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 henry fonda (8)

Sunday
Jan172016

January 17

Shooting ends on Jezebel, 1938. The antebellum drama earned Bette Davis her second Oscar, elevated the career of Henry Fonda, and was well received by audiences and critics. But getting there was an exercise in patience, as delays seemed to plague the production at every turn. A chief cause was director William Wyler’s nature to shoot multiple takes. On the first day, for example, a dress shop scene was filmed 28 times. Another shot where Bette Davis lifts her skirt with a riding crop took 45 takes. And the Olympus Ball scene, scheduled for a half-day shoot, took Wyler five days to finish. Jane Fonda caused one of the interruptions simply by being born and pulling papa Henry away from work for a while. For a week and a half, Wyler had to wait before he could shoot any close-ups of Bette Davis due to an ill-timed pimple on her nose. And, finally, Davis was out sick on what was supposed to be the last day of filming, dragging the production a total of 29 days over schedule.

James Earl Jones is born in Arkabutla, Mississippi, 1931. Though the acclaimed actor is famous for his resonant, sonorous voice—as Darth Vader in the Star Wars trilogy, Mustafa in The Lion King (1994) and that fellow on TV who says “This is CNN!”—his ability to speak fluently was a challenge. “One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can't utter,” said the actor about the stutter that plagued him throughout his life. As a schoolchild, he dealt with it by writing poetry that he would read aloud to the class. Acting lessons later in life helped him further control the problem and, in 1964, Jones made his movie debut as a bombardier in Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. He reprised his 1969 Tony Award-winning performance as boxer Jack Jefferson in the 1970 film version of The Great White Hope (above, with costar Jane Alexander). The performance earned him an Oscar nod as Best Actor. Jones has worked steadily in television and theater and, to date, has made more than 70 films.

Wednesday
Jan062016

January 6

Joseph Breen sends a memo to Charlie Chaplin recommending removal of five incidents of “vulgarity” from Chaplin’s upcoming release Modern Times, 1936. In 1934, Breen succeeded Will H. Hays as director of the Production Code Administration, an entity aimed at imposing a set of moral guidelines upon motion picture studio releases. Ceding to Breen’s wishes, Chaplin excised scenes involving a jail cellmate who knits (referred to as “the ‘pansy’ gag”), the stomach rumbling of a minister’s wife, a brassiere gag at a department store, the word "dope" and a close-up of a cow’s udder.

Eddie Redmayne is born in London, 1982. He is one of the fastest-rising stars of American and British cinema and, at age 33, was one of the younger Best Actor Oscar winners in the Academy’s 87-year  history. [Winners younger than Redmayne were Adrien Brody (a mere pup of 29 at victory time), Marlon Brando (30), Richard Dreyfuss (30), Maximilian Schell (31), James Stewart (32), Daniel Day-Lewis (32) and Nicolas Cage (32).] Redmayne followed his award-winning performance in The Theory of Everything (2104) with The Danish Girl (2015), a well-received drama poised to earn the actor his second nomination in as many years.

Ian Charleson dies of AIDS in London, 1990. Though he only made seven feature films, two of them are among the more famous movies of the early 1980s. In Gandhi (1982), the Scottish-born actor played a small part as a reverend, but it was Chariots of Fire (1981) that gave Charleson the more prominent role, that of Eric Liddell, a devout Christian missionary and British sprinter competing in the 1924 Olympics. Both films would go on to win the Oscar for Best Picture.


Loretta Young is born in Salt Lake City, 1913. When the actress was just a toddler, her parents split and Mama Gladys took Loretta and her sisters to Southern California, where mother’s brother-in-law was employed in motion pictures as an assistant director. Family ties worked in everyone’s favor as all three sisters found sporadic extra work and small roles in silent movies. With talkies, the Loretta and her sisters Polly Ann Young and Sally Blane found more regular work in front of the camera, but it was Loretta and her remarkable beauty that grabbed audience attention, and, by the mid 1930s, she was a star. In 1939, Young appeared with Polly Ann, Sally and half-sister Georgiana Young in The Story of Alexander Graham Bell, along with Don Ameche and Henry Fonda. In 1947, she had hits with The Bishop’s Wife and The Farmer’s Daughter, winning a Best Actress Oscar for the latter film. In later years, she enjoyed retirement in Palms Springs until her death in 2000 of ovarian cancer.

Read Sewart Weiner’s tribute to Loretta Young from Palm Springs Life.

Tuesday
Jul152014

Edna May Oliver

“With a horse face like mine, what else can I do but play comedy?” said Edna May Oliver about her unique looks, which were often parodied in Warner Bros. cartoons of the time. In feature films (not all of them comedies), she played a series of aunts, spinsters and spinster aunts, always infused with loving spirit and sharp wit. Though she made four-dozen pictures in her time, it is often the handful of literary adaptations in which she performed—originating from the inkwells of Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, Louisa May Alcott, Lewis Carroll and Charles Dickens—that audiences remember.

Essential Films

Laugh and Get Rich (1931)
Edna May Oliver elevates a mediocre film about a man named Joe Austin (Hugh Herbert) whose get-rich-quick schemes remarkably do not get him rich, to the consternation of his beleaguered-but-devoted wife Sarah (Oliver). A scene taking place at a society dance is the high point of this Gregory La Cava-directed comedy, which sees Joe and a somewhat tipsy Sarah dance a mad Virginia Reel.

The Penguin Pool Murder (1932)
Mystery writer Stuart Palmer created the character of Hildegarde Withers, an unmarried schoolteacher and amateur sleuth who helps solve the murder of a stockbroker whose body shows up in the penguin tank at the local aquarium. This would be the first outing for Oliver as Withers—she would go on to reprise her popular role in Murder on the Blackboard (1934) and Murder on a Honeymoon (1935).

David Copperfield (1935)
The actress plays Aunt Betsey, great aunt to the title character and none too keen on the male of the species, a sentiment she makes quite clear upon David’s birth. Eventually, she comes around and sends him down the road to a brighter future. 

A Tale of Two Cities (1935)
After David Copperfield, producer David O. Selznick released his second Dickens adaptation that same year, again featuring Edna May Oliver. This time, the actress plays Miss Pross, stern governess and friend to Lucie Manette (Elizabeth Allen), the female at the center of Dickens’s multi-layered tale of redemption and social justice set against the French Revolution.

Romeo and Juliet (1936)
For James Whale’s all-star film version of Show Boat (1936), the role of Parthy Ann Hawks was Oliver’s to lose. But instead of repeating her stage role in the Jerome Kern/ Oscar Hammerstein musical, she opted for the part of the Nurse opposite Norma Shearer’s Juliet in the only Shakespearean role Oliver performed.

Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)
Oscar recognized Oliver with a nomination for Best Supporting Actress when she played Widow McKlennar alongside Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert in director John Ford’s Revolutionary War drama. The actress would go on to make only two more pictures before her death in 1942 of an intestinal disorder.

Friday
Apr262013

April 26

Lucille Ball dies of an aortic aneurysm in Beverly Hills, 1989. “I'm grateful for what motion pictures did for me,” the actress said, “even though, except for one or two pictures, I've never done any I liked.” Though her television work largely overshadows her movie contributions, she appeared on the big screen often, and with some pretty heavy hitters—bums like Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, the Marx Brothers, Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly and Henry Fonda. Bob Hope was one of more frequent costars, appearing with Ball in no less than four films. Their first efforts came in 1949 with Sorrowful Jones, a remake of Little Miss Marker (1934), and a year later with Fancy Pants, a loose version of Ruggles of Red Gap (1935). A decade passed before their next outing, a more original effort called The Facts of Life, where Hope and Ball attempt to cheat on their spouses. Critic’s Choice was their final film together, a 1963 effort based on a Broadway play about a Broadway play—a stage piece Ball’s character writes that theater critic Hope tries to avoid reviewing for the sake of their marriage. About her costar, Ball remarked, “You spell Bob Hope C-L-A-S-S.”

Saturday
Nov102012

American Presidents on Film

In 1909, actor Joseph Kilgour played George Washington in the short films Washington Under the British Flag and Washington Under the American Flag. It was cinema’s first portrayal of a United States president, and, since then, more than a hundred actors have taken on the role of Commander in Chief, playing 39 out of 43 such leaders. Abraham Lincoln alone has been played by an impressive 19 performers, most recently Daniel Day-Lewis in the upcoming Steven Spielberg film Lincoln (2012). Even less compelling figures like Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce and Chester A. Arthur have been brought to the screen, albeit in peripheral roles.

Here are ten of the more memorable Presidents of the United States that have appeared on the silver screen over the years.

Click to read more ...