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The Criterion, Eclipse and Essential Art House DVDs and blu-rays that are mentioned in The New York Times' "Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made" list. Review excerpts are taken from the original release reviews by the writers of The New York Times. (I was unable to locate New York Times reviews of "The Ruling Class" and "Z"...Anybody out there have a link to these two?)
Is it any surprise that more than one-fifth of the Times' list is composed of Criterion films?!
"...unlike M. Clair's previous hilarious contribution, "Le Million," the humor in this new venture, despite its farcical nature, is provocative of thought rather than laughter."
-Mordaunt Hall, 18 May 1932
"He [Eisenstein] is patently unconcerned about a change from night to day to night again during the space of a two-minute sequence, and if it pleases him to bring on torchbearers at midday, simply because the smoke smudge is photographically interesting, he is not deterred by any thoughts of their illogic."
-Frank S, Nugent, 23 March 1939
"Solid and sensible drama plainly had to give way to outright emotional bulldozing and a paving of easy clichés. What could a conscientious actress do when Director Douglas Sirk bathed her in lush autumnal colors and pulled all stops on the piano and violins?"
-Bosley Crowther, 29 February 1956
"The movie is awash in the kind of poetic artifice that Mr. Fellini loves and that has become increasingly rare these days when most directors insist on working in actual locations."
- Vincent Canby, 20 September 1974
"After watching an endless succession of courtroom melodramas that have more or less transgressed the bounds of human reason and the rules of advocacy, it is cheering and fascinating to see one that hews magnificently to a line of dramatic but reasonable behavior and proper procedure in a court."
-Bosley Crowther, 3 July 1959
"His [Wajda's] sharply etched black-and-white action has the pictorial snap and quality of some of the old Soviet pictures of Pudovkin and Eisenstein. Facial expressions are highlighted, bodily movements are swift and intense and the light that comes in from the outside in the shaky morning is as dense as luminous smoke."
-Bosley Crowther, 30 May 1961
"L'Atalante, Vigo's last film, hews closer to the standard concept of moviemaking. It is, in sum, the story of a pair of honeymooners aboard a barge slowly making its way on the Seine. Life aboard the barge, satirically named for the fleet goddess, is tedious and dull for the young girl, who wants excitement."
-A.H. Weller, 23 June 1947
"Mr. Malle treats his young actors without condescension and they, in turn, respond with performances of natural gravity and humor."
-Vincent Canby, 12 February 1988
"Just when it seems to be beginning to make a dramatic point or to develop a line of continuity that will crystallize into some sense, it will jump into a random situation that appears as if it might be due perhaps three reels later and never explain what has been omitted."
-Bosley Crowther, 5 April 1961
"A note of caution: do not see ''Babette's Feast'' on an empty stomach. Before the film ends, the feast itself, which includes, among other things, fresh terrapin soup, quail in vol-au-vents, blinis, caviar and baba au rhum, may drive you out to the nearest three-star restaurant. It could be a dangerously expensive evening."
-Vincent Canby, 1 October 1987
"Badlands inevitably invites comparisons with three other important American films, Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde and Fritz Lang's Fury and You Only Live Once, but it has a very different vision of violence and death. Malick spends no great amount of time invoking Freud to explain the behavior of Kit and Holly, nor is there any Depression to be held ultimately responsible. Society is, if anything, benign."
-Vincent Canby, 15 October 1973
"No one who fancies madcap comedy can reasonably afford to miss the spectacle of Bill creeping up and pouncing upon a kid with a cap-pistol in the bank; or of Bill solicitously attending a bank examiner whom he has fed a "Michael Finn"; or of Bill at the wheel of the car in which a desperate bandit is attempting to escape."
-Bosley Crowther, 13 December 1940
"Essentially, the theme is one of valor—the valor of people who fight for liberation from economic and political oppression. And this being so, one may sense a relation in what goes on in this picture to what has happened in the Negro ghettos of some of our American cities more recently."
-Bosley Crowther, 21 September 1967
"...the achievement is on a definitely adult plane and the beauties of Cocteau's conception will be most appreciated by sophisticated minds. It is not the sort of picture that will send the children into transports of delight, unless they are quite precocious youngsters of the new progressive school."
-Bosley Crowther, 24 December 1947
"The quartier in which Antoine and Christine live is inhabited by picturesque characters observed as much in French movies of the 1930's as (I suspect) in life of the 1960's. Truffaut has great fun reworking movie clichés and, in one brief episode, calls attention to his admiration for the work of Jacques Tati by bringing on Mr. Hulot himself."
-Vincent Canby, 22 January 1971
""War torn" is the preferred cliche for events occurring near Mr. Manchevski's native Macedonia, but this film takes a more intuitive view of violence than that. "War is a virus," suggests a doctor in the film, providing a suitably unruly model for the uncontrollable peril Mr. Manchevski explores."
-Janet Maslin, 24 February 1995
"''Being John Malkovich'' features a fine cast of dryly comic actors who are very much in on the joke. That can even be said of Charlie Sheen, who turns up for some wicked self-parody in a film that also features cameo appearances by Sean Penn, Brad Pitt and the New Jersey Turnpike."
-Janet Maslin, 1 October 1999
"The story is a kind of fantasy cryptogram, with countless clues—verbal puns about cats, nonsense syllables, bells, speech with motionless lips, time cues, and so on—as to when we are in a fantasy, and whose."
-Renata Adler, 11 April 1968
"In the film's apocalyptic finale, Franz, mad as a hatter, has a long dialogue with Death, comparable to a jazzy sort of Dostoyevsky vision, in which Death lectures Franz on the need to look with his eyes and see, to listen with his ears and hear."
-Vincent Canby, 10 July 1983
"...during the course of its telling in the brilliant director's trenchant style, it is as full and electric and compelling as any plot-laden drama you ever saw. Every incident, every detail of the frantic and futile hunt is a taut and exciting adventure, in which hope is balanced against despair. Every movement of every person in it, every expression on every face is a striking illumination of some implicit passion or mood."
-Bosley Crowther, 13 December 1949
"''The Big Chill' is packed with frequently witty visual information that sometimes contradicts and sometimes supports what the characters say about themselves. There's a wonderfully funny montage early in the movie in which we see each character as defined in the contents of his or her overnight bag."
-Vincent Canby, 23 September 1983
"It may be a spoof on "Rififi," but its comedy is based on something much more universal and elementary. That is the humor of sheer clumsiness."
-Bosley Crowther, 23 November 1963
"I do not think Mr. Courtney's hero—at least, the funny fellow we have seen being so-brisk and enterprising in the better part of the film — would turn out to be such a chicken, such a dismal stereotype. It seems that the authors and Mr. Schlesinger want to make him more pathetic than he is."
-Bosley Crowther, 17 December 1963
"Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger have come so close to executing a perfect fusion of all the elements of cinematic art—story, direction, performances, and photography—that one wishes they had hit upon a theme at once less controversial and more appealing than that of Black Narcissus."
-Thomas M. Pryor, 14 August 1947
"It is a tragic story of a Negro chap and a Negro girl who meet at the time of the annual blowout, fall suddenly and rapturously in love, whirl through the night in a furious revel and fall off a cliff in the dawn. At least, the fellow falls off the cliff, holding the dead body of the girl in his arms. She has been killed the previous evening while trying to escape a scoundrel in a skeleton costume."
-Bosley Crowther, 22 December 1959
"Though ''Bob le Flambeur'' looks sober enough at the start, what with the grainy black-and-white photography and the expressionless voice-over narration (by Melville) describing a typical Montmartre dawn, it soon becomes apparent that Melville is sending up the ordinary conventions of the hood-picture."
-Vincent Canby, 26 September 1981
"Much of the cleverness of ''Brazil'' has to do with its tiny details, the sense of how things work in this new society. Signs glimpsed in the background say things like ''Loose Talk is Noose Talk'' and ''Suspicion Breeds Confidence,'' while television advertisements are for things like fashionable heating ducts ''in designer colors to suit your demanding taste'' (the production design makes sure that heating ducts are everywhere)."
-Janet Maslin, 18 December 1985
"Most of the Australian films that have been released in America take place at the turn of the century. Breaker Morant, like many of these, accounts for this turbulent period in Australia's history by exaggerating the gentility that the characters and their countrymen have tried to adopt, in reaction to British rule. In this case, the result is a touchingly stiff-upper-lip approach to the events that occur in the courtroom. The events are so unfortunate and unjust that the film's air of restraint gives it a genuinely tragic dimension."
- Janet Maslin, 22 December 1980
"Nothing about ''Breaking the Waves'' is more fortuitous than the choice of Ms. Watson, the former Royal Shakespeare Company actress who so fervently and glowingly embodies Bess. The role calls for a trusting, absolutely unguarded performance, and the film would have been destroyed by anything less. Ms. Watson creates Bess with a devastating immediacy, and she deeply rewards the camera's penetrating gaze."
-Janet Maslin, 4 October 1996
"...in the frenetic fashion in which M. Godard pictures these few days—the nerve-tattering contacts of the lovers, their ragged relations with the rest of the world—there is subtly conveyed a vastly complex comprehension of an element of youth that is vagrant, disjointed, animalistic and doesn't give a damn for anybody or anything, not even itself."
-Bosley Crowther, 8 February 1961
"Unprettified by make-up and quite plainly and consistently dressed, she [Celia Johnson] is naturally and honestly disturbing with her wistful voice and large, sad saucer-eyes. And Trevor Howard, who has none of the aspects of a cut-out movie star, makes a thoroughly credible partner in this small and pathetic romance."
-Bosley Crowther, 26 August 1946
"There are moments when Mr. Hawking and his colleagues sound a bit like characters in a revue sketch from "Beyond the Fringe." "I was thinking about black holes as I got into bed one night in 1970, shortly after the birth of my daughter Lucy.""
-Vincent Canby, 21 August 1992
"...James Brooks, as this film's writer-director, has so balanced the movie that no one performer can run off with it."
-Vincent Canby, 16 December 1987
"There is a great deal of vague and turgid wandering in "Les Enfants du Paradis," and its network of love and hate and jealousy is exceptionally tough to cut through. Its concepts are elegant and subtle, its connections are generally remote and its sad fatalistic conclusion is a capstone of futility."
-Bosley Crowther, 20 February 1947
""Claire's Knee" unfolds like an elegant fairy tale in a series of enchanted and enchanting encounters, on the lake, in gardens heavy with blossoms, in interiors that look like Vermeers."
-Vincent Canby, 22 February 1971
"Toward the end of the film, as the director and his cinematographer and sound engineer follow Mr. Sabzian in a post-trial sequence, their audio equipment malfunctions, and as the sound comes in and out, half of what we see is silent. The director's insistence on making us aware of filmmaking technology is part of a broader strategy to force us to contemplate the basic experience of moviegoing."
-Stephen Holden, 31 December 1999
"...M. Chabrol is the gloomiest and most despairing of the new creative men. His attitude is ridden with a sense of defeat and ruin. And if his cinema reporting is as reliable as it is clear-eyed, candid and cruel, then others, as well as he, have good reason to be concerned about the youth of France."
-Bosley Crowther, 24 November 1959
"Some things that many people may be surprised to find in a Soviet film are the warp and weft of "The Cranes Are Flying," which came to the Fine Arts yesterday. These are a downright obsessive and overpowering revulsion to war and, in contrast, a beautifully tender, almost lyric, feeling for romantic love."
-Bosley Crowther, 22 March 1960
"Because Bergman is a man who loves women without identifying with them, his film is full of the sort of wonder and speculation experienced by a tourist in a strange land that he knows well, but that will never be his own."
-Vincent Canby, 22 December 1972
"Without stretching things too much, I suppose, Mr. Wajda presents us with a Danton who is the articulate conscience of the Revolution, someone, perhaps, not entirely unlike Lech Walesa, the popular spokesman of Poland's Solidarity movement."
-Vincent Canby, 28 September 1983
""Day for Night" is a hilarious, wise and moving chronicle about the members of a crew who come together for seven weeks at the Victorine Studios in Nice to manufacture a movie, an illusion that is, for the period of its production, more important than life itself."
- Vincent Canby, 29 September 1973
"...it obviously has cost a lot of money; it is full of elegant and striking photography; and it is an intolerably artsy, artificial film."
-Harold C. Schonberg, 14 September 1978
"The ghoulishness of ''Dead Ringers'' is kept very much in check, even as the story spirals downward. The film's cool, muted visual style helps see to that. ... And the odd touches, when they do occur, are treated almost offhandedly. Nothing is said, for instance, about the fact that when the Mantles appear in the operating room, the doctors, nurses, orderlies and patients are serenely draped in fabric that is blood red."
-Janet Maslin, 23 September 1988
"The morbid fascination starts building before the picture is ten minutes gone. By the time it is rolling toward a climax it is spreading the most delicious chills. It is a pip of a murder thriller, ghost story and character play rolled into one."
-Bosley Crowther, 22 November 1955
"Mr. Buñuel and his co-scenarist, none other than Salvador Dali, have packed just about every-surrealist symbol they could think of into this rebellious epic."
-Eugene Archer, 22 September 1964
"Perhaps those more closely familiar with the states of grace discussed in this film will be more alert to its meanings. This reviewer was completely confused."
-Bosley Crowther, 6 April 1954
"For some peculiar reason, every time the friends sit down to dine, odd things happen. An Army arrives or, just as the food is being served, a curtain goes up and the friends find themselves on a stage playing to an audience. "I don't know my lines," M. Sénéchal (Jean-Pierre Cassel) says with wild-eyed, middle-of-the-night fright."
-Vincent Canby, 14 October 1972
"Mr. Germi is a genius with the sly twist. With the deft fluidity of the dissolves, he wittily mingles the images of his hero's murderous fantasies with the humdrum actuality of his torpid and henpecked home."
-Bosley Crowther, 18 September 1962
"It is also the first film I've seen that appreciates the psychologically corrosive effect of sheer noise. Though ''Do the Right Thing'' is really no louder than, say, ''Francesco,'' it makes commonplace urban din a characterized component of the drama."
-Vincent Canby, 20 May 1989
"The act of watching [a Jim Jarmusch film] may even be therapeutic: it cleans the mind of all the detritus acquired while responding in the preconditioned ways demanded by most other films. ''Down by Law'' is an upper, though you probably won't realize this at first."
-Vincent Canby, 19 September 1986
"Inside his one body there have always been two Brian De Palmas. The personality hasn't been exactly split, since aspects of one side have always been evident in the other; yet until now the two Brian De Palmas seem to have functioned side-by-side only in uneasy peace."
- Vincent Canby, 25 July 1980
"The principals of the Parisian haut monde involved in this affair of the heart—a lady, her general-husband and her lover, naturally—are well behaved, but unfortunately their problem seems more important to the producers than to a viewer."
-A.W., 20 July 1954
"Here is a piece of entertainment that will really make you sit up straight and think, a movie endowed with the challenge of a fascinating intellectual game. It has no more plot than a horse race, no more order than a pinball machine, and it bounces around on several levels of consciousness, dreams, and memories as it details a man's rather casual psychoanalysis of himself. But it sets up a labyrinthine ego for the daring and thoughtful to explore, and it harbors some elegant treasures of wit and satire along the way."
-Bosley Crowther, 26 June 1963
"At one point in the movie, the introspective Denise writes in her journal, "Something in the body arches its back against boredom and aimlessness," which is what Mr. Godard seems to do instinctively when he starts to make a movie. No matter how outrageous some of his public statements about filmmaking and filmmakers, he swoops and soars above and around his subjects with a grace that defies analysis."
-Vincent Canby, 8 October 1980
"Did you ever have guests come to dinner and then, neglecting to go home, just hang around your apartment or house for days on end? If you haven't had the experience, you can imagine how awkward it would be—how taxing to the fragile bonds of friendship and to the facilities of your kitchen and home."
-Bosley Crowther, 22 August 1967
"The acting and characterization, down to the smallest role, are so strong and the scenes so original and sharp that the movie can be wildly funny without seeming at all satirical."
-Renata Adler, 23 September 1968
"Fanny and Alexander has the manner of a long, richly detailed tale being related by someone who acknowledges all of the terrors of life without finding in those terrors reason enough to deny life's pleasures."
-Vincent Canby, 17 June 1983
"There have already been lots of pious alarms sounded over the excesses of it all, statements to the effect that it is fascinating to look at, but...and debates about its profundity—all of which strike me as about as relevant as finding oneself on Venus and complaining that one's Boy Scout pocket compass doesn't work."
-Vincent Canby, 12 March 1970
"The cry of contrition that is sounded in "The Fisher King" can be heard long after the film is over. In bringing a jaded late-1980's celebrity to the brink of destruction and then allowing him to do penance for his cynicism, this film strikes at the heart of something disturbingly real. That, apparently, was not enough for the film makers, who have feverishly piled on elements of whimsy, mythology and romance to what was never a simple concept in the first place. The likelihood of creating an unholy mess is further heightened by the throwing in of the Holy Grail."
- Janet Maslin, 20 September 1991
"It is sealed and stifling, gray and extremely powerful—about as attractive as somebody coughing wretchedly beside you on a subway. And as insistent. It is not for seeing on a day when you are celebrating something. On the other hand, on a day when you can face it, it is very much worth seeing."
-Renata Adler, 28 May 1968
"Almost everybody in Five Easy Pieces is a caricature but plays for all-round sentiment, and in context the one pointedly funny single-dimension role (Helena Kallianiotes as a tough lesbian hitchhiker on her way to Alaska to escape America's accumulated filth) looks like a tour de force."
-Roger Greenspun, 12 September 1970
"It had been the vague hope of many that the French would eventually come through with a film which would boom such shattering comment upon the tragedy and irony of World War II as their memorable "Grand Illusion" did for World War I. That hope at last has been realized."
-Bosley Crowther, 9 December 1952
"Words cannot state simply how fine is Jean-Pierre Leaud in the role of the boy—how implacably deadpanned yet expressive, how apparently relaxed yet tense, how beautifully positive in his movement, like a pint-sized Jean Gabin."
-Bosley Crowther, 17 November 1959
"The secret, perhaps, of its rare excitement is the subtlety with which it blends a subterranean flood of hot emotions with the most magnificent flow of surface serenity. The tensions and agonies of violent passions are made to seethe behind a splendid silken screen of stern formality, dignity, self-discipline and sublime esthetic harmonies. The very essence of ancient Japanese culture is rendered a tangible stimulant in this film."
-Bosley Crowther, 14 Deceber 1954
"...on the whole the drama is terrific, accumulating and deepening as it goes along, until the final scene in the prison has a heart-rending, nerve-twisting power, and Signor de Sica's performance, ranging from shifty and glib to dignified and laconic, is a beautiful thing."
-Bosley Crowther, 22 November 1960
"The lithe, graceful, tubular physique, wearing a mad Uncle Sam hat of red, silver, and blue stripes and stars (forever, for us) moves in and out of the focus of the camera, which cannot make up its mind whether it adores Mick Jagger or loathes him, whether it is an instrument of exploitation or a victim of it."
-Vincent Canby, 7 December 1970
"...it is a vithering revelation, through genuinely inspired mimicry, of the tragic weaknesses, the overblown conceit and even the blank insanity of a dictator. Hitler, of course."
-Bosley Crowther, 16 October 1940
"...here, in a perfect motion picture, made in England (where it should have been made), the British have done for Dickens what they did for Shakespeare with "Henry V"; they have proved that his works have more life in them than almost anything now written for the screen."
-Bosley Crowther, 23 May 1947
""Green For Danger" will give the aisleside sleuths a better workout than they have had for months and it also will rest easily with those who are content just to sit back and let the story resolve itself, for the melodrama is nicely spiced with dry humor."
-T.M.P., 8 August 1947
"...just as Olivier's great "Henry" took the play further away by taking it out into the open—and thereby revealed it visually—his "Hamlet" makes the play more evident by bringing it closer to you. The subtle reactions of the characters, the movements of their faces and forms, which can be so dramatically expressive and which are more or less remote on the stage, are here made emotionally incisive by their normal proximity."
-Bosley Crowther, 30 September 1948
"Unless you know the fellows, it is hard to identify them, except for Ringo Starr, the big-nosed one, who does a saucy comic sequence on his own. But they're all good—surprisingly natural in the cinema-reality style that Mr. Lester expertly maintains."
-Bosley Crowther, 12 August 1964
"Coal miners are a permanent underground in more than the literal sense. They trouble any society they support: like feet, the more they are weighed down by their owners the more pain they give."
-Richard Eder, 15 October 1976
"This emphasis upon the spectacular has not absorbed Mr. Olivier to the point of neglecting the subtleties and eloquence of Shakespeare's verse and prose. And Mr. Olivier's own performance of Henry sets a standard for excellence. His majestic and heroic bearing, his full and vibrant use of his voice, create a kingly figure around which the other characters rightly spin."
-Bosley Crowther, 18 June 1946
"The result is a sizzling, artistic crackerjack and a model of its genre, pegged on a harassed man's moral decision, laced with firm characterizations and tingling detail and finally attaining an incredibly colorful crescendo of microscopic police sleuthing. Crime, believe us, doesn't pay in Yokohama—not in the end."
[no byline], 27 November 1963
"Although it presents, on occasion, a baffling repetition of words and ideas, much like vaguely recurring dreams, it, nevertheless, leaves the impression of a careful coalescence of art and craftsmanship."
-A.H. Weller, 17 May 1960
"When William says wearily toward the end of the film, "Basketball is my ticket out of the ghetto," it sounds as if he is parroting a phrase that has been drilled into him, as if an alien has taken over his mind."
-Caryn James, 7 October 1994
"It's time for legislation decreeing that no one be allowed to make a screen adaptation of a novel of any quality whatsoever if Ismail Merchant, James Ivory and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala are available, and if they elect to do the job. Trespassers should be prosecuted, possibly condemned, sentenced to watch "Adam Bede" on "Masterpiece Theater" for five to seven years."
-Vincent Canby, 13 March 1992
"The whole atmosphere of the film is alive with the sound of whining wind and the crashing of angry waves on the rocky coast, the ghosts of ancient, kilted clansmen standing silent watch over abandoned castles and the skirling of bagpipes."
-T.M.P., 20 August 1947
""If . . ." is so good and strong that even those things in the movie that strike me as being first-class mistakes are of more interest than entire movies made by smoothly consistent, lesser directors."
-Vincent Canby, 10 March 1969
"It's that long-drawn, funereal maundering by the dead man's family and dull associates, all of them drinking and talking and showing their pettiness, that is the anti-climactic death of the film."
-Bosley Crowther, 30 January 1960
"The pseudo suspense is kept on the wing until a few seconds before the picture ends, but it is a foregone conclusion that the producers would never dare to have the characters acted by Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert separated when the curtain falls."
-Mordaunt Hall, 23 February 1934
"Taking his cue from a novel by Henri-Pierre Roché, who was in his seventies when he wrote it and therefore should have known whereof he wrote, Truffaut is endeavoring to express (and presumably let us know) what it's like when two happy fellows fall in love with one whimsical girl. To put it quickly and crisply, it is charming, exciting, and sad."
-Bosley Crowther, 24 April 1962
"Are your eyes in good condition, able to encompass and abide some of the liveliest, most rococo resplendence ever fashioned in a fairyland on film? And are your wits so instructed and sharpened that you can sit for more than two hours and enjoy a game of armchair psychoanalyzing in a spirit of good, bawdy fun?"
-Bosley Crowther, 4 November 1965
"Kagemusha is majestic, stately, cool, and, in many of its details, almost abstract. It appears very much to be the work of a director who, now seventy years old, is no longer concerned with the obligations of conventional drama or even with moral questions. He is, instead, contemplating history, not as something to be judged but, rather, acknowledged and, possibly, understood."
-Vincent Canby, 6 October 1980
"...as mere movie melodrama, pieced out as a mystery which is patiently unfolded by a sleuthing insurance man, it makes a diverting picture—diverting, that is, if you enjoy the unraveling of crime enigmas involving pernicious folks."
-Bosley Crowther, 29 August 1946
"Mr. [Dennis] Price, for this episode disguised as a touring bishop, and Mr. [Alec] Guinness as a shriveled clergyman pull off as withering a comment on English stuffiness as one will ever see. Furthermore, it is in absolute good humor, which is the saving grace of the whole film."
-Bosley Crowther, 15 June 1950
"Rafelson's kind of poetic realism, an accuracy in the treatment of unexpected settings, looked like quality to some in Five Easy Pieces two years back. Now it looks like the most pretentious of tired clichés, a low-keyed but very empty bombast exploiting rather than exploring its themes of failed dreams and tawdry realities."
-Roger Greenspun, 13 October 1972
"Using his naturalistic camera as though it were an outsized microscope set up to observe the odd behavior of three people completely isolated for 24 hours aboard a weekend pleasure boat, Mr. Polanski evolves a cryptic drama that has wry humor, a thread of suspense, a dash of ugly and corruscating evil — and also a measure of tedium because of the purposeful monotony of its pace."
-Bosley Crowther, 29 October 1963
"The critic is faced with a dilemma in attempting to assess and convey all the weird observations and intimations that abound in this titanic film. For Signor Fellini is nothing if not fertile, fierce and urbane in calculating the social scene around him and packing it onto the screen."
-Bosley Crowther, 20 April 1961
"Lacombe, Lucien is Mr. Malle's toughest, most rueful, least sentimental film. Like the extraordinary Marcel Ophuls documentary, The Sorrow and the Pity, the film refuses to identify heroes and villains with certainty. That, Mr. Malle seems to say, is to oversimplify issues and to underrate the complexity of the human experience."
-Vincent Canby, 30 September 1974
"...Mr. Sturges has taken one of the stock stories off the movies' middle shelf—the old one about the man who falls in love with a lady of unsuspected sin—and has given it such humorous connotation and such a variety of comic invention that it sparkles and cracks like a pretty right out of a brand-new box."
-Bosley Crowther, 26 February 1941
"If it were not so brilliant a melodrama, we should class it as a brilliant comedy. Seeing it imposes a double, a blessedly double, strain: when your sides are not aching from laughter your brain is throbbing in its attempts to outguess the director."
-Frank S. Nugent, 26 December 1938
"''The Last Emperor'' is like an elegant travel brochure. It piques the curiosity. One wants to go. Ultimately it's a let-down."
-Vincent Canby, 20 November 1987
"The movie, which was photographed by Nestor Almendros, even looks haunted and a bit hungry. The colors are mostly muted. The streets of Paris have the cramped look of streets shot in a studio, which recalls the look of films of forty years ago and reflects the feeling of restriction of life in an occupied zone."
-Vincent Canby, 12 October 1980
"The Last Picture Show is not sociology, even though it is sociologically true, nor is it another exercise in romantic nostalgia on the order of Robert Mulligan's Summer of '42. It is filled with carefully researched details of time and place, but although these details are the essential decor of the film, they are not the essence."
-Vincent Canby, 4 October 1971
"Though the choices that shape this exceptionally ambitious, deeply troubling and, at infrequent moments, genuinely transcendent film are often contradictory, they create an extra dimension. Mr. Scorsese's evident struggle with this material becomes as palpable as the story depicted on the screen."
-Janet Maslin, 12 August 1988
"...the one thing that Mr. Visconti has been able to do magnificently — and it's the only thing I imagine he figured he could possibly do with the shimmering, atmospheric material of Mr. di Lampedusa's book—is translate in terms of brilliant pictures, almost like paintings, the autumnal mood of change and decay that the onrush of social revolution brought to one family and to the spirits of one strong man."
-Bosley Crowther, 13 August 1963
""Colonel Blimp" is as unmistakably a British product as Yorkshire pudding and, like the latter, it has a delectable savor all its own."
-Bosley Crowther, 30 March 1945
""Life Is Sweet," a title that should not be taken as irony, demands that the audience accept its meandering manner without expectations of the big dramatic event or the boffo laugh. It is very funny, but without splitting the sides."
-Vincent Canby, 25 October 1991
"One of the more striking aspects of ''Lola'' is Fassbinder's extraordinary use of color. Scenes are sometimes shot in the subtle ways of chiaroscuro and sometimes with the blatancy of a piece of Pop art, as when, near the end, von Bohm is always seen in an electricblue light and Lola is drenched in pinky-lavender, even when they share the same film frame."
-Vincent Canby, 4 August 1982
"The late Miss Carol, with her hair dyed jet black, is a cold, stony-faced sphinx throughout, but I'm not sure this really detracts from the movie, which is really a tableau in itself. Ophuls did such flamboyant things with his CinemaScope color camera that the ripely romantic spell might have been broken by a more human presence."
-Vincent Canby, 23 September 1968
"Harold emerges as an unexpectedly captivating man, even in a movie that concentrates on his savagery. In a scene that shows him rounding up all possible suspects and hanging them, upside-down from meat hooks to interrogate them, Harold still maintains his aplomb. Mr. Hoskins makes him as clever and understandable as he is abhorrent."
-Janet Maslin, 2 April 1982
"With the aid of simple but pointed dialogue, his shots of the lovers meeting by chance in a moonlit garden, walking hand in hand through fields and forest, by a millwheel to the sounds of a gurgling stream, and making love in a drifting boat and in the quiet of a manor house are strangely beautiful evocations of love."
-A.H. Weiler, 27 October 1959
"The notable thing about it is its frank inconclusiveness—its clear incidental indications that romance is perpetually pursued by young people seeking that something that can never be found totally. It is hopeful—but realistic. And full of delicious characters."
-Bosley Crowther, 27 October 1966
"It is regrettable that such a wealth of talent and imaginative direction was not put into some other story, for the actions of this Murderer, even though they are left to the imagination are too hideous to contemplate."
-M.H., 3 April 1933
" It's grand opera. It's a Freemasonry fable. It was made for Swedish television and reportedly cost about $650,000, which would barely cover the expenses of a Hollywood motorcycle movie. It's based on a work with a magnificent score but with a libretto whose second act seems to have forgotten how the first act started.
Yet Ingmar Bergman's screen version of Mozart's The Magic Flute, which opened at the Coronet yesterday, is an absolutely dazzling film entertainment, so full of beauty, intelligence, wit, and fun that it becomes a testimonial not only to man's possibilities but also to his high spirits."
-Vincent Canby, 12 November 1975
"This is a lasting memorial to the devotion of artists working under fire, a permanent proof for posterity that it takes more than bombs to squelch the English wit."
-Bosley Crowther, 15 May 1941
"Although the conclusion is tragic and the burden of its story is somber, the film is by no means an unrelieved exercise in melancholy. Mr. McCarey is too much a comedy director for that..."
-Frank S. Nugent, 10 May 1937
""The Marriage of Maria Braun" may be Mr. Fassbinder's most perfectly realized comedy to date, though the movie's last three minutes remain, for me, utter confusion."
-Vincent Canby, 14 October 1979
"Is [Kaurismaki's] native Finland as dreary as it seems in his movies, he was asked at a press conference? Smoking a cigarette and drinking a bottle of beer, the director answered in a monotone, ''It's a wonderland.'' He is obviously the prototypical Kaurismaki character: a droll personality stingy with words yet offering vast irony through his impassive presence."
-Caryn James, 3 October 1990
"Miss [Danielle] Darrieux, since lured by Universal to Hollywood, has a cameo-like perfection of feature and a limpid serenity of manner which make her portrayal of the tragic young Baroness one of the hauntingly charming performances of the year."
-Frank S. Nugent, 14 September 1937
"Some of the young actors seem awkward at first. Whether they actually improve during the film, or whether the self-consciousness is integral to the method of the ensemble performance, it's difficult to tell."
-Vincent Canby, 23 March 1990
"There's a stunning sequence in Santiago when Beth, unable to get home before curfew, spends an endless night hiding in an alley, hearing in the distance gunfire and other sounds not easily identified. At one point a terrified white horse goes galloping down an otherwise deserted street, pursued by soldiers firing random shots from a speeding jeep. In this sequence as elsewhere, the camera work by Ricardo Aronovich is very fine indeed."
-Vincent Canby, 12 February 1982
"For all M. Tati's slapstick thwacking at the ultra-modern boobs (and he winds up and lets go most stoutly when a garden-party gathering is exposed), he gets his most genuine humor out of the old house in which Hulot lives, out of his neighbors, the market-stall keepers, the expansive street sweeper and the local dogs. It is in the company of these people, much like those with whom he spent his holiday, that Hulot exudes supreme good nature and not just bewilderment and alarm."
-Bosley Crowther, 4 November 1958
"Neil Jordan's ''Mona Lisa'' is classy kitsch. It's as smooth and distinctive (and, ultimately, as insubstantial) as the old Nat (King) Cole recording of the song, which gives the film its title and a lot of its mood. It's also got high style, so you needn't hate yourself for liking it."
-Vincent Canby, 13 June 1986
"The whole thing is simply a series of comic mix-ups and casual caricatures, revealing how solemnly and strenuously people go about the job of enjoying themselves."
-Bosley Crowther, 17 June 1954
"..."Monsieur Verdoux" is an engrossingly wry and paradoxical film, screamingly funny in places, sentimental in others, sometimes slow and devoted to an unusually serious and sobering argument. This is that the individual murderer — "the small businessman in murder," as the protagonist says — is regarded as a criminal, but the big businessman, the munitions manufacturer, and the professional soldiers who contribute to murder on a mass scale are given great honors and monetary rewards."
-Bosley Crowther, 4 July 1964
"Mr. Lynch's distillation of Hollywood vibrates weirdly between the present and the pop cultural climate of 40 years ago. It is a place where a ludicrous monster in a bear costume hides behind a graffiti-spattered Denny's-like restaurant. In Mr. Lynch's Hollywood, authoritarian moguls of the Otto Preminger type still assert an imperial will in offices that feel like giant mausoleums."
- Stephen Holden, 6 October 2001
"It is, I should say, a happy incest movie, with the addition of a somewhat nervous morality requiring a) that the boy no sooner have his mother than he must rush out to take the nearest unrelated teenage girl, thereby proving his normality, and b) that his mother's joyful experience cancel out a previous extramarital affair, so that she returns to hearth and home. A family that plays together stays together."
-Roger Greenspun, 18 October 1971
"''My Beautiful Laundrette'' has the broad scope and the easy pace that one associates with our best theatrical films. It puts its own truth above the fear of possibly offending someone. Without showing off, it has courage as well as artistry."
- Vincent Canby, 7 March 1986
"...the gentlemen are perfect. Their humors are earthy. Their activities are taut. The mortality rate is simply terrific. And the picture goes off with several bangs."
-Bosley Crowther, 4 December 1946
"''My Dinner with Andre'' is not a conventional movie, but it is a movie. However, I wouldn't advise anyone to see it after a satisfyingly big dinner. It's easier to watch other people eat, and to listen to other people talk, when one is hungry."
-Vincent Canby, 8 October 1981
"Sometimes (especially in its funnier moments) it recalls the gravity with which Francois Truffaut remembered childhood. At other times, however, it suggests a 1980's variation on the prettified, idealized, sentimental view of kids favored by the Hollywood producers who made fortunes with Jackie Coogan, Jackie Cooper, Shirley Temple, Margaret O'Brien and their lesser spinoffs."
-Vincent Canby, 24 March 1987
"I'd even go so far as to call "Ma Nuit Chez Maud" civilized, except for the fact that that adjective usually recalls some boring film adaptation of a Lillian Hellman play in which people talk canned wisdom as they move from fireplace to settee to French windows, all the while anticipating some melodramatic disaster."
-Vincent Canby, 24 September 1969
""My Own Private Idaho" is essentially a road movie that, in its subversive way, almost qualifies as a romantic comedy except that its characters are so forlorn."
-Vincent Canby, 27 September 1991
"There are so many story lines in Nashville that one is more or less coerced into dealing in abstractions."
-Vincent Canby, 12 June 1975
"The locale is crushingly rural, the atmosphere of "the sticks" is intense, and Robert Mitchum plays the murderous minister with an icy unctuousness that gives you the chills. There is more than malevolence and menace in his character. There is a strong trace of Freudian aberration, fanaticism and iniquity."
-Bosley Crowther, 30 September 1955
"Before the great ship hits the iceberg that is to send it and the majority of the voyagers to their doom, the screen playwright, Eric Ambler, and the director, Roy Baker, introduce the most immediate and obvious villain in the drama. It is the ship Californian and her incredibly obtuse captain."
-Bosley Crowther, 17 December 1958
"...Mr. Hecht has written and Mr. Hitchcock has directed in brilliant style a romantic melodrama which is just about as thrilling as they come—velvet smooth in dramatic action, sharp and sure in its characters and heavily charged with the intensity of warm emotional appeal. As a matter of fact, the distinction of "Notorious" as a film is the remarkable blend of love story with expert "thriller" that it represents."
-Bosley Crowther, 16 August 1946
"Being a graduate master of the cinematic "chase," Mr. Reed has constructed this grim coursing like nothing he has ever done before. From the moment he joins with his protagonist in the upstairs room of a Belfast slum, plotting a factory robbery in order to raise funds for a rebel "cause," he had colored and paced this terrible manhunt with the precision of a thundering symphony."
-Bosley Crowther, 24 April 1947
"Under the director's expert guidance, Marlon Brando's Terry Malloy is a shatteringly poignant portrait of an amoral, confused, illiterate citizen of the lower depths who is goaded into decency by love, hate and murder. His groping for words, use of the vernacular, care of his beloved pigeons, pugilist's walk and gestures and his discoveries of love and the immensity of the crimes surrounding him are highlights of a beautiful and moving portrayal."
-A.H. Weiler, 29 July 1954
"There are moments when the audience giggled in expectation, and other incidents aroused hearty mirth. As it is now, "One Hour With You" is a kind of operetta, with some of the lines in rhyme and occasional outbursts of song."
-Mordaunt Hall, 24 March 1932
"Possibly for some persons who are accustomed to the routine sort of film, it will be completely bewildering and leave a sad sense of emptiness. But at least it cannot fail to rattle the windowpanes of your eyes."
-Bosley Crowther, 30 March 1948
"Perhaps Mr. Sturges was trying to see how thin he could slice it and still get by. Perhaps he was making an experiment in conversational comedy. Anyhow, he is short on action and very long on trivial talk in this mildly satiric little fable about a young wife who leaves her baffled spouse because she has the odd notion that he can get along better without her, goes to Florida intending to divorce him and there encounters a fabulously rich gent who finally plays Fairy Godfather in the conventional story-book way."
-Bosley Crowther, 11 December 1942
"We feel that Mr. Kubrick—and Mr. Douglas—have made a damaging mistake in playing it in colloquial English, with American accents and attitudes, while studiously making it look as much as possible like a document of the French Army in World War I. The illusion of reality is blown completely whenever anybody talks."
-Bosley Crowther, 26 December 1957
"...its evident contemplation of a singular phenomenon of transfer of personality between an older mental patient and her pretty, lonely nurse is rich in poetic intimations of subconscious longings and despairs, and it is likely to move one more deeply as poetry than as thought."
-Bosley Crowther, 7 March 1967
"...the climate is so brutish and the business so sadistic in this tale of pickpockets, demireps, informers, detectives and Communist spies that the whole thing becomes a trifle silly as it slashes and slambangs along, and the first thing you know its grave pretenses are standing there, artless and absurd."
-Bosley Crowther, 18 June 1953
"The movie business is supposed to exist so that people other than its artists can lose their shirts in it, thereby to gain things that are called (by those who can use them) tax-loss carry-forwards. I hope Playtime will make Tati very rich so that at some future time he can use a tax-loss carry-forward."
-Vincent Canby, 28 June 1973
"Mr. Laughton not only reveals his genius as an actor, but also shows himself to be a past master in the art of make-up. In this offering he sometimes looks as if he had stepped from the frame of Holbein's painting of Henry."
-Mordaunt Hall, 13 October 1933
"To put a completely straight face upon the matter, Pygmalion, which had its premiere at the Astor last night, marks the debut of a promising screenwriter, George Bernard Shaw."
-[occasional humorist] Frank S. Nugent, 8 December 1938
"When Jimmy, in one of the film's most stunning set-pieces, dives into a crowd of dancers at a seaside resort, as much to vent his frustration as to attract attention, the spirit resembles that of an early Who concert — the kind that concluded with Mr. Townshend's furiously smashing his guitar."
-Janet Maslin, 2 November 1979
"It's difficult to write about ''Ran'' without making it sound terribly worthy - the sort of movie that's a solemn duty to see. Everything about it is intimidating."
-Vincent Canby, 22 June 1986
"Much of the power of the picture—and it unquestionably has hypnotic power—derives from the brilliance with which the camera of director Akira Kurosawa has been used. The photography is excellent and the flow of images is expressive beyond words."
-Bosley Crowther, 27 December 1951
"Miss du Maurier's tale of the second mistress of Manderley, a simple and modest and self-effacing girl who seemed to have no chance against every one's—even her husband's—memories of the first, tragically deceased Mrs. de Winter, was one that demanded a film treatment evocative of a menacing mood, fraught with all manner of hidden meaning, gaited to the pace of an executioner approaching the fatal block. That, as you need not be told, is Hitchcock's meat and brandy."
-Frank S. Nugent, 29 March 1940
"In the dense, archly mysterious films of Krzysztof Kieslowski, bold but ineffable patterns shape the characters' lives. Coincidences, missed opportunities, overbearing visual clues and strange, haunting parallels: all of these contribute to a gradually emerging sense of destiny. Stories develop like photographs in a darkroom. They are sharply defined only in retrospect, when the process is complete."
-Janet Maslin, 4 October 1994
"He [Hawks] has also got several fine performances out of a solidly masculine cast, topped off by a withering job of acting a boss-wrangler done by Mr. Wayne. This consistently able portrayer of two-fisted, two-gunned outdoor men surpasses himself in this picture. We wouldn't want to tangle with him."
-Bosley Crowther, 1 October 1948
"...not only is the story a frankly sentimental affair, true to the stanchest conventions of triumphal love and bitter tears, but it is played by a splendid cast of actors who have the grace and the pace of dancers themselves. Indeed, many of them are dancers, as is natural, and they frequently perform, so that the rhythm and movement of their dancing transmits easily into the dramatic scenes."
-Bosley Crowther, 23 October 1948
"''Repo Man'' frequently seems to be as zonked as Mr. Stanton's cocaine-sniffing Bud. It's not a big- budget, ''Ghostbusters'' of a movie, but it's very entertaining, and though it's rude in an R-rated way, it has the good taste never to promise more than it can deliver."
-Vincent Canby, 6 July 1984
"Prepare yourself to be demolished when you go to see it—and go you must, because it's one of those films everybody will soon be buzzing about. It's the David and Lisa—only better—of this newspaper strike. To miss it would be worse than missing Psycho, if you've a taste for this sort of thing."
-Bosley Crowther, 4 October 1965
"Sir Laurence's Richard is tremendous—a weird, poisonous portrait of a super-rogue whose dark designs are candidly acknowledged with lick-lip relish and sardonic wit. Heavily made-up with one dead eyelid, a hatchet nose, a withered hand, a humped back, a drooping shoulder, and a twisted, limping leg, he is a freakish-looking figure that Sir Laurence so articulates that he has an electric vitality and a fascinatingly grotesque grace."
-Bosley Crowther, 12 March 1956
"The plot, in case you need a respite, involves a corporate vice president (Ronny Cox) who is in cahoots with the bad guys, and another executive (Miguel Ferrer) who is a cocaine-sniffing decadent. Is that meant to be a comment on big business? Don't worry about it."
-Walter Goodman, 17 July 1987
"The robbery itself is terrific—a good solid half-hour in which the four thieves who have planned it with precision get into the apartment above the jewelry store and then, with the skill and calculation of expert engineers, cut their way down into the office and into the formidable safe. Mr. Dassin has staged it like a ballet. Not a word is spoken by the thieves in that half-hour, which represents the better part of a night—from midnight until 6 A. M. in elapsed time. But he has paced it and checked it against a wristwatch until you in the audience almost scream when somebody accidentally touches a piano key or a little thing goes wrong."
-Bosley Crowther, 6 June 1956
"All of its exterior action is in the streets and open places of Rome; the interior scenes are played quite obviously in actual buildings or modest sets. The stringent necessity for economy compelled the producers to make a film that has all the appearance and flavor of a straight documentary."
-Bosley Crowther, 26 February 1946
"Spectacular, too, is a new young actor named Daniel Day Lewis, who plays the insufferable Cecil Vyse with a style and a wit that are all the more remarkable when compared to his very different characterization in ''My Beautiful Laundrette''."
- Vincent Canby, 7 March 1986
"If a person exhibits paranoid symptoms these days it would seem common decency not to report him, at least, to the persons he claims to be persecuted by, and when Mia Farrow tells what is, after all, a highly plausible story to her obstetrician in Rosemary's Baby, it seems wrong of him to deliver her straight to a coven of witches that has designs on her baby. Lord knows how many cases of extremely accurate reporting are cured each day by psychiatrists."
-Renata Adler, 13 June 1968
"One minute they're making sleek Noël Coward talk about art and free love, the next they're behaving like a Li'l Abner family reunion, chasing each other from pantry to boudoir to the din of wrecked furniture, yelling, and random gunfire."
-Howard Thompson, 19 January 1961
"Oh, sure, the place has faculty, but none of the grown-ups has anything like Max's natural authority."
-Janet Maslin, 9 October 1998
"Salesman is not a total movie—that is, a complete experience—as a fiction film may aspire to be. It is fact, photographed and recorded with extraordinarily mobile camera and sound equipment, and then edited and carefully shaped into a kind of cinematic mural of faces, words, motel rooms, parlors, kitchens, streets, television images, radio music—even weather."
-Vincent Canby, 18 April 1969
"This is a new thing for Kurosawa, this making almost a joke of the heroic personality and the conventional conflicts in a samurai film. But while it is startling and refreshing, it isn't brought off with thorough success."
-Bosley Crowther, 8 May 1963
"In Mizoguchi's world, the end of living is to achieve minimal differentiation from the landscape — like the daughter walking to her watery death or the mother sitting at the edge of the sea."
-Roger Greenspun, 17 December 1969
" Most ordinary films made for television seem empty when seen in a theater. There simply isn't enough visual and emotional detail to keep the mind occupied. It's like looking at a photomural in Grand Central Terminal, one of those elephantine enlargements of an Instamatic snap.
The absolute opposite is true of Scenes from a Marriage. Although we seldom see more than two persons at a time, and usually only one, the theater screen is bursting with information, associations, and contradictory feelings."
-Vincent Canby, 16 September 1974
"The result is something of a cinematic tour de force, both for Mr. Altman and for the previously unknown to me Philip Baker Hall, whose contribution is a legitimate, bravura performance, not a ''Saturday Night Live'' impersonation."
-Vincent Canby, 7 June 1985
"...although the occurrence of this crisis is set in the sixteenth century in a village in Japan, it could be transposed without surrendering a basic element to the nineteenth century and a town on our own frontier."
-Bosley Crowther, 20 November 1956
"Mr. Lanzmann does not search for heroes in the Holocaust. He makes no effort to highlight the many acts of kindness and courage that indivuals rose to. ''Shoah'' 's aim, he said, is to reveal the machinery of death in all of its detail, but it is not to isolate or vindicate individual experiences."
-Richard Bernstein, 20 October 1985
"This initially mystifying drama, known in Swedish as "Det Sjunde Inseglet," opened yesterday at the Paris, and slowly turns out to be a piercing and powerful contemplation of the passage of man upon this earth. Essentially intellectual, yet emotionally stimulating, too, it is as tough—and rewarding—a screen challenge as the moviegoer has had to face this year."
-Bosley Crowther, 14 October 1958
"Life in bedlams is still no bed of roses, and Samuel Fuller, who wrote, produced and directed this movie descent into madness, certainly succeeds in shocking, if not particularly convincing, a logical moviegoer."
-Bosley Crowther, 12 September 1963
"Nuttiness, pure and simple—nuttiness of the sort that has a surly kidnapper in a presumably serious scene swearing to something on the life of his mother, whereupon there's a cut to the mother dropping dead—surges and swirls through the tangle of solemn intimations in this film until one finds it hard to see or figure what M. Truffaut is about."
-Bosley Crowther, 24 July 1962
"...Jan Kadar and Elmar Klos, who made this film, have constructed a human drama that is a moving manifesto of the dark dilemma that confronted all people who were caught as witnesses to Hitler's terrible crime. "Is one his brother's keeper?" is the thundering question the situation asks, and then, as supplement, "Are not all men brothers?" The answer given is a grim acknowledgment."
-Bosley Crowther, 25 January 1966
"...Alex Cox, who directed ''Repo Man,'' saw the Sid and Nancy story as the occasion for a sordid, intentionally ugly and sometimes unexpectedly beautiful film, a pitch-black comedy about wasted love. At the very least, you have to admire his nerve."
-Janet Maslin, 3 October 1986
"Whether this strange amalgam of various states of loneliness and lust articulates a message may be questionable, but it does, at least, resolve into a vaguely affecting experience that moves one like a vagrant symphony."
-Bosley Crowther, 4 February 1964
"Through the bulletproof glass, in dizzy succession, Hannibal and Clarice become analyst and analysand, teacher and pupil, father and daughter, lover and beloved, while always remaining cat and mouse."
-Vincemt Canby, 14 February 1991
"Mr. Bergman, whose previous pictures seen here have been on the deeply serious side, keeps this one light and intriguing with a fine blend of stylized high comedy and farce. His gentlemen are sternly pompous figures while his ladies are sweetly pliable. The matter most pointedly satirized is masculine" dignity.""
-Bosley Crowther, 24 December 1957
"It is a spotty, uneven drama in which the entire opening phase representing the basic-training program in a gladiatorial school is lively, exciting and expressive, no matter how true to history it is, and the middle phase is pretentious and tedious, because it is concerned with the dull strife of politics."
-Bosley Crowther, 7 October 1960
"...lovely Miss Bergman is both the doctor and prescription in this film. She is the single stimulation of dramatic logic and audience belief. For the fact is the story of "Spellbound" is a rather obvious and often-told tale. And it depends, despite its truly expert telling, upon the illusion of the lady in the leading role."
-Bosley Crowther, 2 November 1945
"Mr. Ford is not one of your subtle directors, suspending sequences on the wink of an eye or the precisely calculated gleam of a candle in a mirror. He prefers the broadest canvas, the brightest colors, the widest brush and the boldest possible strokes. He hews to the straight narrative line with the well-reasoned confidence of a man who has seen that narrative succeed before. He takes no shadings from his characters: either they play it straight or they don't play at all. He likes his language simple and he doesn't want too much of it. When his Redskins bite the dust, he expects to hear the thud and see the dirt spurt up. Above all, he likes to have things happen out in the open, where his camera can keep them in view."
-Frank S. Nugent, 3 March 1939
"[Fellini's] story of an itinerant strong man and the simpleminded girl who is his foil and helpmeet is a modern picaresque parable. Like life itself, it is seemingly aimless, disjointed on occasion and full of truth and poetry. Like the principals, it wanders along a sad and sometimes comic path while accentuating man's loneliness and need for love."
-A.H. Weiler, 17 July 1956
"Jim Jarmusch's ''Stranger Than Paradise'' looks as if it had been left on the windowsill too long. Shot in 16- millimeter black-and-white, and now blown up to 35 millimeter, its images appear to have been aged by the sun and by general neglect until they've faded into a uniform shade of gray. When, occasionally, there's a splotch of comparatively pure black or white, the effect is disorienting until you recognize what Mr. Jarmusch is up to - that is, discovering the ludicrously sublime in the supremely tacky."
-Vincent Canby, 29 September 1984
"...I was more than a little surprised by the poor quality of either the staging of or the editing of this final sequence, which results in total confusion as to who is doing what to whom and where, at any given moment. In movies about besieged fortresses, we always have a right to know where we are, and how the ammo supply is holding out."
-Vincent Canby, 20 January 1972
"As a writer and director, Mr. Sturges believes in pictures which will make the customers laugh, but he obviously has his own opinions about the shams of showmanship. And thus this truly brilliant serio-comedy which makes fun of films with "messages" carries its own paradoxical moral and its note of tragedy. Laughter, it says, is "better than nothing in this cock-eyed caravan.""
-Bosley Crowther, 29 January 1942
"The challenge thus set of making Venice the moving force in propelling [Arthur Laurents' stage] play has been met by Mr. Lean as the director with magnificent feeling and skill. Through the lens of his color camera, the wondrous city of spectacles and moods becomes a rich and exciting organism that fairly takes command of the screen. And the curious hypnotic fascination of that labyrinthine place beside the sea is brilliantly conveyed to the viewer as the impulse for the character's passing moods."
-Bosley Crowther, 22 June 1955
"An additional element of beauty and eloquence is the musical score, ranging from Handel to Tibetan music and intruded as oblique suggestion of psychic shadows floating over emotional pools, plus wonderfully keen employment of precise and exquisite natural sounds. One place, in which the sing of pebbles skittering over the ice on a lake points a mood of faint depression, is unforgettable."
-Bosley Crowther, 13 November 1962
"...John Schlesinger's fine Sunday, Bloody Sunday,...is all about feelings of late twentieth-century love and desperation, recognized and embraced, but systematically channeled (some might say perverted) into safe areas where they can be controlled and then drawn from, like reservoirs of hope and despair."
-Vincent Canby, 22 September 1971
"A viewer cannot blame Hunsecker too much when he happily exclaims, "I love this dirty old town." It's harder, of course, to fall for the characters in "Sweet Smell of Success." They are mighty interesting but rarely lovable."
-A.H. Weiler, 28 June 1957
"Mr. Kiarostami, like no other filmmaker, has a vision of human scale that is simultaneously epic and precisely minuscule. While each of the men Mr. Badii approaches is a vivid, autonomous individual with a rich personal history and an innate sense of dignity, each is also seen as part of the human anthill."
-Stephen Holden, 27 September 1997
"...in the process of adapting his style to suit such a sweeping and vivid novel, he has achieved something very unlike his other work. Without Mr. Polanski's name in the credits, this lush and scenic Tess could even be mistaken for the work of David Lean."
-Janet Maslin, 12 December 1980
"After one has sat through hours and hours of films by directors who don't know when to stop (and some who should never have started), seeing a work of such perfect control and precision has the effect of magically clearing the mind. It restores one's common sense and one's appreciation for the fantastic, and it reminds us of the profound possibilities of film in the hands of someone we now acknowledge to be an authentic master."
-Vincent Canby, 9 October 1977
"Fairy tales are drenched in the mind with a pattern of colors, and here Mr. Menzies has filled the screen with a breath-taking succession of story-book illustrations — teeming bazaars, marble palaces glistening white against the deep blue sky, the red sails of ships against the sea, dream gardens, the gleam of jewels and open terraces beneath the starry night. The color alone makes this picture a truly exciting entertainment."
-Bosley Crowther, 6 December 1940
"''The Thin Blue Line'' is not really structured as an investigation. It's more like a reverie, filled with strangely exaggerated images and colored by the ominous hum of Philip Glass's score. This means that minor details sometimes assume undue importance, upstaging key facts of the case: Mr. Morris's slow-motion image of a milkshake flying through the air becomes much more memorable than the testimony of the policewoman who was drinking the shake, for example."
-Janet Maslin, 26 August 1988
"Here is a visceral reminder of all that made his past work so hauntingly majestic, even if this movie's difficulties will soon announce themselves with equal clarity. Intermittently brilliant as it is, ''The Thin Red Line'' shows why being a great film director and directing a great film are not the same."
-Janet Maslin, 23 December 1998
"...into this strangely off-beat story of a young American visitor's attempts to get to the bottom of the mystery of a friend's dubious "death" in Vienna's streets, Mr. Reed has brilliantly packaged the whole bag of his cinematic tricks, his whole range of inventive genius for making the camera expound. His eminent gifts for compressing a wealth of suggestion in single shots, for building up agonized tension and popping surprises are fully exercised. His devilishly mischievous humor also runs lightly through the film, touching the darker depressions with little glints of the gay or macabre."
-Bosley Crowther, 3 February 1950
"A master of shock and suspense, of cold horror and slyly incongruous wit, [Hitchcock] uses his camera the way a painter uses his brush, stylizing his story and giving it values which the scenarists could hardly have suspected. By comparison with the sinister delicacy and urbane understatement of The Thirty-Nine Steps, the best of our melodramas seem crude and brawling."
-Andre Sennwald, 14 September 1935
"The most appealing thing about ''This Is Spinal Tap,'' aside from the obvious enthusiasm of all concerned, is the accompanying lack of condescension. Mr. Guest, in particular, does a wonderful job of capturing his character's sincere idiocy."
-Janet Maslin, 2 March 1984
"Even though a dedicated moviegoer has been surfeited by the spate of films illustrating youth wallowing in the lower depths of kitchen-sink dramas, This Sporting Life gives this entire genre meaning and brilliance. But members of this troupe obviously are true to themselves and their audience and are not playing to the hearts and minds of escapists who adore the happy ending. Despite the thick Yorkshire dialect, these are easily recognizable, three-dimensional people seeking a place in the sun, or simply momentary surcease, who project their emotions honestly and effectively."
-A.H. Weiler, 17 July 1963
"If you think it would be amusing to see "Macbeth" done in Japanese, then pop around to the Fifth Avenue Cinema and see Akira Kurosawa's "Throne of Blood." For a free Oriental translation of the Shakespeare drama is what this is, and amusing is the proper word for it. It opened yesterday.
We label it amusing because lightly is the only way to take this substantially serio-comic rendering of the story of an ambitious Scot into a form that combines characteristics of the Japanese No theatre and the American Western film. Probably Mr. Kurosawa, who directed the classic "Rashomon," did not intend it to be amusing for his formalistic countrymen, but its odd amalgamation of cultural contrasts hits the occidental funnybone."
-Bosley Crowther, 23 November 1961
"What makes the performance [of David Bennett as Oskar Matzerath] so remarkable is that although the looks of the character don't change appreciably, the manners, the authority, the wit, and the mind of Oskar do. It's the kind of transformation that makes you believe in the occult."
-Vincent Canby, 11 April 1980
"...in a spirit of levity, contused by frequent doses of shock, Mr. Lubitsch has set his actors to performing a spy-thriller of fantastic design amid the ruins and frightful oppressions of Nazi-in-vaded Warsaw. To say it is callous and macabre is understating the case."
-Bosley Crowther, 7 March 1942
"Ozu will sometimes return to a room or a passageway, now empty, where, a few moments earlier, people had been seen. It is not nostalgia, so much as an acknowledgment that places are sanctified by people and that even when they have gone away, a bit of their presence lingers on."
-Roger Greenspun, 14 March 1972
"Tootsie restores the original meaning to the term "situation comedy," free of the pejorative associations that have accrued over the years because of the glut of awful ones on television. Mr. Pollack and the writers of the screenplay, Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal, have taken a wildly improbable situation and found just about all of its comic possibilities, not by exaggerating the obvious, but by treating it with inspired common sense."
-Vincent Canby, 17 December 1982
"The color scheme sandwiches a few lush patches between sequences filmed in two hues -- an icy blue and a sun-baked yellow-orange -- that are as visually discordant as the forces doing battle."
-Stephen Holden, 27 December 2000
"Mr. Lubitsch has drawn heavily upon Paramount's resources for his scenic designs, which are an important adjunct to this flippant film. Here the director has a flair for beautiful clocks of various types and in one sequence, while the voices of two players are heard carrying on their bantering, all one sees is a clock on a table. When the characters pass into another room, there is still another clock. Upstairs there is a modernistic, grandfather clock and outside a window there is the tower from which chimes tell the hour. The settings are lovely and spacious with meticuluous attention to furnishings. No more inviting example of 1932 decorations has been offered on the screen."
-Mordaunt Hall, 9 November 1932
"This is a drama about tradition and the kind of respect for it held by these two men. Suddenly the elements are assembled, the elements so skillfully contrived in the brilliant direction and color camera work of Ronald Neame—the characteristics of the peacetime soldiers in their old citadel on the high hill, the mellowness and casual spirit of the elegant officers' mess, the subtly planted notion that professional soldiers are not just fellows to please themselves but the guardians of a stern tradition and a selfless responsibility."
-Bosley Crowther, 21 December 1960
"...Reginald Rose's excellent film elaboration of his fine television play of 1954, which arrived at the Capitol Saturday, is a penetrating, sensitive and sometimes shocking dissection of the hearts and minds of men who obviously are something less than gods. It makes for taut, absorbing and compelling drama that reaches far beyond the close confines of its jury room setting."
-A.H. Weiler, 15 April 1957
"It is extraordinary to watch that live and serious child—with beautiful dark eyes and the marvelous dignity of children who are not trying to impress—playing against that enormous old genius. They grow to love each other. The boy shrewdly teases the old man about his anti-Semitism. The old man, in the context of his wife and provincial family, is an incarnation of everything."
-Renata Adler, 20 February 1968
"...it is this peculiar vagueness and use of symbolism and subterfuge that give to this Oriental fable what it has of a sort of eerie charm. They vex you at first with their confusions, but if you have patience, and hold on, intent upon finding out what's cooking, you'll get flavor from this weird, exotic stew."
-Bosley Crowther, 8 September 1954
"In Carlo Battisti, a college professor who never had acted before, Signor De Sica has a perfect reflector of the character of his lonely old man. Never have we seen shame and torment so clearly revealed on a man's face as when this old gentleman endeavors, unsuccessfully, to beg—or such absolute desolation as when he makes his decision to die."
-Bosley Crowther, 8 November 1955
"In the midst of ecstasy, the sweating, exultant Sabina tells Tomas, ''You are the complete opposite of kitsch,'' though without defining the term. It makes no difference. It's clear that, to Sabina, whatever Tomas is doing, he's doing it right."
-Vincent Canby, 5 February 1988
"The actors wear street clothes. The props aren't more than tables, chairs and takeout coffee cups. The intent-looking audience consists only of Mr. Gregory and a few friends. And the absence of obvious artifice is used by Mr. Malle to focus attention entirely on a group of forthright, unmannered actors, with the camera appearing to gaze into their very souls."
-Janet Maslin, 19 October 1994
"Mr. Cronenberg, who also directed ''Scanners,'' is developing a real genius for this sort of thing; one measure of the innovativeness of ''Videodrome'' is that it feels vaguely futuristic, even though it's apparently set in the present."
-Janet Maslin, 4 February 1983
"Whether Señor Buñuel means his picture as a reflection of all people or just the people of Spain is not clear nor, indeed, is it essential. It is an ugly, depressing view of life. And, to be frank about it, it is a little old-fashioned, too."
-Bosley Crowther, 20 March 1962
"The excitement derives entirely from the awareness of nitroglycerine and the gingerly, breathless handling of it. You sit there waiting for the theatre to explode."
-Bosley Crowther, 17 February 1955
"Roeg uses the camera; wide shots, close-ups, colors and textures; to create a sense of unmediated perception as if we were seeing the world for the very first time."
-A.O. Scott, 12 October 2010
"There are plot fragments at the beginning, betrayals, dire conspiracies to murder, detailed, intimate (and highly comic) sexual anecdotes. They lead nowhere."
-Renata Adler, 28 September 1968
"If any of you thought you had trouble understanding what Ingmar Bergman was trying to convey in his beautifully poetic and allegorical Swedish film, "The Seventh Seal," wait until you see his "Wild Strawberries".... This one is so thoroughly mystifying that we wonder whether Mr. Bergman himself knew what he was trying to say."
-Bosley Crowther, 23 June 1959
"Men have envisioned angels in many forms, but who besides Wim Wenders has seen them as sad, sympathetic, long-haired men in overcoats, gliding through a beautiful black-and-white Berlin on the lookout for human suffering?"
-Janet Maslin, 29 April 1988
" Like all fine fiction writers, Miss O'Connor created a self-contained world that was immediately recognizable although very bizarre. No matter how odd the characters and how grotesque the events, one believes in her world because, among other things, it is consistent within itself.
This is one of the achievements of Wise Blood, which is lyrically mad and absolutely compelling even when we don't fully comprehend it. Shot in the South, the film presents us with familiar landscapes in which, however, all the people appear to be just slightly removed from the reality we know."
-Vincent Canby, 29 September 1979
"In a starkly atmospheric setting and with an eerie musical score, this drama develops an engulfing sense of spiritual discouragement and decay."
-Bosley Crowther, 17 September 1964
"Where Mr. Hudson is stalwart, disciplined, able and serene, Mr. Stack is weak, irresponsible, incompetent and as flighty as a bird. And where Mr. Hudson is clearly a first-class ladies' man, Mr. Stack is something of a wash-out—or so it would appear."
-Bosley Crowther, 12 January 1957
"An additional element of beauty and eloquence is the musical score, ranging from Handel to Tibetan music and intruded as oblique suggestion of psychic shadows floating over emotional pools, plus wonderfully keen employment of precise and exquisite natural sounds. One place, in which the sing of pebbles skittering over the ice on a lake points a mood of faint depression, is unforgettable."
-Elvis Mitchell 6 October 2001
"The English translation, ''A One and a Two,'' suggests a bandleader counting off, and ''Yi Yi,'' composed with the meticulous discipline of a symphony, nonetheless has the swing and spontaneity of group improvisation."
-A.O. Scott, 4 October 2000
"Kurosawa is a master director. He can work up a melodramatic scene, such as that final street fight (as in High Noon or Red River), so that it gets you, kimonos and all. Or he can catch a close-up of his hero's battered face in a deep shadow, with one good eye lit by a beam of light that fires it with invincible savage defiance."
-Bosley Crowther, 16 October 1962
"Henry Fonda's characterization is one of those once-in-a-blue-moon things: a crossroads meeting of nature, art and a smart casting director. Nature gave Mr. Fonda long legs and arms, a strong and honest face and a slow smile; the make-up man added a new nose bridge, the lank brown hair, the frock coat and stove-pipe hat (the beard hadn't begun to sprout in those days) and the trace of a mole. Mr. Fonda supplied the rest—the warmth and kindliness, the pleasant modesty, the courage, resolution, tenderness, shrewdness and wit that Lincoln, even young Mr. Lincoln, must have possessed. His performance kindles the film, makes it a moving unity, at once gentle and quizzically comic."
-Frank S. Nugent, 3 June 1939
"...Zéro de Conduite (Zero for Conduct), a study of life in a French boarding school for boys, is a series of vignettes lampooning the faculty climaxed by a weird, dreamlike rebellion of the entire student body. These amorphous scenes, strung together by a vague continuity, may be art but they are also pretty chaotic."
-A.H. Weller, 23 June 1947