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 johnny mercer (5)


January 18

Cary Grant is born in Horfield, Bristol, England, 1904. “I've worked with [Ingrid] Bergman. I've worked with [Katharine] Hepburn. I've worked with some of the biggest stars,” Grant once remarked, “but Grace Kelly was the best actress I've ever worked with in my life. That woman was total relaxation, absolute ease—she was totally there.” If their one movie together, Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief (1955), was not one of the director’s greatest works, the film was nevertheless a class act, buoyed by locations shots of the French Riviera and the cool chemistry between the two leads. Grant was 50 years old when he made the film (his character was 35 on paper) and Kelly was only 24, but any concerns the studio had over their age difference fell away when audiences responded enthusiastically their romantic shenanigans. “She was an extraordinarily serene girl,” Grant said of Kelly. “Both she and Hitchcock were Jesuit-trained. Maybe that had something to do with it.”

The Harvey Girls opens in theaters throughout the United States, 1946. The MGM film about entrepreneur Fred Harvey’s chain of restaurants and lodges was first conceived as a drama with Clark Gable and Lana Turner. With Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! all the rage on Broadway, producer Arthur Freed decided to make The Harvey Girls into a musical with Gable and Judy Garland heading the cast. John Hodiak took over to perform opposite Garland when Gable was channeled by the studio into the drama Adventure (1945). The Harvey Girls enjoyed great box office and good reviews, but the lion’s share of praise was heaped upon its musical centerpiece, the long, elaborate production number “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.” With music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Johnny Mercer, the catchy tune became a big hit in the six months prior to the release of The Harvey Girls, enjoying a 16-week run on the Billboard singles chart and reaching number one for seven of those weeks. Its staggering popularity spread, as three other successful versions of the song hit the airwaves during the same period. The cherry on top came on March 13, 1947: “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” took home the Academy Award for Best Song.


"Spring, Spring, Spring"

In continuing our absolute giddiness that spring is here, let’s briefly examine the musical marvel that is “Spring, Spring, Spring,” a little ditty that was heard, in a shortened version, in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954). Gene de Paul’s melody is merry and playful enough, but it is the lyrics by Johnny Mercer (above) that make this number a neat marriage of the complex and the simple. Indeed, the words for “Spring, Spring, Spring” are so challenging that even an old pro like Michael Feinstein, during a Mercer tribute at AMPAS a few years ago, needed a cheat sheet when performing the song. Stanzas of sophisticated, witty expressions give way to the simple refrain of the title, with rhymes running the gamut from conventional to maverick.

The words start simply enough: Oh, the barnyard is busy / In a regular tizzy. Throughout (and with apologies to all the musicologists out there) there are what I would call shoehorn rhymes, where the most solid, reliable half of the rhyme is delivered last, with a more contrived grouping of words setting up the shoe for that word to slip into. A couple of examples: This home’s my mama’s, I’ll / Soon have my own domicile and And if for the stork you pine / Consider the porcupine. There are also the rebel rhymes marked by inventiveness and surprise, notably bobolink / wobblink and kangaroos / danger-roos. And, I might add, there is the song's most brilliant line: To itself each amoeba / Softly croons “Ach du lieber!”

Here are the complete lyrics, followed by a version of the song by Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire from their album A Couple of Song and Dance Men.

Oh, the barnyard is busy
In a regular tizzy
And the obvious reason
Is because of the season
Ma Nature's lyrical
With her yearly miracle
Spring, spring, spring

All the hen-folk are hatchin'
While their men-folk are scratchin'
To ensure the survival
Of each brand new arrival
Each nest is twitterin'
They're all baby-sitterin'
Spring, spring, spring

It's a beehive of budding son and daughter life
Every family has plans in view
Even down in the brook the underwater life
Is forever blowing bubbles too

Little skylarks are larkin’
See them all double parkin’
Cuddled up or playin’ possum
They’re behind every blossom

Even the bobolink
Is merrily wobblink
Spring, spring, spring

In his hole, though the gopher
Seems a bit of a loafer
The industrious beaver
Puts it down to spring fever
While there’s no antelope
Who feels that he can’t elope
Spring, spring, spring

Each cocoon has a tenant
So they hung out a pennant
“Don’t disturb, please, keep waiting
We’re evacuating”
This home’s my mama’s, I’ll
Soon have my own domicile
Spring, spring, spring

Even out in Australia the kangaroos
Lay off butterfat and all French fries
If their offspring are large it might be danger-roos
Why they’ve just got to keep them pocket size

Every field wears a bonnet
With some spring daisies on it
Even birds of a feather
Show their clothes off together
Sun's gettin' shinery
To spotlight the finery
Spring, spring, spring

Even though, to each rabbit
Spring is more like a habit
Notwithstanding the fact is
They indulge in the practice
Each day is mother’s day
The next day, some other’s day
Spring, spring, spring

To itself each amoeba
Softly croons “Ach, du lieber!”
While the proud little termite
Feels as large as a worm might
Old papa dragonfly Is making his wagon fly
Spring, spring, spring

From his aerie, the eagle with his eagle eye
Gazes down across his eagle beak
And a-fixin' his lady with the legal eye
Screams "Suppose we fix the date this week!"

Yes, siree, spring disposes
That it's all one supposes
Waggin' tails, rubbin' noses
But it’s no bed of roses
And if for the stork you pine
Consider the porcupine
Who loves to cling
Keepin’ comp’ny is tricky
It can get pretty sticky
In the spring, spring spring


June 25

Johnny Mercer dies of brain cancer in Los Angeles, 1976. Aside from the three words of the title, “Hooray for Hollywood” often stumps people who try to remember the rest of Mercer’s clever and gently cynical lyrics. With music by Richard A. Whiting, the unofficial anthem of motion picture’s mecca was first heard in the Busby Berkeley-directed musical Hollywood Hotel (1937) as performed by Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Johnny Davis and Frances Langford.

The Savannah-born Mercer got his start with bandleader Paul Whitman as a singer and songwriter, eventually beginning his movie career in 1933 by composing “Lazy Bones” with Hoagy Carmichael for the Jean Harlow picture Bombshell. Over the following four decades, he co-wrote such standards as “Blues in the Night,” “That Old Black Magic,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive" (all with music by Harold Arlen) and “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” (music by Harry Warren).

In terms of Academy recognition, he didn’t do half bad: 16 nominations and 4 wins for Best Song. His Oscars were earned for “On the Atcheson, Topeka and the Santa Fe” (music by Harry Warren) for The Harvey Girls (1946), “In the Cool, Cool of the Evening” (music by Hoagy Carmichael) for Here Comes the Groom (1951), “Moon River” (music by Henry Mancini) for Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) and “Days of Wine and Roses” (music by Mancini) for the 1962 film of the same name.


"Hit the Road to Dreamland"

The Golden Gate Quartet, one of the preeminent American gospel singing groups of the 1930s and 1940s, got its start in 1934 in Norfolk, Virginia, and soon found success in clubs, on radio and on record. Onscreen, they were the highlight of many a mediocre movie, providing classy moments in Hit Parade of 1943 (1943), Hollywood Canteen (1944) and A Song is Born (1948).

The group’s earliest film appearance was in Star Spangled Rhythm (1942), one of those uneven, all-star galas designed to promote a studio’s roster of stars and pep up war-weary Americans at home and abroad. In that picture’s two hours and five minutes of hits and misses, a sublime musical moment emerges. The song is “Hit the Road to Dreamland,” written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, and it begins in a rather perfunctory way: Dick Powell and Mary Martin in a train’s dining car getting ready to call it a night, but not quickly enough for the dining car’s staff, played by the quartet. About halfway through the number, the group takes over with their own interpretation of the song—and sends it soaring.


"In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening"

If Here Comes the Groom (1951) is any indication, Jane Wyman should have made more musicals. The movie, about a foreign correspondent (Bing Crosby) having to win back his former fiancée Wyman in order to keep the orphans he's adopted, is not one of Frank Capra's best. But the film is noteworthy for one major reason—a clever performance of a playful song.

"In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," with music by Hoagy Carmichael and lyrics by Johnny Mercer, was a hit at the time, appearing on the Billboard charts and winning a Best Song Oscar as well. It's also rare for a post-1930 movie musical number in that it was not pre-recorded, but performed live during the filming. If that fact made the performers nervous, it doesn't show. Crosby, ever the cool showman, is matched step for step in easygoing charm by Wyman.

The winning duo would reteam a year later to apply their chemistry to "Zing a Little Zong" in the musical Just for You. Here's a gander: