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 william friedkin (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)


William Friedkin on The Exorcist (1972)

[Linda Blair] mouthed everything, but we also recorded her own voice as a guide track and for a while I thought we might use that recording. When I started the picture, I thought, “I’m just going to get a good, ballsy, masculine voice to do this thing.” But it occurred to me that it would be much more believable if I could get a female voice that had some masculinity to it. Most of her voice is replaced by Mercedes McCambridge’s, but some of the voice is her own. The stuff that was most effective was recorded in sync to her own dialogue, line for line. All Linda Blair did was mouth the words as best she could. Mercedes McCambridge, who smokes heavily, was able to speak in that emphysemic voice and get that wonderful wheezy sound. We would experiment. She would swallow three raw eggs and drink some Jack Daniel’s and then we had her tightly tied to a chair. It sounds like she has three or four screaming animals in her throat. We recorded that very close up and then made a loop out of it. After we had dubbed the girl’s voice I felt there was something wrong. It occurred to me that I had to keep the demonic presence alive, even when it wasn’t talking, and that’s when we decided to put the looped wheeze in.

The media makes up shit that you can’t believe. They said after making The Exorcist Linda Blair was in a mental hospital or something. She was a delightful little twelve-year-old girl, and every time we’d do a take of the most monstrous things imaginable the prop man would hand her a milkshake. I made every scene a game with her.

I knew that the only way I could make this movie was if I had a child who was able somehow to grasp and deal with this horrible stuff that had to be performed. I really thought I might never find such a person. We had casting directors look at thousands of women across the country, starting at age twelve. Then we started looking for sixteen-year-old young women who looked younger. We couldn’t find anyone, and I seriously thought it wouldn’t be possible to make the film. Then in comes this eleven-year-old girl with her mother. I ask her the same questions I asked the others. I said, “Do you know what this story is about?” She said, “Yes, I read the book. It’s about a little girl who’s possessed by the devil and she does a lot of bad things.” I said, “Like what? What sort of bad things?” She said, “Well, she pushes a man out a window and she hits her mother in the face and she masturbates with a crucifix.” I said, “What?” I’d never heard that from an eleven-year-old. I said, “What does that mean?” She said, “What?” I said, “What does ‘masturbate’ mean?” She said, “It’s like jerking off, isn’t it?” I said, “Uh-huh.” Then I said, “Have you ever jerked off?” and she said, “Sure. Haven’t you?” I said, “You’re hired.”

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


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:


Berlinale 2013: Interior. Leather Bar.

In 1980, prior to the release of director William Friedkin’s controversial thriller Cruising, approximately 40 minutes were trimmed for explicit sexual content. In Interior. Leather Bar., actor James Franco ruminates on what exactly was excised from the film, which saw straight cop Al Pacino go undercover in New York’s gay leather scene to find a killer. Franco does more than speculate—he auditions and hires actors, rents out a small theater in North Hollywood, devises scenarios involving oral sex, poppers, dancing, drinking and domination and commits them to celluloid. It’s a fairly interesting stunt for its 60-minute running time, through one tires of lead actor Val Lauren’s persistent insecurity and caution in performing against such a homoerotic backdrop.