Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea in the classic western by Sam Peckinpah

‘Ride the High Country’ – Sam Peckinpah’s sunset western on VOD and disc

Ride the High Country (1962), the second feature by Sam Peckinpah—and his first unqualified masterpiece—is a laconic tale about the end of the frontier that both celebrates and deconstructs the romantic view of old west nobility and heroism. He casts two old hands at the genre—Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea—as old friends and veteran lawmen […]

Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh in the film by Orson Welles

‘Touch of Evil’ – Orson Welles on the border on Netflix

Orson Welles’ baroque border town murder mystery Touch of Evil (1958/1998) is a wild masterpiece, a sleazy, grimy, jittery, and ultimately dazzling work of cinematic magic. It’s considered the last great film noir and the bookend to the true noir era. It was also Welles’s last attempt at a career in Hollywood before he packed […]

Fay Wray in the ape's paw in the original 1933 classic

The original ‘King Kong’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

King Kong (1933) is the king of the jungle of giant creature features. The acting and the dialogue verges on kitsch, but the production from explorers, adventurers, and real-life adventure filmmaking pioneers Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack is still awe-inspiring and the special effects of Willis O’Brien, groundbreaking in their day, are beautifully […]

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

‘Red River’ – the great cattle drive epic on Amazon Prime Video

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, […]

Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman in the 1955 film by Douglas Sirk

‘All that Heaven Allows’ – Love as suburban opera on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman were so successful in Douglas Sirk’s Magnificent Obsession that they all reteamed for All that Heaven Allows (1955) as Sirk became Universal’s house melodramatist. He turned improbable plots into social commentary and pulling back the covers of middle class hypocrisy with an ironic visual style and an almost operatic emotional […]

James Cagney and Jean Harlow star in the gangster classic by William Wellman

‘The Public Enemy’ – James Cagney’s original gangster on FilmStruck

James Cagney became an overnight sensation as the streetwise dynamo Tom Powers, a Chicago slum kid turned brutal mob goon in The Public Enemy (1931), William A. Wellman’s archetypal gangster classic. In the first depression-era films of the mob rats blasting their way to big screen glory like Molotov cocktails, Cagney’s Tom Powers was the […]

Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum star in the film noir classic directed by Jacques Tourneur'

Baby, I don’t care – ‘Out of the Past’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

In a genre full of desperate characters scrambling and plotting to grab their slice of the American dream, Jacques Tourneur’s Out of the Past (1947) is a hard-boiled tale of betrayal with an unusually haunting quality. Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) is the classic doomed not-so-innocent of the American cinema, a former private detective whose life […]

Harold Russell, Dana Andrews, and Fredric March in William Wyler's 1946 drama

‘The Best Years of Our Lives’ – Coming home on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

By all rights, the homecoming drama The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) should have been another well intentioned film left to the dated dustbins of history, but World War II vet William Wyler (working from an original Robert Sherwood script) put more soul into this picture than anything else in his career. Clocking in […]

Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, and George Macready, directed by Charles Vidor

Rita Hayworth is ‘Gilda’ on VOD and Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

Rita Hayworth is at her most iconic as the forties sex-bomb in Gilda (1946), a film noir classic co-starring Glenn Ford as Johnny Farrell, an American tough guy in Buenos Aires, and George Macready as Ballin Mundson, the owner of a nightclub and illegal casino who hires Johnny as his club manager. Just as in […]

John Wayne , Claire Trevor, Thomas Mitchell, John Carradine, Donald Meek, Louise Platt, directed by John Ford

John Ford’s ‘Stagecoach’ on Kanopy

Stagecoach (1939) – John Ford’s classic western is a landmark of the genre for so many reasons: mature, classically constructed and superbly directed, it made a star of John Wayne, revitalized the western genre, and introduced Ford to the breathtaking landscape of Monument Valley, which would become the mythic backdrop of his west. It was […]