John Wayne is ‘Hondo’ in the classic Louis L’Amour western

The leathery frontier drama Hondo (1953) stars John Wayne as a Cavalry scout who comes across a lonely homestead where a toughened settler (Geraldine Page) and her son await the return of her brutish husband (Leo Gordon), refusing to leave even as tensions between the Apache nation and the Cavalry heat up into war. Wayne […]

‘Gun Crazy’ – a film noir classic on Criterion Channel

Gun Crazy (1950), the greatest of the criminal lovers-on-the-run thriller, explodes onto the screen in a fury of sex and guns and love and violence. Directed by Joseph H. Lewis, it is a masterpiece of style and a blast of cinematic ecstasy on a budget barely bigger than a B movie. John Dall is a […]

Laurence Olivier is ‘The Entertainer’ on HBO Max

Laurence Olivier broke with the grand roles and theatrical poise of previous parts to play seedy music hall entertainer Archie Rice in John Osborne’s play The Entertainer. He reprised the role for Tony Richardson’s screen adaptation The Entertainer (1960), earning an Oscar nomination for his performance. Olivier gives his all as the gap tooth vaudevillian […]

Peter Cushing is Sherlock Holmes in the Hammer version of the Arthur Conan Doyle classic

‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ – Hammer’s Gothic Holmes

Hammer Films had just launched their full color revivals of the classic movie monsters when they tackled Sherlock Holmes with The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), giving him the Gothic treatment in a mix mystery and supernatural horror. Peter Cushing is perfectly cast as the great detective, the very embodiment of science and reason (which […]

Rock Hudson has ‘Seconds’ on Paramount+ and Kanopy

John Frankenheimer’s nightmarish thriller Seconds (1966) opens on John Randolph as a businessman who has lost all interest in his life and tries an experimental program which promises a new, exciting existence. When he wakes up from the first step, he discovers he’s turned into… Rock Hudson! Hudson was not Frankenheimer’s first choice—he was, in […]

Ava Gardner and James Mason star in the ravishing romantic drama from Albert Lewin

‘Pandora and the Flying Dutchman’ on Criterion Channel

I have a soft spot for Albert Lewin, a literary Hollywood writer/producer turned director with a continental sensibility and an eye for handsome imagery (if not always cinematic storytelling). His productions tended toward literary adaptations (The Good Earth, which he produced, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, which he scripted and directed) but Pandora and […]

Kirk Douglas stars in Billy's Wilder's noir-tinged newspaper drama from 1951

‘Ace in the Hole’ – newspaper noir on Amazon Prime

Billy Wilder is the American cinema’s most famous cynic, but nothing in his career is as scathing as his noir-tinged newspaper drama Ace in the Hole (1951), his indictment of the American media circus. There’s not a more amoral hero in Wilder’s filmography than Kirk Douglas’s Chuck Tatum, an arrogant big city newsman stuck in […]

Kevin McCarthy stars in Don Siegel's 1956 'Invasion of the Body Snatcher'

‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ – the original pod people on Paramount+ and Kanopy

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) – The original version of the oft-filmed science fiction horror is still the most insidious alien invasion film ever made. This is an invasion from within. Small town family doctor Kevin McCarthy returns to his small California coastal community from an out-of-town trip to find everything just a bit […]