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 […]

‘Blade Runner: The Final Cut’ – the definitive version of a visionary film

Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1981/2007) – Ridley Scott’s visionary reworking of Philip K. Dick’s novel, “Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep,” was a box-office flop. Maybe it was too dark for a public flying away on the fantasy of E.T. in the summer of 1982, or too downbeat for audiences looking for a Harrison […]

Arnold Schwarzenegger is The Terminator on Netflix

“I’ll be back” – The original ‘The Terminator’

After three underwhelming sequels to James Cameron’s hard-wired hardware time travel thriller The Terminator (1984) in the past dozen years, it’s time to remind ourselves just how tight and clever and entertaining the original film was. Made for a mere $6 million and released in the fall of 1984 by a small independent sudio to instant […]

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. […]

Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Larry Fishburne in 'The Matrix'

‘The Matrix’ trilogy on HBO Max

The Matrix (1999) has become such a touchstone of American pop culture—referenced, copied, parodied, and parroted—that it’s hard to remember just how new and different and distinctive it was when it debuted in 1999. Which is not to say that it is completely original. Image Tron as a Greek Myth, or Sim City as an […]

‘The Bride of Frankenstein’ – a delirious sequel on Peacock

Director James Whale did not seek out the sequel to Frankenstein but he turned out a horror masterpiece with Bride of Frankenstein (1935), a delirious sequel that tops the original. The screenplay draws additional story elements from Mary Shelley’s novel, which are reworked for Hollywood, and weaves them in with a new, original character: Dr. […]

The original ‘Frankenstein’ on Peacock

“It’s alive! Alive! In the name of God now I know what it’s like to be God!” James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931) is the granddaddy of modern monster movies. Universal was looking to a follow up to the tremendous success of Dracula when it assigned sophomore director Whale to helm an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s famous novel […]

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

Humphrey Bogart ‘In a Lonely Place’ on Amazon Prime

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 […]