Movies from the ‘Thriller’ Category

Metropolis (1927)

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Metropolis is a brilliant German expressionist film made in 1927 by Fritz Lang.

Set in a futuristic urban landscape it explores the political theme of the day, the social tensions between workers and owners within the capitalist system.

The most expensive silent film ever made, 5 million Reichsmark was the eventual cost.

Metropolis is the name of the city in which the two classes in society live. One in luxurious skyscrapers and and the other below ground. The film tells the story of a dehumanizing society where machines matter more than people and the rich thoroughly exploit workers.

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He Walked By Night (1948)

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

“He Walked By Night” is a gripping 1948 film noir, crediting ALfred L. Werker as director. In facr, most of the film was directed by western/film noir director Anthony Mann. The film is allegedly based on the real life story of Erwin “Machine-Gun” Wallker.

On a Los Angeles Street, Officer Hollis, a patrolman on his way hom from work, stops a man he suspects of burglary and is shot and mortally wounded.

Two police detectives, Sergeants Marty Brennan (Brady) and Chuck Jones (Cardwell) are assigned to catch the killer. He is Roy Morgan (Baseheart,) and is hiding in a Hollywod bungalow, listening to police calls on his radio and accompanied by his dog.

Morgan stays one step ahead of the police by using his knowledge of their procedures and gravitates to armed robbery but the tenacity of his pursuers ensures a suspense ridden story!

Outstanding film from the post war era.

Cast:

Richard Baseheart as Roy Martin/Roy Morgan

Scott Brady as Sgt. Marty Brennan

Roy Roberts as Captain Breen

Whit Bissell as Paul Reeves

James Cardwell as Sgt. Chuck Jones

Jack Webb as Lee

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The 39 Steps (1935)

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

“The 39 Steps” is an acclaimed 1935 British thriller adapted from John Buchan’s book of the same name. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll.

Canadian Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) is watching a demonstration of the powers of recall of “Mr. Memory” (Wylie Watson) at a London music hall when shots are fired. In the ensuing panic he finds himself holding a seemingly frightened Annabella Smith (Lucie Mannheim,) who talks him into taking her back to his flat. There, she tells him she’s a spy, being chased by assassins and that she has uncovered a plot to steal vital British military secrets, masterminded by a man with the top joint missing from one of his fingers. She mentions the 39 steps but does not explain it’s meaning.

Later that night Smith is murdered in Hannay’s flat but he manages to escape and boards a train to Scotland due to finding a map of Scotland clutched in the dying Smith’s hand.

The adventure now truly starts and what follows is an outstanding film, fully standing the test of time. The story has been re-made a number of times but this version is still the best.

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Fog Island (1945)

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Fog Island is a 1945 American film directed by Terry O. Morse.

Leo, a former convict, is living in seclusion on an island with his step-daughter, the daughter of his late wife.

Leo was framed by a group of former business associates and he also suspects that one of them killed his wife. He has invited the group to his island, tempting them by hinting about a hidden fortune, and he has installed a number of traps and secret passages in his home.

He is aided in his efforts by a former cell-mate who holds a grudge against the same persons. When everyone arrives, the atmosphere of mutual suspicion and the thick fog that covers the island promise a tense and hazardous weekend for everyone.

George Zucco as Leo Grainer
Lionel Atwill as Alec Ritchfield
Jerome Cowan as Kavanaugh
Sharon Douglas as Gail
Veda Ann Borg as Sylvia
John Whitney as Jeff
Jacqueline deWit as Emiline Bronson
Ian Keith as Dr. Lake
George Lloyd as Allerton – Butler

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M (1931)

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

M was directed by Fritz Lang in 1931. It is film is nothing less than a masterpiece, a highly structured and stylized film about a serial killer. It created the serial kill genre, which includes such entries as Psycho and Silence of the Lambs. Alfred Hitchcock (the director of Psycho) was a disciple of Lang as were Jacques Tourneur (The Leopard Man (1943)) and Michael Powell
(Peeping Tom (1960.)).

A group of children are playing a game involving a song about a child murderer. This foreshadows the appearance of Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre), a serial killer — and, it is implied, a paedophile — who preys on children in 1930s Berlin. Initially the audience does not see his face; they merely see his shadow, shots of his body and hear him whistling “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Grieg as he buys a balloon from a blind man and gives it to a little girl named Elsie Beckmann (Inge Landgut). In the next scene, her mother (Ellen Widmann) searches frantically as the audience sees the balloon ensnared in telephone lines, and subsequently floating away.

Meanwhile, the police, under Inspector Karl Lohmann (Otto Wernicke), pursue the killer using then state of the art techniques such as fingerprinting and handwriting analysis. They also stage raids and question known criminals. This affects underworld business and some of
the top crooks decide to get rid of the killer themselves so they can resume “business”. The criminals enlist the help of the city’s beggars to keep watch over the children and find the killer.
Thus a race develops between the police and the criminals to catch the killer, who is completely unaware of what is happening. He makes the mistake of whistling his tune again near the same blind balloon salesman. The blind man tells one of the criminals, who tails the killer using a beggar network. Desperate for a way to track him, one of them marks a large letter M (for “Mörder”, meaning murderer in German) onto his own hand with chalk. He then claps Beckert on the shoulder, transferring the letter M onto the killer’s coat.

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The Red House (1947)

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

The Red House is a 1947 film noir starring Edward G. Robertson and directed by Spencer Selby adapted from the novel “The Red House” by George Agnew Chamberlain.

Handicapped farmer Pete (Robinson) and sister Ellen (Anderson) have raised ward Meg as their own on a reclusive farm. Now a teenager, Meg (Roberts) convinces her friend Nath to come help with chores on the farm. When Nath insists on using a shortcut home through the woods  Pete warns the young man of screams in the night and the terrors associated with the abandoned red house. Curious, Meg and Nath ignore his warnings and begin exploring and troubling secrets are revealed.

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The Amazing Mr. X

Friday, April 9th, 2010

The Amazing Mr. X, also known as The Spiritualist, is a 1948 thriller film directed by Bernard Vorhaus with cinematography by John Alton. Like the film noir Nightmare Alley  released a year earlier, this film tells the story of a phony spiritualist racket.

The film stars Turhan Bey, Lynn Bari, Cathy O’Donnell, and Richard Carlson. Carole Landis was originally hired to play the part taken by Bari, but Landis committed suicide a few days before shooting began.

Two years after her husband’s death, Christine Faber (Lynn Bari) thinks she hears her late husband (Donald Curtis) calling out of the surf on the beach one night.
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