The day we’ve all been dreading has arrived: FilmStruck is officially closing up shop. I didn’t get to spend as much of November as I wanted eating up the rest of my FilmStruck queue, but I’ve found several new favorite films through the service in recent months, and throughout my time as a subscriber. To say farewell to my favorite streaming service, today I’ll be sharing some of the best discoveries from my time as a FilmStruck subscriber.
History is Made at Night (1937)
Jean Arthur and Charles Boyer are dazzling in this film, which is one part charming romance, one part crime film, and one part shipwreck drama.
The films of Keisuke Kinoshita
Not only did I discover many new favorite films from FilmStruck, but also new favorite filmmakers. Topping the list is Keisuke Kinoshita. The Girl I Loved (1946) and Woman (1948) were two of my earliest FilmStruck discoveries, and I instantly fell in love with Kinoshita’s style of storytelling. I was able to watch several more of his films, but desperately hope he appears on the new Criterion service since my queue was filled with the rest of his available work!
Lady Snowblood (1973)
I’m usually more of a new-to-me treasure-hunter than a heavy re-watcher, but I’ve already re-watched Lady Snowblood several times since discovering it, which says a lot. This is easily my very favorite FilmStruck discovery and has become one of my favorite films of all time. It’s quite a bit bloodier than I usually go for (I’m squeamish!), but beautifully made, and Meiko Kaji’s performance is brilliant.
The Living Skeleton (1968)
My favorite discovery from this year’s Horror Half-Week, The Living Skeleton is a wonderfully eerie Japanese revenge film/ghost story. Kikko Matsuoka carries the film in a dual role as sisters — one living, one dead.
Lucky Partners (1940)
This is a discovery so recent I haven’t published the review yet! Easily one of my favorite viewings of the year. Ginger Rogers stars as a woman who may or may not go on a honeymoon with a man she’s not marrying, depending on whether they win a stack of cash. It’s every bit as sweet and fun as it sounds and has found a home near the top of my Ginger ranking.
Planet of the Vampires (1965)
Only on FilmStruck could you stream a 1960s sci-fi space adventure from golden-age Italian horror director Mario Bava. I tend to enjoy Bava’s films, so I was bound to at least have fun with this one, but its world is so pretty and strange that I was genuinely engrossed in it.
Safe in Hell (1931)
I recently reviewed Safe in Hell, which features a stunning and Stanwyck-esque performance from Dorothy Mackaill (plus some scene-stealing support from Nina Mae McKinney). It’s a tragic, bleak, and important film about a woman whose life has been plagued by genuinely reprehensible men.
The Smallest Show On Earth (1957)
If you’ve ever dreamed of owning and renovating an old movie palace, The Smallest Show on Earth is the film for you. While the Bijou Kinema is shabby and comes with a ragtag trio of long-time, elderly employees, you’ll fall in love with it, just as Matt and Jean Spenser (portrayed by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna) do. This British charmer is full of endearing characters, including the Bijou itself.
Yield to the Night (1956)
I was somewhat skeptical of Yield to the Night since unnecessary hype often surrounds films where actresses “go ugly” (wearing no makeup or wearing heavy makeup to make them look older or more haggard). Leading lady Diana Dors is entirely removed from her usual glamor, portraying a woman in prison, awaiting her execution. I shouldn’t have underestimated her! Dors’ performance and this film offer a spectacular look at the emotional turmoil that accompanies crime and punishment (as noted in my April 2018 review).
While we now know that at least some of its content will reappear online elsewhere (and yes, there are still plenty of Criterion DVDs and Blu-rays to buy), I will miss the ever-changing, curatorial selection of great films we were lucky enough to enjoy over the past two years. Goodbye, FilmStruck. You will be dearly missed!