Blu-ray: Orson Welles’ ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’ on Criterion

The Magnificent Ambersons (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) How did it take so long for the sophomore feature from Orson Welles to finally get its Blu-ray debut? I don’t need an answer, I’m just thrilled that it’s finally here, and in such a beautiful edition. The magnificence of The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) is apparent from the first […]

Lee Marvin in the 1967 neo-noir crime drama from director John Boorman

‘Point Blank’ – Lee Marvin’s neo-noir quest on Amazon Prime Video

John Boorman had only one feature to his credit, the rock and roll lark Catch Us If You Can with the Dave Clark Five, when he came to Hollywood to direct the one-of-kind thriller Point Blank (1967). Boorman’s film, based on Richard Stark’s novel “The Hunter,” shuffles the story of a gunman named Walker (Lee […]

Warren Beatty and Julie Christie in the 1971 western by Robert Altman

Warren Beatty and Julie Christie are ‘McCabe & Mrs. Miller’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Robert Altman’s third film since staking out his claim on 1970s cinema with M*A*S*H (1970), turns the western myth into a metaphor for the fantasy of the American Dream colliding with the power of big business. Warren Beatty is John McCabe, a drifting gambler who rides into the mining camp […]

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 […]

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 VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]