Rod Steiger and Marlon Brandon in the Oscar-winning film by Elia Kazan

Marlon Brando in ‘On the Waterfront’ on Amazon Prime

On the Waterfront (1954) –”I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.” Marlon Brando won his first Academy Award as Terry Malloy, the former prize fighter turned longshoreman on the mob-dominated docks of New York. Directed by Elia Kazan and starring Karl Malden, Rod Steiger, […]

Marlon Brando stars in the Oscar-winning film by Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘The Godfather’ trilogy on Peacock

“It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.” Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Mario Puzo’s bestseller remains the great American epic of the immigrant dream turned family business. Al Pacino stars as Michael Corleone, the clean-cut white sheep and patriotic soldier boy son of New York Godfather Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando in an Oscar–winning performance), and this […]

John Huston directs ‘Moby Dick’ on Amazon Prime Video

“Call me Ishmael.” John Huston’s 1956 film of Moby Dick (1956), Herman Melville’s whaling drama turned epic odyssey and a classic of American literature and a staple of high school and college literature courses, remains the most famous screen version of the novel. Gregory Peck plays the obsessed Captain Ahab, who lost his leg to […]

‘Drums Along the Mohawk’ – John Ford’s Colonial America on Criterion Channel

John Ford made his Technicolor debut with Drums Along the Mohawk (1939), a stunning pre-western about young settlers in the rich forest lands of the Mohawk Valley during the Colonial era. Claudette Colbert takes top billing as the cultured wife and Henry Fonda is her salt-of-the-Earth husband who takes her out of the city and […]

Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, and Claudia Cardinale star in Luchino Visconti's adaptation of Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s novel

Last chance: Burt Lancaster is ‘The Leopard’ in Luchino Visconti’s masterpiece on Criterion Channel

The Leopard (Italy, 1963), Luchino Visconti’s adaptation of Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s novel (said to be a national touchstone for Italy), is his masterpiece. Burt Lancaster (his voice is dubbed by a deep-voiced Italian) may seem an unusual choice to play Prince Don Fabrizio Salina, an idealistic 19th century Sicilian prince (Visconti favored Laurence Olivier, a […]

Last chance: The glory of Astaire and Rogers in ‘Swing Time’ on HBO Max

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were the most elegant of Hollywood’s dance teams in the golden age of American musicals and Swing Time (1936) is the peak of their ten-film output. The plot is as absurd as anything from the era: Astaire is a dancer and gambler who is set to marry his hometown sweetheart […]

Alfred Hitchcock’s original ‘Psycho’ on Peacock

Psycho (1960) shocked America in 1960. Suburban theatergoers headed to the theaters to see the latest offering from the director of the glamorous and sexy Rear Window and the Technicolor confection North by Northwest. Who expected the droll host of TV’s showcase for suspense, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, to get so down and dirty and tawdry. […]

David Lean’s ‘Great Expectations’ on Amazon Prime Video and Criterion Channel

Great Expectations (1946), David Lean’s handsome adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel, captures the warm humor and richness of character that so many filmmakers miss in their reverent recreations of Victorian England. From the nightmarish opening sequence on the windswept graveyard where young orphan Pip (Anthony Wager) meets the desperate escaped criminal Magwitch (Finlay Currie) […]

Clint Eastwood stars in the iconic spaghetti western by Sergio Leone

‘A Fistful of Dollars’ on Amazon Prime

When Sergio Leone’s sunbaked A Fistful of Dollars (1964) 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 […]