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 fred astaire (14)


January 31

The Hollywood Reporter announces that Fred Astaire will costar with Audrey Hepburn and Kay Thompson in Funny Face, 1956. To get both Astaire and Hepburn to do the George Gershwin musical, each was told that the other was already on board, and the ploy worked. Hepburn turned down the title role in Gigi (1958) to do Funny Face and successfully maneuvered to have the Paris shoot coincide with husband Mel Ferrer’s Paris filming for Elena and Her Men (1956), a Jean Renoir picture starring Ferrer, Ingrid Bergman and Jean Marais.

Samuel Goldwyn dies of heart failure in Los Angeles, 1974. Hollywood’s top independent producer was famously known for his mishandled words and curious logic—Goldwynisms, as they came to be known:
“When you’re a star, you have to take the bitter with the sour.”
“Go see it and see for yourself why you shouldn’t see it.”
“I never put on a pair of shoes until I’ve worn them five years.”
“Don’t pay attention to the critics. Don’t even ignore them.”
“My wife’s hands are very beautiful. I’m going to have a bust made of them.”

But among the more humorous quotes are a few that reflect Goldwyn’s keen eye towards moviemaking and an affinity for what audiences want:
“It’s a mistake to remake a great picture because you can never make it better. Better you should find a picture that was done badly and see what can be done to improve it.”
“A producer shouldn’t get ulcers—he should give them.”
“Motion pictures should never embarrass a man when he brings his wife to the theater.”

The producer of Wuthering Heights (1939), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) and Guys and Dolls (1955) died of heart failure at the age of 94 and is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetary in Glendale, California.


Four Feet in the Air

Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire jump for publicity for Ziegfeld Follies, 1944. Their musical number in the film, “The Babbitt and the Bromide,” would mark the first time the two would dance together and the second time Astaire would do the piece, having performed it with his sister Adele in 1927’s Broadway musical Funny Face. Ziegfeld Follies was a star-stuffed MGM musical extravaganza directed by Vincente Minnelli and propelled by a corny plot: A dead Florenz Ziegfeld (William Powell) looks down from heaven to oversee a new version of his legendary Follies.

Along with Kelly and Astaire, the film featured Cyd Charisse, Kathryn Grayson, Red Skelton, Keenan Wynn, Fanny Brice (in her final film), Judy Garland, Lucille Ball, Esther Williams, Lena Horne, Lucille Bremer and James Melton and clocked in at a staggering four hours and 27 minutes. A slimmer 173-minute version previewed in November 1944, ultimately followed by a 110-minute final print released nationwide on April 8, 1946. The film’s North American profits of $5.3 million failed to cover production costs, causing a quarter-million-dollar liability to the studio. Kelly and Astaire’s number, said New York Times critic Bosley Crowther, “settles one point of contention: Mr. Astaire has the reach.” The two would reteam in 1976 for the compilation film That’s Entertainment, Part II.


March 9

42nd Street, with songs by Al Dubin and Harry Warren, direction by Lloyd Bacon and a noteworthy debut by actress Ruby Keeler, premiers at the Strand Theater in New York City, 1933. It proved to be an enormous moneymaker, giving new life to its studio, Warner Bros., as well as the musical genre, which had lost the interest of the moviegoing public after a steady diet of plotless musical revues characterized by limited staging and restricted camera movement. Choreographer Busby Berkeley was arguably 42nd Street’s most valuable player, making the musical sequences cinematic (even those taking place on a proscenium stage) and adding his signature geometry to the arrangement of chorus girls. The movie’s profits rendered the nearly completed Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) and in-production Footlight Parade (1933) far less risky ventures for the studio.

George Burns dies of natural causes in Beverly Hills, 1996. The star of movies, radio and television got his start in vaudeville as a comic who hit it big when his wife, Gracie Allen, got in on the act. “Gracie was supposed to be the straight woman,” Burns said about their early days on the boards. “The first night we had 40 people out front and they didn't laugh at one of my jokes, but every time Gracie asked me a question they fell out of their seats. So I made her the comic and the act was a hit from that moment on.” Together they appeared in 24 films, including International House (1932) with W.C. Fields and Rudy Vallee, and A Damsel in Distress (1937), in which they performed two musical numbers with Fred Astaire. Theirs was a long marriage—from 1926 to Gracie’s death in 1964—though it hit a bump in the early 1940s when George engaged in a brief extramarital affair. He apologized to Gracie and bought her a piece of furniture; years later he overheard her say to a houseguest, “You know, I wish George would have another affair—I really need a new coffee table.”


February 16

Vera-Ellen is born in Norwood, Ohio, 1921. Though she spent only 12 years dancing across movie screens, she did it in tandem with hoofing giants, namely Fred Astaire (twice), Gene Kelly (twice) and Donald O’Connor (once). It was her work with Danny Kaye that kicked things off, though, with Vera-Ellen appearing with the comic actor in her first movie, Wonder Man (1945), and again for her second, The Kid from Brooklyn (1946). In 1954, she reunited with Kaye for her next-to-last and most popular film, White Christmas. “I'm a dancer and I can never really get away from my career,” Vera-Ellen once remarked. “On the days when I don't dance at the studio, I have to practice for at least an hour in the evening to keep in shape. Dancing is like breathing—missing a day doing either is very bad.” In 1957, she went before the cameras one last time for the British musical Let’s Be Happy, a tepid effort pairing her with Tony Martin. She retired from motion pictures after musicals fell out of fashion and, plagued by anorexia and family tragedy, lived out of the limelight until her death from cancer in 1981.

Lila Kedrova dies of congestive heart disease and Alzheimer's in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, 2000. She is that rare actor who won a Tony and an Oscar for playing the same role, but unlike The King and I's Yul Brynner or The Miracle Worker's Anne Bancroft, Kedrova was in two different vehicles—one musical and one non-musical. And she won the Oscar first. In 1964, Russia native Kedrova played Madame Hortense opposite Mexican-born Anthony Quinn in Zorba the Greek, a film version of Nikos Kazantzakis's 1946 novel. Twenty years later, a 1983 revival of Fred Kander and John Ebb's 1968 musical version of the story, simply called Zorba, hit Broadway with Kedrova and Quinn reprising their characters from the movie.


"Spring, Spring, Spring"

In continuing our absolute giddiness that spring is here, let’s briefly examine the musical marvel that is “Spring, Spring, Spring,” a little ditty that was heard, in a shortened version, in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954). Gene de Paul’s melody is merry and playful enough, but it is the lyrics by Johnny Mercer (above) that make this number a neat marriage of the complex and the simple. Indeed, the words for “Spring, Spring, Spring” are so challenging that even an old pro like Michael Feinstein, during a Mercer tribute at AMPAS a few years ago, needed a cheat sheet when performing the song. Stanzas of sophisticated, witty expressions give way to the simple refrain of the title, with rhymes running the gamut from conventional to maverick.

The words start simply enough: Oh, the barnyard is busy / In a regular tizzy. Throughout (and with apologies to all the musicologists out there) there are what I would call shoehorn rhymes, where the most solid, reliable half of the rhyme is delivered last, with a more contrived grouping of words setting up the shoe for that word to slip into. A couple of examples: This home’s my mama’s, I’ll / Soon have my own domicile and And if for the stork you pine / Consider the porcupine. There are also the rebel rhymes marked by inventiveness and surprise, notably bobolink / wobblink and kangaroos / danger-roos. And, I might add, there is the song's most brilliant line: To itself each amoeba / Softly croons “Ach du lieber!”

Here are the complete lyrics, followed by a version of the song by Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire from their album A Couple of Song and Dance Men.

Oh, the barnyard is busy
In a regular tizzy
And the obvious reason
Is because of the season
Ma Nature's lyrical
With her yearly miracle
Spring, spring, spring

All the hen-folk are hatchin'
While their men-folk are scratchin'
To ensure the survival
Of each brand new arrival
Each nest is twitterin'
They're all baby-sitterin'
Spring, spring, spring

It's a beehive of budding son and daughter life
Every family has plans in view
Even down in the brook the underwater life
Is forever blowing bubbles too

Little skylarks are larkin’
See them all double parkin’
Cuddled up or playin’ possum
They’re behind every blossom

Even the bobolink
Is merrily wobblink
Spring, spring, spring

In his hole, though the gopher
Seems a bit of a loafer
The industrious beaver
Puts it down to spring fever
While there’s no antelope
Who feels that he can’t elope
Spring, spring, spring

Each cocoon has a tenant
So they hung out a pennant
“Don’t disturb, please, keep waiting
We’re evacuating”
This home’s my mama’s, I’ll
Soon have my own domicile
Spring, spring, spring

Even out in Australia the kangaroos
Lay off butterfat and all French fries
If their offspring are large it might be danger-roos
Why they’ve just got to keep them pocket size

Every field wears a bonnet
With some spring daisies on it
Even birds of a feather
Show their clothes off together
Sun's gettin' shinery
To spotlight the finery
Spring, spring, spring

Even though, to each rabbit
Spring is more like a habit
Notwithstanding the fact is
They indulge in the practice
Each day is mother’s day
The next day, some other’s day
Spring, spring, spring

To itself each amoeba
Softly croons “Ach, du lieber!”
While the proud little termite
Feels as large as a worm might
Old papa dragonfly Is making his wagon fly
Spring, spring, spring

From his aerie, the eagle with his eagle eye
Gazes down across his eagle beak
And a-fixin' his lady with the legal eye
Screams "Suppose we fix the date this week!"

Yes, siree, spring disposes
That it's all one supposes
Waggin' tails, rubbin' noses
But it’s no bed of roses
And if for the stork you pine
Consider the porcupine
Who loves to cling
Keepin’ comp’ny is tricky
It can get pretty sticky
In the spring, spring spring