‘Fantastic Planet’ – the animated cult classic on HBO Max and Criterion Channel

La planète sauvage, the original French title of Rene Laloux’s legendary animated feature Fantastic Planet (France, 1973), is a better indication of the torments that await the inhabitants of this cult science fiction classic. The oppressed (and very human-like) Oms live in a world ruled by blue-skinned giants called the Draags, who treat the diminutive […]

The Belladonna of Sadness from Japan, directed by Eiichi Yamamoto

‘The Belladonna of Sadness’ on Criterion Channel

The Belladonna of Sadness (Japan, 1973), a lost classic of Japanese animation, is an erotic drama by definition, but it is quite a sophisticated one that is part subversive folk tale, part rock ballad musical, and part experimental filmmaking. Set in an unnamed kingdom in an abstracted medieval Europe, it’s a provocative film about female […]

Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson in the science fiction film directed by Richard Fleischer

Last chance: ‘Soylent Green’ – The future is standing-room only on HBO Max

Set in 2022 New York City, population 40,000,000, the eco-conscious science fiction artifact Soylent Green (1973) looks more prescient than ever. In this overpopulated world, the gap between the rich and everyone else is enormous, poverty is rampant, unemployment high and “the greenhouse effect” (those very words are used in the film) has brought on […]

Last chance: ‘Enter the Dragon’ – Bruce Lee is supreme on Netflix

Enter the Dragon (1973) – After years of supporting roles in Hollywood, American citizen Bruce Lee became a star in Hong Kong with a handful of hard-edged martial arts thrillers. He returned to conquer his adopted homeland with this American/Hong Kong co-production, a glorified B-movie mix of kung-fu fighting (choreographed by Lee himself) and James […]

Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen in the 1973 escape drama from director Franklin J. Schaffner

Last chance: Steve McQueen is ‘Papillon’ on HBO Max

Ten years after Steve McQueen made his name in the most famous prison break thriller of them all—The Great Escape—he stepped into the role of Henri ‘Papillon’ Charriere, the real-life French safecracker convicted of murder (unjustly, he maintained) and sentenced to the prison colony in French Guyana and, later, Devil’s Island. Directed by Franklin J. […]

Al Pacino stars in 'Serpico',' directed by Sidney Lumet

Al Pacino is ‘Serpico’ on HBO Max

“It’s incredible but I feel like a criminal because I don’t take money.” So says Al Pacino in Serpico (1973), Sidney Lumet’s take on the true story of frustrated New York policeman Frank Serpico. As portrayed by Al Pacino, Serpico is the resident nonconformist in the working class New York Police Department, a college-educated street […]

The original ‘The Wicker Man’ on Amazon Prime

The original The Wicker Man (1973) begins as a murder mystery and turns into something else entirely. Edward Woodward stars as the stiff English police detective who is sent to a remote Scottish island to investigate the disappearance of a young girl and discovers a culture living a happy “heathen” lifestyle, lorded over (literally) by […]

‘Day For Night’ –a love letter to moviemaking on Criterion Channel

Day For Night (France, 1973), François Truffaut’s Oscar-winning love letter to the cinema, celebrates the glorious chaos and creative heartache of making movies. Truffaut himself reigns over the on-screen cinema circus as director Ferrand, an aloof figure juggling productions delays, budget cuts, and the personal crises of his cast and crew as he tries to […]

Warren Oates is ‘Dillinger’ on Amazon Prime Video

John Dillinger was the most notorious of the Depression-era gangsters and his exploits (and attendant newspaper coverage) made him a romantic anti-hero to many of the folks who felt betrayed by the bankers and businessmen of the country. Dillinger (1973), the directorial debut of John Milius, plays on that image of the gentleman gangster who […]