THE MALTESE FALCON (John Huston, 1941)

Less than a dozen years after the publication of Dashiell Hammett’s detective novel The Maltese Falcon, Hollywood presented a third film version of it. Now the world (though not yet the United States) was embroiled in the evil and uncertainty of war; the times, because of Hitler, had thus caught up with the book. The […]

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL (Roberto Benigni, 1998)

Roberto Benigni (Johnny Stecchino, 1991; The Monster, 1994), the Italian Jerry Lewis, has moved beyond farce into richer territory for Life Is Beautiful, a charming, loopy romantic comedy that casts him familiarly opposite his real-life wife, gifted, lovely Nicoletta Braschi. Directing better than usual from his and Vincenzo Cerami’s serviceable script, and playing in fine […]

NAAYAK (Satyajit Ray, 1966)

This uneven film could be described as Satyajit Ray too heavily under the influence of Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries (1957), Federico Fellini’s La dolce Vita (1959) and Hitchcock movies onboard a train.      In one stunning passage, however, the protagonist, a national celebrity en route to picking up a government prize, dreams that he is swallowed […]

OTHELLO (Oliver Parker, 1995)

An Othello so weak in conception that Iago emerges as the principal character, Oliver Parker’s film adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy is one of the worst movies ever drawn from the world’s greatest playwright. Parker sounds a single glum note throughout, and his Othello, Laurence Fishburne, is dreadful beyond measure. Account this an Othello without an […]