From Rin Tin Tin to Snowy in Tintin: Hollywood’s Most Memorable Movie Dogs

This past year, Susan Orlean (the New Yorker writer played by Meryl Streep in Adaptation) wrote an entire book about the history of this star dog. For a time, the dog — played over the year by many German shepards — was one of silent and talkie film’s most well-known actors, appearing in more than 20 movies by the time TV’s The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin came around in 1954.

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The Making of 12 Angry Men

Once every few years many of us are summoned from our daily routines to take part as jurors in the fateful procedure of the courtroom. We are suddenly required to determine the guilt or innocence of a fellow citizen, to send him to prison, even to death. Playwright Reginald Rose went through this experience as a juryman. It was an experience he never forgot; one he found so profound that he decided to use it the only way he could by writing a play that recaptured the behind-the-scenes drama of the jury room.

The result was 12 Angry Men, a motion picture released through United Artists. To bring "12 Angry Men" before the cameras seemed like an impossible task. To communicate the intensity of feeling 12 actors were needed who could deliver their lines without hokum. Rose brought the manuscript to actor Henry Fonda who was in the process of forming his own independent film company. Deeply impressed, Fonda decided to produce the film in collaboration with Rose and with the finest actors of the New York stage and television scene. Their agreement was formalized as Orion-Nova Productions and Rose's jury duty materialized into a fine drama.


Avant Garde Cinema Flourishes in the Shadow of Hollywood

In January 1943 the Russian-born poet, essayist, former radical and future filmmaker Eleanora Deren wrote a friend that her husband, Alexander Hammid, was having a tough time finding work as a cameraman in Hollywood. The union, she wrote, was one of those “racketeer things,” though there might be a job at Paramount Pictures. “There are other prospects,” she added, “but in Hollywood prospects are a dime a dozen.” Four months later she and Hammid carved out a different future in the poetic form of “Meshes of the Afternoon,” a black-and-white, 14-minute silent film and a classic of the American avant-garde cinema that they shot a few blocks from the Sunset Strip.


Walt Disney’s favorite animator celebrated by Google

Mary Blair played a big role in the early days of Disney. The painter and concept designer drove the style of "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland," and "Peter Pan." Many other artists worked on those films. But she had a special place in Walt Disney's heart.

Friday marks what would have been her 100th birthday. Google celebrated with a Google Doodle in the colorful and playful style that made her so essential to Disney.

When Ms. Blair received her own exhibit at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco a year ago, the curators introduced the show with some high praise: "The case is filled with treasures from Mary Blair who, according to some historians, was Walt Disney’s favorite artist!"


Cheap shots: Microbudget film-makers

Hollywood has always operated on the principle that more is more: each time the most expensive film ever made arrives in cinemas, budgetary extravagance becomes a major selling point. But 20 years ago, the US independent sector stumbled upon its own marketing equivalent: the microbudget. Suddenly it became apparent that a film's financial shortcomings could be exploited to its advantage.

In 1991, two films changed the landscape of indie cinema and the way in which it was sold. Richard Linklater's Slacker, which drops in on around 100 misfits and eccentrics during 24 hours in Austin, Texas, and Matty Rich's Straight Out of Brooklyn, a tale of young no-hopers in New York's housing projects, marked the start of a phenomenon – frugality as a marketing hook.



‘Star Wars’ Tweaked Darth Vader Scene Sparks Outcry

George Lucas continues to make tweaks to Star Wars, and fans continue to be upset about it.

Such was the case Thursday when it was revealed that Lucas has added audio to Darth Vader in a scene in Return of the Jedi where he commits his final redemptive act by throwing the evil Emperor Palpatine down a shaft. In the original version, Vader was silent, but now he cries out "No!" reflecting the end of Revenge of the Sith. (Watch the altered scene below.) Sith is the third film in the overall chronology but the last one to be released.


The Top 10 Vampire Movie Scenes

With the remake of Fright Night coming out, we’ve got vampires on the brain. So we put our brains together (unusual mental image though it is) to come up with our list of The 10 Best Vampire Movie Scenes, from The Lost Boys to Shadow of the Vampire to – shudder –Twilight (although we have a damned good reason for that one). So sharpen your fangs and let’s get started…


Al Pacino, ‘Scarface’ cast celebrate film’s legacy

Literally, he grabbed the hot barrel of a gun that had just shot 30 rounds during one of Tony Montana's violent scenes.

"My hand stuck to that sucker," the 71-year-old actor recalled. He couldn't work for two weeks.

Pacino relayed the experience during a discussion with Scarface co-stars Steven Bauer, Robert Loggia and F. Murray Abraham and producer Martin Bregman at a party in Los Angeles on Tuesday heralding the film's Blu-ray release.

Part of the charm of the film, Pacino said, is that it wasn't initially a hit.

"It's one of my favourites because of its whole evolution," he said. "It (was) sort of eviscerated after it opened by the press. ... Nobody was fond of it, except it had good audience participation."


Actress Kelly McGillis on life after ‘Top Gun’

Few actors are lucky enough to make a single movie that stands the test of time. Former Berks County resident Kelly McGillis starred in three of them: "Witness" (1985), "Top Gun" (1986) and "The Accused" (1988).

With a 25th anniversary Blu-Ray edition of "Top Gun" hitting stores on Tuesday, the actress admits she's surprised there's still so much interest in her '80s triumphs.

"It never would have occurred to me when I was making 'Top Gun,' that I'd still be talking about it 25 years later … I don't look back. I don't have favorites of my films. I learned important lessons from all of them so they've all been big gifts to me."


The 10 greatest “missing movies”

With the newly restored 35mm version of the late German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder's long-unavailable 1973 science-fiction epic "World on a Wire" -- which opens this week in New York before a national roll-out courtesy of Janus Films -- the number of missing movies has shrunk by one. This happens all the time, of course; filmgoers and home-video customers are deluged with more rediscoveries and restorations than we can process, and as soon as I publish this list it will become outdated. (Here's what I can see from my desk in various piles: Newly restored versions of Fritz Lang's "Metropolis," Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin" and Buster Keaton's "Our Hospitality," along with new-to-video titles such as Margot Benacerraf's "Araya," Jules Dassin's "The Law," Joseph Losey's "The Romantic Englishwoman" and John Huston's "The African Queen.")

In our age of information glut, it may seem surprising that anything remains missing at all. Yet the number of films that either can't be seen at all or can't be found without considerable difficulty (and extra-legal Internet spelunking) remains impressive, even when you bracket the fact that the vast majority of films made in the silent era no longer exist, including perhaps 95 percent of those made before 1920. (Or odd national tragedies, such as the reported fact that most of Malaysian cinema has been destroyed.)


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