Vertigo (1958)

Not just one of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpieces, Vertigo (1958) is one of the best movies. This psychological thriller remains as controversial and unique as when it was first released, in part due to its themes of necrophilia and romantic obsession, unresolved plot discrepancies, off-putting plot twists, as well as Kim Novak's acting job–with some saying […]

Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (1953)

It's a week after Bastille Day and we're having a heatwave. What better reasons to watch Monsieur Hulot's Holiday (1953)? Jacques Tati's delightful satire of vacationing at the French seashore is nearly silent, making it ideal for those who don't like subtitles. The dearth of dialog is more than compensated for by the music, Tati's […]

Hobson’s Choice (1954)

The later career of David Lean–typified by monumental epics like Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago–is of little interest to me. Instead, I’m a great fan of Lean’s earlier gems. Brief Encounter is one of my very favorite movies by any director and I’ve always been fond of Summertime and Blithe Spirit. Hobson’s Choice, another […]

North By Northwest (1959)

North By Northwest is probably Hitchcock’s most fun picture. Rear Window, my favorite, has fun elements, but the brutal homicide–off-camera, granted–at its core is the subject of much graphic byplay. Northwest’s violence, on the other hand, is comic. Even the UN stabbing is bloodless. And sex constantly threatens to overtake the thriller aspects of the […]

Bigger Than Life (1956)

Bigger Than Life is a terrific combination of three film types that flourished in the repressed cinema of the 1950s: the thriller, the suburban melodrama, and the “message movie.” However, a description of its fairly simple premise—James Mason is a teacher addicted to cortisone used to treat a chronic illness—makes it sound less than compelling. […]

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh leave an indelible impression with iconic and Academy Award-nominated performances (Leigh won) in this iconic film adaptation of an iconic American play. Brando gets most of the attention now, but Leigh deserves as much. Her misfortune is that she was never considered a ground-breaking actress, just a great one, and […]