Luis Buñuel’s ‘Robinson Crusoe’ on Amazon Prime

Luis Buñuel is best known for his witty, surreal comedies that satirized society, religion, politics, and sexual mores in the 1960s and 1970s, but he had a long career before his breakthrough as an internationally celebrated satirist. Robinson Crusoe (1954), his first English language movie and his first color feature, was produced not as a […]

Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen star in 'White Christmas'

‘White Christmas’ on Netflix

Irving Berlin’s iconic Christmas ballad “White Christmas” debuted in the 1942 musical for all seasons Holiday Inn, where Bing Crosby crooned it into the best-selling song of all time. It became such a standard—and a signature tune for Crosby—that it was recycled twelve years later for another Crosby film, this one adopting the hit song […]

Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson star in the 1954 melodrama classic by Douglas Sirk

‘Magnificent Obsession’ – grand melodrama on Peacock TV

Jane Wyman’s Helen Hudson is the widow of a self-sacrificing surgeon. Rock Hudson’s Bob Merrick is an arrogant millionaire playboy whose reckless ways and attitude of entitlement indirectly lead to the death of Helen’s husband and to an accident that leaves her blind. The “magnificent obsession” of the title refers to a spiritual philosophy of […]

Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper in the 1954 western by Robert Aldrich

‘Vera Cruz’ – The proto-spaghetti western on Criterion Channel

“You’re the first friend I ever had,” grins flamboyant mercenary Burt Lancaster to lean, laconic Gary Cooper in with a smile that suggests that he may be the last. They’re a pair of Americans abroad looking to cash in the Mexican revolution by selling their services to the highest bidder in Vera Cruz (1954), Robert […]

Leo Gordon and Neville Brand in the prison drama by Don Siegel

‘Riot in Cell Block 11’ on Criterion Blu-ray and DVD

It may not have been obvious at the time but Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954) was a perfect match of film and filmmaker. Don Siegel later made a name for himself with his gritty Clint Eastwood collaborations (not to mention his brilliant Invasion of the Body Snatchers) but was just a promising journeyman director […]

Rod Steiger and Marlon Brandon in the Oscar-winning film by Elia Kazan

Marlon Brando in ‘On the Waterfront’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

On the Waterfront (1954) –”I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.” Marlon Brando won his first Academy Award as Terry Malloy, the former prize fighter turned longshoreman on the mob-dominated docks of New York. Directed by Elia Kazan and starring Karl Malden, Rod Steiger, […]