Forty years after The Wild Bunch, 35 after Taxi Driver, and with memories of head-squishing Drive still fresh, I can report that Cecil B. DeMille’s sword-and-sandal epic The Sign of the Cross still has the power to shock.
Robert Stroud never saw Birdman of Alcatraz, the film about his life released a year before his death. Too bad. It’s a good movie, even if Burt Lancaster’s portrayal makes him seem like a better person than he actually was.
At least King David isn’t silly. Credit director Bruce Beresford and writers Andrew Birkin and James Costigan for trying to tell a Bible story without all the sword-and-sandal silliness that so often afflicts the genre.
In 1962, with only his second movie, Sam Peckinpah proved himself a master of the lyrical oater with Ride the High Country, a Western that showed him to be a director of tremendous insight and sensitivity.