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 star wars (4)


The Wilhelm Scream

A simple sound effect—a man's brief, agonizing cry while being attacked by an alligator—has become a Hollywood in-joke, a stock piece of audio for science fiction and western movies, a good luck charm for various filmmakers and has even inspired the name of a Massachusetts-based rock band.

The Wilhelm Scream, as the sound effect is known, was first used in the film Distant Drums (1951), which featured the aforementioned alligator attack (above). It is actually one of a series of six screams the movie’s sound department recorded with singer and actor Sheb Wooley at Warner Bros. Wooley’s distinctive “ah-AYE!-uh” was subsequently used for—and got its name from—The Charge at Feather River (1953), in which a character named Private Wilhelm is shot with an arrow.

The scream was used throughout the 1950s in westerns like The Command (1954), science fiction tales like Them! (1954), war movies like The Sea Chase (1955) and even a big-budget musical. In A Star is Born (1954), the scream is heard twice—in a screening room where studio head Oliver Niles (Charles Bickford) is watching a western and in “the production number to end all production numbers,” Judy Garland’s around-the-world song “Somewhere There’s a Someone.”

In later years, the audio effect was revived by sound designer Ben Burtt and used in Star Wars (1977), every Star Wars sequel and every Indiana Jones film. To date, the Wilhelm Scream has been heard in more than 200 movies and television shows.

Here’s a sampling of its use over the years.


January 17

Shooting ends on Jezebel, 1938. The antebellum drama earned Bette Davis her second Oscar, elevated the career of Henry Fonda, and was well received by audiences and critics. But getting there was an exercise in patience, as delays seemed to plague the production at every turn. A chief cause was director William Wyler’s nature to shoot multiple takes. On the first day, for example, a dress shop scene was filmed 28 times. Another shot where Bette Davis lifts her skirt with a riding crop took 45 takes. And the Olympus Ball scene, scheduled for a half-day shoot, took Wyler five days to finish. Jane Fonda caused one of the interruptions simply by being born and pulling papa Henry away from work for a while. For a week and a half, Wyler had to wait before he could shoot any close-ups of Bette Davis due to an ill-timed pimple on her nose. And, finally, Davis was out sick on what was supposed to be the last day of filming, dragging the production a total of 29 days over schedule.

James Earl Jones is born in Arkabutla, Mississippi, 1931. Though the acclaimed actor is famous for his resonant, sonorous voice—as Darth Vader in the Star Wars trilogy, Mustafa in The Lion King (1994) and that fellow on TV who says “This is CNN!”—his ability to speak fluently was a challenge. “One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can't utter,” said the actor about the stutter that plagued him throughout his life. As a schoolchild, he dealt with it by writing poetry that he would read aloud to the class. Acting lessons later in life helped him further control the problem and, in 1964, Jones made his movie debut as a bombardier in Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. He reprised his 1969 Tony Award-winning performance as boxer Jack Jefferson in the 1970 film version of The Great White Hope (above, with costar Jane Alexander). The performance earned him an Oscar nod as Best Actor. Jones has worked steadily in television and theater and, to date, has made more than 70 films.


George Lucas on American Graffiti (1973)

Today so much television is done the way American Graffiti was done in terms of intercutting, with completely separate stories going on simultaneously. [A] major problem I had to overcome at the studio was resistance to my idea of using existing music and have it run all the way through the film—to have a hundred-minute movie with a hundred minutes of music. It was going to cost a lot to get the rights to all those songs. I had structured each scene around a specific piece of music. It was my concept from the start, even though everyone thought it was a crazy idea. In the end, of course, it worked out well, and today every other film does the same thing. Of course after the film was a hit, things became easier for me. I went from being a starving filmmaker to incredibly successful in a period of only a couple of years.

I think American Graffiti is ultimately about change, and resistance to change. Characters are put in situations where they have to make decisions about their lives. These are characters who are fearful of leaving town, of getting out of their cells, even though the door is wide open, because it means they have to experience something new. In this respect the film is thematically similar to THX [1138] and to a short I made at USC called Freiheit. It’s also at the heart of Star Wars. When a major change needs to be made in life, when you need to leave a safe environment, the question becomes: are we brave enough to venture into the unknown? The major conflict in the film is whether Curt will leave town or stay. Will he go out into the big world and leave his cell? It’s not about freedom in the political sense, though obviously I believe in that. It’s about being free enough to escape the cage and shackles of your own mind. It’s about going beyond the idea of being in a physical prison to the next, more important step, which is one I’m confronted with all the time when I meet people. It’s something I was fortunate enough to break away from when I was eighteen or nineteen. It’s about stepping out of your own mind and keeping your brain open to new ideas and thoughts, and not just jumping to conclusions like “That’s not possible” and “I can’t do that.”

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


May 27

Christopher Lee is born in London, 1922. He has made a staggering 230-plus films in his 66-years-and-counting-year movie career, many of them the biggest moneymakers of the past 15 years. Indeed, when one adds the gross of his Star Wars, Hobbit and Lord of the Rings pictures, the figure is staggering—$1.65 billion…domestic. But when one steps back and takes a broad look at the actor, the horror genre seems to dominate much of his filmography. His first horror flick was 1957’s The Curse of Frankenstein from the low-budget studio Hammer Film Productions. “I was asked to play the creature chiefly because of my size and height which had effectively kept me out of many pictures I might have appeared in during the preceding ten years.” the actor recalled. “Most British stars flatly refused to have me anywhere near them in a film, because I was easily the tallest man around.”

Its success led to roles in other Hammer productions, including The Mummy (1959) and The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959). But it was Horror of Dracula (1958) that started him down the most well traveled road of his career. In all, Lee played Dracula no less than ten times on the big screen, finally retiring his character in the mid-seventies, saying “…in my opinion the presentation of the character had deteriorated to such an extent, particularly bringing him into the contemporary day and age, that it really no longer had any meaning.”