John Cassavetes, Britt Ekland, Peter Falk, and Gena Rowlands

John Cassavetes is ‘Machine Gun McCain’ on Amazon Prime

John Cassavetes was doing his Orson Welles thing—by that I mean acting in whatever movie paid well so he could finance his own, personal productions—when he took the lead in Machine Gun McCain (Italy, 1968), an Italian mob picture/heist movie hybrid shot in large part on location in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. […]

Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Bruce Dern in Quentin Taratino's 'The Hateful Eight'

Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight’ on Netflix and Showtime

The Hateful Eight, the eighth feature by Quentin Tarantino, is something strange and audacious even for a filmmaker whose films are rarely short of either. It’s a vivid widescreen western epic that runs nearly three hours yet plays like a chamber piece, largely contained within the intimate quarters of a stagecoach stopover during a blizzard […]

Karl Malden and James Franciscus in the giallo by Dario Argento

Dario Argento’s ‘Cat O’Nine Tails’ on Amazon Prime

The Cat O’Nine Tails (Italy, 1971), Dario Argento’s second feature, follows up his directorial debut The Bird With the Crystal Plumage in genre, style and “animal” theme (stretched into a trilogy with Four Flies on Gray Velvet). In Bird, Argento explores, pushes at, and plays with the mechanics of suspense and murder mystery spectacle in […]

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

Blu-ray: ‘The Bird with the Crystal Plumage’ from Arrow

Dario Argento takes sole writing credit for his directorial debut but The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (Italy, 1970) is actually an unofficial adaptation of Fredric Brown’s novel The Screaming Mimi (previously made into a 1958 film) that Argento developed with popular mystery novelist Bryan Edgar Wallace. Wallace wrote a number of gruesome murder mysteries […]

Clint Eastwood stars in the iconic spaghetti western by Sergio Leone

‘A Fistful of Dollars’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

When Sergio Leone’s sunbaked A Fistful of Dollars (1967) rode into American theaters, caked in dust and sweat and stubble, critics dismissed it a cheap western, and a European knock-off at that. It was a blatant rip-off of Akira Kurosawa’s cynical samurai hit Yojimbo with American TV star Clint Eastwood, known to audiences as the impetuous […]

Fernando Rey and Tomas Milian in Sergio Corbucci's 'Compañeros'

Sergio Corbucci’s ‘Compañeros’ on Amazon Prime

Compañeros (1970) is an ironic title, but then as a spaghetti western—a genre steeped in mercenaries and con men and double crosses—it would have to be. Swedish gun runner Yodlaf (Franco Nero), in Mexico in the heat of the revolution to sell his weapons to the highest bidder, and hot-headed Mexican peasant turned revolutionary officer […]