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 gloria swanson (6)


Show of Strength

Gloria Swanson—with the help of two small dumbbells, a pair of rings, a Wooden Indian Club and dramatic crisscross rear lighting—sweats stylishly for a publicity shot by photographer Ernest Bachrach, 1930. 


Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival 2014: Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Sunset Boulevard is a beautiful example of why I love motion pictures, the most freakishly collaborative popular art form going. At the front end of the moviemaking beast there are writers, producers, agents, casting directors, costumers and set designers. Then cast and crew show up to shoot the darn thing. And bringing up the rear are editors, musicians, marketers, distributors, exhibitors and, of course, audiences. If any one of the creative components falls short, the results are often less than thrilling and sometimes downright horrible. When it all comes together, with everyone involved at the top of their game and every element expertly crafted, you get Sunset Boulevard.

Actress Nancy Olson, who plays script reader Betty Shaefer opposite William Holden’s out-of-work writer Joe Gillis, talked to moviegoers after the screening about the making of the film and, in the process, showed the audience that it is possible for a woman in her eighties to look at least 20 years younger than she is. Age is a theme of the movie, certainly, as 50-year-old silent screen star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) hitches her star to the much-younger Gillis in a deluded effort at a big screen comeback in a vehicle better suited for an actress in her late teens or early twenties. The character of Norma Desmond has been reinterpreted often, parodied by Carol Burnett on her 1970s TV show and, in the 1990s, portrayed by the likes of Glenn Close, Patti LuPone, Betty Buckley, Elaine Paige, Petula Clark, Diahann Carroll and others in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical version. But it’s tough to improve on the towering performance by Swanson, who strikes a fragile balance of theatricality, humanity, desperation and grit. She’s simply breathtaking.


April 15

Wallace Beery dies of a heart attack in Beverly Hills, 1949. Beery was an unlikely leading man—hulking and homely, delivering his lines in a slow, sloppy manner, as if he just learned to speak. And he was, by many accounts, an unlikable man, devoid of manners and refinement and difficult to work with. His affection for Jackie Cooper (above right, with Beery) in The Champ (1931) was on display chiefly after the director yelled “Action!” and before he yelled “Cut!” Otherwise Beery, who won an Oscar for his performance, treated his diminutive costar like an unwanted dog. Painted as a loveable slob by studio publicity, he became immensely popular with audiences in films like Min and Bill (1930), Grand Hotel (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933) and Treasure Island (1934).

“Two of the more trivial topics I never discuss,” Gloria Swanson once said, “are my marriage to Wallace Beery and those frozen dinners which have become famous with my name on them.” Swanson first met Beery on the set of Sweedie Goes to College (1915). They married in 1916, a union that lasted all of three weeks and was officially dissolved in 1919, doomed by Beery’s drinking and abuse towards Swanson. The actress remarked that Beery had been invited to every fashionable home in Beverly Hills…once.


Oscars 1950: Upset Victory

“[T]his marvelously clever young actress so richly conveys the attitudes and the vocal intonations of a native of the sidewalks of New York that it is art,” New York Times critic Bosley Crowther wrote about Judy Holliday’s performance in Born Yesterday. “More than that,” he added, “she illuminates so brightly the elemental wit and honesty of her blankly unlettered young lady that she puts pathos and respect into the role.”

The casting for the part of Billie Dawn, the dumb blonde ex-showgirl who gradually wakes up to the corrupt doings of her boorish junk dealer boyfriend, was full of false starts and happenstance. Garson Kanin wrote the play with Jean Arthur in mind. When Arthur dropped out just prior to its Broadway opening, Holliday took over and became the darling of both critics and audiences. But Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohn had other ideas and bought the property for Rita Hayworth. Hayworth had ideas of her own, preferring the real-life role of Prince Aly Kahn’s new wife over the role of Billie Dawn.

Cohn was finally convinced to put Holliday in the picture after Katharine Hepburn planted gossip column items that early footage of Adam’s Rib revealed that Holliday was stealing scenes from Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. On Oscar night, many camps were wondering which acting behemoth—All About Eve’s Bette Davis or Sunset Boulevard’s Gloria Swanson—would take home the Best Actress prize. When Broderick Crawford announced Holliday as the winner, Swanson (above, with José Ferrer and Holliday) reportedly gave her a hug and said to her, “Darling, why couldn’t you have waited until next year?” In her memoirs, Swanson reflected, “Judy Holliday, when she dared to look at me, seemed to be pleading forgiveness.”

All About Eve

Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All About Eve

José Ferrer, Cyrano de Bergerac

Judy Holliday, Born Yesterday

George Sanders, All About Eve

Josephine Hull, Harvey


Billy Wilder on Sunset Boulevard (1950)

It was an idea that Charles Brackett and I had long before we tackled it. We wanted to do it, believe it for not, five years before we actually got around to it. We wanted to make a picture with a kind of a passé star. We wanted to do it with Mae West. That’s all I can tell you. But it didn’t come out this way.

There is no such thing as somebody sitting down and saying, “Now, all right, I’m going to make a new picture.” Not at all. You have ideas stashed away, dozens of them—good, bad or indifferent. Then you pull them out of your memory, out of your drawer, you combine them. An actor is available, and that’s the way it starts. People think when it comes to a screenplay you start with absolutely nothing. But the trouble is that you have a million ideas and you have to condense them into a thousand ideas, and you have to condense those into three hundred ideas to get it under one hat, as it were. In other words, you start with too much, not with nothing, and it can go in every kind of direction. Every possible avenue is open. Then you have to dramatize it—it is as simple as that—by omitting, by simplifying, by finding a clean theme that leads someplace.

Sunset Boulevard was a picture where everything sort of fell into my lap. I needed the Paramount studio, and we got permission to shoot at Paramount. I needed Cecil B. DeMille to play DeMille, and he played it. I needed somebody to play the part Stroheim played. Stroheim at one time had been a director and had, indeed, directed Gloria Swanson in Queen Kelly. We needed old faces and got Buster Keaton. Everything was just right.

When we made that picture with Gloria Swanson people forget that she herself was considered sort of an old bag from silent picture times. At the time when we shot the picture she was actually fifty years old, that was all. She was then three or four years younger than Audrey Hepburn is today. But it was the split, you know, the divide between sound pictures and silent pictures that made such a difference. She was actually very young for that thing. She was just forgotten because she had stopped making pictures when she was about thirty, when sound came in. But what would she be doing today? As you heard in the picture, she had those oil wells, pumping, pumping, pumping. I guess she would have four or five gigolos. She would now be living somewhere in Santa Barbara with George Hamilton.