Author Spotlight

Michael Sragow

Michael Sragow is a contributing editor at Film Comment. He is the author of Victor Fleming: An American Movie Master, cowinner of the National Award for Arts Writing in 2008, and edited two volumes of James Agee’s prose for the Library of America in 2005. He wrote and coproduced the 2019 documentary Image Makers: The Adventures of America’s Pioneer Cinematographers.

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Walkers in the City: Jules Dassin and Bruce Goldstein in New York

With his documentary Uncovering “The Naked City,” beloved Film Forum repertory program director Bruce Goldstein pays tribute to his friendship with the legendary Hollywood auteur and the bygone New York he immortalized on-screen.

By Michael Sragow

Shame: Twilight of the Humans

In 1968, Ingmar Bergman channeled his anguish over the legacy of World War II and the escalating brutality in Vietnam into the most fiercely political film of his career.

By Michael Sragow

An Actor’s Revenge and a Director’s Triumph

In this wildly inventive revenge drama, director Kon Ichikawa blurs the line between stage and screen, infusing kabuki traditions with his own extravagant visual sensibility.

By Michael Sragow

I’m All Right Jack and The Organizer: Bread and Roses and a Lot of Laughs

Two marvels of midcentury social commentary now streaming on the Criterion Channel show how progress can be a one-step-forward, two-steps-backward process.

By Michael Sragow

The Shape of Corruption

Matteo Garrone’s gritty portrait of the Neapolitan Mafia draws on a lineage of Italian crime films dating back to Francesco Rosi’s trailblazing Salvatore Giuliano.

By Michael Sragow

An Honest Bull Session with Carroll Ballard

With both films now streaming on the Criterion Channel, director Carroll Ballard discusses the parallels between his short documentary Rodeo and Francesco Rosi’s bull-fighting classic The Moment of Truth.

By Michael Sragow

Cinéastes de notre temps for Our Times: A Conversation with Richard Peña

Programmer Michael Sragow and former Film Society of Lincoln Center program director Richard Peña discuss the holy grail of cinephile TV series and the legendary figures it profiled.

By Michael Sragow

Jack Clayton and the Art of the “Woman’s Director”

British director Jack Clayton elicited landmark performances from a host of great ladies of the cinema, including Maggie Smith, Deborah Kerr, and Anne Bancroft.

By Michael Sragow

Of Men and Balls: Ron Shelton on The Freshman and This Sporting Life
Over on the Criterion Channel, for Super Bowl weekend, we’re showing the first football movie ever made, Harold Lloyd’s crackerjack comedy The Freshman (1925), and the first rugby-football movie ever made, Lindsay Anderson’s heart-pounding dram…

By Michael Sragow

The Front Page: Stop the Presses!

A revelatory restoration of Lewis Milestone’s underappreciated newsroom comedy accentuates the film’s punchy rhythms and breakneck banter.

By Michael Sragow

The Call of the Wild
The Korda brothers’ voluptuous fantasy Jungle Book—directed by Zoltán, produced by Alexander, and art-directed by Vincent—captures that mood-swinging moment in late childhood when the adult world seems to be unbearably corrupt and nothing coul…

By Michael Sragow

Graham Greene on Sabotage
Yesterday, we kicked off our Criterion Channel series Spy Games by sharing Graham Greene's review of Jacques Feyder’s Knight Without Armour, a highlight in the lineup. Today, we’re focusing on another title in the series, Sabotage, which marked …

By Michael Sragow

Graham Greene on Knight Without Armour
Patriotic masterminds choreograph capers from secret headquarters while dashing secret agents execute their plans by the light of flashing blades and gunfire. Jeopardy escalates second to second until our heroes and heroines escape by the skin of the…

By Michael Sragow

Happy Black Friday
Just in time for Black Friday, two cinematic masters playfully pillory consumerism for our weekly double feature: Yasujiro Ozu’s Good Morning (1959) and Jacques Tati's Mon oncle (1958). But these wildly different virtuosos mount opposite attacks, O…

By Michael Sragow

Shades of Gray
Tonight we salute the unique gifts of actor and monologue artist Spalding Gray, whose solo performance pieces inspired soaring flights of cinema like Jonathan Demme’s Swimming to Cambodia and the two Steven Soderbergh films that make up our double …

By Michael Sragow

Masters of Suspense

This week’s Friday Night Double Feature on the Criterion Channel demonstrates how much suspense a superb director can wring from an intriguing premise without resorting to yelling “boo!” or splashing gore.

By Michael Sragow

Murderers Among Us

Our first Friday Night Double Feature on the Criterion Channel pairs two chilling serial-killer films: Fritz Lang’s M and Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs.

By Michael Sragow

Only Angels Have Wings: Hawks’s Genius Takes Flight

Howard Hawks’s 1939 aviation classic Only Angels Have Wings is an exemplar of the auteurist Hollywood entertainer’s capability to fuse “a personal existential statement and a delightful piece of showmanship.”

By Michael Sragow

The Black Stallion: Nirvana on Horseback

Carroll Ballard’s film is a work of rapture, a mesmerizing adventure that envelops the viewer in the beauties of the natural world.

By Michael Sragow

A Master Builder: Ibsen in Nyack

From a shrewd adaptation by André Gregory and Wallace Shawn, Jonathan Demme fashions a visually inventive dreamscape out of an Ibsen classic.

By Michael Sragow

Tootsie: One Great Dame

Trenchant in its portrayal of gender dynamics, sophisticated in its look at the actor’s life, and, of course, hilarious, Tootsie is Hollywood comedy at its finest.

By Michael Sragow

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold:True Ritt
Martin Ritt’s 1965 movie of John le Carré’s first great novel (and first best seller), The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, declares “a plague on all your houses” to capitalists, Communists, and ruthless intelligence operatives. It’s one esp…

By Michael Sragow

A Night to Remember: Nearer, My Titanic to Thee
A Night to Remember, the 1958 British film adaptation of Walter Lord’s 1955 book about the brief life and agonizing death of the Titanic, has proven unsinkable. With its Olympian yet unfailingly life-size view of the disaster that scuttled illusion…

By Michael Sragow

The Four Feathers: Breaking the British Square
A. E. W. Mason’s sweeping action novel The Four Feathers (1902) had already inspired three films by the time producer Alexander Korda got to it in 1939. It would be filmed three more times afterward. But you really haven’t seen it unless you…

By Michael Sragow