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 oklahoma! (6)

Sunday
Jan242016

January 24

Gordon MacRae dies of oral cancer in Lincoln, Nebraska, 1986. The star of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (1955) got a chance to headline another of their film musicals when Frank Sinatra walked off the set of Carousel (1956). The picture was to be shot in two different formats, CinemaScope and CinemaScope 55, requiring each scene to be shot twice. When Sinatra arrived on the set and learned of the situation, the actor left immediately, opening the door for MacRae to assume the part. "Some of my friends have jokingly accused me of sticking pins into an image of Frank Sinatra or exercising some other kind of voodoo charm to get him out of the role of Billy in Carousel so that I could inherit the role…His decision on this matter, however, was reached without assistance—mystic, telepathic or otherwise—from me.”

Raintree County has its first preview at Santa Barbara’s Granada Theater, 1957. As sometimes is the nature of these things, it was a bumpy night for the 187-minute Civil War saga, which afterwards underwent judicious editing to bring the running time down to 168 minutes and retakes to smooth out the story. To appease some exhibitors, a trim, 151-minute version was offered to allow for more showings during the day. In the end, the movie proved to be no Gone With the Wind, and audiences and critics failed to embrace the Elizabeth Taylor-Montgomery Clift vehicle. Location footage was shot in Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana, but a gussied-up western set on MGM’s Backlot #3 served as the town of Freehaven in the film. In the early 1970s, the backlot was demolished and replaced with a series of condominiums known as Raintree Estates.

Monday
Jan182016

January 18

Cary Grant is born in Horfield, Bristol, England, 1904. “I've worked with [Ingrid] Bergman. I've worked with [Katharine] Hepburn. I've worked with some of the biggest stars,” Grant once remarked, “but Grace Kelly was the best actress I've ever worked with in my life. That woman was total relaxation, absolute ease—she was totally there.” If their one movie together, Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief (1955), was not one of the director’s greatest works, the film was nevertheless a class act, buoyed by locations shots of the French Riviera and the cool chemistry between the two leads. Grant was 50 years old when he made the film (his character was 35 on paper) and Kelly was only 24, but any concerns the studio had over their age difference fell away when audiences responded enthusiastically their romantic shenanigans. “She was an extraordinarily serene girl,” Grant said of Kelly. “Both she and Hitchcock were Jesuit-trained. Maybe that had something to do with it.”

The Harvey Girls opens in theaters throughout the United States, 1946. The MGM film about entrepreneur Fred Harvey’s chain of restaurants and lodges was first conceived as a drama with Clark Gable and Lana Turner. With Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! all the rage on Broadway, producer Arthur Freed decided to make The Harvey Girls into a musical with Gable and Judy Garland heading the cast. John Hodiak took over to perform opposite Garland when Gable was channeled by the studio into the drama Adventure (1945). The Harvey Girls enjoyed great box office and good reviews, but the lion’s share of praise was heaped upon its musical centerpiece, the long, elaborate production number “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.” With music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Johnny Mercer, the catchy tune became a big hit in the six months prior to the release of The Harvey Girls, enjoying a 16-week run on the Billboard singles chart and reaching number one for seven of those weeks. Its staggering popularity spread, as three other successful versions of the song hit the airwaves during the same period. The cherry on top came on March 13, 1947: “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” took home the Academy Award for Best Song.

Tuesday
Apr222014

TCM Classic Film Festival 2014 Recap

The fifth annual Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival took place in Hollywood this month, with ever reliable hosts Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz overseeing a program that included some 79 pictures, more than a dozen special talks and events, a fine array of celebrities and film scholars and thousands of fans willingly surrendering to the seductive power of a dark cinema.

Here, in brief, are our thoughts.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Mar222014

March 22

Mike Todd is killed in a plane crash near Grants, New Mexico, 1958. Though he was a producer of 17 Broadway shows, husband to Joan Blondell and lover of Gypsy Rose Lee, he is primarily known for three things. One is Todd-AO, a widescreen 70mm format for motion pictures born from his frustration with the three-panel Cinerama he was helping develop. Todd-AO made its debut with Oklahoma! (1955) and was used throughout the 1960s. In 1956, Todd produced the epic Around the World in 80 Days (filmed in Todd-AO, naturally), a box office hit that eclipsed Friendly Persuasion, Giant, The King and I and The Ten Commandments to receive the Oscar for Best Picture. And, in 1957, Todd became Elizabeth Taylor’s third husband, and the only one not to divorce her. On the day of the crash, Taylor intended to board The Liz, as Todd’s plane was known, but she was talked out of it by her husband and otherwise grounded by a bad cold. A combination of blizzard conditions, engine failure and a too-heavy load caused the plane to lose control and crash, killing Todd, the pilot, the co-pilot and Art Cohn, Todd’s biographer.

Saturday
Mar312012

March 31

Can one be an Oscar winner and still be underrated? That's the question I had after attending a screening of The Music Man (1962) during the L. A. Conservancy's annual Last Remaining Seats event last summer. As the film unspooled in the historic atmosphere of the Los Angeles Theater, I was reminded what a terrific actress Shirley Jones is. This is not a daring statement to make, as she has proven her thespian heft often, perhaps most notably in the dramas The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1963)—as next-door neighbor and friend to Glenn Ford and Ronny Howard's characters—and Elmer Gantry (1960)—as Lulu Bains, a woman, now a prostitute, from the title character’s past who proves to be his undoing. For the latter, she was awarded the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Perhaps I find her underrated because of her close association with more lighthearted fare. On stage and in film, she established herself in musicals, appearing on Broadway in South Pacific before making her film debut in Oklahoma! (1955). In that Rodgers and Hammerstein film adaptation as well as in Carousel (1956), she exuded a peaches-and-cream American beauty, lovely and likeable, with a gorgeous singing voice to boot. The Music Man took her a step further as a prim librarian slowly, ever-so-slowly, lowering her guard to not only let a man woo her, but willfully ignoring his nefarious intentions for the town she loves.

Today Shirley Jones, who was born in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, turns 78 years old.