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 ingmar bergman (5)

Monday
May042015

Ingmar Bergman: Ten Essential Films

Woody Allen once described Swedish-born director Ingmar Bergman as "probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera." Bergman got his start in theater, where, from his student days at Stockholm University until his retirement in 2003, he directed some 170 productions. His initial outing as a movie director would come in 1946 with the family drama Crisis. It would be the first of 67 films he directed—for television and theatrical release—and the second of the 72 films he wrote.

“No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does—straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul,” said Bergman. Though his films were not without humor—indeed, his first major splash on the international scene was a romantic comedy—his work was often dominated by such weighty themes as religion, man's existence and death.

Here are ten must-see motion pictures from one of cinema’s most artful and influential directors.

Autumn Sonata (1978)
Ingrid Bergman gave her final film performance in Ingmar Bergman’s drama about renowned concert pianist Charlotte (Bergman) coming to visit her neglected daughter Eva (Liv Ullmann). Unbeknownst to Charlotte, her mentally disabled daughter Helena (Lena Nyman) is living with Eva, who has removed Helena from the institution Charlotte placed her in and has become her caregiver. Initial cordiality between Charlotte and Eva falls away over the course of the visit, culminating in an anguished and ultimately cathartic all-night discussion between mother and daughter. On the set, after a bumpy start and a lengthy, aggressive exchange between Bergman and Bergman, the director heralded his lengendary star as “brilliant…incredibly difficult, but brilliant.” Autumn Sonata would earn Ingrid Bergman her seventh Oscar nomination.

Cries and Whispers (1972)
Referring to the dominant color scheme the director used for his period drama, Bergman said, “Cries and Whispers is an exploration of the soul, and ever since childhood, I have imagined the soul to be a damp membrane in varying shades of red." Inside a rural mansion in the late 1800s, Agnes (Harriet Andersson) lays dying of cancer and receives a visit from sisters Karin (Ingrid Thulin) and Maria (Liv Ullmann), with neither of them doing much to ease her physical or psychological pain. As unpleasant memories and attitudes rise to the surface, Agnes finds her only comfort in the arms of Anna (Kari Sylwan), a servant and unofficial nurse, mother and guardian angel. The movie received enormous critical acclaim upon its release in the United States. It was also an awards-season rarity—a foreign-language film that earned a healthy handful of major Oscar nominations that included Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Costume. Its only win was for longtime Bergman collaborator Sven Nykvist, who took home the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. Likely none of those American accolades would have been possible without Roger Corman, the schlock filmmaker responsible for such flicks as Teenage Cave Man (1958) and Bloody Mama (1970). Bergman was looking for an American distributor; Corman was looking for a prestige picture to distribute under the aegis of New World, his newly minted distribution company.

Fanny and Alexander (1982)
From 1,000 handwritten pages came a late-career magnum opus for the director, one of the biggest, most populated and most expensive films ever attempted in Sweden. Two versions exist—a 312-minute, four-part edition intended for television and, after Bergman begrudgingly “cut into the nerves and lifeblood of the film,” the 188-minute rendering that most movie audiences know. Taking Charles Dickens as his influence, Bergman set his tale in the Swedish town of Uppsala in the early-20th-century, where the siblings of the title bear witness to the events and conflicts occurring within their enormous, high-spirited family. It would be Bergman’s final theatrical film as a director.

Persona (1966)
Heralded as another of Bergman’s masterpieces, Persona is a modern, illusory story of identity that New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael called “an open puzzle…which affects some people very profoundly, permits them to project into it so much of themselves that what they think the movie is about has very little to do with what happens on the screen.” What does happen on screen involves Alma (Bibi Andersson), a nurse who is assigned to look after Elisabeth (Liv Ullmann), an actress who has stopped speaking. In Elisabeth, Alma finds a sympathetic listener to her secret thoughts, an act that gradually leads to the subtle subsuming of each other’s personalities. Bergman's drama was a strong influence on director Robert Altman's 1977 film 3 Women.

Scenes From a Marriage (1973)
Bergman’s six-part series for Swedish television clocked in at 300 minutes, a hefty run-time that was judiciously cut to 167 minutes for theatrical release in the United States. The film offers a close and often difficult examination of the marriage between college professor Johan (Erland Josephson) and divorce lawyer Marianne (Liv Ullmann), picking up ten years into their union and following them for the next ten. As the decade unfurls, we see them separate, have affairs, reconcile, divorce and eventually come to an understanding about being a permanent part of the other person’s life, married or not. Its broadcast in Sweden proved so popular that couples often called Bergman or approached him on the street for marital advice. The director reportedly had to change his phone number when the requests became too intrusive.

The Seventh Seal (1957)
The Crusades are over with, the plague rages unabated, and Death (Bengt Ekerot) comes for a knight named Antonius Block (Max von Sydow), which propels Block to the bargaining stage of the Kübler-Ross model. The deal? They play chess, and if the knight wins, he gets to delay his higher graduation. Throughout, Block questions his faith and ponders life’s meaning. The film won the Special Jury Prize at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival and greatly elevated the stature of the Swedish director and stars von Sydow and Bibi Andersson.

Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)
Bergman achieved worldwide fame with Smiles of a Summer Night, easily the most carefree of his major works. Set in the late 19th century, the film is a comedy about the ensuing romantic entanglements when an actress invites two of her former lovers and their wives to spend a weekend at her family’s country estate. For this picture, the director received an award at Cannes, recognition by BAFTA, enthusiastic reviews and an international following. The story was later adapted by playwright Hugh Wheeler and composer Stephen Sondheim for the 1973 Broadway musical A Little Night Music.

Through a Glass Darkly (1961)
Bergman’s stark depiction of mental instability was lauded by critics and, in a bizarre happenstance, Oscar-nominated two years in a row. (The movie’s 1963 nomination for Best Original Screenplay was preceded by its 1962 nomination and win for Best Foreign Language Film.) The plot follows Karin (Harriet Andersson), who is vacationing with her husband Martin (Max von Sydow), her brother Minus (Lars Passgård) and her father David (Gunnar Björnstrand) amid the rugged, sea-swept terrain of Sweden’s Fårö Island. A lighthearted atmosphere quickly fades as Karin begins to hallucinate and hear voices. Reactions of the men vary—the husband is despairing and the father emotionally remote, while the adolescent brother makes awkward incestuous advances. Through a Glass Darkly was the first film in the director’s Silence of God Trilogy, which also included Winter Light (1962) and The Silence (1963).

The Virgin Spring (1960)
In medieval Sweden, a young girl journeys through the woods to deliver church candles and—in one of the most disturbing scenes in any of Bergman’s films—is raped and murdered by three goatherds. From there, the story follows the men, who seek shelter at the girl’s home, and the girl’s father, who exacts his retribution on them. “[I]t is far from an easy picture to watch or entirely commend,” wrote New York Times critic Bosley Crowther about the director’s revenge drama. “For Mr. Bergman has stocked it with scenes of brutality that, for sheer unrestrained realism, may leave one sickened and stunned. As much as they may contribute to the forcefulness of the theme, they tend to disturb the senses out of proportion to the dramatic good they do.” It was a sentiment not entirely shared with Oscar voters, however, who voted it the Best Foreign Language Film of the year.

Wild Strawberries (1957)
Veteran actor/director Victor Sjöström gave his final performance in Bergman’s drama about an aging professor travelling to his former university to receive an honor. Along the way, he encounters people who elicit a series of strong, and sometimes painful, memories that spur him to reassess his life. “So it struck me,” Bergman said. “What if you could make a film about this; that you just walk up in a realistic way and open a door, and then you walk into your childhood, and then you open another door and come back to reality, and then you make a turn around a street corner and arrive in some other period of your existence, and everything goes on, lives. That was actually the idea behind Wild Strawberries.”

Wednesday
Jul302014

July 30

Michelangelo Antonioni dies at age 94 in Rome, 2007. Though a director since 1950, it was his trilogy L’Avventura (1960), La Notte (1961) and L’Eclisse (1962) that made him a solid art-house fixture for the better part of two decades. Blow-Up (1966), Zabriskie Point (1970) and The Passenger (1975) were among Antonioni’s other more notable movies, with audiences and critics—and fellow filmmakers—often split about the quality of his work. To some, he was an acquired taste at best and a bloody bore at worst. Others lauded his elegantly composed shots, spare visuals and enigmatic endings. Here are a few remarks about his cinematic style, from Antonioni himself as well as his peers.

I never discuss the plots of my films. I never release a synopsis before I begin shooting. How could I? Until the film is edited, I have no idea myself what it will be about. And perhaps not even then. Perhaps the film will only be a mood, or a statement about a style of life. Perhaps it has no plot at all. I depart from the script constantly. I may film scenes I had no intention of filming; things suggest themselves on location, and we improvise. I try not to think about it too much. Then, in the cutting room, I take the film and start to put it together and only then do I begin to get an idea of what it is about.
— Michelangelo Antonioni

L’Avventura gave me one of the most profound shocks I've ever had at the movies…Antonioni's film changed my perception of cinema, and the world around me, and made both seem limitless. I was mesmerized by L'Avventura and by Antonioni's subsequent films, and it was the fact that they were unresolved in any conventional sense that kept drawing me back. They posed mysteries—or rather the mystery—of who we are, what we are, to each other, to ourselves, to time. You could say that Antonioni was looking directly at the mysteries of the soul. That's why I kept going back. I wanted to keep experiencing these pictures, wandering through them. I still do.
— Martin Scorsese

Antonioni is the only important director I have nothing good to say about. He bores me; he's so solemn and humorless.
— François Truffaut

Antonioni was like a father figure to me. I worked with him because I wanted to be a film director and I thought I could learn from a master. He's one of the few people I know that I ever really listened to.
— Jack Nicholson, star of Antonioni’s The Passenger (1975)

I was a little bit disappointed because I felt that the character [in La Notte], this writer suffering a crisis, was a little bit conventional. Perhaps I would have preferred him to be more angry, more cynical, but then I probably wouldn't have been able to play him anyway. I suppose I felt that I had an example of a writer before me: my friend, Ennio Flaiano. And somehow or other, I don't know why, I felt that this writer should be like him, which obviously wasn't what Antonioni intended. So there was a sort of incomprehension between me and the director. As I went along I lost of that joy, that enthusiasm I had felt which had made me want to do the film. This was the state of mind I was while I was making the film. I would liked to be closer to Antonioni but it wasn't possible. I don't know if it was my fault or whether it was because he (and it is something he has always said) prefers not to have much interaction with the actors.
— Marcello Mastroianni

He's done two masterpieces; you don't have to bother with the rest. One is Blow-Up, which I've seen many times, and the other is La Notte, also a wonderful film, although that's mostly because of the young Jeanne Moreau. In my collection I have a copy of Il Grido and damn what a boring movie it is. So devilishly sad, I mean. You know, Antonioni never really learned the trade. He concentrated on single images, never realizing that film is a rhythmic flow of images, a movement. Sure, there are brilliant moments in his films. But I don't feel anything for L’Avventura, for example. Only indifference. I never understood why Antonioni was so incredibly applauded. And I thought his muse, Monica Vitti, was a terrible actress.
— Ingmar Bergman

It seems that boredom is one of the great discoveries of our time. If so, there's no question but that [Antonioni] must be considered a pioneer.
— Luchino Visconti

Monday
Jul142014

July 14

Ingmar Bergman is born in Uppsala, Sweden, 1918. He was one of two geniuses of international cinema to emerge from Sweden. The other was actress Ingrid Bergman, to whom he was unrelated and actually never worked with until late in each other’s careers. Their sole collaboration was Autumn Sonata, a 1978 drama about Charlotte Andergast (Ingrid Bergman), a famous concert pianist, who tense visit with her daughter Eva (Liv Ullmann) in her Norway home leads to a lengthy evening of confrontation and catharsis about their strained mother-daughter relationship.

The film screened at the Berlin Film Festival in 2011 as part of an Ingmar Bergman retrospective and was introduced by Isabella Rossellini, Ingrid Bergman’s daughter, and Ullmann, who recounted a moment of contention on the set between the two Bergmans. The scene involved the lengthy nighttime discussion towards the end of the film, where Eva basically tells her mother that the neglect she felt as a child caused her great unhappiness throughout her life and negatively affected her adult relationships, and so on and so on until the sun finally comes up and Charlotte apologizes to her daughter.

It was the apology that rankled Ingrid. “I don’t want to say the line,” she told the director. “My character would slap her instead.” Ingmar told her that she would indeed say the line. She refused. He said that, as an actress, she could choose to play against the line—that is, register an emotion counter to the intent of the dialogue—but that she would, in fact, say the line as written.

They began to argue. As the argument began to escalate, Ingmar took Ingrid into a room down the hall where they could discuss the matter in private. According to Ullmann, what followed was two hours of loud quarreling between two creative egos. Then silence. At that moment, Ullmann knew that the genius—the director—had won.

The filming of the scene resumed and Charlotte said her line of apology to Eva. “However,” Ullmann told the audience, “notice how she looks when she says it.” Indeed, an apology may be on Ingrid Bergman’s lips, but there is murder in her eyes.

Wednesday
Feb262014

Berlinale 2014: Blind Justice (1916)

Benjamin Christensen was no Victor Sjöström, though their careers seemed to run on parallel tracks. Both men were actors and directors in their native Scandinavia; Christensen on stage and in silent film in his native Denmark and Swedish-born Sjöström performing similar duties in his home country. Both were lured to Hollywood in 1924 and directed a handful of films for American audiences. Only one fellow was successful.

To acclaim and popularity, Sjöström directed He Who Gets Slapped (1924), The Wind (1928) and, toward the end of his life, turned in a memorable performance as the aging professor in Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries (1957). Christensen’s Hollywood output, on the other hand, left audiences apathetic and critics unimpressed. Among his flops, Mockery, a 1927 drama starring Lon Chaney as a peasant who comes to the aid of a countess in war-torn Siberia, is generally considered the nadir of his movie career. He spent his final years running a movie theater in Copenhagen.

The Christensen film screened in this year’s Retrospektive was one of his early Danish successes. Even so, Blind Justice, a silent drama from 1916, is an odd duck that begins with footage of Christensen showing leading lady Karen Caspersen a model of the house where the story takes place. It’s a weird beginning to the tale of an escaped convict wrongly accused of a crime and a woman whose initial kindness towards him goes all wrong. The escapee is soon captured and returned to prison, vowing revenge on the woman he believes betrayed him. Situations irrelevant to the revenge plotline pop up like weeds, marring an overall handsome, atmospheric production.

Monday
Apr302012

Ingmar Bergman on Cries and Whispers (1972)

The best time in the writing, I think, is when I have no idea how to do it. I just play the game. I can lie down on the sofa and can look into the fire. I can go to the seaside and just sit down and do nothing, I just play the game and it’s wonderful. I make some notes, and I can go on for a year. Then, when I have made a plan, the difficult job starts. I have to sit down on my ass every morning at ten o’clock and write the screenplay. Then something very strange happens. Very often the personalities in my scripts don’t want the same thing I want. If I try to force them to do what I want them to do, it will always be an artistic catastrophe. But if I let them free to do what they want and what they tell me, it’s okay. So I think this is the only way to handle it. All intellectual decisions must come afterward.

You have seen Cries and Whispers? For half a year, I went around and just had a picture inside my head of three women walking around in a red room with white clothes. I couldn’t understand why these damned women were there. I tried to throw it away. I tried to write it down. I tried to find out what they said to each other, because they whispered. And suddenly it came out that they were watching another woman who was dying in the next room. Then the screenplay started—but it took about a year. It’s very strange. The script always starts with a picture with some kind of tension in it, and then slowly it comes out.