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)


October 2

Rock Hudson dies of AIDS in Beverly Hills, 1985. Illinois-born and raised, Roy Fitzgerald made his way to Los Angeles, where he worked as a truck driver while trying to break into the movie business. Acting lessons, capped teeth and a name change served as prologue to his film debut in Fighter Squadron (1948). He was not a natural actor and he had trouble remembering his lines, but his handsome looks and genial nature opened doors, and his onscreen popularity grew. A career high came in 1956 when Hudson starred opposite Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean in Giant and received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Along with his work in Seconds (1966), his role as Bick Benedict in Giant was one of his favorite performances. Hudson's least favorite performance came a year later in a bloated remake of a famous Hemingway tale. He reportedly turned down starring roles in Sayonara (1957), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) and Ben-Hur (1959) to portray Lt. Henry in Charles Vidor’s A Farewell to Arms. Critically and financially, the film was a flop—“the biggest mistake of my career,” Hudson said.


September 30

James Dean is killed in a car accident near Cholame, California, 1955. The star of East of Eden (1955), Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Giant (1956) was born in 1931 in Fairmount, Indiana, and got his first acting gig in a Coke commercial. He played small parts in Sailor Beware (1952), Fixed Bayonets! (1951) and Has Anybody Seen My Gal (1952). “I think I am going to make it.” the actor said early in his career, “because, on one hand, I am like [Montgomery] Clift saying ‘Help me’ and, on the other hand, I am Brando saying, 'Screw you!'…and somewhere in between is 'James Dean.'” On September 30, 1955, Dean received a speeding ticket  while driving his Porsche Spyder in San Luis Obispo County, California. A couple of hours later, near the town of Cholame, Dean collided with another vehicle and was killed instantly. He was 24 and became the only actor to receive two posthumous Academy Award nominations.


Ten Screen Tests

Knowing what we know now, with Vivien Leigh's portrayal firmly established in our minds, it's rather entertaining to view how other actresses took on Scarlett O'Hara in their screen tests for Gone With the Wind (1939). Leigh, of course, beat out a legion of actresses who—Paulette Goddard excepted—barely came close to the bulls-eye. With that in mind, here are a handful of screen tests sure to elicit one of three responses: "No wonder they got the role," "Too bad they didn't get the role" and "Thank heaven they didn't get the role!"

Edith Head takes us through preperations for Roman Holiday (1953), including Audrey Hepburn's personality and wardrobe tests.

Marlon Brando's 1947 audition for Warner Bros. has him using a partially completed script for Rebel Without a Cause. Brando was not auditioning specifically for the movie, nor did the film, eventually completed in 1955, use any of the scripts written in the 1940s.

Ann-Margret's exquisite rendition of "It Might As Well Be Spring" serves as her first screen test for the remake of State Fair (1962). She landed the movie, but not the role of Margy Frake (who sings the song), which went to Pamela Tiffin. Ann-Margret instead played the more vivacious role of Emily Porter.

Sandy Dennis gave a remarkable screen test in the role of Honey opposite Roddy McDowell's Nick for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). She would go on the win the Oscar for her performance.

James Dean and Paul Newman team up for a personality test for East of Eden (1954)

Sharon Tate acquits herself well in this test for Valley of the Dolls (1967) with Tony Scotti.

Among the young actresses auditioning for the role of Liesl in The Sound of Music (1965) were, according to imdb.com, Liza Minnelli, Patty Duke, Kim Darby, Lesley Ann Warren and Sharon Tate. Here is Mia Farrow’s take on the role.

Marilyn Monroe plays a gangster’s girlfriend in a 1950 screen test for Cold Shoulder, a film that was never made.

Dustin Hoffman's screen and costume test for Tootsie (1982) reveal an early incarnation of the Dorothy Michaels character.

Joan Bennett, Melvyn Douglas, Lana Turner and others try, with varying degrees of success, to embody Margaret Mitchell's characters.


Elvis Presley

On film, was Elvis Presley anything more than an affable guy with predictably surmountable problems? Mostly no, but if he wasn’t exactly James Dean, audiences didn’t seem to complain. He seemed at ease in front of the camera, and his on-screen popularity is undeniable. With 31 movies to his credit, a great number of them turned a profit, with Viva Las Vegas (1964) at the top of his list of moneymakers. Blue Hawaii (1961), Love Me Tender (1956) and Jailhouse Rock (1957) also brought home the bacon.

In content and quality, many of his films are strikingly similar—uninspired mixes of cool cars, criminal mayhem, job anxiety and girls, girls, girls. There were exceptions, mainly towards the beginning of his film career. Early on, he seemed to act with great purpose, as if to say to skeptics, “See, I can do this.” And he could, giving solid performances in Wild in the Country (1961), Flaming Star (1960) and his personal favorite, King Creole (1958).

After that, however, he seemed content in taking it easy on screen, churning out formulaic stuff peppered with songs. “I sure lost my musical direction in Hollywood,” Presley once said. “My songs were the same conveyor belt mass production, just like most of my movies were.” Throughout them all, however, he displayed a physical beauty, a natural charm and a way with a song that moviegoers found irresistable.

Here are five essentials:

Flaming Star (1960) A conflict between two cultures puts Presley’s character, half-white and half-Native American, in a struggle over loyalties. The film, says film critic Blake French at filmcritic.com, “proves that Elvis didn’t just get lucky with his first performance; the boy could actually act.”

Jailhouse Rock (1957) Vince Everett (Presley) kills a man while protecting a woman, serves time and becomes a rock star after he’s sprung from the slammer. Critic Emanuel Levy writes, “Fortunately, the movie lives up to its title, and ‘Jailhouse’ really rocks when it comes to music, establishing in the process Elvis as an energetic force.”

King Creole (1958) Presley plays a nightclub singer aggressively sought by local crime boss Maxie Fields (Walter Matthau) for one of his nightclubs. Critic Sean Axmaker of MSN.com opines that “Elvis rises to the occasion…he's a natural, more attitude and impulse than complexity and nuance, as he burns through the role.”

Viva Las Vegas (1964) Lucky Jackson (Presley) waits tables to pay for an engine for his race car. Writes Variety: “The sizzling combination of Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret is enough to carry Viva Las Vegas over the top. The picture is fortunate in having two such commodities for bait, because beyond several flashy musical numbers, a glamorous locale and one electrifying auto race sequence, the production is a pretty trite and heavyhanded affair, puny in story development and distortedly preoccupied with anatomical oomph.”

Wild in the Country (1961) Presley plays a young man with a troubled life who finds his talent as a writer. Jen Johans at filmintuition.com praises Presley’s strong portrayal, calling the film “an unexpectedly moving and surprisingly effective picture that once again alludes to greater depth in its star than he would encounter in his bigger money-makers.”

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