Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

Sergio Leone died on April 30, 1989 – 21 years ago today. To commemorate Leone, my favorite director, I am posting this tribute to Once Upon a Time in the West, my favorite film. It’s an epic film, and so only an epic post will do. So strap on your holster, load your six-shooter, grab […]

The Four Hundred Blows (François Truffaut, 1959)

“Oh, I lie now and then, I suppose. Sometimes I’d tell them the truth and they still wouldn’t believe me, so I prefer to lie.” Plot Summary: A troubled youth, Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) turns to a life of petty crime and delinquency. Review: The Four Hundred Blows was neither the first nor the last […]

The Godfather: Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

“If anything in this life is certain – if history has taught us anything – it’s that you can kill anybody.”          Plot Summary: Sequel to The Godfather compares and contrasts the two Corleone dons, flashing back and forth between Michael’s (Al Pacino) consolidation of power in Las Vegas, Miami and Cuba in the 1950’s […]

Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood, 2008)

“God, I’ve got more in common with these gooks than I do my own spoiled-rotten family.” Plot summary: A racist white man protects his Hmong neighbors from a local gang. Review: Early in 2008 Eastwood released Changeling, a dreadfully overlong stinker whose hack direction displays an amazing fidelity to melodramatic cliché. The film has, among […]

The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman, 1973)

“Nobody cares but me” Plot summary: Private eye Philip Marlowe attempts to get to the bottom of his friend’s supposed suicide in this offbeat adaptation of the Raymond Chandler novel. Review: It doesn’t take long to realize that Altman’s The Long Goodbye offers a very skewed vision of Chandler’s Philip Marlowe: the first time he steps outside his […]

Election (Alexander Payne, 1999)

Tracy Flick: “None of this would have happened if Mr. McAllister hadn’t meddled the way he did. He should have just accepted things as they are instead of trying to interfere with destiny. You see, you can’t interfere with destiny. That’s why it’s destiny. And if you try to interfere, the same thing’s going to […]

Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)

“New York Herald Tribune!” Plot Summary: After killing a cop with a jump cut, Jean-Paul Belmondo’s Bogart-imitating anti-hero hangs out with his American lover (Jean Seberg). Review: Breathless is invariably the first film that leaps to mind whenever the subject of the French New Wave is broached, no doubt because it epitomizes the philosophy, aesthetic, […]

3:10 to Yuma (Delmer Daves, 1957; James Mangold, 2007)

“Squeezin’ that watch ain’t gonna stop time.” Plot Summary: After notorious outlaw Ben Wade (Glen Ford, Russell Crowe) is captured, a down-on-his-luck rancher, Dan Evans (Van Heflin, Christian Bale), escorts him to the town of Contention, where they hole up together in a hotel room and await the arrival of the 3:10 train to Yuma […]

The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949)

“Go home Martins, like a sensible chap. You don’t know what you’re mixing in.” Plot Summary: American writer Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) travels to postwar Vienna, where he investigates the suspicious circumstances surrounding the mysterious death of his old friend, Harry Lime (Orson Welles).    Review: Although producer David O. Selznick wanted to construct a studio recreation of Vienna […]

El (Luis Buñuel, 1953)

“My suspicions have been confirmed” Plot Summary: A man is driven insane by his irrational jealousy over his wife’s nonexistent infidelity. Review: In L’Age d’or Bunuel wryly suggested how natural sexual impulses, when blocked, tend to manifest themselves in perverse, unnatural modes of expression, as when, memorably, the sexually frustrated heroine is moved to lustfully suck […]