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 mervyn leroy (4)


May 16

Henry Fonda is born in Grand Island, Nebraska, 1905. The actor made nine films with director John Ford, including The Battle of Midway (1942), a documentary narrated by Fonda and his costar in The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Jane Darwell. “He would never rehearse, didn't want to talk about a part,” Fonda said about his frequent director. “If an actor started to ask questions he'd either take those pages and tear them out of the script or insult him in an awful way. He loved getting his shot on the first take, which for him meant it was fresh. He would print the first take—even if it wasn't any good.” Among their collaborations were Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), which Fonda turned down until Ford convinced him otherwise after making him do a screen test in full make-up, My Darling Clementine (1946), with Ford overruling Darryl F. Zanuck’s choice of James Stewart in favor of putting Fonda in the lead and Mister Roberts (1955) for which Ford was replaced by Mervyn Leroy reportedly due to conflict between the director and his longtime star. “He had instinctively a beautiful eye for the camera,” Fonda recalled. “But he was also an egomaniac.”


Mervyn LeRoy on Tugboat Annie (1933)

I never made a movie that I did without question after being handed a script, believe me, because you have to polish it your way. In the early days, they’d hand me a script or they’d hand me a book or something and I’d read it, and then if I liked it, they’d let me do it. In the old days we had Irving Thalberg, who was possibly one of the greatest geniuses ever in the picture business. He was in a class by himself. He was the kindest, sweetest, most unassuming man that I’ve ever known, outside of Walt Disney. If you met Irving Thalberg right this minute you wouldn’t think he knew anything about the picture business. Of course he was tough in a way, but when he told you something it was always worth listening to. I made a lot of pictures for Irving Thalberg, and he would never criticize unless he could improve.

I made a picture called Tugboat Annie, with Marie Dressler and Wally Beery, and we had a wonderful preview in San Bernardino. Irving would take three directors to the preview, three writers, three producers, three cameramen, everybody, because he wanted people there who knew the business, that knew about making great pictures. Then we sat around in the MGM dining room and everybody was saying, “Well, fine picture,” “You had a wonderful preview,” and he said, “Mervyn, I’d like to ask you a question. You know the scene where Marie Dressler is in the school auditorium speaking to the class of kids and grownups?” I said, “Yes.” “And when Wally Beery comes down the aisle from the tugboat drunk?” I said, “Yes.” And he said, “He tried to sneak in so that his wife wouldn’t see him as she’s speaking on the platform.” And I said, “Yes.” “Wouldn’t it be funny if he just left the tugboat and he came in and his shoes were soaking wet and as he walked down the aisle the shoes squeaked and squeaked and everybody turned around and laughed, and he was so mad because he was drunk?” It was something like that, and I said, “Yes, Irving, but the set’s been torn down. And we’d have to have the same actors to match, it would cost about forty thousand dollars to do it over.” Irving looked at me for a second and said, “Mervyn, I didn’t ask how much it would cost. I asked if it would improve the picture.” And I said, “Yes, it would.” And he said, “Shoot it!” That sums up Irving Thalberg. Nothing was good enough for him.


November 5

Vivien Leigh is born in Darjeeling, India, 1913. Though richly rewarded by Oscar for playing Scarlett O’Hara and Blanche DuBois, the actress’s favorite role was that of Myra Lester, the ballerina who turns to prostitution in Waterloo Bridge (1940). One of the movie’s best scenes is a delicate, candlelit waltz to “Auld Lang Syne,” which features a wordless exchange between Leigh and costar Robert Taylor. The moment was originally designed to include dialogue between the two. No words seemed appropriate, however, so director Mervyn LeRoy, well-versed in the power of silent films, opted to let the visuals speak for the scene.

This was also Taylor’s favorite of all his films.


August 14

Gale Sondergaard dies at the age of 86 in Woodland Hills in 1985. Discovered by director Mervyn LeRoy, Sondergaard made her film debut in Anthony Adverse (1936), for which she won the first Academy Award given for Best Supporting Actress. For The Wizard of Oz (1939), she tested twice for the Wicked Witch of the West—an ugly version and a beautiful one inspired by the wicked queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Producers decided on the ugly version, causing Sondergaard to withdraw and Margaret Hamilton to step into the role. A memorable performance in The Letter (1940) and an Oscar-nominated turn in Anna and the King of Siam (1946) followed. Her career was seriously damaged in the early 1950s when her husband, Herbert Biberman, was named as one of the Hollywood Ten. Sondergaard refused to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee and was blacklisted.