AFS Viewfinders

AFS Viewfinders is a film culture website with information, resources and opinions designed to deepen and broaden appreciation of film.

Barbara Stanwyck: Behind The Scenes

Every time a movie was made during the classical Hollywood period, a large number of test photography was done. Sometimes there were filmed screen tests to look at different make-up, hair-styles and costumes, but more frequently this was done with still photographs. The star would get into the test makeup or the proposed costumes and […]

One Hundred Years Ago: LES VAMPIRES strike Paris

By 1915, the French writer/director Louis Feuillade had been making films for 9 whole years, in the earliest stages of the art form. His shorts had done well enough and satisfied audience demands for light comedies, but his 1913-14 FANTOMAS series had been a major sensation. At the same time, American serials, multi-part films extending […]

This Homemade ’60s El Paso Christmas Film Is Madness

This weird, manic, and actually really funny 7 minute film from El Paso is designed to promote a thing called a Provisional Bash. Not sure what that means, but the actors really get into it. Everybody looks like they got a Christmas stocking full of diet pills from Santa. Thanks to the non-profit Texas Archive Of […]

Watch this! Marlene Dietrich’s BLUE ANGEL Screen Test

Star quality is a mysterious thing. We can’t produce it, can’t really measure it, can’t really define it either. Some of the most beautiful people can’t exude a watt of star power, while a potato-faced troll may be a virtual nuclear reactor of the stuff. Marlene Dietrich has so much of it that she threatens […]

Selected Shorts: The Alamo Drafthouse’s Preshow Curator Laird Jimenez Presents ‘One Minute Movies’

The Alamo Drafthouse theater chain is known for a lot of things – the food and drink service during films, the no-talking policy, the eclectic programming mix… but the thing that those among us who go to a LOT of movies appreciate most is the preshows – the not-so-random assortment of videos that play before […]

Watch This! The Pink Panther in ‘Psychedelic Pink’

For 30 years beginning in 1933, Warner Bros. Cartoons, Inc. set the gold standard for creativity and technical excellence in animated shorts. But by the ’60s the operation was no longer sustainable and the division folded. Two of the leading figures of the WB operation weren’t ready to hang up their brushes yet though and […]

Happy Birthday to the “Greatest Living Screen Actor”

A while back, after Eli Wallach died, I was having a discussion about the greatest living screen actor and who that might be. While he lived, Wallach was my nominee. But there are a lot of really great ones still with us. Think Duvall, Streep, Pacino, Hackman, Rowlands, Moreau. A few weeks later, it occurred […]

A Jaw-Dropping Archive of Austin’s Moviegoing Heritage

All around the world Austin is known to be one of the filmgoing (and filmmaking) capitals. We have a long history of critical viewing and adventurous film programming. Now a resource has become available that sheds light on some of the formative years of Austin’s film scene. It’s the CinemaTexas Notes Archive. CinemaTexas was a […]

Wait – Robert Altman Directed Music Videos?

Back during the ’60s in the US and Europe, you might have walked into a bar and come face to face with a video jukebox. The most well-known of these brands was the Scopitone. Just as a standard jukebox is loaded with records of current hits, these video jukeboxes were loaded with 16mm (or 8mm) […]

Orson Welles: The Most Interesting Man in the Universe?

In 1955, the BBC invited Orson Welles to create a series of 15 minute monologues for broadcast. He is a fascinating speaker, of course, and his life experience, even at the relatively tender age of 40, was prodigious. The format of the series is very basic, Welles shows sketches he has made over the years […]

“Where’s the Horizon?!!!” When 15-year-old Steven Spielberg Met John Ford

It’s a story with something of the complexity (and wit) of a Zen koan. Listen to Steven Spielberg recount his childhood meeting with his lifelong hero John Ford. It’s one of the best stories of any kind you’ll ever hear, and if you love Ford, you’ll cherish this story. It’s a moment of tremendous film-historical […]

Please Be Silent: Archival Photos of Silent Screen Performers & Directors

Recently we scanned some silent photos from our library here at the Austin Film Society. Here are some gems from the collection. Clockwise from seated: Josef von Sternberg, Maximilian Fabian, Conrad Nagel, Matthew Betz, Renee Adoree Lillian Gish, circa WAY DOWN EAST (1920) Lillian & Dorothy Gish in ORPHANS OF THE STORM (1921)   Clarence […]