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 paul newman (8)

Saturday
May072016

Jeffrey Hunter

I was guilty of dismissing Jeffrey Hunter as just another pretty boy actor until a recent television broadcast of The Searchers (1956) revealed what a solid performer his is, able to hold his own with Natalie Wood, Ward Bond, Vera Miles, John Qualen and—no small feat—John Wayne himself (who, if one uses the Grauman's Chinese forecourt as a guide, had very small feet.) With an intensity and magnetism perhaps a level or two below Paul Newman or James Dean (still not a bad place to be), Hunter quite effectively put over his role as Martin, a young man who sets off on a mission with Wayne to find the abducted Wood. “I was told I had arrived,” Hunter recalled, “when, during the shooting of The Searchers, they gave me almost as much ammunition as they gave John Wayne.” In his New York Times review of the picture, Bosley Crowther called the actor  “wonderfully callow and courageous.”

Hunter is likely best remembered as the blue-eyed Jesus with shaved armpits in Nicholas Ray’s King of Kings (1961), dubbed I Was a Teenage Jesus by the snarkier set. Hunter was, in fact, 35 years old when he shot the film, a good two years older than his character upon crucifixion. Reviews for the film and Hunter were mostly positive, and it has become a champion horse in the stable of biblical films that networks trot out every Easter.

Low-budget westerns and television appearances dominated Hunter's career in the years following, with a plum role as Captain Christopher Pike in the pilot episode of Star Trek. When NBC ordered more episodes, Hunter declined the part in order to focus on his movie career. He was replaced by William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk.

Death came shockingly early to Hunter, as a series of blows led to a debilitating stroke, followed by a fatal one. It began in Spain on the set of Viva America! (1969), where Hunter suffered facial lacerations and powder burns from an on-set explosion and a head injury from a fight scene. Stoke symptoms on the plane back to the United States landed him in L.A.’s Valley Hospital, where he spent two weeks in recovery. Dizziness and headaches plagued him until he suffered another stroke, resulting in a fractured skull from falling down stairs. He never regained consciousness and died following brain surgery on May 27, 1969, at the age of 42.

Tuesday
Jan262016

January 26

Edward G. Robinson dies of cancer in Los Angeles, 1973. The actor was done a serious disservice in Trumbo (2015), a biopic of famed blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, which depicted Robinson (Michael Stuhbarg) naming names before the House Un-American Activities Committee. It all began when California State Senator Jack Tenney, Chairman of that state’s Fact Finding Committee on Un-American Activities, claimed that Robinson was “frequently involved in Communist fronts and causes” and had him investigated. In reality, the actor ended up testifying four times in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee, but, unlike what happens in Trumbo, Robinson never singled out any colleague as belonging to the Communist party.

Paul Newman is born in Shaker Heights, Ohio, 1925. His big acting break came in 1953 in the Broadway play Picnic, first as a minor player and understudy before taking over the lead role of Hal Carter, the drifter who arrives in a small Kansas town to look up his old college buddy. Newman’s first movie came a year later, an inauspicious beginning that the actor spent the rest of his life making fun of. “After the success of Picnic, I had a lot of offers from Hollywood and I never accepted any of them,” Newman said. “Finally, my agent said, ‘You know, they're going to keep knocking on your door and knocking on your door and at some point they're going to stop. So you better make sure you say 'Yes' before that stop occurs.’ That was when somebody sent me a copy of The Silver Chalice and I got talked into it. I knew that was going to be a bomb.” So embarrassed was the actor by the film, a costume epic about a Greek artisan selected to create the holy grail, that before it was broadcast on television in 1966, Newman took out an ad in Variety and apologized to the world for his performance.

“That I survived the first film I did was extraordinarily good fortune,” the actor said. “I mean, I had dogs chasing me down the street. I was wearing this tiny little Greek cocktail dress—with my legs! Good Lord, it was really bad. In fact, it was the worst film made in the 1950s. My first review said that ‘Mr. Newman delivers his lines with the emotional fervor of a Putnam stop conductor announcing local stop.’” During a home screening with friends, Newman handed out wooden spoons, pots, whistles and other noisemakers for his guests to audibly register their critical reactions. “I started my career giving a clinic in bad acting in the film The Silver Chalice and now I'm playing a crusty old man who's an animated automobile [In Cars (2006],” Newman remarked about the release of his final feature film. “That's a creative arc for you, isn't it?”

Wednesday
Feb252015

South by Southeast

Julie Andrews, in her fourth starring role, takes direction from Alfred Hitchcock for the Cold War thriller Torn Curtain, 1965. In the 1966 release, Sarah (Andrews) suspects her fiancé Michael (Paul Newman) of cloak-and-dagger doings and follows him from Copenhagen to East Berlin, where a quest for a secret formula puts both their lives in danger. Though the film was one of Universal’s highest grossing for the year, Hitchcock was not happy with it, its top stars being two of the reasons why. His first choice, Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint, fell through because of their ages, with the studio deeming Saint too old and Grant considering himself a little long in the tooth. The director was also none too keen about spending $750,000 each for Andrews and Newman’s services. And, in the end, Hitchcock simply did not care much for Newman’s performance.

Thursday
Feb052015

February 5

Thelma Ritter dies of a heart attack in New York, 1969. She had a small but memorable role as a beleaguered Christmas shopper in Miracle on 34th Street (1947), her film debut. From there, she became regularly employed and oft-nominated, receiving six Oscar nods (and no wins) for Best Supporting Actress for the films All About Eve (1950), The Mating Season (1951), With a Song in My Heart (1953), Pickup on South Street (1953), Pillow Talk (1959) and Birdman of Alcatraz (1962).

In the early 1960s, Ritter appeared in two features that strangely echoed each other. The Second Time Around, a comedy-western about a New York widow having to work as an Arizona farmhand, was released to theaters on December 22, 1961. A year later, How the West Was Won, a Cinerama production about the settling of the American West as seen through the eyes of two families, premiered (oddly enough) in London. In both films, Ritter played almost identical types and acted opposite Debbie Reynolds. And, in both films, her character was named Aggie.

Charlotte Rampling is born in Sturmer, England, 1946. From her first film, The Knack…and How to Get It (1965), to later successes like Swimming Pool (2003), she has never been less than terrific. She was Lynn Redgrave’s sharp-edged flatmate in Georgy Girl (1966), a sadomasochistic concentration camp survivor in The Night Porter (1974) and a treacherous mate for Paul Newman in The Verdict (1982). But it is her performance as the emotionally complex Dorrie in Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories that is my favorite.

The movie, about filmmaker Sandy Bates (Allen) who rather begrudgingly endures a film festival of his work and the fans it attracts, is to Federico Fellini what Allen’s Interiors (1978) was to Ingmar Bergman—direct beneficiaries of the legendary directors’ themes and visual styles. "She was just right for that part.” Allen once said. “I mean, she is so beautiful and so sexy and so interesting. She has an interesting neurotic quality." The actress was similarly laudatory towards her director, calling him “brilliant at creating entertaining reality, opening up closed doors and exposing monsters."

One scene involving Rampling stands apart: Dorrie, in a psychiatric hospital, gets a visit from Bates and talks directly to the camera in a series of jump cuts shot in extreme close-up. It is a Jean-Luc Godard moment in a sea of Fellini, a nod to Breathless (1960) in Woody’s own private 8 1/2 (1963).

Here's the scene:

Friday
Jan162015

Jack Carson

Jack Carson stood six-feet-two-inches tall, possessed the slick smile of a car salesman and—at a studio that employed such major talents as Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Olivia de Havilland and James Cagney—was arguably one of the best actors on the Warner Bros. lot. Attractive, but not movie-star handsome, Carson found supporting roles early on at RKO in films like Stage Door (1937) and Carefree (1938). He went to Warner Bros. in 1941, honing his craft opposite Cagney in The Strawberry Blonde (1941), de Havilland and Henry Fonda in The Male Animal (1942) and Edward G. Robinson in Larceny, Inc. (1942).

In the forties, Carson teamed with handsome tenor Dennis Morgan for a series of films that were Warner Bros.’s answer to Paramount’s Hope and Crosby Road pictures. If the two didn’t exactly set the world on fire, they nevertheless acquitted themselves well. Later that decade Carson helped usher Doris Day to movie stardom by costarring in her first three films. A body of strong dramatic work in high-profile projects rounded out his career. His first movie was You Only Live Once in 1937; his final film was King of the Roaring 20’s (sic) in 1961, two years before he died at age 52 of stomach and liver cancer. 

Essential Films

The Hard Way (1943) 
The part of struggling song-and-dance man Albert Runkel elevated Carson from comedic bits in lighthearted fare to a supporting role in a serious drama. The plot offered fairly enjoyable histrionics: Ida Lupino plays ambitious Helen Chernen, who schemes to get her and her sister Katie (Joan Leslie) out of their grungy steel-mill hometown by coercing her sister into a loveless marriage with Runkel. As Runkel’s stage act with partner Paul Collins (Dennis Morgan) dips in popularity, Katie’s stage career takes off. And so Runkel, borrowing a page from A Star is Born, decides to kill himself. The Hard Way earned solid reviews, especially for the cast, and propelled Carson to meatier roles.

Mildred Pierce (1945)
Its uncomplicated style, unexpected humor and irresistible mother-daughter conflict made Mildred Pierce a film noir milestone and offered further proof of Jack Carson’s talent. Not merely a secondary character to protagonist Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford), Wally Fay (Carson) was also Mildred’s friend, real estate agent, financial advisor, legal advisor—he even introduced her to her second husband. And, in his relentless romantic pursuit of her, Wally provided Mildred with an abundant and handy source of personal validation, should she ever need it. Wally Fay was a supporting role in every sense, and it gave Carson the best reviews of his career. 

Romance on the High Seas (1948)
Jack Carson was right by Doris Day’s side the moment she became a movie star. Audiences loved her in Romance on the High Seas, a story about jealous spouses, mistaken identity and a South American cruise, but Bosley Crowther of The New York Times was unimpressed. “It is hard to work up enthusiasm for the Warners' new starlet, Doris Day,” the film critic wrote. “Maybe the Warners figured they had a new Betty Hutton in her but, even without other assets, she still lacks Miss Hutton's vital style. Also Miss Day's singing voice, while adequate to such night-club tunes as ‘I'm in Love,’ ‘You or No One’ and ‘It's Magic,’ is nothing to herald.” Somehow Day dodged Crowther’s arrows and survived, making her next two pictures with good luck charm Jack Carson and, by some accounts, enjoying a brief romance with her burly costar.

A Star is Born (1954)
In Judy Garland’s comeback vehicle, Carson played to perfection that singular show biz animal, the studio press agent. In this, George Cukor’s musical remake of the 1937 drama, it is a creature frequently found between a rock—what’s good for business—and a hard place—an unpredictable and self-destructive celebrity. As Matt Libby, Carson is cynical, diplomatic when called for, devoid of sympathy and, when it’s safe, quite cruel. Libby is a man of hard edges, and Carson played it like an actor who didn’t give a damn about audience affection. It was one of his strongest performances.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Jack Carson, in his last significant movie role, joined a handful of screen heavyweights and got to speak the words of one of America’s most famous playwrights. As the wonderfully named Gooper Pollitt, the genetically improbable brother of Paul Newman, Carson appeared alongside Elizabeth Taylor, Judith Anderson and Burl Ives in Tennessee Williams’s tale of a southern family grappling their way through a birthday gathering at the family plantation. It’s the kind of sexually heightened, psychological shoutfest at which Williams excels, and the results are fascinating to watch. It would be the actor’s last significant movie role.