31 Days of Oscar: 'Ben-Hur' Proves Bigger Not Necessarily Better

'Ben-Hur' 1959 with Stephen Boyd and Charlton Heston: TCM's '31 Days of Oscar.' '31 Days of Oscar': 'Lawrence of Arabia' and 'Ben-Hur' in, Paramount stars out Today, Feb. 1, '16, Turner Classic Movies is kicking off the 21st edition of its “31 Days of Oscar.” While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is being vociferously reviled for its “lack of diversity” – more […]

The Evolution of Film Sound Technology: Q&A with 'A Century of Sound' Co-Creator Robert Gitt

Hal Roach looks on as technicians install Vitaphone equipment in his studio screening room, ca. 1928. (Click on the image to enlarge it.) 'A Century of Sound': Q&A with former UCLA Preservation Officer Robert Gitt about the evolution of film sound technology Long before multi-track Dolby stereo and digital sound technology, there were the Kinetophone and the Vitaphone systems – not to mention organ and […]

'Ben-Hur' Movie: Christian Epic Became Costliest Production & Biggest Worldwide Blockbuster in History

'Ben-Hur' movie: Ramon Novarro starred in the silent version, at the time the most expensive film production and the biggest worldwide blockbuster in history. 'Ben-Hur' movie: Semi-biblical epic starring Ramon Novarro became most expensive and most successful blockbuster in history Christmas 2015 is just around the corner. That helps to explain Turner Classic Movies' presentation of Fred Niblo's Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ last […]

Mickey Rooney Dead: Longest Movie Career Ever?

Mickey Rooney ca. 1940 Mickey Rooney dead at 93: Four-time Oscar nominee & frequent Judy Garland co-star may have had the longest film career ever Mickey Rooney, four-time Academy Award nominee and one of the biggest domestic box office draws during the studio era, died of “natural causes” on Sunday, April 6, '14, at his home in the Los Angeles suburb of North Hollywood. The […]

'Ben-Hur' 1925: Fast & Furious Epic at Historic Theater

'Ben-Hur' 1925 with Ramon Novarro: The chariot race. 'Ben-Hur' 1925: Fast & furious epic Los Angeles screening Directed by Fred Niblo and starring Ramon Novarro, the 1925 Ben-Hur, a.k.a. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, will be screened at 8 p.m. on Wed., June 26, '13, at the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. Clark Wilson will provide live accompaniment on the Orpheum's original […]

Sarah Palin Movie Debut: 'Carrie' Remake

Sarah Palin: 'The Undefeated' star to be featured in 'Carrie' remake. Sarah Palin to star in 'Carrie' remake On April 1 '12, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced that former U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has been cast as Chloë Grace Moretz's religious-freak mom in the studio's upcoming remake of Brian De Palma's 1976 horror thriller Carrie. Kimberly Peirce, whose Boys Don't Cry (1999) earned Hilary Swank a […]

Women Screenwriters in Old Hollywood: Discrimination?

Norma Shearer in 'His Secretary': Women Screenwriters in Old Hollywood Women screenwriters kept busy during silent era Frederica Sagor Maas, who had a handful of screenwriting credits in the 1920s, died Jan. 5, '12, at a nursing facility in La Mesa, in the San Diego metropolitan area. Sagor Maas was 111. The daughter of Russian immigrants (one Jewish, one Christian), she was born Frederica Alexandrina […]

Eva von Berne Dies (Again) at Age 100: Silent Film Actress Had Purportedly Passed Away in 1930

Eva von Berne and John Gilbert in Victor Sjöström's The Masks of the Devil. Eva von Berne, the Austrian actress brought to Hollywood as a potential Greta Garbo rival and who played the ingénue in the apparently lost John Gilbert-Alma Rubens silent drama The Masks of the Devil (1928) – her sole American movie – has died. Again. Von Berne, according to many sources including […]

MGM Files for Bankruptcy + the History of Hollywood & 'The Bridge on the River Kwai'

Marion Davies in King Vidor's Show People Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which decades ago was the most financially stable of the Hollywood studios, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday. MGM – initially Metro-Goldwyn – was formed through the amalgamation of Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures, and Louis B. Mayer Productions in 1924. Goldwyn, by then no longer associated with Samuel Goldwyn, was the largest production company of the […]

Irving Thalberg – MGM 'Boy Wonder': Author Mark Vieira Discusses 'Hollywood Dreams Made Real'

Author and photographer Mark A. Vieira (right), who has been a friend for a number of years, has recently written no less than two books on Irving G. Thalberg, the young MGM mogul whose high-quality productions earned him both a reputation as Hollywood's “Boy Wonder” and a special place in Oscar history as the name attached to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' […]

Beverly Tyler: Actress in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Movies of the 1940s Has Died

Beverly Tyler ca. 1945. An actress in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movies of the mid-1940s, pretty Beverly Tyler never became a star though she did enjoy some popularity as a decorative – and very young (she was about 18 or 19 in the image above) – leading lady and second lead in MGM releases such as The Green Years, The Beginning or the End, and My Brother Talks […]

Jean Parker: Last Surviving 'Little Women' Actress & Former Wife of 'Batman' Actor Has Died

Jean Parker as one of the Little Women, with Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett, and Frances Dee. A Best Picture Academy Award nominee, George Cukor's Little Women helped to boost the careers of its four young actresses: Katharine Hepburn went on to win four Best Actress Oscars in a career spanning more than six decades; Joan Bennett, who would become a brunette later in the decade, […]

Howard Keel Movies: MGM Musicals 'Kiss Me Kate,' 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers'

Howard Keel ca. 1950. Howard Keel movies: 'Show Boat,' 'Kiss Me Kate' Howard Keel, an actor and singer best remembered for his series of Technicolor MGM musicals of the early 1950s, died of complications from colon cancer on Nov. 7, '04, in the Southern California town of Palm Desert. He was 85. Among the best-known Howard Keel movies released by MGM are Show Boat (1951) […]