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 roger ebert (9)

Thursday
Apr142016

Lost Horizon (1973)

Typically in our Glaring Mistakes section we single out the small, almost inevitable glitches found in even the greatest of movies—a crew member who shows up on camera, a Roman slave wearing a wristwatch or a modern city skyline visible in a period western. Here we single out an entire film—a motion picture so ill advised and misbegotten that it has passed into legend, a monument to bad ideas realized and good will squandered. Say hello to the cinematic wonder that is Lost Horizon.

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Monday
Apr292013

April 29

Daniel Day-Lewis is born in London, 1957. A big day in his career came on March 7, 1986, with both the Ivory Merchant period drama A Room with a View and the Stephen Frears-directed comedy-drama My Beautiful Laundrette released in New York. The parts the actor played in both films couldn’t have been more different—a gay punk in Margaret Thatcher’s London and an upper-class snob in Edwardian England—and critics were unanimous with praise. In his review of A Room with a View, Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote, “Spectacular, too, is a new young actor named Daniel Day Lewis, who plays the insufferable Cecil Vyse with a style and a wit that are all the more remarkable when compared to his very different characterization in My Beautiful Laundrette.” About My Beautiful Laundrette, critic Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “The character of Johnny may cause you to blink if you've just seen the wonderful A Room with a View. He is played by Daniel Day-Lewis, the same actor who, in Room, plays the heroine's affected fiancée, Cecil. Seeing these two performances side by side is an affirmation of the miracle of acting: That one man could play these two opposites is astonishing.”

Thursday
Apr182013

What's Wrong With This Picture?

If you’re part of the marketing team in charge of promoting a suspense thriller where the climactic shock—indeed the last minute of the movie—reveals the murdered corpse of a major character, then why, oh why, would you show an image of said corpse on the movie poster? That was the question some critics and fans had about What’s the Matter With Helen?, a 1971 schlock horror film in the same vein as Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) and Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), where two big female movie stars play cat and mouse while bodies pile up around them.

The film was an example of “the macabre genre of the menopausal metaphysical mystery movie,” as film critic Roger Ebert categorized it, with plots that “seem to involve a couple of middle-aged ladies with shameful pasts, who make lots of trips up and down dark stairs and into unlighted cellars, get the hell scared out of them when dust mops fall out of the shadows, and end up hideously, with blood and feathers all over the place.”

What’s the Matter with Helen? concerns Adelle (Debbie Reynolds) and Helen (Shelley Winters), Midwestern dames who move to Hollywood and open a dance studio after their sons are convicted of a gruesome murder. Adelle schools young Shirley Temple-like hopefuls while Helen bangs out “Goody, Goody” on the piano. Eventually Adelle is wooed by a Texas millionaire (Dennis Weaver) while Helen is drawn to an Aimee Semple-like evangelist (Agnes Moorehead) and goes increasingly nuts, finally knifing Adelle to death and stringing her body up on a ladder.

Perhaps the Helen marketers thought the poster would not overtly suggest the grisly end of the Reynolds character. An image showing a bloodstained bosom and a red trickle down her chin, however, might not have been the way to go.

Thursday
Apr112013

April 11

William Friedkin films the “spider walk” scene for The Exorcist, 1973. The director later decided to cut this brief moment from the original film for a couple of reasons: 1) it was too showy an effect and 2) audiences could see the wires supporting the performer. "It was quite early in the story,” Friedkin recalled, “and we hadn't yet seen any of the massive manifestations that were to come. At that point in the narrative, I just thought it was too much." Here’s the gist: Regan O’Neill (Linda Blair) is in the early stages of being possessed by the devil and screwy things begin to happen. Her bed shakes. She wets her pants at a party. And, originally, she was to walk down the stairs, upside down on her hands and feet, and release a mouthful of blood.

The grotesquerie became a legendary missing scene, appearing in both the book and screenplay, but not in the final cut. It was filmed with a stunt double for Blair, a contortionist named Linda Hager, who was attached to a rig and suspended by wires above the staircase. She is lowered down the stairs, her hands and feet merely touching the steps. The scene was added to a special 2000 re-release of the film—re-titled The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen—with the wires digitally removed. Wrote film critic Roger Ebert at the time, “We see the ‘spider walk,’ an infamous scene much discussed by Exorcist buffs in which Regan is seen walking downstairs upside-down, crab-style. This shot strikes me as a distracting stunt, and since it exists in isolation from the scenes around it, feels gratuitous.”

Here's a look:

Monday
Apr082013

Roger Ebert: Raves and Raspberries

He was that rare film critic who was a household name, a movie star reviewer among reviewers of movies. He could lay waste to a cinematic stinker with wit and charm, and succinctly—even politely—explain why a particular element or scene or entire movie wasn’t working. He could also wax rhapsodic about why a picture was a work of art and almost convince you to believe it as well. Simply put, his weekly 1,000-word essays were a joy to read, and his voice will be missed. Here’s a sampling of what Roger Ebert had to say about ten films—five terrific and five terrible.

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