Film History & Features

Death of British filmmaker Michael Apted at 79, director of Up documentary series, Coal Miner’s Daughter

By Paul Bond and Kevin Martinez, 12 January 2021

Film director Michael Apted, who died January 7, was responsible for an intriguing variety of work over his lengthy career. We are reposting here the review of 63 Up as a tribute.

Five Came Back: Hollywood filmmakers and World War II

By Joanne Laurier, 16 April 2020

The three-part documentary focuses on five major American directors—John Ford, John Huston, William Wyler, George Stevens and Frank Capra—who enlisted with the US War Department to create propaganda films between 1941 and 1945.

An interview with film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum: “I’m trying to do something aesthetic through criticism”

By David Walsh, 6 January 2020

The WSWS recently spoke to Jonathan Rosenbaum, the longtime film critic for the Chicago Reader and author of numerous books on filmmaking.

The death of Anna Karina at 79—the actress featured in Jean-Luc Godard’s films in the 1960s

By David Walsh, 17 December 2019

Anna Karina, the Danish-born actress indelibly associated above all with the early films of French-Swiss director Jean-Luc Godard, died Saturday at a Paris hospital from cancer.

The Peterloo massacre and Shelley

Part 1: The aftermath of the massacre and the responses

By Paul Bond, 30 September 2019

The massacre elicited an immediate and furious response from the working class and sections of middle-class radicals, and an astonishing outpouring of work from the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Ground-breaking documentarian D.A. Pennebaker dies

By Richard Phillips, 10 August 2019

Pennebaker pioneered the use of handheld cameras and editorial comment to achieve an immediacy and closeness not previously achieved in documentary film-making.

“The university and its teachers have a responsibility toward history”

An interview with veteran French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier about actress Lillian Gish and director D. W. Griffith

Bowling Green State University recently removed the famed actress’s name from its film theater

By David Walsh, 20 July 2019

French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier (Round Midnight, Coup de Torchon, Life and Nothing But, It All Starts Today, In the Electric Mist) is one of the most admirable figures in cinema over the past 45 years.

An interview with Mike Leigh, director of Peterloo: “You don’t run out of steam if what you do…is to literally hold the mirror up to nature”

By David Walsh, 5 April 2019

The WSWS spoke to British filmmaker Mike Leigh during the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2018.

Vice: A portrait of an American corporate-military gangster

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 29 December 2018

In regard to the Bush-Cheney administration, the WSWS pointed in the early 2000s to an unprecedented development, the “rise to the pinnacle of the American political system of elements of a gangster character.”

Vertigo: Sixty years since the release of Alfred Hitchcock’s disturbing classic

By Joanne Laurier, 30 March 2018

Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Vertigo, endures as one of the most troubling American films of the postwar period.

70 years since the release of John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

By Joanne Laurier, 26 January 2018

The classic film, based on the 1927 novel by German author B. Traven, is the tale of two down-and-out Americans in Mexico who join with an older prospector to dig for gold.

B. Traven, the author of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

By David Walsh, 26 January 2018

The author of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was the left-wing writer known as B. Traven. Considerable mystery surrounds Traven, some of it sustained by the writer himself during his lifetime.

San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 4

Dziga Vertov’s The Man with a Movie Camera: One of the films you must see!

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 6 May 2017

A highlight of the recent San Francisco film festival was the screening of Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov’s masterpiece, The Man with a Movie Camera (1929), at the historic Castro Theatre.

Alberto Cavalcanti and postwar British cinema

By Joanne Laurier, 10 February 2017

In the course of a lengthy filmmaking career, Brazilian-born Alberto Cavalcanti created several of the most poetically realistic and socially poignant films of the twentieth century.

To create a genuine artistic “avant garde” means confronting critical historical issues

By David Walsh, 20 January 2016

The essay by David Walsh we are posting today considers whether or not an artistic vanguard exists today—and, if not, what such a vanguard would consist of and what questions it would have to confront.

Frank Capra: The Early Collection—The American filmmaker’s most ambitious and honest work

By Charles Bogle, 6 January 2016

The box set contains five pre-Code movies: Ladies of Leisure (1930), Rain Or Shine (1930), The Miracle Woman (1931), Forbidden (1932) and The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933).

Author of books on Orson Welles, film noir, Vincente Minnelli and more

An interview with film historian and critic James Naremore

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 2 September 2015

James Naremore has written influential books on directors Orson Welles, Vincente Minnelli and Stanley Kubrick, on Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Alexander Mackendrick’s Sweet Smell of Success and the film noir genre.

100 years since the birth of Orson Welles—Part 2

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 5 June 2015

May 6 marked 100 years since the birth of Orson Welles, one of the most remarkable figures in American film and theater in the twentieth century. This is the second part of two.

Brando’s Smile: His Life, Thought, and Work: A biography of the remarkable actor

By Charles Bogle, 19 November 2014

Susan L. Mizruchi’s work uses the late actor’s extensive book collection, along with film scripts, research materials and notes for films, to deliver a complex and believable Marlon Brando.

Orson Welles: An “unfinished artist” in an unfinished century

Event marks 80 years since theater festival in Woodstock, Illinois

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 23 May 2014

Welles remains one of the most remarkable figures in the history of the cinema and theater in the 20th century.

Interviews with critics and film historians about Orson Welles

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 23 May 2014

During the recent celebration in Woodstock, Illinois, commemorating 80 years since the Todd Theatre Festival organized by Orson Welles, we had the opportunity to speak to a number of the presenters and participants.

BBC “Panorama” exposes UK police cover-up in 1989 Hillsborough football disaster

By Barry Mason, 15 June 2013

The tragedy at the Hillsborough Stadium resulted in the greatest loss of life ever recorded at a sporting event in Britain.

Kino Video’s Griffith Masterworks: Watching movies become art

By Charles Bogle, 28 March 2013

The Kino Video collection entitled Griffith Masterworks provides an opportunity to watch pioneer filmmaker D.W. Griffith invent much of what came to be known as the grammar of cinema.

American actor Ben Gazzara (1930-2012)

By David Walsh, 9 February 2012

Ben Gazzara had a long career in film, theater and television, which began in the mid-1950s. He worked with numerous interesting directors, although he seems to have found the greatest artistic satisfaction working with John Cassavetes.

A discussion with film historian Joseph McBride about Steven Spielberg: A Biography—Part 2

By David Walsh, 5 May 2011

A new edition of a critical study and biography of filmmaker Steven Spielberg has been published. David Walsh recently spoke with its author, Joseph McBride. This is the second part of the discussion.

A discussion with film historian Joseph McBride about Steven Spielberg: A Biography―Part 1

By David Walsh, 4 May 2011

A new edition of a critical study and biography of filmmaker Steven Spielberg has been published. David Walsh recently spoke with its author, Joseph McBride.

Cinema as an imperialist weapon: Hollywood and World War I

By Max Alvarez, 5 August 2010

The First World War (1914-1918) marked the initial foray by the US ruling elite into promoting a war with assistance from Hollywood film companies. The latter responded enthusiastically to the appeals of the Woodrow Wilson administration.

Hollywood on Trial: a timely reminder

By Charles Bogle, 10 December 2009

The Hollywood witchhunt and blacklisting of left-wing actors, writers and directors in the post-World War II period has been the subject of many books, but has received little serious attention in Hollywood itself.

An evaluation of Roman Polanski as an artist

By David Walsh, 20 November 2009

Filmmaker Roman Polanski remains in a Zurich jail cell, while his lawyers fight the efforts by US authorities to extradite him. The director has a half-century-long artistic career that needs to be assessed.

Letters on Orson Welles

20 June 2009

A selection of recent letters sent to the World Socialist Web Site on Orson Welles, the blacklist, and Hollywood.

An interview with Joseph McBride, author of What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?

Orson Welles, the blacklist and Hollywood filmmaking—Part 2

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 17 June 2009

This is the second part of an interview with Joseph McBride, author of What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? A Portrait of an Independent Career (2006). The first part was posted June 16.

An interview with Joseph McBride, author of What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?

Orson Welles, the blacklist and Hollywood filmmaking—Part 1

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 16 June 2009

While in the Bay Area for the recent San Francisco Film Festival, David Walsh and Joanne Laurier had a lengthy conversation with Joseph McBride, author of What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? A Portrait of an Independent Career (2006), an unusual and valuable book.

Japanese filmmaker dead at 88

Akira Kurosawa’s achievement

By David Walsh, 9 September 1998

The Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa died at his home in Tokyo September 6 at the age of 88. Kurosawa, who made 28 films between 1943 and 1993, belonged to that generation of European and Asian directors whose works dominated the international art film world in the 1950s and 1960s. One thinks of such figures as Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, Michelangelo Antonioni, Satyijat Ray, Luis Buñuel, Luchino Visconti, Robert Bresson and Roberto Rossellini, all now either dead or inactive.

AFI’s 100 Greatest Movies: Some serious questions

By David Walsh, 18 June 1998

The American Film Institute's celebration of a century of filmmaking in the US could have been an extraordinary event. Instead, both the list of the supposed 100 greatest American movies and the June 17 three-hour CBS special during which the list was revealed were predictable and mediocre.

David Walsh looks at the 70th Academy Awards:

Long live conformism and banality!

By David Walsh, 25 March 1998

The 70th Academy Awards ceremony was a pretty dire affair. The victory of James Cameron's Titanic in 11 categories certainly set the general tone. Academy members bestowed on this trite and mediocre film awards for best picture, direction, song, cinematography, art direction, film editing, costume design, sound, sound editing, original dramatic score and visual effects.

Recommended videos

By David Walsh, 10 March 1998

A number of factors account for the current popularity of Titanic and similar films, including problems bound up with a crisis of social and political perspective. But the general unfamiliarity of the moviegoing public with the wealth of extraordinary films that have been made in the past also plays a role.


By Marty Jonas, 11 February 1998

Eisenstein was probably the greatest director ever to work in the film medium. He was an innovator, a teacher, a theoretician, and, above all, a practical worker in films.

Why are the critics lauding Titanic? 

By David Walsh, 30 January 1998

There are few excuses for those critics who are singing the praises of James Cameron’s Titanic. It is a bad piece of work—poorly scripted, poorly acted, poorly directed. If it weren’t for the hundreds of millions of dollars involved in its production and distribution, and the accompanying media hoopla, one could safely ignore the film. 

On what should the new cinema be based?

By David Walsh, 17 June 1996

In previous articles we have attempted to give some indication of what was best in the San Francisco film festival. A number of valuable films, with truthful, passionate and even lyrical moments, were screened. Many of the filmmakers present, from a variety of countries, demonstrated their intelligence and sincerity. Individual films from Korea, Iran, the former Soviet Asian republics, India and the US in particular stood out.