording a number of hit albums, starring in his own variety show on TV and playing the Las Vegas stage. The charismatic all-around entertainer, often in the company of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop and other Rat Pack members, even had his own club, named Dino’s Lodge, which opened in 1958 and adorned the 8500 block of Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Previously the Alpine Lodge, the furnishings and décor were little changed with Martin’s involvement, though home-style Italian meals now assumed prominence on the menu. Some Came Running’s post-premiere party was held there, and the exterior could be viewed in the opening credits of the television show 77 Sunset Strip (1958-1964), where Edd Byrnes’s character, Kookie, worked as a Dino’s Lodge valet. The club closed twenty years after it opened and, in 1985, was demolished.

Click here to read more about the history of Dino’s Lodge at WFMU’s Beware of the Blog.