SYLVIA SCARLETT (George Cukor, 1935)

George Cukor’s favorite among his films, Sylvia Scarlett has Katharine Hepburn kissing a woman on the lips—but don’t worry; Sylvia, Hepburn’s character, is in drag as Sylvester, which is the way she appears throughout much of the film, as she and her father, an embezzler, flee France and try to elude British police, becoming grifters. […]

BLOODY SUNDAY (Paul Greengrass, 2001)

January 30, 1972: Bloody Sunday, when British troops opened fire on a peaceful protest march by Catholics in Derry, thus ending for all time the Northern Ireland civil rights movement and reigniting the Irish Republican Army, for which the day’s horror provided a recruitment bonanza. British soldiers claimed they had been fired on first—a lie […]

THE BOURNE SUPREMACY (Paul Greengrass, 2004)

Amnesiac Jason Bourne is relentlessly pursued by Russian intelligence, whose agent kills Bourne’s romantic partner, Marie, while aiming for him, and (formerly) his own Central Intelligence Agency, the latter of which wrongly thinks he has murdered one of their agents. Out in the cold, Bourne is again on the global run.      This film version of […]

SENSO (Luchino Visconti, 1954)

Senso proved as doomed as the mostly one-sided, purplish romance at the center of its plot. Ingrid Bergman and Marlon Brando agreed to star; but when (under pressure from spouse Roberto Rossellini) Bergman withdrew, Brando followed suit. Cinematographer Aldo Graziati was killed in a road accident during filming. The producer worried that the film’s depiction […]

OSSESSIONE (Luchino Visconti, 1942)

Aristocrat and also Communist, Luchino Visconti combines elegance and earthiness in Obsession, a languorous melodrama of adultery and murder involving a drifter (Massimo Girotti), an innkeeper and his wife (Clara Calamai, astounding). Visconti had apprenticed in the 1930s to Jean Renoir, whose liberated use of camera Visconti adopted, and whose Toni (1934) is an especial […]

1860 (Alessandro Blasetti, 1933)

Risorgimento: the period, 1848-1870, when partitioned Italy was unified, provides the basis for Alessandro Blasetti’s patriotic 1860, which culminates in the Battle of Calatafimi. A Sicilian village, under oppressive Bourbon occupation, rebels. Carmine, a young shepherd, travels to Genoa to solicit support for the local cause from the movement’s leader, Italy’s liberator, Giuseppe Garibaldi. The […]