Humphrey Bogart and Lizbeth Scott star in the 1947 film noir directed by John Cromwell

Humphrey Bogart in ‘Dead Reckoning’ on Amazon Prime Video

Any resemblance between Dead Reckoning (1947) and classic hard-boiled Humphrey Bogart classics The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep is anything but coincidental (“A guy’s buddy gets killed, he oughta do something about it,” Bogie explains in an line from the Sam Spade playbook) in this murder mystery of deception and double crosses. Narrating in […]

Myrna Loy and William Powell (with Asta) as Nick and Nora Charles in the great mystery series

‘The Thin Man’ collection on VOD and DVD

It’s cocktail hour on the mystery beat: William Powell and Myrna Loy are Nick and Nora Charles, the world’s most debonair detective team, in six delightful mysteries. It all begins with The Thin Man (1934), a sparkling adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s novel of a former working class sleuth gone high society and his game social […]

Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman in the 1955 film by Douglas Sirk

‘All that Heaven Allows’ – Love as suburban opera on Amazon Prime Video

Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman were so successful in Douglas Sirk’s Magnificent Obsession that they all reteamed for All that Heaven Allows (1955) as Sirk became Universal’s house melodramatist. He turned improbable plots into social commentary and pulling back the covers of middle class hypocrisy with an ironic visual style and an almost operatic emotional […]

Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh in the film by Orson Welles

‘Touch of Evil’ – Orson Welles on the border on Netflix

Orson Welles’ baroque border town murder mystery Touch of Evil (1958/1998) is a wild masterpiece, a sleazy, grimy, jittery, and ultimately dazzling work of cinematic magic. It’s considered the last great film noir and the bookend to the true noir era. It was also Welles’s last attempt at a career in Hollywood before he packed […]

James Cagney and Jean Harlow star in the gangster classic by William Wellman

‘The Public Enemy’ – James Cagney’s original gangster on FilmStruck

James Cagney became an overnight sensation as the streetwise dynamo Tom Powers, a Chicago slum kid turned brutal mob goon in The Public Enemy (1931), William A. Wellman’s archetypal gangster classic. In the first depression-era films of the mob rats blasting their way to big screen glory like Molotov cocktails, Cagney’s Tom Powers was the […]

Marlene Dietrich in the 1932 classic by Josef von Sternberg

Criterion Blu-ray: Dietrich & Von Sternberg in Hollywood

Dietrich & Von Sternberg in Hollywood (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) At the dawn of the sound era, as German movie star Emil Jannings left Hollywood to return to Germany, the actor invited Austrian-born/American-raised director Josef von Sternberg (who directed Jannings in The Last Command, 1928) to Universum Film A.G. to direct him in that studio’s first […]

Blu-ray: ‘Curse of the Cat People’ from Shout! Factory

Curse of the Cat People (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray) The success of the original 1942 Cat People, a shadowy psychological horror film simmering with sexual repression, prompted RKO to request a sequel from producer Val Lewton. His solution was surprising and inventive: Curse of the Cat People (1944), a psychological drama with a child’s perspective and […]

Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson star in the 1954 melodrama classic by Douglas Sirk

‘Magnificent Obsession’ – The grand melodrama of Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman on Criterion DVD

Jane Wyman’s Helen Hudson is the widow of a self-sacrificing surgeon. Rock Hudson’s Bob Merrick is an arrogant millionaire playboy whose reckless ways and attitude of entitlement indirectly lead to the death of Helen’s husband and to an accident that leaves her blind. The “magnificent obsession” of the title refers to a spiritual philosophy of […]

Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum star in the film noir classic directed by Jacques Tourneur'

Baby, I don’t care – ‘Out of the Past’ on FilmStruck

In a genre full of desperate characters scrambling and plotting to grab their slice of the American dream, Jacques Tourneur’s Out of the Past (1947) is a hard-boiled tale of betrayal with an unusually haunting quality. Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) is the classic doomed not-so-innocent of the American cinema, a former private detective whose life […]