The Killing of Sister George

Hollywood Goes to Its First Lesbian Bar and Can’t Stop Staring

The Killing of Sister George was the first Hollywood movie to depict a lesbian bar. Director Robert Aldrich was obsessed with its authenticity.
Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

How Has Hollywood Shaped the Presidency?

"Acting presidential" can mean fulfilling expectations that have been shaped by TV and the movies.
Phil Moore in New York City

The Amazing Story of Phil Moore, Hollywood Star Maker

As the first salaried Black musician at a major studio, he was a leader in shaping the sound of movies—though he was often uncredited.
Fredi Washington and Louise Beavers in a scene from Imitation of Life

Why Didn’t Movies about Passing Cast Black Actors?

"Social problem" films were all the rage after World War II. So how could movies about racism be so conservative?
Parody English heavy metal band, Spinal Tap

The Mockumentary: A Very Real History

What's the appeal of humor masquerading as seriousness? An entire movie genre stands ready to shed light on that question.
Lon Chaney in The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Lon Chaney’s Movie Monsters

You might know him from Phantom of the Opera or The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Great White Shark

Sharks Before and After Jaws

The blockbuster Jaws (1975) provoked fear by portraying sharks as "mindless eating machines." But what did people think of sharks before then?
The Witch from Benjamin Christensen's Häxan, 1922

The Satanic Foreign Film That Was Banned in the U.S.

Benjamin Christensen's Häxan was part documentary and part fantasy—and considered too disturbing for public viewing.
A still from Princess Nicotine

The Exploding Women of Early 20th Century “Trick Films”

In “trick films,” women were shown literally exploding over kitchen accidents—the early 1900s way of mining humor out of human tragedies.
Marlon Riggs, left, and Essex Hemphill in Tongues Untied.

Filmmaker Marlon Riggs: “Notice Is Served”

The award-winning Black gay filmmaker, author, and activist Marlon Riggs left a legacy of protest against racism and homophobia.