Category Old Movies

The Hitchcock Comedy You’ve Never Seen

MR. AND MRS. SMITH (1941) All right, readers, I’ve finally watched all of Alfred Hitchcock’s American movies. Though I’m surprised it took this long, I never went near 1941’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith until now. Out of 53 full-length movies, this comes in at #26, the end of his first half, in a way. He’d […]


Two hours into Patton, George C. Scott surveys the wounded, with the smoke of battle rolling by. “I love it,” he says as George Patton. “God help me, I do love it so. I love it more than my life.” War is all there is for this General Patton, the merciless commander of the Third […]

The Director’s Chair: David Fincher

The first trailer for David Fincher’s Gone Girl went online this morning, and despite the optimistic cover of “She,” the director’s trademark ominous sensibilities are in plain sight. Yes, David Fincher’s Gone Girl is the right billing, though Gillian Flynn obviously wrote the book. Fincher works best at reinventing pulp novels like House of Cards and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, submerging […]

Best Picture Revisited: Rebecca (1940)

By the forties, Alfred Hitchcock was the leading creative force on his films, mostly lightweight spy capers like The Lady Vanishes. He had signed a contract with David O. Selznick for a series of American movies, with larger budgets than his British work. But from the outset, he wrestled with Selznick over control: Hitchcock pushed […]

WHAT A CHARACTER!: The Detective Next Door

For our first year joining the WHAT A CHARACTER! blogathon, we focus on character actor Martin Balsam. Never a scene-stealer, Balsam played his parts assuredly, with little showmanship. You’ve probably seen him. He pops up in seventy movies from the 1950s to the 1990s, starting out as an uncredited heavy in On the Waterfront and […]

You’ll Never Be Hungry Again – Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait

I’m biased in my affection for actress Vivien Leigh. She lived a vibrant, but tragically short life, dying of tuberculosis at 53. With only 19 film credits to her name, she became an instant worldwide recognized star for her portrayal of Scarlett O’Hara in 1939’s Gone with the Wind, winning Best Actress. 11 years later […]

Best Picture Revisited: Hamlet (1948)

Many Best Picture winners from Casablanca to The Godfather now seem like obvious choices for the big award. How could the Oscars have dreamed of not awarding Lawrence of Arabia or On the Waterfront? In this column, we’ll revisit the other Best Pictures that aren’t as well-known. Have all the winners held up so well? […]