Wake in Fright is a horror movie like no other. It is a film that seizes you by the arm—like a man in a bar who will not let you leave until you’ve had just one more drink—and then drags you, kicking and screaming, down into the ugliness inside yourself.
Fifty years since its release and 20 years since I first saw it, The Last Picture Show remains one of the best portraits of the ways we often fail to be worthy of one another, and one of the most generous towards the myriad disappointments of growing up and growing old, especially for women.
In both Play Misty for Me and The Beguiled, Eastwood finds himself at the mercy of hysterical, horned-up women scorned. Not only does he play against type as victim to some tenacious broads, but the taciturn western hero—historically smoldering yet essentially sexless—presents in both films as a total horndog.
If much of Fonda’s life both before and after Klute was marked by losses of her own identity as she attempted to mold herself into whatever the dominant man in her life wanted, Klute captures a rare and specific transitional moment.
Even as the fictional world of Lucas’ painfully personal debut acts as an ode to a man who dares to defy corporate strictures, THX 1138’s very existence is also a dire warning to his future self about the futility of defying such an all-consuming conglomerate.
In the six-decade and soon-to-be-25 film oeuvre of the series, Diamonds Are Forever stands out as the most peculiar entry in the franchise thanks to its unintentional embrace of the surreal and the challenges it poses to its own pedigree and dogma.