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 meet me in st. louis (5)


Chill Wills

His voice was his fortune, an unusually resonant instrument compounded with a Texas drawl that made him a natural for westerns. He was discovered by an RKO executive, who saw him perform with his musical group, Chill Wills and His Avalon Boys, at the Trocadero in Hollywood. His first movie, It’s a Gift (1934), came soon afterwards and kicked off a 43-year film career defined by numerous cowboy roles, a recurring, high profile voice-over gig and an ill-advised campaign for an Academy Award. 

Essential Films

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Though an ensemble piece, the Vincente Minnelli-directed family sage can be seen as having two central characters: Esther Smith (Judy Garland) and her little sister Tootie (Margaret O’Brien). Esther’s journey is to eventually get engaged in the last reel to the fellow she pines for in the first. Tootie’s is more geographic than emotional: she is first seen riding the neighborhood ice wagon and ends up in a carriage heading for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. To usher Tootie into the movie and—by way of a brief, casual conversation—establish her rather ghoulish nature, Chill Wills is on hand as Mr. Neely the Ice Man, discussing with Tootie, among other things, the various fatal diseases afflicting her dolls.

Francis (1950)
Second Lieutenant Peter Stirling (Donald O’Connor) is saved from a series of tough spots by his buddy, a talking army mule named Francis, and continually sent to the looney bin because he insists his four-legged friend can talk. Francis is the first of six Francis the Talking Mule movies starring O’Connor and Chill Wills, who gives the jackass an engagingly sarcastic, cynical personality.

Giant (1956)
Edna Ferber’s ambitious tale of a Texas ranching family came to the big screen in 1956 with A-list talent that included director George Stevens and actors Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, Dennis Hopper, Mercedes McCambridge, Jane Withers, Sal Mineo and Carroll Baker. In the midst of all of this is Chill Wills playing Uncle Bawley. He doesn’t have much to do but look concerned as the main characters go through their power struggles and emotional setbacks. But he looks mighty authentic doing it.

The Alamo (1960)
Chill Wills gave one of the best-received performances of his career in director/star John Wayne’s epic about Davy Crockett and the historic Texas battle against Mexican troops. Playing Beekeeper, one of Crockett’s fellow Tennesseans, Wills received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He then proceeded to ruin any chance in hell of winning when he became the subject of a rather overblown campaign for the golden statuette. An ad that appeared in Variety stated that the cast of The Alamo was praying harder for Chill Wills to win than the defenders of the Alamo prayed for their lives before the actual battle. Wayne was so turned off by the ad’s poor taste that he felt compelled to issue a public apology. Another ad that quoted Wills as saying “Win, lose or draw, you're all my cousins and I love you” elicited the following response from Academy member Groucho Marx: “Dear Mr. Chill Wills, I am delighted to be your cousin but I voted for Sal Mineo." In the end, Peter Ustinov took home the Oscar for his performance in Spartacus (1960).

McClintock! (1963)
John Wayne stars as G.W. McLintock in this likeable western comedy about a cattle baron with a host of problems, including pesky land grabbers and the return of his estranged wife Katherine Gilhooley McLintock (Maureen O’Hara). Wills plays Drago, G.W.’s right-hand man, whose remembrances of things past soften the heretofore cantankerous Katherine. In the end, Katherine and G.W. reach a truce, and any resemblance to The Taming of the Shrew is purely intentional.


April 12

Arthur Freed dies of a heart attack in Los Angeles, 1973. The musicals he produced at MGM became the gold standard for the genre: Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), On the Town (1949), An American in Paris (1951), The Band Wagon (1953). In the early 1950s, he commissioned screenwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green to build a story around a collection of songs lyricist Freed had written with frequent collaborator and composer, Nacio Herb Brown. Operating on the thin guidance that, at some point in the story, someone would be singing and it would be raining, Comden and Green slowly and agonizingly crafted a plot about the movie business—the advent of talking pictures and how it affected the studios and its players. What resulted is often cited as the cream of the crop of Arthur Freed musicals in particular and movies in general, and, on April 11, 1952, Singin’ in the Rain debuted…to not bad reviews and fairly okay box office.


July 25


Vincente Minnelli dies of pheumonia and emphysema in Beverly Hills, 1986. With a background as a department store window dresser, then a costume and set decorator for stage productions, one would naturally expect the director to have a strong visual style. He also displayed a stubborn perfectionism that gave Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), his third full-length film, an authenticity born from the explicit set décor guidance he requested from author Sally Benson, on whose book the MGM musical was based. In the movie biography of Vincent van Gogh, Lust for Life (1956), Minnelli insisted that a field be spray-painted yellow to match one of the artist’s paintings. And in Gigi (1958), the director found the perfect-looking cat for Leslie Caron’s title character, though it despised Caron and had to be drugged so she could safely hold it while performing the song “Say a Prayer for Me Tonight.” Minnelli unfortunately did not get his way with Brigadoon (1954), with both him and star Gene Kelly wanting the MGM picture to be filmed on location in Scotland instead of the soundstages of Culver City. Studio heads overruled their request and the film subsequently suffered from an overwhelmingly artificial look.


June 10

Judy Garland is born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, 1922. The actress made her first movie in 1936 at the age of 13—a short film with Deanna Durbin called Every Sunday. Later that year she appeared in her first full-length feature, Pigskin Parade. It would be the first of a series of teenage roles for a star who longed to play an adult but stayed a teen well into her early twenties. She played young so often, of course, precisely because she was young. Prior to her star-making role in The Wizard of Oz (1939) when she was just 17, she was a kid in Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937), Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry (1937), Everybody Sing (1938), Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) and Listen, Darling (1938). Audiences loved her pubescent innocence, and MGM delayed her onscreen maturity so should could keep being a kid in such hits as Babes in Arms (1939), Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (1940), Strike Up the Band (1940) and Babes on Broadway (1941).

In 1942 she had a rare turn as an adult in the World War I-era musical For Me and My Gal and actually played her own age in Presenting Lily Mars (1943). MGM subtracted years from her age again in Girl Crazy (1943). In her last hurrah as a cinematic teen, she reluctantly made what became one of her best movies, Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), playing the second-to-oldest Smith daughter hoping to spend her high school senior year in Missouri instead of New York. Vincente Minnelli, her Meet Me in St. Louis director and future husband, would direct Garland in her next picture, The Clock (1945), in which she played a New York woman who falls in love with and marries a soldier (Robert Walker) during the course of his two-day leave. At last and from then on, she was an adult.


September 25

Mary Astor dies of a heart attack in Woodland Hills, California, 1987. A beauty contest at the age of 14 led to bit parts in movies, which in turn led to a breakthrough role opposite John Barrymore in Beau Brummel (1924). She continued to impress with Red Dust (1932), The Prisoner of Zenda (1937) and The Maltese Falcon (1941), and won an Oscar for The Great Lie (1941). Mother roles in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) and Little Women (1949) followed; she capped her long, 123-film career with a supporting role in Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964). “There are five stages in the life of an actor,” Astor once said. “Who's Mary Astor? Get me Mary Astor. Get me a Mary Astor Type. Get me a young Mary Astor. Who's Mary Astor?” The actress spent her final years at the Motion Picture and Television Country House retirement community.