IN THIS OUR LIFE (John Huston, 1942)

After his astounding directorial debut, The Maltese Falcon (1941), John Huston made In This Our Life, based on Ellen Glasgow’s last published novel. (Warner Brothers had bought the rights before the book won Glasgow the Pulitzer Prize.) This is a bizarre film, almost completely melodramatic, and very unlike the fine, burrowing piece that Glasgow opened […]

UNDERWORLD (Josef von Sternberg, 1927)

A powerful melodrama of primitive emotions, Josef von Sternberg’s Underworld evokes a world within the world, in this case, the urban American gangster underworld—a domain in defiance of the rule of law, seeking protection from the mortality that it identifies with the outer world, the ground world, but recklessly pursuing a course that invites mortal […]

VISIONS OF LIGHT (Arnold Glassman, Todd McCarthy, Stuart Samuels, 1993); HOOP DREAMS (Steve James, 1994)

Two American documentaries, Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography and Hoop Dreams, have been highly praised by reviewers—not critics, who analyze or contextualize films, but, steeped in consumerism, those journalists who promote or discourage patronage of this film or that. Neither of the documentaries possesses merit, but both are the sort of pabulum to […]

DESERT WINDS (Michael A. Nickles, 1994)

There exist small films—even tiny ones—off the beaten path that merit notice for their small gifts and modest pleasures—works light years beyond inflated, empty things like Dances With Wolves (1990), Schindler’s List (1993), Titanic (1997). One of these is Desert Winds (1994; released 1995), written and directed by and starring Michael A. Nickles. Made on […]