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.
None of the surviving Beatles participated in the making of Across the Universe. Nevertheless, the music of history’s greatest rock band is everywhere in Julie Taymor’s ambitious tableau of love, loss, and redemption.