Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher star in the film directed by Milos Forman

‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ on HBO Max

A rare screen adaptation of a beloved novel to maintain the emotional and dramatic power of the original while establishing its own distinctive approach to the story, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) is an underdog masterpiece. Jack Nicholson stars as Randle P. McMurphy, a wild man of a petty crook who fakes insanity […]

James Dean in ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ on HBO Max

Before the 1950s, there were no teenagers in the movies, at least not as such. There were adults and children, and that awkward age in between was largely seen as, well, that awkward period in between. You had kids on the cusp, troubled young adults, and juvenile delinquents, but the teenager, with his / her […]

‘Watchmen’ – Superhero redux on HBO Max

Zach Snyder delivers perhaps the most faithful adaptation of Watchmen (2009, R), the landmark graphic novel by writer Alan Moore (uncredited on screen, as is his tradition) and artist Dave Gibbons, that anyone could hope for. Moore’s story reimagines the history of comic book superheroes in the real world of global politics and complicated (and […]

Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor, and Sydney Greenstreet in the film adapted from the Dashiell Hammett novel by John Huston.

‘The Maltese Falcon’ – the stuff dreams are made of on HBO Max

If there is a cooler, tougher, more shrewd and self-sufficient private detective in the movies than Humphrey Bogart’s incarnation of Sam Spade in John Huston’s note-perfect adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon (1941), I’ve yet to see him in action. The 1941 classic wasn’t the first screen version of Hammet’s iconic novel, but it […]

Mick Jagger and James Fox in the 1970 film by Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell

‘Performance’ – British crime and counterculture collide on The Criterion Channel

Performance (1970) may have been released in 1970 but this collision of London gangster machismo and drug culture, where “Nothing is true; everything is permitted,” is unmistakably a product of the sixties. Mick Jagger makes his feature acting debut as Turner, a reclusive rock star in a dilapidated manor home in a London slum, but […]

Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Strangers on a Train’

Strangers on a Train (1951) is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s undisputed masterpieces, a thriller of demented wish fulfillment turned into a waking nightmare that turns on a chance meeting. Demented playboy Bruno (Robert Walker, whose insidious insincerity is unsettling from his first scene) meets champion tennis player Guy (Farley Granger). Bruno knows that Guy has […]

Blu-ray Animation: Deluxe ‘Totoro’ and the complete ‘Batman’

My Neighbor Totoro: 30th Anniversary Edition (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray)Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Warner Bros., Blu-ray) Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan’s living treasures, a beloved filmmaker whose animated films number among the most beautiful and most enchanting productions ever drawn by hand. In this day of CGI productions, the aging artists still personally draws […]

James Cagney and Jean Harlow star in the gangster classic by William Wellman

‘The Public Enemy’ – James Cagney’s original gangster on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

James Cagney became an overnight sensation as the streetwise dynamo Tom Powers, a Chicago slum kid turned brutal mob goon in The Public Enemy (1931), William A. Wellman’s archetypal gangster classic. In the first depression-era films of the mob rats blasting their way to big screen glory like Molotov cocktails, Cagney’s Tom Powers was the […]

James Cagney plays George M. Cohan in the musical directed by Michael Curtiz

‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ – James Cagney is George M. Cohan on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – James Cagney won his only Academy Award playing George M. Cohan in the rousing bio-pic directed by Michael Curtiz, who was the top director at Warner Bros. and arguably the studio’s most versatile filmmaker at the time. Cagney was a song-and-dance man before he found fame as a movie tough […]

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart in the 1946 film noir classic directed by Howard Hawks

Bogie and Bacall in ‘The Big Sleep’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Humphrey Bogart is seductive in an insolent way as the screen’s smoothest Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep (1946), Howard Hawks’ hardboiled adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s classic detective novel, and Lauren Bacall is his match as Vivian Rutledge, the spoiled socialite daughter of his client. The mystery revolves around blackmail, petty gangsters, and an underground […]