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 irving thalberg (5)


January 28

Alan Alda is born in New York City, 1936. Known primarily for his work on TV’s M*A*S*H (1972-1983), the actor began work in feature films in 1963 with Gone Are the Days!, an adaptation of Ossie Davis’s 1961-1962 Broadway play Purlie Victorious. To date, he has appeared in 33 motion pictures and worked with such prominent directors as David O. Russell (for 1996’s Flirting with Disaster) Martin Scorsese (receiving an Oscar nomination for 2004’s The Aviator), and, most recently, Steven Spielberg (for 2015’s Bridge of Spies). Alda performed in three Woody Allen films, the best of which was Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), with the actor earning raves for his performance as an arrogant television producer. But the director for which Alan Alda has worked most often is Alan Alda, who directed himself in The Four Seasons (1981), Sweet Liberty (1986), A New Life (1988) and Betsy’s Wedding (1990).

Freaks has its world premiere at the Fox Theater in San Diego, 1932. In spite of his detractors, MGM producer Irving Thalberg was firmly committed to bringing the unusual tale of romance and deception set in the world of circus sideshow performers to the screen. Screenwriter Willis Goldbreck was given the task of adapting Spurs, the Clarence Aaron “Tod” Robbins’s story that served as the genesis for Freaks, with the sole stipulation from Thalberg that it should be “horrible.” Complaints on the lot to Thalberg about the pinheads, dwarfs, limbless people, conjoined twins and others that comprised most of the cast were met with a reminder that, at MGM, all kinds of movies were being made and that director Tod Browning knew what he was doing. A dreadful test screening spurred Thalberg to make several edits, but not in time for the premiere in San Diego, which became the only theater to ever show the uncut version of the film. Lines were around the block and the Fox Theater enjoyed unprecedented business.


Oscars 1931-32: Sin and Redemption

Broadway star Helen Hayes thought her talking picture debut—a weepie named Lullaby about a mother who makes enormous sacrifices for her son—would be quashed once MGM head Louis B. Mayer discovered the ridiculous nature of the melodrama she was currently filming. After a horrendous preview, talk turned to shelving the movie until Irving Thalberg took a look at it. The famed producer changed the title to something a little more titillating, The Sin of Madelon Claudet, and ordered the retakes necessary to put it over with critics and audiences. On Oscar night, Hayes took home her first Academy Award. It was later revealed that she received more votes than competitors Marie Dressler and Lynn Fontanne combined.

Grand Hotel

Frank Borzage, Bad Girl

Wallace Beery, The Champ and Fredric March, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Helen Hayes, The Sin of Madelon Claudet


July 15

Diane Kruger is born in Algermissen, Germany, 1976. The ballerina-turned-model-turned-actress got her start in The Piano Player (2002), a poorly reviewed thriller starring Christopher Lambert, and fared a little better a couple of years later opposite Brad Pitt in Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy (2004), playing Helen of same. A stint with Nicolas Cage in two National Treasure movies preceded her outlandishly brilliant performance as Mata Hari figure Bridget von Hammersmark in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009). 

Most recently, Kruger put her stamp on one of the most compelling figures in history—Marie Antoinette, the Austrian princess basically bought and shipped to France in order to provide Louis XVI with an heir. Diane Karenne executed the role in the rare 1929 silent film The Queen’s Necklace, a performance pegged by one critic as a trifle glum, with Karenne seeming to telegraph her character’s tragic end from reel one. In 1938, Norma Shearer forged ahead with her interpretation of the French queen shortly after her husband, MGM producer Irving Thalberg, died unexpectedly of pneumonia. Thalberg’s pet project, aptly titled Marie Antoinette, was a lush, expensive production and Shearer, not always the most natural of actresses, was rewarded with a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her solid performance.

This century has seen at least three embodiments of the doomed monarch: Joely Richardson’s silly, frivolous supporting player in The Affair of the Necklace (2001), Kirsten Dunst’s youthful vanity in Sofia Coppola’s anachronism-laced Marie Antoinette (2006) and, currently in theaters, Diane Kruger as the troubled sovereign during the early days of the French Revolution in Farewell, My Queen (2012).

Kruger’s Marie Antoinette is seen through the eyes of a devoted servant (Léa Seydoux) over the course of three days and arrives to the viewer fully formed—no backstory, no painstaking explanation of character. Kruger’s is an impressively assured portrayal of a queen wholly self-possessed, prone to superficial whims and indulgences, protected from reality by the ornate, Baroque bubble that is Versailles and slowly, confusingly, waking up to the disillusionment and unrest of her people. “She’s quite borderline,” said the actress in a recent New York Post interview. “She’s so different from scene to scene. The mood swings are quite extreme.”

Farewell, My Queen is currently screening in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.


Mervyn LeRoy on Tugboat Annie (1933)

I never made a movie that I did without question after being handed a script, believe me, because you have to polish it your way. In the early days, they’d hand me a script or they’d hand me a book or something and I’d read it, and then if I liked it, they’d let me do it. In the old days we had Irving Thalberg, who was possibly one of the greatest geniuses ever in the picture business. He was in a class by himself. He was the kindest, sweetest, most unassuming man that I’ve ever known, outside of Walt Disney. If you met Irving Thalberg right this minute you wouldn’t think he knew anything about the picture business. Of course he was tough in a way, but when he told you something it was always worth listening to. I made a lot of pictures for Irving Thalberg, and he would never criticize unless he could improve.

I made a picture called Tugboat Annie, with Marie Dressler and Wally Beery, and we had a wonderful preview in San Bernardino. Irving would take three directors to the preview, three writers, three producers, three cameramen, everybody, because he wanted people there who knew the business, that knew about making great pictures. Then we sat around in the MGM dining room and everybody was saying, “Well, fine picture,” “You had a wonderful preview,” and he said, “Mervyn, I’d like to ask you a question. You know the scene where Marie Dressler is in the school auditorium speaking to the class of kids and grownups?” I said, “Yes.” “And when Wally Beery comes down the aisle from the tugboat drunk?” I said, “Yes.” And he said, “He tried to sneak in so that his wife wouldn’t see him as she’s speaking on the platform.” And I said, “Yes.” “Wouldn’t it be funny if he just left the tugboat and he came in and his shoes were soaking wet and as he walked down the aisle the shoes squeaked and squeaked and everybody turned around and laughed, and he was so mad because he was drunk?” It was something like that, and I said, “Yes, Irving, but the set’s been torn down. And we’d have to have the same actors to match, it would cost about forty thousand dollars to do it over.” Irving looked at me for a second and said, “Mervyn, I didn’t ask how much it would cost. I asked if it would improve the picture.” And I said, “Yes, it would.” And he said, “Shoot it!” That sums up Irving Thalberg. Nothing was good enough for him.


George Cukor on Camille (1936)

You know my film, Camille, when we did it—and I’m not sure which year we did it—was, even then, something of an old chestnut. It seemed rather archaic. The only point in doing it was the extraordinary meeting of a part and an actress. It’s a part which gives an actress a great range, and we felt that Garbo was suited very much for it and so we did it, and I think with great success. But even when we did it, it was old-fashioned and we doubted whether we could get away with certain things: the father’s pleading and the bad woman and all that. However, I think such was Garbo’s persuasiveness, the originality of her acting, that we got away with it. And the story and its characters have certain timeless elements.

It’s an extraordinary performance. I’d seen the play done where the actress did a great deal of coughing and panting. Garbo only indicated her illness in the early scenes and just clears her throat occasionally. But such was her persuasion that you knew there was something very wrong with her. You know she is doomed and ill-fated.

With Garbo you must create a climate in which she trusts you. While we were doing the picture Irving Thalberg died, but he saw a couple of days’ rushes and said, “She’s awfully good. She’s never been this good.” I said, “Irving, she’s just sitting there.” He said, “But she’s relaxed, she’s open.” Maybe that had a great deal to do with it. She knew she had a very sympathetic, intelligent character and a good audience as well, and I think probably we stimulated each other. There was a kind of gaiety, something unguarded that she didn’t give in a great many of her performances.