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 margaret sullavan (2)

Monday
Jan252016

January 25

The Shop Around the Corner premiers at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, 1940. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch, the film centers on two incompatible employees of Budapest’s Matuschek & Company unknowingly carrying on a pen pal romance with each other. Margaret Sullavan plays the female lead, with Lubitsch casting James Stewart opposite her, considering him "the antithesis of the old-time matinee idol; he holds his public by his very lack of a handsome face or suave manner." At the premier, Lubitsch said, "I have known just such a little shop in Budapest...The feeling between the boss and those who work for him is pretty much the same the world over, it seems to me. Everyone is afraid of losing his job and everyone knows how little human worries can affect his job. If the boss has a touch of dyspepsia, better be careful not to step on his toes; when things have gone well with him, the whole staff reflects his good humor."

Polly Moran dies of a heart ailment in Los Angeles, 1952. The former vaudevillian and Mack Sennett bathing beauty struck gold in 1927 when she teamed up with Marie Dressler (above right, with Moran) for a series of MGM comedies, beginning with The Callahans and the Murphys. That picture was followed by Bringing Up Father (1928), Chasing Rainbows (1930), Caught Short (1930), Reducing (1931), Politics (1931) and Prosperity (1932), with Dressler’s death in 1934 slowing down Moran’s career considerably. She worked sporadically in her later years, most memorably as a successful businesswoman on the witness stand in Adam’s Rib (1949). "I worked in the picture two days before I got a look at myself,” she remarked at the time. “I never went back."

Saturday
Sep102011

Rebecca Screen Tests

"I want to make sure we have exhausted every possible means of getting Olivia de Havilland," David O. Selznick wrote on August 1, 1939, about casting the role of Mrs. de Winter in Rebecca (1940). In a letter to Daniel O'Shea, his chief aide, Selznick elaborated on the complexities of bringing about such a result: 1) Warner Bros. might not allow de Havilland to do it, 2) de Havilland was committed to film Raffles (1939) for Sam Goldwyn, and 3) Leland Hayward was de Havilland's agent at the time his wife, Margaret Sullavan, was being considered for Mrs. de Winter. Writes Selznick, "I don't think [Hayward] will do much about de Havilland while Sullavan is in the running, and if we spoke to him now about de Havilland he might think we were kidding about Sullavan." Another complication was de Havilland's hesitation about going after a role that her sister, Joan Fontaine, was up for. In all, more than 20 actress were tested for Mrs. de Winter. Laurence Olivier was selected as Maxim de Winter and pushed hard for Selznick to cast then-girlfriend Viven Leigh in the part.

Here are screen tests of Fontaine—who eventually won the role—and four of the actresses she was competing against. Comments are by David O. Selznick and taken from Rudy Behlmer's book, Memo from David O. Selznick.

"Most of the people in the studio who haven't studied the picture on its casting...were more enthusiastic about Margaret Sullavan than anyone else...Apparently, her voice and her personality are so appealing that they don't stop to think that there is practically not one scene in the picture the qualities of which would not be affected by casting Sullavan. Imagine Margaret Sullavan being pushed around by Mrs. Danvers, right up to the point of suicide! Imagine Margaret Sullavan wishing she were a woman of thirty in a long black dress!!"

"I feel Loretta Young is a very good bet, and that with a few good pictures, she is the logical successor to Joan Crawford—but we don't think she is right for Rebecca."

"[Vivien Leigh] doesn't seem at all right as to sincerety or age or innocence or any of the other factors which are essential to the story coming off at all...I am convinced that we would be better off making this picture with a girl who had no personality whatsoever and who was a bad actress but was right in type than we would be to cast it with Vivien."

"I had pretty well decided to forget [Joan Fontaine] for the role since I could't get anybody on the studio staff, excepting only Hal Kern, or anybody in the New York office, to agree with me that she was physically an ideal choice for the role and that, from a perfomance standpoint, she obviously (or, at least, so I thought) was the only one who seemed to know completely what the part was all about."

"I think [Anne Baxter] has more sincerety than Fontaine, and that she is much more touching, in the words of Cukor, in the scenes. I think she is a shade young, although it is entirely possible that this would turn into an advantage. She is ten times more difficult to photograph than Fontaine, and I think it is a little harder to understand Max de Winter marrying her than it would be for Fontaine."