All of the Films Joining FilmStruck’s Criterion Channel This December

Each month, the fine folks at FilmStruck and the Criterion Collection spend countless hours crafting their channels to highlight the many different types of films that they have in their streaming library. This December will feature an exciting assortment of films, as noted below.

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Friday, December 1

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World*: Criterion Collection Edition #692

Stanley Kramer followed his harrowing Oscar winner Judgment at Nuremberg with the most grandly harebrained movie ever made, a pileup of slapstick and borscht-belt-y one-liners about a group of strangers fighting tooth and nail over buried treasure. Performed by a nonpareil cast, including Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Spencer Tracy, Jonathan Winters, and a boatload of other playing-to-the-rafters comedy legends, Kramer’s wildly uncharacteristic film is an exhilarating epic of tomfoolery. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: an audio commentary featuring It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World aficionados Mark Evanier, Michael Schlesinger, and Paul Scrabo; a documentary on the film’s visual and sound effects, featuring interviews with visual-effects specialist Craig Barron and sound designer Ben Burtt; an excerpt from a 1974 talk show hosted by director Stanley Kramer and featuring Mad World actors Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, and Jonathan Winters; and more.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.

Friday, December 1

Friday Night Double Feature: Dodsworth and David Golder

Private woes take their toll on two successful self-made businessmen in this pair of domestic dramas from the 1930s. In William Wyler’s Oscar-winning adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’s Dodsworth (1936), Walter Huston stars as a Midwestern auto magnate who retires and embarks on a European voyage with his wannabe-chic wife, only to find that the two of them are growing further and further apart. In Julien Duviver’s first sound film, the moody melodrama David Golder (1931), Harry Baur plays a ruthless banker grappling with business and family troubles.

Monday, December 4

A Night to Remember: Criterion Collection Edition #7

On April 14, 1912, just before midnight, the “unsinkable” Titanic struck an iceberg, plunging to the bottom of the sea and taking with it more than 1,500 of its 2,200 passengers. In his unforgettable render­ing of Walter Lord’s book, British director Roy Ward Baker depicts with sensitivity, awe, and a fine sense of tragedy the ship’s last hours. Featuring remarkably restrained performances, A Night to Remember (1958) is cinema’s subtlest and best dramatization of this monumental twentieth-century catastrophe. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: an audio commentary by Don Lynch and Ken Marschall, author and illustrator of “Titanic”: An Illustrated History; The Making of “A Night to Remember” (1993), a sixty-minute documentary featuring producer William MacQuitty’s rare behind-the-scenes footage; an archival interview with Titanic survivor Eva Hart; and more.

Monday, December 4

Masterclass: Kenneth Turan and Marcel Ophuls on Disagreeable Truths

Marcel Ophuls talks to Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan at UCLA about why and how he moved from making commercial feature films to chronicling occupied Europe and the Holocaust in epic documentaries like The Sorrow and the Pity and The Memory of Justice. Along the way, he also opens up about everything from his interview techniques and his experience as a second-generation auteur (the son of Max) to his thoughts on assessing guilt and responsibility for genocide and war crimes. Previous entries in our Masterclass series include conversations between Kirsten Johnson and Michael Moore and Alex Ross Perry and Robert Greene.

Tuesday, December 5

Tuesday’s Short + Feature: The Above and Cameraperson

With a keen eye for landscape and character, Kirsten Johnson’s work documents political turmoil throughout the globe, calling into question the ethical stakes of nonfiction filmmaking. In The Above (2015), a mysterious surveillance blimp with unknown capabilities hovers above Kabul as the Afghans below go about their daily lives. In her breakthrough feature, Cameraperson (2016), she assembles footage captured throughout her twenty-five-year career, weaving together intimate moments from her private life with haunting images from her journeys abroad as a documentary cinematographer.

Wednesday, December 6

Le Havre: Criterion Collection Edition #619

With Finnish master Aki Kaurismäki returning to theaters this winter with his latest, The Other Side of Hope, we’re revisiting his acclaimed previous film, which initiated his ongoing exploration of global migration and displacement. In this warmhearted comic yarn, fate throws a young African refugee into the path of a kindly old bohemian who shines shoes for a living in a French harbor city. A political fairy tale that exists somewhere between the reality of contemporary France and the classic French cinema of the past, Le Havre (2011) is a charming, deadpan delight and one of the director’s finest films. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: an interview with actor André Wilms; footage from the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, including a press conference and a French television interview with cast and crew; and more.

Thursday, December 7

Laughter First!: Harold Lloyd’s Glasses Character Turns 100

Celebrate the centennial of Harold Lloyd’s “Glasses Character” – the resourceful go-getter who always got the girl – with Kevin Brownlow and David Gill’s lucid and entertaining documentary Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius. Crisply narrated by Lindsay Anderson, the film traces the performer’s development all the way back to his early dramatic days and through his slapstick experiments, until he puts on horn-rimmed glasses and invents the figure who would go on to define his career. Brownlow and Gill pay exuberant tribute to the great silent clown, who was as wildly innovative as Buster Keaton and as skilled with sentiment as Chaplin, but had a resilience of his own that fit America’s roaring twenties better than any other screen personality. The Third Genius streams alongside a selection of Lloyd’s films: Safety Last! (1923), Girl Shy (1924), The Freshman (1925), The Kid Brother (1927), and Speedy (1928).

Friday, December 8

Friday Night Double Feature: The Stunt Man and 8½

Film sets become hazy frontiers between illusion and reality in these dizzying movies about movies. Richard Rush’s Escher-like vortex The Stunt Man (1980) features Peter O’Toole at his most virtuosic, as a megalomaniacal director who manipulates a veteran on the run from the law into serving as a stuntman. Federico Fellini’s kaleidoscopic 8½ (1963) – perhaps the most gloriously expansive vision of itself the cinema has ever produced – weaves together the dreams, memories, and fantasies of a director (Marcello Mastroianni) whose latest project is collapsing around him.

Friday, December 8

Godzilla and Beyond*

This month, we’re offering you the chance to go on a veritable viewing rampage, with this massive collection of fourteen kaiju classics. Running from Ishiro Honda’s original Godzilla (1954) to the director’s sci-fi drama Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975), these spectacular Toho productions track the King of the Monsters and a number of his fellow mutants as they evolved over the course of two decades, reflecting all the while many of the anxieties of a postwar world.

*Premiering on the Channel this month.

Saturday, December 9

Split Screen Season Nine

Two decades after it premiered on IFC, the pioneering television series Split Screen has a streaming home on the Channel. In this priceless time capsule, host John Pierson takes viewers on an irreverent trip through filmmaking communities and movie-loving culture at the turn of the millennium. This month, we present the show’s penultimate season, which features appearances by Kevin Smith and Ross McElwee, and a hilarious segment in which Christopher Walken heads to the kitchen as the host of his own cooking show.

Monday, December 11

The Leopard: Criterion Collection Edition #235

An epic on the grandest possible scale, Luchino Visconti’s 1963 masterpiece recreates the tumultuous years of Italy’s Risorgimento – when the aristocracy lost its grip and the middle classes rose and formed a unified, democratic Italy. Burt Lancaster stars as the aging prince watching his culture and fortune wane in the face of a new generation, represented by his upstart nephew (Alain Delon) and his beautiful fiancée (Claudia Cardinale). Awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, this lavish adaptation of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel is presented in two distinct incarnations: Visconti’s original Italian version and the alternate English-language version. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: an audio commentary by film scholar Peter Cowie; an hour-long documentary featuring interviews with Claudia Cardinale, screenwriter Suso Ceccho D’Amico, Rotunno, filmmaker Sydney Pollack, and many others; and more.

Tuesday, December 12

Tuesday’s Short + Feature: Return to Glennascaul* and The Third Man

Orson Welles brings his incomparable charisma to two dark gems. In Hilton Edwards’s short Return to Glennascaul (1951), the actor stars as himself driving through the Irish countryside, where he picks up a man with car trouble and a chilling ghost story to tell; in Carol Reed’s shadow-drenched noir masterpiece The Third Man (1949), he delivers one of his most iconic performances as the enigmatic Harry Lime, whose sudden death draws a childhood chum into a perilous journey through postwar Vienna.

*Premiering on the Channel this month.

Wednesday, December 13

Phoenix*: Criterion Collection Edition #809

Christian Petzold’s evocative 2014 drama, set in rubble-strewn Berlin in 1945, is like no other film about post-World War II Jewish-German identity. After surviving Auschwitz, a former cabaret singer (Nina Hoss) has her disfigured face reconstructed and returns to her war-ravaged hometown to seek out her gentile husband, who may or may not have betrayed her to the Nazis. Without recognizing her, he enlists her to play his wife in a bizarre hall-of-shattered-mirrors story that is as richly metaphorical as it is preposterously engrossing. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: a new introduction by critic Imogen Sara Smith; a conversation between director Christian Petzold and actor Nina Hoss; The Making of “Phoenix,” a 2014 documentary featuring interviews with Petzold, Hoss, actors Nina Kunzendorf and Ronald Zehrfeld, and production designer K. D. Gruber; and more.

*Premiering on the Channel this month.

Thursday, December 14

I Am Curious: Criterion Collection Edition #179

Seized by customs upon entry to the United States, subject of a heated court battle, and banned in cities across the United States, Vilgot Sjöman’s I Am Curious – Yellow is one of the most controversial films of all time. This landmark document of Swedish society during the sexual revolution tells the story of a searching and rebellious young woman, and her personal quest to understand the social and political conditions in 1960s Sweden, as well as her bold exploration of her own sexual identity. In celebration of its fiftieth anniversary, I Am Curious – Yellow is presented here with its companion piece I Am Curious – Blue, a parallel film featuring the same characters and in which the lines between documentary and fiction are even further blurred. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: excerpts from director Vilgot Sjöman’s Self Portrait 92, a documentary made for Swedish television; a video introduction by the director; a selected scene audio commentary by Sjöman; and more.

Friday, December 15

Friday Night Double Feature: Fitzcarraldo and Burden of Dreams

The limits of human endurance are put to the test in German iconoclast Werner Herzog’s 1982 Fitzcarraldo, an epic portrait of a rubber baron’s attempts to build an opera house in the Peruvian jungle. The film was the result of a notoriously nightmarish five-year production, glimpses of which are captured in Les Blank’s Burden of Dreams, an unsparing behind-the-scenes look at Herzog’s quest to bring his impossible vision to the screen.

Monday, December 18

Creative Marriages: Juzo Itami and Nobuko Miyamoto

Juzo Itami became the most talked-about Japanese director of the eighties and nineties when he and his wife, actor Nobuko Miyamoto, created a string of audacious movies centered on independent women who were smart and passionate about their work. In the latest installment of Creative Marriages, we’re celebrating their partnership in both life and cinema. Watch their 1985 international breakthrough, Tampopo, a mouth-watering “ramen western” starring Miyamoto as a single mother who becomes a first-class noodle chef with a lot of help from her friends. Also on view is the seriocomic social thriller A Taxing Woman (1987), a box-office smash that staged a frontal attack on the contemporary obsession with making money. You can also check out our previous Creative Marriages programs highlighting Federico Fellini and Giulietta Masina, Roger Vadim and Brigitte Bardot, and Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais.

Tuesday, December 19

Tuesday’s Short + Feature: Time Piece and Tom Jones

Two masters deliver flights of playful cinematic style with their own witty sensibilities. In the Oscar-winning 1963 Tom Jones, British New Wave pioneer Tony Richardson updates Henry Fielding’s picaresque eighteenth-century novel with an ebullient, fourth-wall-breaking irreverence. And in the Oscar-nominated 1965 short Time Piece, which features a parody of one of the most memorable scenes in Tom Jones, legendary puppeteer Jim Henson delivers a fast-paced, rhythmically edited tale of a young man desperately trying to escape the passage of time.

Wednesday, December 20

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence*: Criterion Collection Edition #535

In this captivating, skewed World War II drama from Nagisa Oshima, David Bowie regally embodies a British officer interned by the Japanese as a POW. Rock star Ryuichi Sakamoto (who also composed this film’s hypnotic score) plays the camp commander, obsessed with the mysterious blond major, while Tom Conti is a British lieutenant colonel who tries to bridge the emotional and language divides between captor and prisoner. Also featuring actor-director Takeshi Kitano in his first dramatic role, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983) is a multilayered, brutal, at times erotic tale of culture clash, and one of Oshima’s greatest successes. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: The Oshima Gang, a 1983 making-of featurette; video interviews with producer Jeremy Thomas, screenwriter Paul Mayersberg, actor Tom Conti, and actor-composer Ryuichi Sakamoto; and more.

*Premiering on the Channel this month.

Thursday, December 21

Observations on Film Art No. 14: Girl Shy – Harold Lloyd Meets Classical Hollywood

The silent comedy might be most famous today for its one-off gags and chases, but by the twenties the form had begun to tell increasingly sophisticated feature-length stories, thanks to such pioneering figures as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd. In this month’s episode of Observations on Film Art – a Channel-exclusive series that takes a look at great filmmakers’ use of cinematic devices and traditions – scholar David Bordwell unpacks the narrative strategies at play in Lloyd’s comedy of embarrassment Girl Shy (1924), illuminating the film’s implementation of such classical Hollywood devices as psychological characterization and repeated motifs.

Friday, December 22

Friday Night Double Feature: Chéri and Journey to Italy

The work of the French author Colette, celebrated for its evocation of affairs of the heart during the belle epoque, inspired these two tales of precarious romance. Stephen Frears’s seductive period piece Chéri (2009), an adaptation of Colette’s 1920 novel of the same name, tells the story of the years-long relationship between a courtesan (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her peer’s decadent and impressionable son (Rupert Friend). And Robert Rossellini’s modernist drama Journey to Italy (1954), loosely based on Colette’s Duo (1934), observes the mounting tensions between a married British couple (Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders) during a trip to the Neapolitan countryside.

Tuesday, December 26

Tuesday’s Short + Feature: Light Is Calling and My Winnipeg

These two films, both beautifully tactile experiments with film form, make brilliant use of found footage. In his eight-minute film Light Is Calling (2004), Bill Morrison cedes the frame to a scene from a 1926 silent film as it appears on a decomposing film reel, in the process crafting a haunting meditation on the ravages of time; in his beguiling “docu-fantasia” My Winnipeg (2007), Guy Maddin mixes archival footage with his own expressionistic black-and-white material to evoke the weird and wonderful world of his hometown.

Friday, December 29

Friday Night Double Feature: The Apartment and Brief Encounter

With 2018 just around the corner, take a look back at a Hollywood classic whose climax takes place on New Year’s Eve, along with the movie that inspired it. David Lean reached his first great peak with Brief Encounter (1945), starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard as refined middle-class lovers who fail to consummate their affair in a borrowed flat when the owner unexpectedly barges in on them. Billy Wilder loved the film, but wondered-who’s the guy who owns the apartment? The result: Wilder’s five-time Oscar winner The Apartment (1960), which casts Jack Lemmon as the shlemiel who gives his key to his superiors for their trysts, and Shirley MacLaine as the elevator girl and executive’s mistress he unexpectedly falls in love with.

Friday, December 29

Weekend: Criterion Collection Edition #635

This scathing satire from Jean-Luc Godard, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this week, is one of cinema’s great anarchic works. Determined to collect an inheritance from a dying relative, a bourgeois couple travel across the French countryside while civilization crashes and burns around them. Featuring a justly famous sequence in which the camera tracks along a seemingly endless traffic jam, and rich with historical and literary references, Weekend is a surreally funny and disturbing call for revolution, a depiction of society reverting to savagery, and – according to the credits – the end of cinema itself. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: a video essay by writer and filmmaker Kent Jones; archival interviews with actors Mireille Darc and Jean Yanne, cinematographer Raoul Coutard, and assistant director Claude Miller; and more.


Complete list of films premiering on the Criterion Channel this month:

December 1

  • It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Stanley Kramer, 1963
  • Happy Together, Wong Kar-wai, 1997
  • The World of Jacques Demy, Agnes Varda, 1995

December 8

  • Godzilla, Ishiro Honda, 1954
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters!, Ishiro Honda and Terry O. Morse, 1956
  • Godzilla Raids Again, Motoyoshi Oda, 1955
  • Rodan, Ishiro Honda, 1956
  • Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Ishiro Honda, 1964
  • Mothra vs. Godzilla, Ishiro Honda, 1964
  • Invasion of Astro-Monster, Ishiro Honda, 1965
  • The War of the Gargantuas, Ishiro Honda, 1966
  • Son of Godzilla, Jun Fukuda, 1967
  • Destroy All Monsters, Ishiro Honda, 1968
  • All Monsters Attack, Ishiro Honda, 1969
  • Godzilla vs. Megalon, Jun Fukuda, 1973
  • Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, Jun Fukuda, 1974
  • Terror of Mechagodzilla, Ishiro Honda, 1975

December 12

  • Return to Glennascaul, Hilton Edwards, 1951

December 13

  • Phoenix, Christian Petzold, 2014

December 15

  • Woman in Witness Protection, Juzo Itami, 1997
  • A Quiet Life, Juzo Itami, 1995
  • Tales of a Golden Geisha, Juzo Itami, 1990
  • The Gentle Art of Japanese Extortion, Juzo Itami, 1992
  • The Funeral, Juzo Itami, 1984
  • Rubber Band Pistol, Juzo Itami, 1962
  • The Last Dance, Juzo Itami, 1995

December 20

  • Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, Nagisa Oshima, 1983