The Age of Innocence: Savage Civility
Martin Scorsese brought his trademark attentiveness to the intricacies of social custom to this devastating adaptation of an Edith Wharton novel.
Othello: In Pieces
The result of a tumultuous production, Orson Welles’s eccentric take on Othello infuses the play with a convulsive rhythm and disorienting sense of abstraction.
Barry Lyndon: Time Regained
In this lavishly mounted epic, Stanley Kubrick captures the ghostly ephemerality of a vanishing world with paradoxical immediacy.
The Asphalt Jungle: “A Left-Handed Form of Human Endeavor”
John Huston’s meticulously calibrated crime film combines nail-biting suspense with a mood of Chekhovian regret.
Cat People: Darkness Betrayed
Cloaked in chiaroscuro and innuendo, this stylistically innovative creature feature leaves its greatest horrors to the imagination.
Kwaidan: No Way Out
Masaki Kobayashi takes on broken vows and the unreality of the past in his sensual and spooky four-part adaptation of Lafcadio Hearn’s Japanese folktales.
Moonrise Kingdom: Awakenings
Two precocious youngsters try to carve out a corner of the world just for themselves in Wes Anderson’s alternately melancholy and boisterous tale of growing pains.
The Killers: A Decisive Reversal of Values
Our recollections of Robert Siodmak’s 1946 movie The Killers are apt to center on three primary elements: Ernest Hemingway’s story, so literally brought to the screen in the film’s opening scenes; Ava Gardner, carrying the full weight of that l…
The Sword of Doom: Calligraphy in Blood
Kihachi Okamoto's The Sword of Doom is likely to strike the unalerted viewer as an exercise in absurdist violence, tracking the career of a nihilistic swordsman from his gratuitous murder of a defenseless old man to his final descent into what looks …
The Secret Heart of Judex
Georges Franju evokes the surreal silent serials of Louis Feuillade while constructing his own personal cinematic paradise.
Red River: The Longest Drive
Howard Hawks was both a skillful Hollywood craftsman and a deeply personal artist, and this western of uncommon wit and grandeur is among his greatest and quirkiest films.
Things to Come: Whither Mankind?
The prophetic voice of H. G. Wells resonates throughout this singularly ambitious, spectacularly designed vision.
Blithe Spirit: Present Magic
Written in five or six days in 1941, in a seaside hotel where he had gone to get away from the Blitz, and by all accounts scarcely revised before being mounted some six weeks later, Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit became London’s great stage hit of …
The Lady Vanishes: All Aboard!
The Lady Vanishes (1938) is the film that best exemplifies Alfred Hitchcock’s often-asserted desire to offer audiences not a slice of life but a slice of cake. Even Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer, in their pioneering study of Hitchcock, for once ab…
Beauty and the Beast: Dark Magic
Out of the extravagant variety of Jean Cocteau’s work—the paintings and drawings, the poems, the plays and novels and memoirs, the opera librettos and ballet scenarios—it is likely his films that will have the most enduring influence, and am…
The Mikado: Celluloid Savoy
As the only film of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera brought to the screen with the participation of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, Victor Schertzinger’s 1939 Technicolor The Mikado is a unique specimen; however one rates it, there is nothing w…
In a photograph of Josef von Sternberg from 1937, he looks like a character from one of his own films: a turbaned magus with elegantly trimmed beard and mustache, holding a cigarette as he gazes out obliquely, with the hint of an ironic expression…
In 1929, a fifty-one-year-old Congregationalist pastor named Lloyd C. Douglas published his first novel. It was a ramshackle sort of book, at its core an undiluted Christian sermon on the life-transforming power of charitable works. But it was a serm…
High and Low:
Between Heaven and Hell
Akira Kurosawa’s propensity for adapting European classics—Dostoyevsky (The Idiot), Shakespeare (Throne of Blood), Gorky (The Lower Depths)—earned him a label, both abroad and at home, as the most “Western” of Japanese directors, even thoug…
Green for Danger:
Laughing While the Bombs Fall
Green for Danger is an escapist entertainment made just after the close of World War II—a classical whodunit with an impeccably droll Scotland Yard inspector in charge of the proceedings—and it is at the same time a film pervaded by the war just …
The Fallen Idol:
Through a Child’s Eye, Darkly
The circumstances of our first encounters with movies are often as memorable as the movies themselves. Sometimes the juxtaposition of movie and circumstance seems merely accidental; but there are those films that change us enough that we can identify…
La bête humaine:
Renoir On and Off the Rails
The opening minutes of La bête humaine (1938) are a bracing plunge into the materiality of the world. The flames of a locomotive’s furnace, the engineer and stoker utterly absorbed in their work, the landscape speeding by, as seen from the moving …
Young Mr. Lincoln: Hero in Waiting
In Young Mr. Lincoln, John Ford achieves the perfection of his art. Never were his matter and his method more aptly fitted, and never were his tendencies toward sprawl and overemphasis more rigorously controlled. It is a masterpiece of concision in w…
Touchez pas au grisbi: Strange Reflections
Albert Simonin’s novel Touchez pas au grisbi is said to have had a revolutionary impact on French crime writing, and Jacques Becker’s film version had a similarly transformative effect on French crime films, yet film and novel bear little resembl…