Author Spotlight

Terrence Rafferty

Terrence Rafferty is the author of The Thing Happens: Ten Years of Writing About the Movies. He has written for the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the New York Times, the Nation, GQ, and Sight & Sound, and taught at Columbia and Princeton.

20 Results
All About Eve: Upstage, Downstage

Full of booze, bons mots, and backstabbing, Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s impeccably crafted showbiz drama is the rare movie where—as its star, Bette Davis, once put it—“it all came out right.”

By Terrence Rafferty

Deep Dives

The Silent Gaze in Satyajit Ray’s Almost-Love Story

In one of his most underrated gems, now playing on the Criterion Channel, the Bengali master explored the futility of words and the power of a look.

By Terrence Rafferty

Keeper of the Secret: Remembering Jeanne Moreau

French New Wave icon Jeanne Moreau possessed a stillness, a way of surrendering to the camera, that made her utterly unique among modern actors.

By Terrence Rafferty

The Emigrants/The New Land: Homelands

Jan Troell’s narration of one Swedish couple’s arduous journey to America portrays the migratory quality of marriage—of “finding that you think of this person who is not you, or this place that is not the land of your birth, as your home.”

By Terrence Rafferty

The Apu Trilogy: Every Common Sight

Satyajit Ray began his filmmaking career by offering a vision of the young Apu, the character he would go on to follow throughout the three films of his stunning breakthrough epic.

By Terrence Rafferty

The Bridge: Cannon Fodder

German director Bernhard Wicki proved his uncommon cinematic skill with his heartbreaking tale of teen soldiers sent off to die near the end of World War II.

By Terrence Rafferty

Macbeth: Something Wicked

Roman Polanski’s dark vision is the perfect fit for Shakespeare’s grim tale of treachery and ambition.

By Terrence Rafferty

Bay of Angels: Walking on Sand

Jeanne Moreau’s flighty, enigmatic Jackie in Jacques Demy’s poetic drama is in the great tradition of dreamy Demy heroines.

By Terrence Rafferty

In Which We Serve: Battle Stations
Good wartime propaganda films are as rare as good wars. Noël Coward and David Lean’s In Which We Serve, which had its premiere in Great Britain in September 1942, when the nation was entering the fourth year of hostilities with the Axis powers, wa…

By Terrence Rafferty

Les cousins: The Nature of the Beast
Jean-Luc Godard, lover of paradox, once characterized Claude Chabrol’s Les cousins (1959) as “a deeply hollow and therefore profound film,” a pronouncement, like so many of the pithy mots Godard used to reel off in the pages of Cahiers du cin…

By Terrence Rafferty

Le beau Serge: Homecomings
When Claude Chabrol’s first film, Le beau Serge, had its premiere at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival (out of competition), a fellow critic at Cahiers du cinéma, François Truffaut, wrote: “Technically, the film is as masterly as if Chabrol had b…

By Terrence Rafferty

Diabolique: Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts

Henri-Georges Clouzot’s cool, clammy, twisty 1955 thriller is an almost perfect movie about a very nearly perfect murder.

By Terrence Rafferty

The Night of the Hunter: Holy Terror
The Night of the Hunter (1955)—the first film directed by Charles Laughton and also, sadly, the last—is among the greatest horror movies ever made, and perhaps, of that select company, the most irreducibly American in spirit. It’s about thos…

By Terrence Rafferty

For All Mankind: Fantastic Voyage
Tough title to live up to. The lofty three-word phrase Al Reinert chose for his 1989 documentary on the Apollo space program comes from the plaque the first men on the moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, left there in July 1969—“We came in peac…

By Terrence Rafferty

La ronde: Vicious Circle

In the too-brief life and art of Max Ophuls (1902–57), La ronde was a momentous film, a turning point. It represented a homecoming of sorts, though “home” was a rather fluid concept for Ophuls, who was born in Germany, worked in the theater the

By Terrence Rafferty

Blast of Silence: Bad Trip

Allen Baron’s stark, moody Blast of Silence (1961) is a movie of many strange distinctions. It’s among the last of the true film noirs, those fatalistic black-and-white urban crime dramas that darkened the American screen so gloriously in the yea

By Terrence Rafferty

Elevator to the Gallows:Louis Malle on the Ground Floor

François Truffaut once wrote, “All of Louis Malle, all his good qualities and faults, was in Elevator to the Gallows”—a statement that, even given French film criticism’s traditionally high tolerance for the counterintuitive, pretty unambigu

By Terrence Rafferty

Stray Dog: Kurosawa Comes of Age

Stray Dog, the ninth film directed by Akira Kurosawa, is a detective story that’s also meant to function as a commentary on the desperate social conditions of postwar Japan: a kind of neorealist cop movie. The filmmaker wrote his screenplay first i

By Terrence Rafferty

Hamlet
Reviewing Laurence Olivier’s 1948 film of Hamlet, James Agee—then a critic at Time—wrote: “The man who brings Hamlet, his friends, and his antagonists to life has tackled one of the most fascinating and most thankless tasks in show business. …

By Terrence Rafferty

Fires on the Plain

Tamura (Eiji Funakoshi), the hero of Kon Ichikawa’s overwhelming Fires on the Plain, may be the loneliest man in the history of the movies—lonelier than the spiritual pilgrims of Bergman, Bresson, and Dreyer. He is a soldier in an army that, in d

By Terrence Rafferty