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 rouben mamoulian (5)

Saturday
Jan022016

January 3

Rouben Mamoulian resigns as director of Cleopatra, 1961. The 1963 release, starring Elizabeth Taylor, was the 192-minute result of a famously beleaguered production, one that immediately hit a snag when Taylor became ill shortly after filming began. Accompanying Mamoulian to the exits were costars Stephen Boyd and Peter Finch, who cited other commitments. Mamoulian, Boyd and Finch were eventually replaced with Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Richard Burton and Rex Harrison, respectively.

Ray Milland is born in Neath, Wales, 1905. The actor worked for the first time with director Billy Wilder in The Major and the Minor (1942), a comedy starring Milland as an army guy who befriends a grown woman (Ginger Rogers) passing herself off as a 12-year-old girl in order to acquire a cheaper train fare. When it came time to begin filming Wilder’s 1945 release, The Lost Weekend, Wilder looked to Jose Ferrer to portray Don Birnam, an author suffering from writer’s block and an addiction to booze. Paramount vetoed Ferrer, citing the need for more of a box office draw. Cary Grant and a handful of others turned Wilder down; Ray Milland did not and got the role of his career, with Wilder predicting that the actor would win the Academy Award. “On the day it dawned, I knew I couldn't face it and made up my mind not to attend,” Milland recalled about the Oscar ceremony, where he was up for Best Actor against Bing Crosby, Gene Kelly, Gregory Peck and Cornel Wilde. “At breakfast, I hesitantly told [my wife] Mal of my decision. She slowly put down her fork and just examined me. I didn't know where to look. Then she said, ‘I know that you're erratic, volatile, and the possessor of a foul temper. But I never thought you were a coward!’ Then with a look as cold as a Canadian nun, she said, ‘You'll go the that ceremony tonight if we have to put you in a straitjacket.’” He won and spoke no words of thanks, but instead bowed to the audience and exited the stage.

Friday
May302014

Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival 2014: Laura (1944)

What may have been Otto Preminger’s best film was also one of his earliest—his seventh directorial effort out of a career thirty-nine. Initially, Preminger was the producer and Rouben Mamoulian was the director of this stylish, moody mystery about a dead woman and the people in her orbit. Dissatisfied with Mamoulian’s approach to the material, Preminger took over and scrapped all of the initial footage. Laura proved a solid success at the box office and with critics, giving a boost to the careers of stars Dana Andrews, Vincent Price, Judith Anderson and especially Clifton Webb, a silent film actor making his first talkie at the age of 54. His performance as acerbic newspaper columnist Waldo Lydecker earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Also profiting in a major way was the actress who played the title role. Gene Tierney’s star was already on the ascendent with 1943’s Heaven Can Wait. It would be the start of a three-year rise to the top, with Laura the following year and Tierney’s Oscar-nominated performance in Leave Her to Heaven rounding out 1945.

Sunday
Apr012012

Rouben Mamoulian on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

The key scene in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—the one to which everything in the story is geared—is when a young, handsome man is transformed into Hyde. I didn’t want to make this just a horror picture. I wanted to make it subjective, I wanted to let the audience feel, at least to the degree possible, the agonizing and fantastic experience. I said, “When I do the first transformation, I’ll have the camera be Jekyll.” Now, I can’t do that in the middle of the scene, out of a clear blue sky. It’s never been done before and it has to be established. That’s why I did the whole first reel with the camera being Jekyll.

I asked, “What kind of sound can we put with this? The whole thing is fantastic. You put a realistic sound and it will get you nowhere at all.” So again, you proceed from imagination and theory and if it makes sense, do it. I said, “We’re not going to have a single sound in this transformation that you can hear in life.” They said, “What are you going to use?” I said, “We’ll light the candle and photograph the light—high frequencies, low frequencies, direct from light into sound. Then we’ll hit a gong, cut off the impact, run it backward, things like that.” So I had this terrific kind of stew, a mélange of sounds that do not exist in nature or in life. It was eerie but it lacked a beat, and that’s where I had to introduce rhythm. So I said, “We need a beat.” We tried all sorts of drums, but they all sounded like drums. When you run all out of ideas, something always pops into your head. I said, “I’ve got it.” I ran up and down the stairway for two minutes until my heart was really pounding, too the microphone down and said, “Record me.” And that’s the rhythm of the big transformation. So when I say my heart was in Jekyll and Hyde, it’s literally true.

Actually, Jekyll and Hyde is not a horror story, although every book on horror films mentions it. Hyde is not a monster. What interested me about the story is that it’s a tragedy of man. Man with a capital M. Man who fights against the Establishment. Man who is a rebel. Man who is adventurous and courageous. Man who goes to the moon and climbs Mount Everest. It’s a noble part of human nature to achieve these adventurous things with the idea that they will subsequently benefit mankind. So here is a story of a man who does just that, and what he does ends up controlling him.

I explained to Freddie that Hyde is not evil to start with, that he is primitive like an animal. To an animal there is no evil. A tiger attacks to eat and sheds blood, and we don’t call that evil. But just as Jekyll gets gradually corrupted as he carries on this experiment, so does Hyde. With each stage he becomes worse. To me the most attractive person in the story is the first Mr. Hyde, full of exuberance and joy and freedom. He goes out to celebrate and it’s pouring rain. An Englishman always has an umbrella to protect himself, so I had him take his hat off, put his face up and love the rain. Then he goes into this music hall. Everything he does is wholehearted and vibrant; there is no evil there. He is fulfilling his impulse. Gradually he becomes worse, until the final tragedy.

Sunday
Dec042011

December 4

Rouben Mamoulian dies of natural causes in Woodland Hills, California, 1987. The acclaimed director favored expressionism over realism, remarking that “realism and naturalism are not for me. I think it’s too feeble an instrument.” Among his best movies is the fanciful Love Me Tonight (1932), a musical comedy starring Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Charles Ruggles and Myrna Loy. The tone is set early on, as the rhythmic noise of a Paris street slowly coming to life builds to a jazzy, percussive symphony. The film also includes the classic Rogers and Hart tune “Isn’t It Romantic,” a number that begins with Chevalier in a tailor’s shop, makes it way to the street, into a taxi, onto a train, then spreads like a wonderful virus to marching soldiers, a gypsy camp and, finally, to MacDonald at a country estate miles away from where the song began.

The opening:

“Isn’t It Romantic”:

Wednesday
Aug312011

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

When it came time for the release of Rouben Mamoulian's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) in Sweden, their poster artists avoided the more literal representations of the film seen in many of the U.S. posters. In the Swedish one sheets, an Art Deco sleekness—black and white and red all over—dominates the design: a bifurcated portrait of a dapper Jekyll (Fredric March) appearing in the foreground, his Neanderthal-looking alter ego a faint shadow lurking behind him, with modern, stylized lettering throughout.

March was not Paramount studio head Adolph Zukor's choice for the role—character actor Irving Pichel was. Mamoulian thought Pichel would make a good Hyde, but not a good Jekyll. Handsome Phillips Holmes was also considered. Mamoulian thought he would make a good Jekyll, but not a good Hyde. Over the objections of Zukor, Mamoulian hired Fredric March, heretofore seen in mostly lightweight fare.

March would go on to win a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal, making Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde the first horror movie to win an Academy Award.