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 mgm (16)

Tuesday
May152012

May 15

Invitation to the Dance is released nationwide, 1956. It was star Gene Kelly’s idea to bring the greatest dancers in Europe and the various types of dance from all over the planet to mainstream movie audiences. MGM objected to Kelly’s plan to appear in just one of the film’s segments—thus he appeared in all three of them, playing a clown, a Marine and Sinbad the Sailor. Shooting began in England in August 1952 and finished in Culver City in October 1953, with the animation forces of William Hanna, Joseph Barbera and Fred Quimby taking over through June 1954 to complete the Sinbad the Sailor section. MGM, skittish over the box office potential of Kelly’s wordless dance tribute, held the film from release until May of 1956, whereupon the studios fears were realized—audiences stayed away.

Saturday
Apr212012

Frank Capra on It Happened One Night (1934)

We didn’t write the film for [Clark] Gable. We wrote it for Robert Montgomery, who turned it down. Nobody would play it. No women would play it. Comedies don’t read very well in script form, especially light comedies. They’re too fluffy. Nobody gets killed, there are no wars, no whores. Five girls turned it down, and finally Claudette Colbert took it because we paid her a lot of money. But we were going to do away with the whole picture when we got a phone call from mister big shot out at MGM, Louis Mayer. He called Harry Cohn and said, “Herschel, I got a man for you to play that megillah in that film you couldn’t get off the ground.” And Harry Cohn said, “Oh, the hell with it. We’re calling it off.” Louis Mayer said, “Oh, no, I’ve got a man here who’s been a bad boy, and I’d like to punish him.” And Harry Cohn said, “Okay.” So the picture was on again because Louis Mayer wanted to punish Clark Gable. We wouldn’t have made the picture, you see, without Mr. Mayer wanting to send Gable to Siberia, which was Poverty Row, where we were. They had to triple his salary when he went back to MGM, after the film came out.

Wednesday
Mar142012

March 14

Busby Berkeley dies in Palm Springs, California, 1976. The director and choreographer was best known for his overhead shots of geometrically arranged chorus girls. In addition to this signature style, he also favored close-ups of many of the young women who populated his concoctions. "Well, we've got all the beautiful girls in the picture,” Berkeley explained. “Why not let the public see them?" After a string of successful Warner Bros. musicals in the 1930s, Berkeley worked at MGM on four movies starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland and ended his directing career in 1949 with Take Me Out to the Ball Game, starring Gene Kelly, Esther Williams and Frank Sinatra. Reflecting on his contribution to the movies, Berkeley remarked, “In an era of breadlines, depression and wars, I tried to help people get away from all the misery...to turn their minds to something else. I wanted to make people happy, if only for an hour.”

Tuesday
Feb282012

The Phantom of Hollywood (1974)

A cheap-looking seventies TV movie, The Phantom of Hollywood, would not merit a second glance—or even a first one—if not for the fact that it offers a rare and unfortunate look at one of the great backlots in movie history. The story, enacted by Jack Cassidy, Peter Lawford, Jackie Coogan and Broderick Crawford, is warmed-over Gaston Leroux: A disfigured actor has made his home on the decaying backlot of Worldwide Studios, which has fallen on hard times and must sell this piece of real estate to developers. The fictional studio’s situation (minus the disfigured squatter) echoed the plight of MGM, where the movie was filmed. In 1969, MGM was purchased by millionaire Kirk Kerkorian and supervised by James T. Aubrey, Jr. In the years that followed, filmmaking was downsized, with emphasis placed on MGM's hotels and casinos. Forty acres of MGM’s lot 3 were sold along with props, costumes and furniture; in 1973, Kerkorian shut down the studio’s sales and distribution. More of the famous backlot was sold in 1974 for housing development. Ultimately, the actual MGM sets are demolished on camera—a tragic end to a lousy movie and an even sadder finale to a historic institution.

To read more about where The Phantom of Hollywood was filmed, check out MGM: Hollywood’s Greatest Backlot, the recent book by Steven Bingen, Stephen X. Sylvester and Michael Troyan.

Saturday
Dec242011

December 24

Ave Gardner is born in Grabtown, North Carolina, 1922. MGM noticed her beauty when she was 18 years old and put her under contract, where she stayed from 1941 through 1958. Asked during an interview if her time at the studio was fun, the actress replied, “Christ, after seventeen years of slavery, you can ask that question? I hated it, honey. I mean, I'm not exactly stupid or without feeling, and they tried to sell me like a prize hog.” One bit of pleasure in the midst of her time at the studio occurred during the filming of The Bribe (1949), a drama set in Central America concerning stolen aircraft engines and a federal agent (Robert Taylor) drawn to the chief suspect’s wife (Gardner). “I knew him as a warm, generous, intelligent human being,” the actress said of her leading man. “Our love affair lasted three, maybe four months—a magical little interlude...I think Bob, despite all his efforts, couldn't break the mold of the beautiful lover. The film world remembers him that way, and I have to say that I do, too.”