Famous for his 'Maverick' Western series in the 1950s and 'The Rockford Files' in the '70s, and in movies like 'The Great Escape' and 'Grand Prix' in between, James Garner played amiable, independent characters for more than a half-century and never lost his comforting, enduring appeal.
Mausoleum air and anguished pauses: If this production were a poem, it would be mostly white space.
World War II was a historical event, but also a movie genre, and 'Fury' occasionally prints the legend. The rest of it is plenty grim and grisly. Audience members may feel like prisoners of war forced to watch a training-torture film.
On 'American Top 40' the Kasem voice soared and swooped, like an expert aural acrobat, through promos, jingles and dedications, usually rising to a dramatic peak for the top-selling song of the week.
It's a fallacy, long rebuffed by science, that humans use only about 10% of their brainpower. But it is true about most summer movies. Pouring their wizardry into special effects and well-choreographed fights, warm-weather action films rarely challenge the viewer with grand notions or beautifully baffling imagery.
Nixon, with his mellifluous baritone, was a great politician for radio but creepy on TV.
Bad movies: they can be tatty classics of crazed ineptitude, like Edward D. Wood's 'Glen or Glenda' and 'Plan 9 from Outer Space,' or big-budget misfires like the 1987 'Ishtar,' a would-be comedy that sent Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman on a Hope-Crosby Road to Dystopia.
Lesley Gore's part-time field was pop singer, and in her brief but urgent prime, she was the Queen of Teen Angst. She endured heartbreak as a birthday girl betrayed by her beau in 'It's My Party,' savored revenge in the sequel 'Judy's Turn to Cry' and belted the proto-feminist anthem 'You Don't Own Me.'
'Birdman' is basically 'All About Eve' - the 1950 comedy about rehearsal rivalries in a Broadway show, and another Best Picture laureate - reimagined as a Batman suicide mission. The movie couldn't be actor-ier.
No question that 'Birdman' is a breathtaking technical achievement, not a stunt. Shot in 30 days after a long rehearsal period, with the actors' and the camera's movements calibrated to the inch and the millisecond so the action flows smoothly, the picture has the jagged energy of a long guerrilla raid choreographed by Bob Fosse.
If the Beatles made England swing for the young, then Bond was a travel-poster boy for the earmuff brigade. The Bond films even put a few theme songs, such as Paul McCartney's 'Live and Let Die,' on the pop charts.
If you think of the 1930s in film as the decade of Gable and Lombard, Cagney and Harlow, Stanwyck and the Marx Brothers, think again. The biggest star - No. 1 in the 1936, '37 and '38 exhibitor polls - was a three-time box-office champ before she was 10. Shirley Temple, singer, dancer, and prime exemplar of Movie Cute, owned the '30s.
Casey Kasem not only played the music of the stars, he also reached the sunniest-sounding celebrity on his very own. Listening to him on the radio, you could hear America smiling.
Hollywood has always seen Sondheim as a caviar brand unsuitable for a popcorn industry.
Tarantino's movies are smartly intoxicating cocktails of rampage and meditation; they're in-your-face, with a mac-10 machine pistol and a quote from the Old Testament. They blend U.S. and European styles of filmmaking; they bring novelistic devices to the movie mall.
In 'The Birth of a Nation,' Griffith made audiences see the Civil War through his eyes - the eyes of the son of a colonel in the Army of the Confederacy.
Bond, especially Connery's Bond, was an existential hired gun with an aristocrat's tastes - just right for a time when class was a matter of brand names and insouciant gestures.
Ask Bond-watchers of a certain age about the six actors who have slipped into Bond's Savile Row suits in the Broccoli franchise, and they might say it's really Connery and five other guys - since he, being first and being Sean, stamped the role with his sulfurous masculinity.
After two terms as California's Governator, Schwarzenegger slipped comfortably back into pictures with 'The Last Stand,' a modern Western, then crammed into the wide screen, as if it were a service elevator, with fellow '80s muscle car Sylvester Stallone in 'Escape Plan.'
Though not really a comedy, 'Rosewater' is a demonstration of the creed behind 'The Daily Show': belief in the crucial need for impious wit against entrenched power. The freedom of the press is also the freedom to depress - and to inspire. That's a message that can outlive any Oscar season.