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 robert altman (4)


10 Directors / 10 Films

In 2012, George Stevens, Jr. published a follow-up to his book Conversations with the Great Moviemakers of Hollywood’s Golden Age called The Great Moviemakers: The Next Generation, which included more conversations at the American Film Institute featuring filmmakers from the 1950s to the present. Here are excerpts of ten of these interviews, with emphasis on one director talking about one particular film.

Peter Bogdanovich on What’s Up, Doc? (1972)

David Lynch on Mulholland Dr. (2001)

William Friedkin on The Exorcist (1972)

John Sayles on Lone Star (1996)

Steven Spielberg on The Sugarland Express (1974)

Alan J. Pakula on Klute (1971)

George Lucas on American Graffiti (1973)

Arthur Penn on The Miracle Worker (1962)

Robert Altman on Gosford Park (2001)

Sydney Pollack on Tootsie (1982)


Robert Altman on Gosford Park (2001)

Bob Balaban has been a friend of mine for many years. He’s sort of a Renaissance man. He’s an actor, a director, a producer. He does everything, and he and I were talking one day. He said, “I wish we could do something together. Could my company develop something for you?” And I said, “Well, I’ve never done a whodunit.” I’m not very original. I mean, I’ll take a genre that’s comfortable and then go in a just kind of tilt it a bit. Bob said, “What do you mean?” I said, “You know, the big house and the people coming to shoot pheasants, and there’s a murder and the like.” We started describing the film as Ten Little Indians meets Rules of the Game, and then got Julian Fellowes to write a script. The next thing I know we’re shooting it.

I used two cameras almost all the time except when the room was so small we couldn’t get two cameras in. I arbitrarily had them moving with no particular purpose. That wasn’t new. I lifted it from myself, from The Long Goodbye where the camera was always moving without purpose. I did it in Gosford Park because these wonderful English period films like Brideshead Revisited or the Merchant-Ivory films are so formal and their speech is so precise. I thought, “You know, I don’t believe that’s the way people really behaved.” I just wanted to make it sloppy. I didn’t want to have nice formal two-shots and singles and that sort of thing, so we just kept the camera moving.

The standard thing with a film like this is a guy sitting watching television who gets up to go open a beer, and then comes back and he says, “Did she kill him yet?” He knows he’ll be shown the important stuff in close-up three times. But I wanted to put the audience on notice, right off the bat, that they have to pay attention or they’re going to miss something. Some of the punch lines are done on the backs of people when they’re leaving the room, like Maggie Smith when she says, “I haven’t got a snobbish bone in my body.”

The more people I had in the scene, the easier it was for me to orchestrate, because all those actors could take care of themselves. We’d say, “Everybody just get in the room and go where you think you would be,” and they’d just start moving. The more of that kind of thing I had to do, the more of it was done for me by the actors and the easier it was.

We have created this film in a way that if you like it, you really have to go back and see it again and you’ll see a different film. Once you know all of the mandatory things about who did it or who didn’t do it, it becomes not so much a whodunit as a why-didn’t-they-do-it-earlier. Or who-cares-who-did-it. I just really wanted the audience to have to turn their necks and work rather than serving it all up for you.

Excerpt from The Great Moviemakers: The Next Generation, compiled and edited by George Stevens, Jr. 


Margaret Hamilton

The American Film Institute can be a wonderful friend to those who love movies and those who love lists about movies. From its first ranking in 1998—“100 Years…100 Movies”—AFI has put forth other such conversation starters as “100 Years…100 Thrills,” “100 Years…100 Laughs” and “100 Years…100 Movie Quotes.” On one particular list that came out in 2003, actress Margaret Hamilton appeared in a well-deserved and lofty fourth place. The list was “100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains,” with Hamilton landing firmly on the villain’s side of the fence portraying a single woman looking for a new pair of slippers. Hamilton’s specialty was playing busybody spinsters, a character she perfected in 69 feature films during her 41-year film career. She may not have had a lot of screen time or played full-bodied, complex characters, but movies instantly became more interesting whenever she popped up on screen.

Essential Films
Nothing Sacred (1937)
For a fine example of how movie dialogue can possess a certain music and rhythm, take a look at the scene where New York newspaperman Wally Cook (Fredric March) arrives in the small town of Warsaw, Vermont—a place whose inhabitants are suspicious of, if not downright hostile to, this slicker from the city. In his search for Hazel Flagg (Carole Lombard), a woman reportedly dying of uranium poisoning, Cook encounters a stern array of citizens in a deftly written sequence—consisting primarily of “Yep” and “Nope” responses to his questions—that reveal the stern, standoffish nature of the townspeople. Hamilton plays a drugstore clerk peeved that Cook has “tooken up” her time.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)
“I don't look on it as any great shakes of acting,” Hamilton once said of her most famous role. “It's not subtle or restrained. It isn't any of the things you like to think might apply to your acting.” She’s wrong of course. Her acting isn’t subtle or restrained because The Wicked Witch of the West isn’t. The character is fiercely driven, fiendishly evil and vividly grotesque—the stuff nightmares are made of. And so enduring is Hamilton’s performance that a 1976 appearance on Sesame Street, with the actress in character as the witch, elicited complaints from parents of terrified wee ones. The episode never re-aired, its footage kept from public view to this day. A year earlier, Hamilton appeared as herself on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to much softer effect. After a friendly chat with host Fred Rogers, the affable host helped Hamilton into her witch’s costume, all the while emphasizing that she was merely play-acting.

Babes in Arms (1939)
Hamilton plays Martha Steele, a small-town sourpuss who voices her concerns to Judge Black (Guy Kibbee) that the juveniles in town—which consist of Mickey Moran (Mickey Rooney), Patsy Barton (Judy Garland) and an earnest gang of vaudevillian offspring—value show business more than their schoolwork. This would be the second movie of 1939 to feature Garland and Hamilton. Though The Wizard of Oz was well received, Babes in Arms would end up being the year’s biggest moneymaker for MGM.

My Little Chickadee (1940)
Hamilton plays Mrs. Gideon, the biggest gossip of Little Bend, who makes life so inconvenient for Flower Belle (Mae West), a singer of shady virtue, that Belle is run out of town on a rail. W.C. Fields costars as con artist Cuthbert J. Twillie, who marries the loose woman and thereby lends her a bit of (temporary) respectability. The western comedy was written by West and directed by Edward F. Cline, who helmed many of Fields’s most popular movies.

Brewster McCloud (1970)
Bud Cort stars as the title character of director Robert Altman’s oddball tale of a loner who lives in the Houston Astrodome and yearns to fly. As stadium singer Daphne Heap, Hamilton takes part in a mean, funny national anthem sequence over the opening credits. And if the mere presence of Margaret Hamilton fails to evoke memories of The Wizard of Oz, Altman throws in red slippers (worn by the actress), a gingham dress (worn by Jennifer Salt) and a few bars of “Over the Rainbow” on the soundtrack.


July 7

Shelley Duvall is born in Houston, Texas, 1949. Throughout her career, she has worked with some of the more accomplished directors of the past several decades. For Stanley Kubrick, she played Wendy Torrance, the terrified, beleaguered wife of Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) in The Shining (1980). Three years earlier, she had a brief but memorable role as a Rolling Stone reporter in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (1977). And, in 1996, she appeared as the idiotic, self-interested Countess Gemini in Jane Campion’s period drama The Portrait of a Lady. But it was director Robert Altman who cast her in her first film and allowed her loopy, self-possessed eccentricities to flourish throughout their seven features together.

“Bob is like family,” the actress once remarked about Altman. “I trust him almost implicitly. He would never do anything to hurt me. Bob won my trust right at the beginning. He encouraged me to be myself, to never take acting lessons or to take myself too seriously.” Their first collaboration was Brewster McCloud (1970), where she played a Houston Astrodome usher who befriends the offbeat title character, played by Bud Cort. McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971) followed, with Duvall as Ida Coyle, a rather unfulfilled mail-order bride. She then appeared in Thieves Like Us (1974), Nashville (1975), Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson (1976) and proved to be a modest monument of perfect casting as Olive Oyl in Popeye (1980).

Her greatest moment to date, however, came with 3 Women (1977), Altman’s mysterious, moody drama about identity. Seen by some as a riff on Ingmar Bergman’s Persona (1966), the film starred Duvall as Millie Lammoreaux, a deluded, overly confident and ridiculously cheerful chatterbox who works at a spa for the elderly in a California desert community. When fellow spa worker Pinky Rose (Sissy Spacek) becomes her roommate, their disparate personalities play off of—and are eventually subsumed by—each other. New York Times film critic Vincent Canby cited Duvall’s Lammoreaux as “one of the most memorable characterizations Mr. Altman has ever given us. Miss Duvall's large, round dark eyes are windows through which a tiny creature inside looks out upon a world whose complete disinterest Millie Lammoreaux refuses to accept.” For her performance in this bizarre, dreamlike tale, Duvall earned the award for Best Actress at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival.