For the Love of the Con
The best movies about con artists highlight something their makers share with the fraudsters they depict: an intuitive sense of people’s desires and a talent for ruthless manipulation.
The Shock of the Old: Seven Men from Now and the Ranown Cycle
At a perilous moment in the history of the western, a series of films by Budd Boetticher and Randolph Scott stood out for their no-nonsense lucidity.
All About Eve: Upstage, Downstage
Full of booze, bons mots, and backstabbing, Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s impeccably crafted showbiz drama is the rare movie where—as its star, Bette Davis, once put it—“it all came out right.”
The Silent Gaze in Satyajit Ray’s Almost-Love Story
In one of his most underrated gems, now playing on the Criterion Channel, the Bengali master explored the futility of words and the power of a look.
The Emigrants/The New Land: Homelands
Jan Troell’s narration of one Swedish couple’s arduous journey to America portrays the migratory quality of marriage—of “finding that you think of this person who is not you, or this place that is not the land of your birth, as your home.”
The Apu Trilogy: Every Common Sight
Satyajit Ray began his filmmaking career by offering a vision of the young Apu, the character he would go on to follow throughout the three films of his stunning breakthrough epic.
In Which We Serve: Battle Stations
Les cousins: The Nature of the Beast
Le beau Serge: Homecomings
The Night of the Hunter: Holy Terror
For All Mankind: Fantastic Voyage
La ronde: Vicious Circle
In the too-brief life and art of Max Ophuls (1902–57), La ronde was a momentous film, a turning point. It represented a homecoming of sorts, though “home” was a rather fluid concept for Ophuls, who was born in Germany, worked in the theater the…
Blast of Silence: Bad Trip
Allen Baron’s stark, moody masterpiece is among the last of the true film noirs, those fatalistic black-and-white urban crime dramas that darkened the American screen so gloriously in the years after World War II.
Elevator to the Gallows:Louis Malle on the Ground Floor
François Truffaut once wrote, “All of Louis Malle, all his good qualities and faults, was in Elevator to the Gallows”—a statement that, even given French film criticism’s traditionally high tolerance for the counterintuitive, pretty unambigu…
Stray Dog: Kurosawa Comes of Age
Stray Dog, the ninth film directed by Akira Kurosawa, is a detective story that’s also meant to function as a commentary on the desperate social conditions of postwar Japan: a kind of neorealist cop movie. The filmmaker wrote his screenplay first i…
Fires on the Plain
Tamura (Eiji Funakoshi), the hero of Kon Ichikawa’s overwhelming Fires on the Plain, may be the loneliest man in the history of the movies—lonelier than the spiritual pilgrims of Bergman, Bresson, and Dreyer. He is a soldier in an army that, in d…