News and Commentary – A. O. Scott Revisits the Films of Woody Allen

In a recent essay in The New York Times A. O. Scott asks the question, “Is Woody Allen a Great Filmmaker?” Scott is a critic for whom we at Mid Century Cinema have enormous appreciation—his reviews are thoughtful and well written; his longer-form thought pieces and video essays are almost invariably valuable and insightful.

50 Years Ago This Week – Columbo

One of the great Americans of the 1970s, Lieutenant Columbo, made his first television appearance on February 20, 1968, in the made-for-TV movie “Prescription Murder.” Sure, he was a tad disheveled, and didn’t have a first name—but his understated intelligence, basic decency, and indelible but lightly-worn second-generation ethnicity made him an exemplar of the best that post-war America had to offer.

50 Years Ago This Week – Planet of the Apes

On February 8 1968, Planet of the Apes premiered in New York City. The film, starring Charlton Heston, was a hit, and spawned four sequels of increasing dystopia and decreasing budget—but at least the unloved fifth installment, Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) gave us John Huston as the lawgiver, which works for us. A twenty-first century reboot of the franchise had more realistic apes and better special effects, but we’re going to bat for the original, Flintsones sets and all.

News and Commentary – Spartacus, Finally

Despite decades of dedication to the films of Stanley Kubrick, the hard working staff here at Mid Century Cinema had never before screened Spartacus. So now we have really seen them all. How could we possibly have waited this long? Two reasons. First, Spartacus is an epic – a giant, important, purposeful enterprise – and we’re epic-averse. Second, really, it’s not a Stanley Kubrick film. Yes, he was the director, full stop.

News and Commentary – Jane Fonda: The New Hollywood Years

Jane Fonda turns 80 on December 21, which makes perfect sense, but nevertheless comes as something of a surprise. Fonda has been in the public eye for so long – and in so many guises (trailblazing video exercise guru in the eighties, the Ted Turner 1990s, most recently an art-house television star) – that one can lose sight of what an important figure she was for the New Hollywood.

News and Commentary – 2017 Roundup: The Best New Home Video Releases

‘Tis the season for year-end “best of” lists, so we thought we’d play along with a focus on our favorite home video releases of 2017.  A few ground rules – we’re valuing the merits of the release, not simply the movie, so there is an emphasis on discs that offer valuable extras and those that make available the otherwise hard to find and obscure. With that, in alphabetical order by title, our top five:

50 Years Ago This Week – In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood, an adaptation of Truman Capote’s critically acclaimed and wildly successful book, premiered in New York City on December 14 1967.  The book, a milestone in the “true crime” genre (and, even more important, in the accomplished narrative non-fiction genre of the period that includes Norman Mailer’s Pulitzer-prize winning

News and Commentary – Art and Artists: Where We Stand

Can we treasure the work of artists whose behavior we vehemently disapprove of? Our short answer is yes. But keep reading. This is a question that must be reckoned with nowadays, given the recent (and continuing) avalanche of simply horrifying revelations of sexual harassment, and often much, much worse, by prominent, powerful men. 

News and Commentary – Martin Scorsese: The New Hollywood Years

Martin Scorsese turned seventy-five on November 17, a milestone that naturally lends itself to looking back at his remarkable career. (Though, we hasten to add, not in a valedictory way—he is currently working on one film, has another in pre-production, and plans are already taking shape for the one after that.) Given that Scorsese’s overflowing oeuvre now stretches across more than fifty films and fifty years, we will limit ourselves here, as is our wont, to the New Hollywood years (if with a slight extension of our usual endpoint for the period).