Judy Garland is Dorothy Gale in the beloved screen adaptation of Frank L. Baum's fantasy

‘The Wizard of Oz’ – Over the rainbow on HBO Max

When gingham-clad farm girl Dorothy Gale rode the tornado out of the somber, sepia-tinged black and white of her Kansas dustbowl farm and into the sparkling Technicolor fantasy land somewhere over the rainbow, she changed the lives of her audiences (both then and now) as assuredly as she changed her own. The Wizard of Oz […]

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

‘Point Blank’ – Lee Marvin’s neo-noir quest on HBO Max

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 […]

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

John Ford’s ‘Stagecoach’ on HBO Max

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 […]

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

The original ‘King Kong’ on HBO Max

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 […]

Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster in Alexander Mackendrick's great Broadway noir

‘Sweet Smell of Success’ – Broadway noir on Amazon Prime

“I love this dirty town.” The first and only time that Burt Lancaster’s J.J. Hunsecker drops the cynical twist from his clenched smile and allows genuine appreciation cross his face in Sweet Smell of Success (1957) is when he drops that line while strolling down the nighttime streets of Broadway. It’s not a proclamation or […]

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

Rita Hayworth is ‘Gilda’ on Criterion Channel

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 […]

Francine Everett is "Dirty Gertie" in the film directed by Spencer Williams

Black Film History Pioneers – The ‘Blood’ of Spencer Williams on Netflix and Criterion Channel

The legacy of films made by and for African-American audiences before Hollywood integrated its casts is largely unknown to even passionate films buffs. They were rarely seen by white audiences in their day and were rarely preserved with the same dedication given to the maverick films of Hollywood. Netflix and Criterion Channel present over 20 […]

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 […]

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 […]