Emile Hirsch stars in Sean Penn's 'Into the Wild,' adapted from Jon Krakauer's non-fiction book

Head ‘Into the Wild’ on Netflix

Into the Wild (2007), Sean Penn’s adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction book, is a bracing cinematic plunge into the odyssey of Christopher McCandless. The real-life young man fled a middle-class life of what he perceived to be the compromises and corruptions of the material world to embark on an “Alaskan Adventure,” a quest of self-reliance […]

Luis Buñuel’s ‘Robinson Crusoe’ on Amazon Prime

Luis Buñuel is best known for his witty, surreal comedies that satirized society, religion, politics, and sexual mores in the 1960s and 1970s, but he had a long career before his breakthrough as an internationally celebrated satirist. Robinson Crusoe (1954), his first English language movie and his first color feature, was produced not as a […]

Gary Cooper bids ‘A Farewell to Arms’ on Amazon Prime

A Farewell to Arms (1932), the first screen version of Ernest Hemingway’s novel, is not the most faithful adaptation—at 90 minutes, it was greatly reduced and Hemingway himself was quite vocal with his displeasure at the adaptation of his semi-autobiographical story—but almost a century later it is still the most passionate and moving version. Gary […]

Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson star in the 1954 melodrama classic by Douglas Sirk

‘Magnificent Obsession’ – grand melodrama on Peacock TV

Jane Wyman’s Helen Hudson is the widow of a self-sacrificing surgeon. Rock Hudson’s Bob Merrick is an arrogant millionaire playboy whose reckless ways and attitude of entitlement indirectly lead to the death of Helen’s husband and to an accident that leaves her blind. The “magnificent obsession” of the title refers to a spiritual philosophy of […]

Richard Burton is ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold’ on Amazon Prime

Richard Burton is Alec Leamas, a once-sturdy MI-6 agent who has become a disillusioned burn-out after seeing too many fellow agents die, in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), Martin Ritt’s superb film of John le Carré’s novel. The author was a British agent in his own right and his books were […]

Peter Jackson directs the first film in J.R.R. Tolkein's trilogy

‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ on HBO Max

With The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), New Zealand genre film maverick Peter Jackson does the impossible: he makes a faithful, magical, thrilling, and—most importantly—compelling film version of J.R.R. Tolkein’s great cult fantasy epic. Streamlining the complex story and wealth of detail from the novel, Jackson manages to introduce a […]

Clive Owen and Clare-Hope Ashitey star in the science fiction drama directed by Alfonso Cuaron

‘Children of Men’ on Peacock

Children of Men (2007), Alfonso Cuaron’s adaptation of by P.D. James’ dystopian thriller, is set in a bleak, impoverished near future where two decades of infertility have created a mood of hopelessness as devastating and destructive as a nuclear holocaust. Britain has thrown up walls around the borders and is actively deporting immigrants, becoming a […]

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 […]

Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle star in the 1995 mini-series

The definitive ‘Pride and Prejudice’ on HBO Max and BritBox

Pride and Prejudice (1995) – Movies are great for spectacle but the miniseries format has the luxury of time. This co-production between the BBC and the American cable channel A&E is still considered by Jane Austen fans to be the definitive adaptation of Austen’s most famous novel and her work in general. Jennifer Ehle is […]

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 […]