SÉANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON (Bryan Forbes, 1964)

Kim Stanley (best actress, New York critics, National Board of Review) gives a tremendous performance as unhinging psychic Myra Savage, who impresses a weak-willed, asthmatic spouse, Billy, into a dangerous scheme to bring celebrity to her, one involving kidnapping a schoolgirl whose parents are wealthy, extracting a ransom, and divining at her weekly séance the […]

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (John Schlesinger, 1967)

Nearly a century after the publication of Thomas Hardy’s novel on which it is based, the “mod” writer and director of Darling (1965), Frederic Raphael and John Schlesinger, respectively, surprised everyone by making the big-budget film version of Far from the Madding Crowd. By this time a pastoral period-piece, the three-hour portrait of rural Victorian […]

TO DIE IN MADRID (Frédéric Rossif, 1962)

Given the monumental nature of the Spanish Civil War, the outcome of which is one of the greatest tragedies of the twentieth century, Frédéric Rossif’s compilation film, to which ghostly tracking shots have been added, amounts to a disappointing historical overview. Lorca’s capture and execution, vast human dislocation and suffering, Franco’s insufferable monstrosity: none of […]

THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM (Otto Preminger, 1955)

Frank Sinatra and Eleanor Parker are not among my favorite film stars; normally, both are emotionally thin, morose, depressive—in Sinatra’s case, even in romantic musical-comedies. But, giving their finest, most compelling performances, they are terrific as Frankie and Zosch Machine, the newly ex-con/struggling ex-druggie and his wheelchair-bound manipulative wife, in separate quarters in a southside […]