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 it's a wonderful life (7)


January 13

Sinbad the Sailor is released by RKO, 1947. Originally scheduled to hit theaters in time for the 1946 holiday season, the picture hit a snag when workers at Technicolor staged a strike and thus prevented prints of the film to be made in time. To fill the gap, RKO went with an unassuming little Frank Capra drama called It’s a Wonderful Life. Starring James Stewart and Donna Reed, the picture went on to receive five Oscar nominations and, of course, become nearly unavoidable at Christmastime.

Ernie Kovacs is killed in a car accident in Beverly Hills, 1962. Though he made a handful of movies in his brief career—including Bell Book and Candle (1958), North to Alaska (1960) and Pepe (1960)—the multi-talented comedic actor made his biggest impact on television with his groundbreaking series, The Ernie Kovacs Show (1961–1962). When it came time to film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), director Stanley Kramer considered casting Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in the roles of Melville and Monica Crump. Complications with her television show, however, caused Garland to turn the part down. Rooney then took over the character of of Ding “Dingy” Bell and Kovacs and wife Edie Adams moved into the Crump roles. Before shooting began, however, Kovacs lost control of his 1962 Chevrolet Corvair at Beverly Glen and Santa Monica Boulevards and hit a power pole, killing him almost instantly. Sid Caesar stepped in to assume the role.


April 1

Lionel Barrymore signs for the role of Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946. Vincent Price, Raymond Massey, Thomas Mitchell, Charles Bickford, Victor Jory, Edward Arnold, Edgar Buchanan, Dan Duryea and Louis Calhern were reportedly among the actors considered for the role of the unscrupulous banker in director Frank Capra’s much-revered and now-inescapable holiday classic. But Barrymore became an easy choice for two reasons: a vivid performance as Ebenezer Scrooge in a recent radio broadcast of A Christmas Carol plus prior experience working with Capra on You Can’t Take It With You (1938). Barrymore was able to convince James Stewart, who hadn’t made a movie since he had returned from World War II, that it was time to get back in front of the cameras to play George Bailey, the film’s central character. Thomas Mitchell was eventually cast as Uncle Billy.

Debbie Reynolds is born Mary Frances Reynolds in El Paso, Texas, 1932. “Daddy had got us rooms in a motel until he could find us a house,” the actress recalled about the family’s move to the California coast. “There were not a lot of places available for a young family on our budget. Daddy went around to dozens of places. Nobody wanted kids. Finally, he found one in the hills south of Glendale. As usual, the landlady asked if he had kids. ‘Yep,’ he replied. 'A boy and a girl.' 'Well, what are you going to do about them?' she wanted to know, implying that she didn't allow children. 'I'm going to take 'em out and drown them in the Los Angeles River and come back tomorrow.' That was my father—ask a silly question and just wait. She must have had the same sense of humor; we moved in the next day.”

Reynolds’s entry in the 1948 Miss Burbank contest has oft been told—she entered mainly to receive the silk scarf, blouse and free lunch every contestant received. She went on to win the damn thing and was noticed by a Warner Bros. talent scout: A screen test, studio contract and new first name ensued. Though their family church opposed it, both Reynolds's parents supported Debbie’s foray into show business. Her father thought a job in entertainment would pay for college tuition, while her mother made sure that her movie projects were completely wholesome endeavors.


American Movies, Foreign Posters

It’s no secret that we love movie posters, as our galleries on Al Hirschfeld, Anselmo Ballester, silent movie posters and UFA one sheets attest. The terrific Gotta Dance! The Art of the Dance Movie Poster exhibition at Santa Monica’s California Heritage Museum got us to thinking about famous movies and how they are viewed and advertised in foreign lands. As a result, here are some of our favorite international posters, a selection of 25 well-known American films as they were marketed to audiences abroad.

Click to read more ...


July 9

Charles Lane dies at the age of 102 in Santa Monica, California, 2007. When the Screen Actors Guild held its first public meeting on October 8, 1933, Lane was there as a founding member. “[The studios would] work you until midnight and get you back at seven in the morning,” the actor said about early conditions. “The actors were taking a terrible licking physically. Generally, as the case with any union, you form it because people are abused.” The lifelong character actor entered the movies in 1931 with Smart Money and made hundreds more, including Twentieth Century (1934), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Teacher’s Pet (1958) and The Music Man (1962). He almost always found himself typecast as the meanie in the room, playing rent collectors, bureaucrats, tax assessors and other killjoys. “You did something that was pretty good, and the picture was pretty good,” Lane said in a 2005 interview. “That pedigreed you in that type of part, which I thought was stupid, and unfair, too. It didn't give me a chance, but it made casting easier for the studio.”


May 3

Beulah Bondi is born in Chicago, 1888. She made her movie debut at age 43 in Street Scene (1931) and went on to play some of the greatest mothers on screen. In particular, she played James Stewart’s mom five times: in Vivacious Lady (1938), Of Human Hearts (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) (above, with Stewart and Guy Kibbee), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) and on an episode of  television’s The Jimmy Stewart Show in the early 1970s. “What distinguishes the real actor from the pseudo is the passionate desire to know what is going on in the hearts and minds of people,” the actress once remarked. That philosophy was put in motion when Bondi, who had tested for the role of Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940), went to live among migrant workers in Bakersfield to get into the proper mindset for the role she thought she had. Bondi experienced her greatest disappointment when she learned that the role had been given to Jane Darwell instead.