David Thomson is film critic at The New Republic and has been a frequent contributor to Sight & Sound, Film Comment, The Guardian, and The Independent. He is the author of A Biographical Dictionary of Film and, most recently, The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies. He has also written several novels, including Suspects and Silver Light.

IN THE REVIEW

Old Lion Eyes

Spencer Tracy and his wife, Louise Treadwell Tracy, Hollywood, California, 1930s

Spencer Tracy: A Biography

by James Curtis
As an actor, he was as simple and unadorned “as a baked potato,” said Katharine Hepburn at a press conference after Spencer Tracy’s death in 1967, and she was like “a dessert, with lots of whipped cream…. He never got in his own way—I still do.” Meat or potatoes, there …

Bringing Up Cary

Cary Grant with his daughter Jennifer, 1966

Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant

by Jennifer Grant
North by Northwest is a movie we think we remember. The set pieces are common currency fifty years later: meeting that willing blonde on the train; the auction scene; the crop-dusting plane on the prairie; and the finale on the perilous faces of the Mount Rushmore monument. And everyone says, …

The Greatest Show in Town

Gloria Swanson and Cecil B. DeMille in Billy Wilder’s 1950 film Sunset Boulevard

Empire of Dreams: The Epic Life of Cecil B. DeMille

by Scott Eyman
Who invented the American movies? There are pioneer names in the histories, hallowed reputations, and scarcely remembered films. Yet every director with his or her first film begins anew. That’s one reason why so many American debuts are so remarkable—Sunrise (1927), Badlands (1973), They Live by Night (1949), The Great …

Murder in the North

Andrew Garfield and Sean Bean in Red Riding 1974

Red Riding: 1974, 1980, 1983

adapted by Tony Grisoni and directed by Julian Jarrold, James Marsh, and Anand Tucker
Red Riding is better than The Godfather (I’ll try to explain why), but it leaves you feeling so much worse; and the business plan of watching a film is never realized if it doesn’t make you feel it’s leaving you assured, ready to sleep…fulfilled. That’s what we expect from entertainment, …