Barbara Stanwyck, Wendell Corey and Walter Huston star in Anthony Mann's western

Barbara Stanwyck in ‘The Furies’ on Hulu

The Furies (1950), the second western from genre giant Anthony Mann (after Devil’s Doorway) and his first big-budget, large-canvas production after an apprenticeship in low-budget thrillers, is a genre hybrid: a psychological western by way of a Gothic melodrama, with a dark, shadowy style right out of Mann’s earlier film noirs. Barbara Stanwyck is Vance […]

Viggo Mortensen stars in "Captain Fantastic."

‘Captain Fantastic’ – Alternative family values on Kanopy

Captain Fantastic (2016) is a road movie, a family drama, a tale of loss, and a loving portrait of an alternative family that is prepared to face everything but the modern world. Viggo Mortensen is Ben, the father who (with his equally committed but currently absent wife) moved into the deep woods of the Pacific […]

Jennifer Lawrence stars in the Oscar nominated film by Debra Granik

Jennifer Lawrence arrives in ‘Winter’s Bone’ on Netflix

Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone (2010), set in the crime and poverty of the Ozark Mountains, is a coming-of-age survival story in an outlaw culture where meth labs have replaced moonshine stills and the code of silence is enforced with pitiless finality. Jennifer Lawrence was revelation as the 17-year-old Ree, who has grown up fast to […]

John Huston’s ‘The Dead’ on Amazon Prime Video

John Huston was not just one of the great American directors, he was the great translator of literary works from page to screen. He began his directorial career with The Maltese Falcon, not simply an iconic detective film and a defining film noir but an adaptation so precise that the previous screen versions have been […]

James Cagney stars in the gangster classic from Raoul Walsh

‘White Heat’ – James Cagney on top of the world on The Criterion Channel

“Made it, ma. Top of the world!” One of the greatest gangster classics of all time, White Heat (1949) stars James Cagney in an explosive performance as psychotic career criminal Cody Jarrett, driven over the edge by blinding headaches and murderous rages that only his mother can calm. Until, that is, she’s murdered while he’s […]

Grace Kelly and Cary Grant, directed by Alfred Hitchcock

‘To Catch a Thief’ on Amazon Prime Video

To Catch a Thief (1955), Alfred Hitchcock’s frothiest entertainment, stars Cary Grant as a reformed jewel thief on the French Riviera who immediately comes under suspicion when a cat burglar goes to work on the rich and famous staying in the local luxury hotels. Heiress Grace Kelly decides to play detective the best way she […]

Tilda Swinton in Bong Joon-ho 's 'Snowpiercer'

‘Snowpiercer’ – careening allegory on Netflix

Snowpiercer (2013), an international production from Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho and a French graphic novel, is a high-speed allegory speeding down the science fiction tracks of genre cinema. That’s the way I like this brand of filmmaking: with the symbols big, muscular, detailed, and punchy. You either give yourself over to the metaphor, in this […]

Robert Mitchum stars in the Peter Yates crime classic adapted from the George V. Higgins novel

‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ on Kanopy

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), adapted from the terrific novel by George V. Higgins and produced in the wake of The French Connection, is probably the least heralded crime movie classic of the seventies. Robert Mitchum is Eddie ‘Fingers’ Coyle, a middleman working the fringes of the Boston underworld while awaiting sentencing, which prompts […]

Constance Bennett and Lowell Sherman in the original pre-code 'Star is Born' from George Cukor

‘What Price Hollywood?’ – the pre-code ‘A Star is Born’ on The Criterion Channel

What Price Hollywood? (1932) is one of the wittiest and most interesting Hollywood movies about Hollywood culture ever made. It’s a shame it’s not better known. This pre-code comedy stars Constance Bennett as an aspiring actress waiting tables at The Brown Derby who gets her big break when a drunken film director (Lowell Sherman) invites […]

Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in John Huston's 'The African Queen'

‘The African Queen’ – Bogie and Hepburn on Amazon Prime Video

The African Queen (1951) – Humphrey Bogart is Charlie Allnut, the hard-drinking captain of a sputtering steam-powered boat that gives the film its title. Katharine Hepburn is Rose Sayer, a spirited missionary spinster serving the Lord in German East Africa with her brother (Robert Morley). It’s September 1914, the early days of World War I, […]