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 warner bros. (9)


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 19

House of Wax begins filming, 1953. The Vincent Price horror movie would be the first major studio release in 3D and was suggested to Warner Bros. by Andre de Toth, a director with only one eye. The picture, a remake of the 1933 Michael Curtiz film Mystery of the Wax Museum, proved to be a model of efficiency. Though de Toth’s budget was $1,250,000, the movie cost only $618,000 to make and was in the can after less than five weeks of shooting. Even post-production was straightforward and quick—the film was released on April 9, 1953, just 47 days after the final day of filming.

Tippi Hedren is born in New Ulm, Minnesota, 1930. “To be the object of somebody's obsession is a really awful feeling when you can't return it,” the actress once said about Alfred Hitchcock, who cast her in The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964). It all started with a simple commercial for a diet drink that the director saw on The Today Show in 1962. In the ad—and, as an inside joke, the opening sequence of The Birds—Hedren is seen walking down the street, acknowledging a man’s whistle with a smile. After the film wrapped, the future animal rights activist asked Hitchcock if she could keep the fur coat she wore in the film. He acquiesced, charging the production company for it.


January 12

Agatha Christie dies of natural causes in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, England, 1976. Her death at age 85 would come 14 months after her final appearance at a public event—the premier of Murder on the Orient Express (1974), an all-star movie version of her novel Murder in the Calais Coach. The staggeringly popular mystery writer lauded the performance of Albert Finney as detective Hercule Poirot as well as the film itself, calling it the only big-screen adaptation of one of her works that she found completely satisfying.

The Big Sleep completes filming, 1945. Raymond Chandler, who authored the book on which the movie is based, allowed screenwriters William Faulkner and Leigh Brackett to come to their own conclusions about the murder mystery, since Chandler admittedly had no clue of his own. Who Faulkner and Brackett identified as the killer was included in the 1945 version of the film, which was screened for American servicemen that year. As World War II was drawing to a close, Warner Bros. saw fit to release their inventory of war-related movies throughout 1945, thereby delaying the release of the Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall crime drama. This gave them a chance to rethink, rewrite and reshoot a few key scenes between the two in order to infuse them with the innuendo and attitude that made their work in To Have and Have Not (1944) crackle. The movie’s newer version was released to general audiences in August of 1946 with Bogart and Bacall’s chemistry assured and the mystery left unsolved.


He Who Gets Slapped: Errol Flynn Stars with a Striking Bette Davis

“He was just beautiful, Errol,” Bette Davis once remarked about Errol Flynn, her costar in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939). “He himself openly said, ‘I don't know really anything about acting,’ and I admire his honesty, because he's absolutely right.”

Maxwell Anderson’s play Elizabeth the Queen opened on Broadway on November 3, 1930 with Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt acting out the tempestuous relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex. Warner Bros. secured the movie rights to the costume drama and signed two of the studios top draws—Davis and Flynn—to play the leads.

Flynn wanted his character to be part of the title and suggested calling the picture something other than Elizabeth the Queen. Warner Bros. first came up with The Knight and the Lady, which Davis didn’t cotton to, then Elizabeth and Essex, which was a copyrighted book title and therefore jettisoned. And so, in the spirit of The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) and The Private Life of Don Juan (1934), the film became The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.

Photography began in June of 1939 and, true to many a Bette Davis film set, there was discord in the air, first between the strong-willed actress and director Michael Curtiz, then between Davis and Flynn, for whom she had little regard. She perceived the actor as having a limited range, a too-casual work ethic and, worst of all, he wasn’t Laurence Olivier, her personal choice for the role.

In his autobiography My Wicked, Wicked Ways, Flynn recounts in detail how a famous scene unfolded:

Click to read more ...


July 19

Steven Spielberg buys Bette Davis’s Oscar for Jezebel at a Christie’s auction, 2001. In the 1938 film, Davis played a strong-minded New Orleans belle who gets boy (Henry Fonda), loses boy, and hopes to get boy back amid a yellow fever outbreak in the antebellum South. The movie, sometimes referred to as the black-and-white Gone With the Wind, was based on a Broadway play starring Miriam Hopkins and Joseph Cotten. The unpopularity of the stage production (it ran a mere 32 performances) allowed Warner Bros. to buy the rights at a bargain-basement price, with the contract stipulating that Hopkins would be considered—only considered—for the movie. Warners opted for Davis instead and began production in October of 1937 with director William Wyler shooting the most lavish scenes first in an attempt to keep the budget under control. With Wyler’s propensity for multiple takes, production went over budget and over schedule anyway. For one scene, Davis required 45 takes to simply lift her skirt with her riding crop. Immediately following the 2001 Christie’s auction, Spielberg donated Davis’s Academy Award—for which he paid $57,800—back to the Academy for Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.