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.
Thomas Edison's 1896 silent film "The Kiss" featuring May Irwin and John C. Rice.

The First Movie Kiss

The public fascination was so intense that fans soon started demanding live reenactments.
Reefer Madness

Marijuana Panic Won’t Die, but Reefer Madness Will Live Forever

Originally produced as an exploitation film that drew on racial stereotypes, the ironic revival of Reefer Madness made it a cult classic for stoners.

The Masculinization of Little Lord Fauntleroy

The 1936 movie Little Lord Fauntleroy broke box office records, only to be toned down and masculinized amid cultural fears of the “sissified” male.
Jeanne Cagney in Quicksand

How Film Noir Tried to Scare Women out of Working

In the period immediately following World War II, the femme fatale embodied a host of male anxieties about gender roles.
A protest of Gone With the Wind organized by the D.C. chapter of the National Negro Congress

White Hollywood’s Romance with the N-Word

It would have been easy for censors to just ban the racist epithet during the classical era of film. Here's why it didn't happen.