BUTTERFLY MCQUEEN
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.

KEYE LUKE
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.

CHILL WILLS
Our look at the Texas actor’s 43-year film career, including an ill-advised Oscar campaign. 

MARGARET HAMILTON
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.

BEHIND THE SCENES
Twenty-five cool photos reveal what goes on outside of movie camera range.

SILENT SURVIVORS
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.

GREAT CLOSING LINES
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.

REEFER TRILOGY
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.

HELICOPTER OVER HOLLYWOOD

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.

OUTER SPACE HORROR
Aliens and mutants take center stage in twenty-five spectacular movie posters from the 1950s.

INGMAR BERGMAN
Our list of ten must-see films—ten artful depictions of the human condition—by one of the world’s most influential directors.

10 DIRECTORS / 10 FILMS 
Accomplished directors from the past 50 years talk about their triumphs and challenges in bringing a story to the big screen.

JACK CARSON
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.

BILLIE BURKE
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.

BESTSELLERS

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.

EDNA MAY OLIVER
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.

CEDRIC GIBBONS
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.

NOT STARRING DORIS DAY
We select three movie musicals we deeply wish the sunny singer/actress would have made.

MICKEY ROONEY’S BEST
Twelve examples of what made the late actor such an enduring movie star.

PUBLICITY PHOTOS
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.

SPRING SPRING SPRING”
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 katharine hepburn (17)

Wednesday
Jan062016

Leslie Caron

“Even now I feel furious with myself because whenever there's a camera pointed towards me, my MGM training makes me smile. I don't like it. You can see it on all the people who came from that era because there was no question of them not smiling for the camera. Even Katharine Hepburn—and God knows she was a dramatic actress—if the camera is on her, she smiles.”
— Leslie Caron

Sunday
May102015

Good Mother, Bad Mother

Actress Margaret Wycherly had the good fortune to play mother to two of the biggest movie stars of the 1940s, and in two of the biggest movies of that decade as well. And the roles could not have been more different.

As with many of Hollywood’s character actors, Margaret Wycherly is not a household name. Born in London and a veteran of many successful stage plays, Wycherly began her film career in 1915 at the age of 34. She acted in a total of 22 motion pictures, along the way earning good notices for The Yearling (1946) and Forever Amber (1947). But it would be Sergeant York (1941) and White Heat (1949) where Wycherly would make her biggest impact.

Sergeant York (1941)
Gary Cooper plays a hillbilly marksman turned World War I war hero in director Howard Hawks’s biopic of Alvin C. York. Producer Jesse Lasky tested Mary Nash, Katharine Hepburn’s mother in The Philadelphia Story (1940), before casting Wycherly as the firm, patient and deeply religious matriarch of the York family. The picture topped the box office for the year and received 11 Academy Award nominations, including one for Wycherly’s performance. Cooper received the first of his two Best Actor Oscars for this film.

White Heat (1949)
Wycherly plays Ma Jarrett to James Cagney’s ruthless, psychotic gangster Cody Jarrett in director Raoul Walsh’s energetic drama. Every bit as crooked as her son, Ma is nevertheless more rigidly determined and far less volatile. To call their relationship close is an understatement. She mollycoddles and consoles him; he continually craves for and bathes in her attention. At one point he even sits on her lap. It was a story point inspired by outlaws Ma Barker and her boys, though New York Times critic Bosley Crowther took issue with it, stating “Perhaps [Ma Jarrett’s] inclusion in the story is its weakest and most suspected point, for the notion of Mr. Cagney being a ‘mama's boy’ is slightly remote. And this motivation for his cruelty, as well as for his frequent howling fits, is convenient, perhaps, for novel action but not entirely convincing as truth.”

After White Heat, Wycherley acted in movies for only four more years, with The President’s Lady (1953) her last feature film. She died at the age of 74 in New York City on June 6, 1956.

Friday
Feb202015

February 20

Sidney Poitier is born in Miami, 1927. He made history on April 13, 1964, by becoming the first black person to win the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in Lilies of the Field (1963). He wasn’t nominated at all in 1967, though not for lack of cinematic effort. In that year, no less than three Sidney Poitier films were released, all to solid critical and popular acclaim.

To Sir, with Love led the way, finally released on June 14, 1967, after sitting on the shelf for more than a year. Set in London’s East End, the film is noteworthy for Poitier’s cool-headed teacher of unruly teens as well as the title tune sung by Lulu, which raced up the pop charts to number one. As New York Times critic Bosley Crowther noted at the time, “there is little intrusion of or discussion about the issue of race: It is as discreetly played down as are many other probable tensions in this school.”

In the Heat of the Night hit movie theaters shortly afterwards, premiering in New York on August 2 and in Los Angeles on August 23, 1967. The racially charged murder mystery costarred Rod Steiger as a bigoted Chief of Police in a small Mississippi town, a role that won him an Oscar for Best Actor. In his review, Crowther wrote of ‘the magnificent manner in which Mr. Steiger and Mr. Poitier act their roles, each giving physical authority and personal depth to the fallible human beings they are.” The film also won Oscars for Best Picture, screenplay, sound and editing and ranks as Poitier’s favorite among his films.

Capping the year was a groundbreaking mainstream movie about interracial romance called Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, which rolled out on December 12, 1967, nationwide. Poitier later said how intimated he was to share the screen with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, citing a preference to performing to empty high-backed chairs instead of the legendary pair. About his acting, Crowther proclaimed him “splendid within the strictures of a rather stuffy type.”

Sunday
Feb012015

February 1

Hedda Hopper dies of double pneumonia in Hollywood, 1966. She began her show business career as an actress, first in bit parts, then more bit parts, then in teensy supporting roles before making cameo appearances as her Hollywood columnist self in Breakfast in Hollywood (1946), Sunset Blvd. (1950), Pepe (1960) and The Patsy (1964). Extravagant hats became her signature style as gossip became her driving force. “Nobody’s interested in sweetness and light,” Hopper once remarked, honing her acerbic style for two years on radio before landing a newspaper columnist gig in 1938. Like rival Louella Parsons, Hopper set out to report industry goings on with seemingly little concern about making friends. Among her enemies: Joan Bennett, who sent Hopper a skunk for Valentine’s Day; Spencer Tracy, who kicked her rump after she printed a blind item about him and Katharine Hepburn; Joseph Cotten, who pulled a chair out from under her after she wrote that the actor and Deanna Durbin were having an extramarital affair; and Michael Wilding, who successfully sued Hopper for libel after she insinuated a sexual relationship between Wilding and Stewart Granger.

Clark Gable is born in Cadiz, Ohio, 1901. “I discovered that Rhett was even harder to play than I had anticipated,” the Gone With the Wind actor said about his most famous role. “With so much of Scarlett preceding his entrance, Rhett’s scenes were all climaxes. There was a chance to build up to Scarlett, but Rhett represented drama and action every time he appeared. He didn’t figure in any of the battle scenes…he wasn’t in the toughest of the siege-of-Atlanta shots. What I was fighting for was to hold my own in the first half of the picture—which is all Viviens’s—because I felt that after the scene with the baby, Bonnie, Rhett could control the end of the film. That scene where Bonnie dies, and the scene where I strike Scarlett and she accidentally tumbles down stairs, thus losing her unborn child, were the two that worried me most.”

Monday
Aug042014

August 4

Melvyn Douglas dies of pneumonia and heart failure in New York City, 1981. He played a host of affable, distinguished gentlemen throughout the thirties and forties opposite some of the biggest female stars on film—a heady list that included Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich. He was also that rare performer who transitioned rather effortlessly from leading man to character actor. “The Hollywood roles I did were boring,” Douglas said about his early acting duties. “I was soon fed up with them. It's true they gave me a world-wide reputation I could trade on, but they also typed me as a one-dimensional non-serious actor.” Three-dimensional characters would come to the serious actor towards the latter part of his 50-year film career, and were met with enormous critical acclaim. Douglas received three Academy Award nominations during this stage of his life: Best Supporting Actor for Hud (1963), Best Actor for I Never Sang for My Father (1970) and Best Supporting Actor for Being There (1979). It would be his roles as a cattle rancher in Hud and an ailing business mogul in Being There that would turn Melvyn Douglas into a two-time Oscar winner.