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 james dean (9)


Jeffrey Hunter

I was guilty of dismissing Jeffrey Hunter as just another pretty boy actor until a recent television broadcast of The Searchers (1956) revealed what a solid performer his is, able to hold his own with Natalie Wood, Ward Bond, Vera Miles, John Qualen and—no small feat—John Wayne himself (who, if one uses the Grauman's Chinese forecourt as a guide, had very small feet.) With an intensity and magnetism perhaps a level or two below Paul Newman or James Dean (still not a bad place to be), Hunter quite effectively put over his role as Martin, a young man who sets off on a mission with Wayne to find the abducted Wood. “I was told I had arrived,” Hunter recalled, “when, during the shooting of The Searchers, they gave me almost as much ammunition as they gave John Wayne.” In his New York Times review of the picture, Bosley Crowther called the actor  “wonderfully callow and courageous.”

Hunter is likely best remembered as the blue-eyed Jesus with shaved armpits in Nicholas Ray’s King of Kings (1961), dubbed I Was a Teenage Jesus by the snarkier set. Hunter was, in fact, 35 years old when he shot the film, a good two years older than his character upon crucifixion. Reviews for the film and Hunter were mostly positive, and it has become a champion horse in the stable of biblical films that networks trot out every Easter.

Low-budget westerns and television appearances dominated Hunter's career in the years following, with a plum role as Captain Christopher Pike in the pilot episode of Star Trek. When NBC ordered more episodes, Hunter declined the part in order to focus on his movie career. He was replaced by William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk.

Death came shockingly early to Hunter, as a series of blows led to a debilitating stroke, followed by a fatal one. It began in Spain on the set of Viva America! (1969), where Hunter suffered facial lacerations and powder burns from an on-set explosion and a head injury from a fight scene. Stoke symptoms on the plane back to the United States landed him in L.A.’s Valley Hospital, where he spent two weeks in recovery. Dizziness and headaches plagued him until he suffered another stroke, resulting in a fractured skull from falling down stairs. He never regained consciousness and died following brain surgery on May 27, 1969, at the age of 42.


March 19

Fred Clark is born in Lincoln, California, 1914. His characters were often gruff, commanding and, like the actor himself, bald. In 1947 he appeared in his first movie, The Unsuspected, and continued to grace the big screen in small parts until I Sailed to Tahiti with an All Girl Crew, his final film in 1968. In between were a handful of major films with big stars, among them:

White Heat (1949)
Clark plays money launderer Daniel “The Trader” Winston opposite James Cagney in director Raoul Walsh’s classic crime drama.

Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) tries to get Paramount film executive Sheldrake (Clark) to approve his script for production. “You’d have turned down Gone With the Wind,” Gillis tersely remarks to script girl Betty Schaefer (Nancy Olson), who recommended against Sheldrake making the film. “No,” says Sheldrake. “That was me.”

A Place in the Sun (1951)
Clark plays a defense attorney named Bellows in George Stevens’s acclaimed drama starring Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and Shelley Winters.

How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
Clark’s businessman Waldo Brewster attempts to cheat on his wife by whisking Betty Grable away for a weekend in a winter lodge, where she promptly catches measles, passes it along to Brewster and falls hard for forest ranger Rory Calhoun.

Auntie Mame (1958)
“I have the responsibility and your trustee has the authority,” laments Mame Dennis (Rosalind Russell) in a neat distillation of the film’s plot—the struggle for Mame to raise her newly orphaned nephew Patrick (Jan Handzlik) in her own free-thinking manner. Clark plays Dwight Babcock, the stern trustee appointed by the Knickerbocker Bank who makes it his mission to “turn this kid into a decent God-fearing Christian if I have to break every bone in his body!”

Clark died suddenly of a liver ailment in 1968. He was 54 years old.

Ursula Andress is born in Bern, Switzerland, 1936. No actress she, Andress was at least able to move her arms and legs and looked darned good doing it. She was primarily a sexy side dish, bringing a dull vivaciousness to 4 for Texas (1963), What’s New Pussycat? (1965) and Casino Royale (1967). Most notably, she emerged from the sea in a bikini in Dr. No (1962), the first James Bond movie to hit the silver screen, playing Honey Ryder opposite Sean Connery’s double agent. Cinema’s first Bond girl also had a long history of famous beaus, Jean Paul Belmondo, Ryan O’Neal, Marlon Brando and Warren Beatty among them. James Dean was another notch on her belt; the volatile nature of their relationship inspired one tabloid to report that Dean was learning German so they could argue in another language.


February 27

Elizabeth Taylor is born in London, 1932. Her movie career began in 1942 with There’s One Born Every Minute, playing the daughter of a man who develops a pudding that’s chock full of Vitamin Z (!). Her last big-screen endeavor was The Flintstones in 1994. In her 52 years in front of the camera, she made a total of 52 pictures, was Oscar nominated five times and won twice—for BUtterfield 8 (1960) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). In 1955 she embarked on her 25th film, which turned out to be one of her best. Giant, released in 1956, told the sprawling saga of a Texas rancher, his Maryland-born wife and a ranch hand who inherits an oil-rich parcel of land. Directed by George Stevens, the film co-starred Rock Hudson, Mercedes McCambridge, Carroll Baker, Dennis Hopper, Jane Withers and—in his last performance—James Dean, who was killed in a car accident a matter of days after his work was finished on the film. One evening towards the beginning of the shoot, Hudson and Taylor decided to get to know each other over drinks and, by 3:00 am the next morning, ended up bosom buddies and completely blotto. Two and a half hours later they reported to the set to shoot a wordless scene requiring Hudson and Taylor, both valiantly trying not to throw up, to look lovingly upon each other. Onlookers were reportedly moved by their performance.


July 3

Jim Backus dies of pneumonia in Los Angeles, 1989. As a dumb kid, I only knew Jim Backus as Thurston Howell III on television’s Gilligan’s Island. As my appreciation for classic films grew, I was surprised to see him share the big screen with such heavy hitters as James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), playing Dean’s ineffectual father, and Katharine Hepburn in Pat and Mike (1952), playing a golf club manager consoling her after a bad round. Backus made his first movie in 1930 with The Truth About Youth, the first in a six-decade-long film career distinguished by character roles and voice-over work, particularly in the popular Mr. Magoo animated shorts. One of his oddest achievements was a top 40 hit in 1958 with “Delicious!,” a novelty recording he made where he and a female companion simply drink champagne and have a few laughs. Appleknocker and His Group provide the instrumental background; the woman in question has been identified by various sources as either Phyllis Diller or Hermione Gingold.

Take a listen:


May 17

Dennis Hopper is born in Dodge City, Kansas, 1936. He emerged on the silver screen in 1954 in Johnny Guitar and soon thereafter made a number of films that became classics: Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Giant (1956) and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). Hopper, never a shrinking violet, had this to say about his early days in Hollywood: “In the ‘50s, when me and Natalie Wood and James Dean and Nick Adams and Tony Perkins suddenly arrived…God, it was a whole group of us that sort of felt like that earlier group—the John Barrymores, Errol Flynns, Sinatras, Clifts—were a little farther out than we were. So we tried to emulate that lifestyle. For instance, once Natalie and I decided we'd have an orgy. And Natalie says, "Okay, but we have to have a champagne bath." So we filled the bathtub full of champagne. Natalie takes off her clothes, sits down in the champagne, and starts screaming. We take her to the emergency hospital. That was our orgy, you understand?”