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. […]

Raging Bull (1980)

Truly operatic in style and scale, Raging Bull is the perfect combination of movement, music, dialog, acting, directing, and photography. The dreamlike fight sequences are like balletic interludes. The waking scenes of Jake LaMotta’s more mundane–but no less brutal–emoting are strangely compelling. In Coal Miner’s Daughter, the domestic violence is inevitable, no matter how fine […]