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 woody allen (12)

Thursday
Jul212016

Ten Movie Moments That Make Life Worth Living

“Why is life worth living?” Isaac Davis (Woody Allen) asks into a tape recorder in Allen's 1979 film Manhattan. His answers—random yet specific—include the crabs at Sam Wo’s, the second movement of the Jupiter symphony, Sentimental Education by Flaubert, Louis Armstrong’s recording of “Potato Head Blues” and “those incredible apples and pears by Cezanne.” Here’s our version of that, certain elements of cinema that make our lives worth living, or at least make movies worth watching. They seem to come to us from out of nowhere, little pockets of breathtaking beauty, expert craftmanship and happy accidents. Here are ten such moments—random yet specific—that make us stick around for one more day.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan282016

January 28

Alan Alda is born in New York City, 1936. Known primarily for his work on TV’s M*A*S*H (1972-1983), the actor began work in feature films in 1963 with Gone Are the Days!, an adaptation of Ossie Davis’s 1961-1962 Broadway play Purlie Victorious. To date, he has appeared in 33 motion pictures and worked with such prominent directors as David O. Russell (for 1996’s Flirting with Disaster) Martin Scorsese (receiving an Oscar nomination for 2004’s The Aviator), and, most recently, Steven Spielberg (for 2015’s Bridge of Spies). Alda performed in three Woody Allen films, the best of which was Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), with the actor earning raves for his performance as an arrogant television producer. But the director for which Alan Alda has worked most often is Alan Alda, who directed himself in The Four Seasons (1981), Sweet Liberty (1986), A New Life (1988) and Betsy’s Wedding (1990).

Freaks has its world premiere at the Fox Theater in San Diego, 1932. In spite of his detractors, MGM producer Irving Thalberg was firmly committed to bringing the unusual tale of romance and deception set in the world of circus sideshow performers to the screen. Screenwriter Willis Goldbreck was given the task of adapting Spurs, the Clarence Aaron “Tod” Robbins’s story that served as the genesis for Freaks, with the sole stipulation from Thalberg that it should be “horrible.” Complaints on the lot to Thalberg about the pinheads, dwarfs, limbless people, conjoined twins and others that comprised most of the cast were met with a reminder that, at MGM, all kinds of movies were being made and that director Tod Browning knew what he was doing. A dreadful test screening spurred Thalberg to make several edits, but not in time for the premiere in San Diego, which became the only theater to ever show the uncut version of the film. Lines were around the block and the Fox Theater enjoyed unprecedented business.

Tuesday
Jan052016

January 5

Cavalcade premiers in New York City, 1933. Throughout the course of the film, the Boer War is fought, Queen Victoria dies, the Titanic sinks and The Great War breaks out, all mere backdrops in the lives of Jane and Robert Marryot, the British couple at the center of Noël Coward’s drama. The London stage play opened in September of 1931, ran for 405 performances and was deftly snapped up by Fox Film in Hollywood. The movie became the studio’s first Best Picture Oscar winner.

Robert Duvall is born in San Diego, California, 1931. As a struggling actor in the mid-to-late 1950s, Duvall shared a New York apartment with fellow thespians Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman, a grouping that would later yield a total of 19 Oscar nominations and five wins.

Hans Conried dies of a heart ailment in Burbank, California, 1982. His memorable turn as dictatorial piano teacher Dr. Terwilliker in The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. (1953) proved to be the stuff of nightmares, at least for the movie’s adolescent protagonist Bartholomew Collins (Tommy Rettig). Conried’s other performance highlights included the voice of Captain Hook in Disney’s animated feature Peter Pan (1953) and Uncle Tonoose on television’s Make Room for Daddy (1953).

Diane Keaton is born in Los Angeles, 1946. Before Something’s Gotta Give (2003), her forays into directing, her involvement with Warren Beatty—even before her early film career with Woody Allen—she was a Broadway performer in one of the seminal musicals of the 1960s. Of her experience in Hair, for which she was an understudy and eventual replacement for the Sheila character, Keaton remarked, “At the time it was astonishing to have a job. It was odd. Before the show opened we got a shot by a Dr. Bishop. A vitamin shot, only it was not vitamins. It was like methamphetamines. You were flying. A lot of people got addicted.” Her next show—Allen’s Play It Again, Sam—earned her a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play. Her personal relationship with Allen led to the couple performing in eight films together, including the 1972 movie version of the play.

Monday
Jan042016

January 4

Christopher Isherwood dies of cancer in Santa Monica, California, 1986. The British-born author’s writing touched ten feature films, beginning with Little Friend in 1934. Highlights over the years included his screenplay for The Loved One (1965), a satire on the funeral business based on the Evelyn Waugh book, and A Single Man (2009), about an English professor in early 1960s Los Angeles, with a screenplay adapted from Isherwood’s novel by Tom Ford and David Scearce. Isherwood’s crowning achievement, however, undoubtedly stems from the writer’s experiences in the sexually liberated nightclub culture of Weimar Germany.

His short novels Mr. Norris Changes Trains and Goodbye to Berlin were first published in 1935 and 1939, respectively, and combined to form The Berlin Stories, published in 1945. Next, derived from the Isherwood tales, came John Van Druten’s 1951 play I Am a Camera, which became a successful Broadway play and, in 1955, a rather unsuccessful film, both starring Julie Harris as Sally Bowles. Bowles became the central figure of Cabaret, a Broadway musical by John Kander and Fred Ebb that debuted at the Broadhurst Theater on 1966 and ran for 1,165 performances. The show was significantly reworked for the screen—certain songs and characters added while others were deleted, and most of the musical numbers where shifted to the confines of the story’s main setting, The Kit Kat Club. Directed by Bob Fosse, Cabaret (1972) was a landmark movie musical, winning eight Oscars and defining the career of its star, Liza Minnelli.

Mae Questel dies of Alzheimer’s disease in New York City, 1998. The character actress enjoyed a 58-year movie career, beginning in 1931 with the first of her more than 150 Betty Boop shorts, for which she provided the voice of the animated, Jazz Age sex symbol. In later years, she played a middle-aged bride in Jerry Lewis’s It’s Only Money (1962) and a card-playing pal to Fanny Brice’s mother in Funny Girl (1968). In 1983, she was heard on the soundtrack of Woody Allen’s Zelig singing “Chameleon Days” and, in 1989, she scored two memorable appearances—in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and in “Oedipus Wrecks,” a section of the film New York Stories. In “Oedipus Wrecks,” she was Allen’s overbearing Jewish mother who disappears during a magic act and ends up hovering over Manhattan (above).

Here’s a glimpse of her turn as Woody’s mom.

 

Thursday
Feb052015

February 5

Thelma Ritter dies of a heart attack in New York, 1969. She had a small but memorable role as a beleaguered Christmas shopper in Miracle on 34th Street (1947), her film debut. From there, she became regularly employed and oft-nominated, receiving six Oscar nods (and no wins) for Best Supporting Actress for the films All About Eve (1950), The Mating Season (1951), With a Song in My Heart (1953), Pickup on South Street (1953), Pillow Talk (1959) and Birdman of Alcatraz (1962).

In the early 1960s, Ritter appeared in two features that strangely echoed each other. The Second Time Around, a comedy-western about a New York widow having to work as an Arizona farmhand, was released to theaters on December 22, 1961. A year later, How the West Was Won, a Cinerama production about the settling of the American West as seen through the eyes of two families, premiered (oddly enough) in London. In both films, Ritter played almost identical types and acted opposite Debbie Reynolds. And, in both films, her character was named Aggie.

Charlotte Rampling is born in Sturmer, England, 1946. From her first film, The Knack…and How to Get It (1965), to later successes like Swimming Pool (2003), she has never been less than terrific. She was Lynn Redgrave’s sharp-edged flatmate in Georgy Girl (1966), a sadomasochistic concentration camp survivor in The Night Porter (1974) and a treacherous mate for Paul Newman in The Verdict (1982). But it is her performance as the emotionally complex Dorrie in Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories that is my favorite.

The movie, about filmmaker Sandy Bates (Allen) who rather begrudgingly endures a film festival of his work and the fans it attracts, is to Federico Fellini what Allen’s Interiors (1978) was to Ingmar Bergman—direct beneficiaries of the legendary directors’ themes and visual styles. "She was just right for that part.” Allen once said. “I mean, she is so beautiful and so sexy and so interesting. She has an interesting neurotic quality." The actress was similarly laudatory towards her director, calling him “brilliant at creating entertaining reality, opening up closed doors and exposing monsters."

One scene involving Rampling stands apart: Dorrie, in a psychiatric hospital, gets a visit from Bates and talks directly to the camera in a series of jump cuts shot in extreme close-up. It is a Jean-Luc Godard moment in a sea of Fellini, a nod to Breathless (1960) in Woody’s own private 8 1/2 (1963).

Here's the scene: