Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder in the classic Mel Brooks comedy

‘Blazing Saddles’ on Hulu

When singer Frankie Laine was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air many years ago, he confessed that when he was engaged to record the theme song to Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles (1974), he was not told that the film (and the song) was a spoof. He simply thought it was a bad song […]

Joan Crawford in Nicholas Ray's cult western Johnny Guitar

Frontier women rule in ‘Johnny Guitar’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

In Johnny Guitar (1954), Joan Crawford’s Vienna is the most masculine of women western heroes. A former saloon girl who earned her way to owning her own gambling house, she’s a mature woman with a history and she’s not ashamed of what she did to carve out her claim for a future. Directed by Nicholas […]

‘Justified: Complete Series’ – TV’s best pulp storytelling on Hulu

Justified: Complete Series (2010-2015) – Timothy Olyphant is U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens, a cowboy of a lawman whose brand as cowboy justice gets him demoted from his Miami posting and sent back to Kentucky, the home he thought he’d escaped once and for all. His new boss (Nick Searcy, a sharp leader with a laid-back […]

John Wayne and Montgomery Clift in the 1948 western classic by Howard Hawks

‘Red River’ – the great cattle drive epic on Criterion Channel

Howard Hawks reworks Mutiny on the Bounty as a frontier epic in Red River (1948), the sweeping tale of a journey that can’t be made and the story of a son forced to battle the father he loves and adores. Montgomery Clift made his film debut opposite grand old icon John Wayne, playing Matthew Garth, […]

Tommy Lee Jones is ‘The Homesman’ – free on Hoopla

The Homesman (2014) was overlooked by critics in the rush to praise more conventional and less resonant films in 2014. It deserves a second look. Tommy Lee Jones directs, co-writes, and stars in the film as George Briggs, a drifter saved from a lynching by Mary Bee (Hilary Swank), a tough, capable settler who has […]

Burl Ives and Robert Ryan star in the western noir by Andre de Toth

‘Day of the Outlaw’ – snowbound western noir on Amazon Prime Video

Day of the Outlaw (1959), a western set in a snowbound mountain town on the high frontier, is one of the toughest, most tension-filled pictures from Andre de Toth, a studio filmmaker who could be counted on to bring a savage edge to his assignments. The town is already coiled like a spring thanks to […]

Robert Hossein directs and stars in 'Cemetery Without Crosses,' a spaghetti western with French seasonings

‘Cemetery Without Crosses’ on Amazon Prime

A spaghetti western with French seasonings, Cemetery Without Crosses (1969) is a Franco-Italian co-production shot in Almeria, Spain, the definitive badlands landscape of the Euro-western. The director, screenwriters, two stars, and even composer are French and the supporting cast largely Italian. And while this is not shot in the widescreen dimension of CinemaScope, de rigueur […]

‘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 […]

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 […]

What to stream: ‘Good Omens’ on Amazon, ‘When They See Us’ on Netflix, ‘Deadwood’ ends on HBO

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, video-on-demand, and other streaming services … Michael Sheen is an epicurean angel and David Tennant a rebellious demon who team up to stop Armageddon in the Amazon Original limited series Good Omens (2019), a comic fantasy scripted by Neil Gaiman […]