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 […]

Peter Jackson directs the first film in J.R.R. Tolkein's trilogy

‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ – The journey begins on Hulu

With The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), New Zealand genre film maverick Peter Jackson does the impossible: he makes a faithful, magical, thrilling, and—most importantly—compelling film version of J.R.R. Tolkein’s great cult fantasy epic. Streamlining the complex story and wealth of detail from the novel, Jackson manages to introduce a […]

Michelle Pfeiffer and Daniel Day-Lewis star in Martin Scorsese's adaptation of the Edith Wharton novel

Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Age of Innocence’ on Amazon Prime Video

The Age of Innocence (1993) is not the only costume drama or historical picture that Martin Scorsese made but it is his only classical literary adaptation from the filmmaker that, all these years later, we still remember for edgy violence and cinematic energy. But even from the director of The Last Temptation of Christ, Kundun, […]

Frank Langella in the literary drama directed by Andrew Wagner

Frank Langella is ‘Starting Out in the Evening’ on Amazon Prime Video

In Starting Out in the Evening (2007), Frank Langella is heartbreakingly good as author Leonard Schiller, a once-celebrated author forgotten in the years since his last novel and flattered by the attention of an appreciative graduate student (Lauren Ambrose) intent on reintroducing his work to the world with her thesis. His discreet performance, all politeness […]

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 […]

Frances O’Conner is Fanny Price in Patricia Rozema's adaptation of the Jane Austen novel

Patricia Rozema’s ‘Mansfield Park’ on Hulu

Patricia Rozema’s adaptation of Mansfield Park (1999) combines Jane Austen’s novel with elements of her letters and journals to turn heroine Fanny Price (played by Frances O’Conner) into a woman of self-possession and confidence. The strong-willed, creative girl in an impoverished family is sent to live with snooty rich relatives, where she is more than […]

Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine star in the directorial debut of Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott’s ‘The Duellists’ on Amazon Prime Video

“The duelist demands satisfaction. Honor for him is an appetite.” The Duellists (1977), the feature debut of Ridley Scott, begins in 1800, “the year Napoleon became ruler of France,” with an early morning duel in a dewy green meadow where French military officer Gabriel Feraud (Harvey Keitel) runs his opponent through and then busies himself […]

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 […]