James Cagney plays George M. Cohan in the musical directed by Michael Curtiz

‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ – James Cagney is George M. Cohan in FilmStruck

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – James Cagney won his only Academy Award playing George M. Cohan in the rousing bio-pic directed by Michael Curtiz, who was the top director at Warner Bros. and arguably the studio’s most versatile filmmaker at the time. Cagney was a song-and-dance man before he found fame as a movie tough […]

Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor, and Sydney Greenstreet in the film adapted from the Dashiell Hammett novel by John Huston.

‘The Maltese Falcon’ – the stuff dreams are made of on FilmStruck

If there is a cooler, tougher, more shrewd and self-sufficient private detective in the movies than Humphrey Bogart’s incarnation of Sam Spade in John Huston’s note-perfect adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon (1941), I’ve yet to see him in action. The 1941 classic wasn’t the first screen version of Hammet’s iconic novel, but it […]

Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton in Billy Wilder's adaptation of the Agatha Christie play

‘Witness for the Prosecution’ with Charles Laughton and Marlene Dietrich on FilmStruck

Based on the stage play by Agatha Christie, Witness for the Prosecution (1957) isn’t opened up for the screen so much as it is perked up with witty dialogue and wily characterizations, two strengths of filmmaker Billy Wilder and writing and producing partner I.A.L. Diamond. Charles Laughton plays the legendary barrister who defies doctor’s order […]

Sterling Hayden and Sam Jaffe star in the film noir from John Huston

John Huston’s ‘The Asphalt Jungle’ on FilmStruck

The Asphalt Jungle (1950) (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) is one of John Huston’s rare forays into the genre that would later be called film noir. His first, The Maltese Falcon (1941), helped set the template of the PI noir. Ten years later, working from an adaptation of the caper novel by W.R. Burnett scripted in collaboration […]

Joan Crawford stars with Ann Blyth, Zachary Scott, and Jack Carson

Joan Crawford is ‘Mildred Pierce’ on FilmStruck

Is Mildred Pierce (1945) film noir or melodrama? I say why choose? Film noir is almost entirely associated with crime stories and life in the shadows and at night in the city and sure enough Mildred Pierce, based on the novel by James M. Cain, opens with death and darkness and the twilight of the […]

Clark Gable, Tully Marshall, Donald Crisp and Jean Harlow in the 1932 MGM classic directed by Victor Fleming

Clark Gable and Jean Harlow in ‘Red Dust’ on FilmStruck

Red Dust (1932), the jungle melodrama starring Clark Gable as a rubber plantation foreman in East Asia and Jean Harlow as the street smart showgirl who takes a powder from “Say-gone” (as they call the future Vietnamese city of Saigon) and lands upriver in his primitive plantation manor, is as sexy, frank, and grown-up as […]

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart in the 1946 film noir classic directed by Howard Hawks

Bogie and Bacall in ‘The Big Sleep’ on FilmStruck

Humphrey Bogart is seductive in an insolent way as the screen’s smoothest Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep (1946), Howard Hawks’ hardboiled adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s classic detective novel, and Lauren Bacall is his match as Vivian Rutledge, the spoiled socialite daughter of his client. The mystery revolves around blackmail, petty gangsters, and an underground […]

Kirk Douglas stars with Edward G. Robinson in the 1962 melodrama by director Vincent Minnelli.

‘Two Weeks in Another Town’ – Old Hollywood meets the 1960s on FilmStruck

Two Weeks in Another Town (1962) is one of my favorite Vincent Minnelli films of the 1960s, a movie melodrama (as in a melodrama about the movies) set in the Italy, where has-beens and struggling talents come to cash in on cut-rate productions and one washed-up actor (Kirk Douglas) tries to find his confidence after […]

Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame star, Nicholas Ray directs from the Dorothy B. Hughes novel

Nicholas Ray’s ‘In a Lonely Place’ on VOD and Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

In a Lonely Place (1950) hasn’t much to do with the Dorothy B. Hughes novel on which it was ostensibly based, beyond the title (one of the most evocative in noir history), the Los Angeles setting, and the murder of a young woman that puts our ostensible hero, volatile, hard-drinking Hollywood screenwriter Dixon Steele (Humphrey […]