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 […]

‘The Naked Prey’ on Criterion Channel

The Naked Prey (1966), Cornel Wilde’s take on the Most Dangerous Game survival drama, may not be the first but it’s arguably the definitive, most visceral and primal example of the genre. Inspired by an account on the American frontier but shifted to 19th century colonial South Africa, the simple story begins with a bush […]

Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot star in the Swedish classic by Ingmar Bergman

Life, death, and chess in Ingmar Bergman’s ‘The Seventh Seal’ on Criterion Channel

Arguably the most famous of Ingmar Bergman’s films and certainly his most iconic, The Seventh Seal (Sweden, 1957) is Bergman at his most allegorical. Max von Sydow, young and blond and heroic, is a disillusioned knight returned from the Crusades in a state of spiritual desperation: his faith has been shaken by senseless death and […]

Ingrid Thulin and Max Von Sydow in the Swedish classic by Ingmar Bergman

Dark theater: Ingmar Bergman’s ‘The Magician’ on Criterion Channel

Ingmar Bergman created The Magician (Sweden, 1958), in the midst of his most fertile and prolific period of filmmaking. It’s a chamber drama about a travelling medicine show fronted by a mute mesmerist (Max von Sydow) that enters into a battle of wills with the Minister of Health (Gunnar Björnstrand), a rationalist who considers the […]

John Wayne and Montgomery Clift in the 1948 western classic by Howard Hawks

‘Red River’ – the great cattle drive epic on Criterion Channel

Howard Hawks reworks Mutiny on the Bounty as a frontier epic in Red River (1948), the sweeping tale of a journey that can’t be made and the story of a son forced to battle the father he loves and adores. Montgomery Clift made his film debut opposite grand old icon John Wayne, playing Matthew Garth, […]

‘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 […]

Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria

Last Chance: ‘Clouds of Sils Maria’ on Netflix

Olivier Assayas wrote this drama about a veteran actress facing a transition in her career after Juliette Binoche, arguably France’s greatest and certainly most ambitious actress working today, challenged him to write a film centered on women. It was a friendly challenge—she had already starred in two films he wrote for director André Téchiné and […]

Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell star in the 1948 film noir classic.

Nicholas Ray’s ‘They Live by Night’ on VOD and Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

“This boy… and this girl… were never properly introduced to the world we live in…,” begins They Live By Night (1948), a bubble of a brief, idealized vision of young love immediately swept away in the urgency and desperation of the prison break in the very next scene. The directorial debut of American filmmaker Nicholas […]

Patricia Neal, John Garfield, and Juano Hernandez in a film by Michael Curtiz

John Garfield hits ‘The Breaking Point’ on Criterion Channel

The Breaking Point (1950), the second of three big screen adaptations of Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not, stars John Garfield as Harry Morgan, the role that Humphrey Bogart played in the original. The Howard Hawks film took great liberties with Hemingway’s story. This version is more faithful but takes its own liberties. Harry […]

Robert Redford stars in the ski drama directed by Michael Ritchie

Robert Redford is a ‘Downhill Racer’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

Downhill Racer (1969) is the feature debut of Michael Ritchie, the first project that frustrated actor and future movie star Robert Redford developed for himself and the first of Redford’s proposed trilogy about the meaning of “winning” in American culture. That’s what gives such a riveting perspective to what would otherwise be called a “sports […]