Hurd Hatfield, George Sanders, Angela Lansbury and Donna Reed star in the film by Albert Lewin

‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ on Criterion Channel

Made for MGM in 1945, the handsome and elegant The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) is still the best adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s only novel. Hurd Hatfield plays Dorian Gray, a handsome, earnest young man who stops aging after having his portrait painted, and George Sanders is Lord Henry Wotton, the hedonistic cynic who tempts […]

‘The Night of Counting the Years’ – rediscovered and restored on Criterion Channel

A masterpiece of Egyptian cinema, The Night of Counting the Years (also known as The Mummy) (Egypt, 1969) is inspired by a real-life incident. An isolated mountain tribe in late 19th century Egypt was secretly selling off ancient artifacts from the tombs of the Pharaohs, specifically a cache of mummies hidden in the mountain caves […]

The all-star 1935 ‘David Copperfield’ on HBO Max

Charles Dickens’ sprawling, semi-autobiographical novel gets squeezed into a vivid (if episodic) 130-minute Hollywood feature in the handsome MGM production David Copperfield (1935). Produced by David O. Selznick, MGM’s resident producer of class and literature, and directed by George Cukor, the film follows the life of David from birth and boyhood (played by thirties child […]

Charles Bronson in Sergio Leone's 'Once Upon a Time in the West'

‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ on Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) puts the opera into “horse opera.” Leave it to the Italians to put genuine operatic dimension into the great American saga of western expansion. Sergio Leone’s loving tribute to the myth of the American West leaves the cool, cruel mercenary world of the Clint Eastwood Dollar films […]

‘Make Way for Tomorrow’ on Criterion Channel

When Leo McCarey won the Oscar for Best Director for The Awful Truth in 1938, he reportedly accepted it with the comment, “Thank you very much, but you gave it to me for the wrong picture.” The “right picture” that McCarey was referring to is Make Way for Tomorrow (1937), the devastatingly moving story of […]

James Dean in ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ on HBO Max

Before the 1950s, there were no teenagers in the movies, at least not as such. There were adults and children, and that awkward age in between was largely seen as, well, that awkward period in between. You had kids on the cusp, troubled young adults, and juvenile delinquents, but the teenager, with his / her […]

‘Written on the Wind’ – the bad and the beautiful on Peacock

Douglas Sirk puts the opera back into “soap opera” in the exquisitely baroque melodrama Written on the Wind (1956). And it kicks it from the opening credits: a rushing car, a brewing storm kicking up leaves and whipping the trees, a gunshot, and a man stumbling out of the mansion before the pages of the […]

‘Carnival of Souls’ on HBO Max and Criterion Channel

Carnival of Souls (1962), an imaginative tale of a chilly church organist who is haunted by apparitions (looking very zombie-like in greasepaint make-up) is a minor masterpiece of independent genre filmmaking of the sixties. Candace Hilligoss stars as a young woman who stumbles out of the river after the car she was in goes through […]

Bette Davis stars in the adaptation of the Lillian Hellman play directed by William Wyler

‘The Little Foxes’ – Bette Davis reigns supreme on Amazon Prime and free on Kanopy

Bette Davis could freeze almost anyone with her icy stare, the practiced look of a woman who’s learned how to operate in the man’s world of business, in The Little Foxes (1941), director William Wyler’s film version of Lillian Hellman’s chilly play of greed and power in a Southern family on the edge of financial […]

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. […]