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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 'World on a Wire'

‘World on a Wire’ – the first virtual reality thriller on The Criterion Channel

World on a Wire (Germany, 1973), made by Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1973 for German television, is to the best of my knowledge the first film to explore virtual reality. And this from a director who never made a science film before or since. There are no Matrix visuals here—you might say that Fassbinder suggests his […]