Simone Simon and Kent Smith star in Jacques Tourneur's classic horror film for producer Val Lewton

The original ‘Cat People’ on Criterion Channel

The original Cat People (1942) was made on a low budget for RKO’s B-movie unit, the first in an amazing series of B-horror films from producer Val Lewton that transcended its origins. It’s a masterpiece of mood and psychological ambiguity masquerading as a cheap exploitation knock-off. Cheap it is, but Lewton and director Jacques Tourneur […]

Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in John Huston's 'The African Queen'

‘The African Queen’ – Bogie and Hepburn on Amazon Prime Video and Criterion Channel

The African Queen (1951) – Humphrey Bogart is Charlie Allnut, the hard-drinking captain of a sputtering steam-powered boat that gives the film its title. Katharine Hepburn is Rose Sayer, a spirited missionary spinster serving the Lord in German East Africa with her brother (Robert Morley). It’s September 1914, the early days of World War I, […]

‘Easy Rider’ – On the road to find America on Criterion Channel

Peter Fonda was already a counterculture icon when he suited up in black leather and a star-spangled helmet, mounted a Harley-Davidson chopper, tossed his watch to the desert floor, and drove off with a shaggy Dennis Hopper in search of America. The film was Easy Rider (1969), an independent film produced by Fonda, directed by Hopper, […]

‘Jubal’ – Frontier Othello on VOD and Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

Delmer Daves was a Hollywood pro with a long career and an impressive filmography when he made Jubal (1956). A screenwriter turned director, Daves moved easily between all genres—war pictures, romances, westerns, Biblical epics, and a few noir-inflected dramas—and oddly enough found his biggest success in glossy melodrama A Summer Place, but I think he […]

Joan Crawford stars with Ann Blyth, Zachary Scott, and Jack Carson

Joan Crawford is ‘Mildred Pierce’ on VOD and Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

Is Mildred Pierce (1945) film noir or melodrama? I say why choose? Film noir is almost entirely associated with crime stories and life in the shadows and at night in the city and sure enough Mildred Pierce, based on the novel by James M. Cain, opens with death and darkness and the twilight of the […]

Ben Johnson, Warren Oates, William Holden, and Ernest Borgnine star in Sam Peckinpah's western masterpiece 'The Wild Bunch.'

‘The Wild Bunch’ – Sam Peckinpah’s frontier apocalypse on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

The film that branded Sam Peckinpah with the nickname “Bloody Sam,” The Wild Bunch (1969) blazed onto theater screens in the era of Bonnie and Clyde, when genre conventions were being blasted away and directors pushed the boundaries of what was once considered “acceptable.” Peckinpah, ever the irascible maverick, rode roughshod over every unspoken rule […]

Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame star, Nicholas Ray directs from the Dorothy B. Hughes novel

Humphrey Bogart ‘In a Lonely Place’ on VOD and Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

In a Lonely Place (1950) hasn’t much to do with the Dorothy B. Hughes novel on which it was ostensibly based, beyond the title (one of the most evocative in noir history), the Los Angeles setting, and the murder of a young woman that puts our ostensible hero, volatile, hard-drinking Hollywood screenwriter Dixon Steele (Humphrey […]

Barbara Stanwyck, Wendell Corey and Walter Huston star in Anthony Mann's western

Barbara Stanwyck in ‘The Furies’ on Hulu

The Furies (1950), the second western from genre giant Anthony Mann (after Devil’s Doorway) and his first big-budget, large-canvas production after an apprenticeship in low-budget thrillers, is a genre hybrid: a psychological western by way of a Gothic melodrama, with a dark, shadowy style right out of Mann’s earlier film noirs. Barbara Stanwyck is Vance […]

James Cagney stars in the gangster classic from Raoul Walsh

‘White Heat’ – James Cagney on top of the world on The Criterion Channel

“Made it, ma. Top of the world!” One of the greatest gangster classics of all time, White Heat (1949) stars James Cagney in an explosive performance as psychotic career criminal Cody Jarrett, driven over the edge by blinding headaches and murderous rages that only his mother can calm. Until, that is, she’s murdered while he’s […]