TV & Film, Uncategorized

Thrills and Chills


     I don’t know about you guys, but January can be a little ‘blah’ for me.  The holidays are over, it’s back to the old grindstone, and the weather is dreary and cold.
Because of this, I like to do something special and out of the ordinary in January.  Organize a family outing, read a new book…  But usually I’m in a semi shocked state in January (you mean I have to go back to work?!) and in those dark chilly shocking evenings, I want nothing more than to curl up with a good movie. 

Which brings me to this post.  Thrillers seemed like an appropriate genre to shake us out of our January doldrums and I have lined up some doozies for your viewing pleasure!

The Man Who Knew Too Much:  1956
     A family vacationing in Morocco accidentally stumble on to an assassination plot and the conspirators are determined to prevent them from interfering….by kidnapping their young son. 
When I first watched this movie, I was a nervous wreck…but it was such a wonderful, tingly, kind of experience.  During the end finale, I was literally hugging and biting a pillow to keep myself from completely losing it.
My favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie of all time, this movie is masterful.  There’s a reason Alfred Hitchcock is called the King of Suspense, certain scenes will forever be indelibly imprinted on my brain, the way bombs leave craters behind.  Jimmy Stewart thumbing through the phone book over and over and over again as he waits for a phone call to get through…that endless walk down the alley way towards the taxidermist…the dark paint coming off on Jimmy Stewarts fingers as the dead man slides free of his grasp and hits the grounds…and of course, that end scene…will she or will she not scream?
Known as a man who was ‘suspicious of words’…Alfred Hitchcock proves that words are often superfluous…instead, he thrills us with images and feelings that are utterly unforgettable.
     Content:  If you have high blood pressure, don’t want this movie…there is a lot of stress and one shock after another.  When I first watched it I was nearly overwhelmed, imagining the danger that the little boy is placed in throughout this movie.
The Golden Salamander:  1950
     British archaeologist David Redfern comes to Tunisia to catalog a collection of art relics and stumbles into evidence of a gun-smuggling racket. Hesitant at first to get involved or even to report the information, he becomes convinced he must do the right thing after a young man is murdered. By then, though, the smugglers know Redfern knows too much and they target him for death.
The Golden Salamander has every ingredient that I love; exotic locales, great acting, good dialogue, intriguing characters and a suspenseful story…all culminating in an action sequence that had me shrieking in horror.  But its not over after the finale…we are given yet one more shocking reveal, in a move that keeps this film flying to the very last frame.
Of special note is Trevor Howard’s moral struggle through out this movie, which is an interesting and welcome addition to an adventure thriller.  Trevor Howard has suspicions about what’s really going on around him, but he tries to turn his back on it.  He has a job to do and he doesn’t want to get involved.  But after reading an inscription on one of the artifacts he unearths from his archeological dig, he is convicted and jumps back into the mystery.
‘Not by ignoring evil does one overcome it, but by going to meet it.’
It’s actually quite a sobering and thought provoking moment and provides a wonderful balance of wisdom to this adventurous film.
Content:  One very brief scene where the main guy and girl are lying on a beach and kissing passionately.  Lots of peril and tension.
Charade:  1963
     Romance and suspense ensue in Paris as a woman is pursued by several men who want a fortune her murdered husband had stolen. Who can she trust?
Called ‘the best Alfred Hitchcock film that Hitchcock never made’, this movie does not disappoint.  Aside from starring the amazing Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, the movie is spot on in every other area.  From the very beginning, we are trapped in the nerve wracking hamster ball of Audrey Hepburn’s out of control life as the events keep on escalating into one of the most thrilling end finales of all time.  Audrey Hepburn’s ability to portray terror is so convincing, we feel ourselves hyperventilating with her, wondering who’s telling the truth….is anyone telling the truth?
Another movie highlight is the amazing Henry Mancini score, featuring one of my favorite songs, ‘Charade’, played hauntingly throughout the movie, often sounding like the theme from a dark, twisted, carousel ride…adding a farcical sound to this nail biting thriller, as if the score is mocking the viewer, telling you that your going as crazy as Audrey Hepburn.
The fight scene between Cary Grant and ‘The Hook’ on top of the apartment building is another favorite scene of mine because of the music…the scores simplicity is absolutely spine tingling.  Instead of high octane action music…we are given long drawn out strings, a slow progression of chords…the music strains with Cary Grant as he struggles against his opponent…the music makes our own muscles burn, our own heart thud with strain…and then Cary Grant’s opponent, breaks free and lashes out with his hook…once, twice, three times…each swipe accentuated by startling piano chords.  It is one beautiful case in point for how to do a suspenseful action sequence and less subtle filmmakers could learn from it.
Content:  In the movie opening, Audrey’s friends says she doesn’t have to get a divorce, she can just ‘make new friends’.  Audrey quickly dismisses this idea.  There’s quite a bit of passionate kissing.  There are several murder scenes that can be a little disturbing for some viewers (most of it is cut around, but corpses are occasional shown, but there isn’t any blood).  There’s one scene in a restaurant where guests play a ‘neck game’, trying to pass another orange they have tucked under their chin to another guest without using their hands.  This scene is stupid, adds nothing to the movie and is easily skipped. Audrey is tormented and frightened through out this whole movie…one scene has her trapped in a phone booth while James Coburn lights matches, holds them against her face then drops them into her lap.
There’s also a bit of macabre type humor throughout the movie.  During the funeral…one of the villains walks into the church to make sure Audrey’s husband is really dead.  He looks into the open casket, than jabs the corpse with a pin.  The scene is actually funny and played for humor, but squeamish viewers might not appreciate it.
Take My Life:  1947
     A woman races against time to clear her husband of a murder he did not commit. While she works on getting proof, the prosecution is doing all it can to force a conviction.
When we first started watching this, it was a bit of a slow start, but the longer I watched it the more I found it impossible to tear myself away from the screen, as I was pulled deeper and deeper into the nightmare that was tearing apart Greta Gynt’s life.  Greta Gynt’s luminous and intelligent eyes quickly draw us into her nail biting struggle to save her husbands life, a role well played by British actor Hugh Williams.
As the stakes get higher and higher, so do our own nerves.   The scene where she is playing the organ is enough to turn me into a pile of jelly, but the end finale on the train is undoubtedly one of the most thrilling sequences I have ever seen.  Greta Gynt is locked in a train compartment with the murderer, but there is another traveler sitting opposite her, reading a newspaper.  She thinks she is safe, that the man reading the newspaper will hear the murderer threatening her….but than she realizes that the man is deaf and he neither hears nor sees her being dragged, screaming, to the window as the murderer prepares to throw her off the train.
She reaches for the emergency brake….will she reach it…will the man with the newspaper look up….if she is thrown off the train and killed, what will happen to her husband?
It’s a 79 minute thrill ride you won’t soon forget.
Content:  It is referenced that the husband had a few ‘flings’ with other women before he married Greta Gynt.  A women in the movie is killed, in a scene that is quite dramatic but not overly violent.  The same woman had an affair with a man and had a baby as a result, but that plot point is touched upon very briefly and with the tact typical of the time period.
The Lady Vanishes:  1938
     While traveling in continental Europe, a rich young playgirl realizes that an elderly lady seems to have disappeared from the train.
The true highlight of this movie is the wonderful acting and the amusing repartee between the lovely Margaret Lockwood and the charming Michael Redgrave.  These two actors truly ‘clicked’, and the charmingly witty dialogue suits both of them perfectly.

     Dame Mae Whitty is perfect as ‘The Vanishing Lady’, a combination of a huggable grandmother…and something else.
“Charters and Caldicott” are a duo of cricket obsessed gentleman onboard, bumbling their way through Europe, hoping (in vain) that they return to England in time to see an important match.  Their preposterously vague interchange is hysterically funny and apparently was so popular, that the duo was used again in another movie, highlighting their unique performances.
I love ‘closed door’ situations and I am enamored with books or movies that take place on trains.  This is the kind of movie that has spawned every wonderful cliché we have about intrigue on trains.  It is a must see.
     Content:  Two other characters on the train are in the middle of an affair and the man is married.  It’s all dialogue and very subtlety done, very young viewers might miss it entirely.  At the beginning of the movie, Margaret Lockwood orders room service in her hotel room.  The waiter enters to find all the girls lounging around in their slips.  Through a strange mix up, Charters and Caldicott find themselves taking the only available room at the same hotel, realizing that it’s a maids room.  She undresses in front of them (down to her slip) before leaving with her things to sleep somewhere else.  In this opening hotel sequence, Margaret Lockwood bribes the management to throw Michael Redgrave out of his attic room because he was too noisy.  Michael Redgrave walks into her room and prepares to ‘share’ the room with her.  Margaret Lockwood finally caves and says he can have his attic room back and he leaves.  The scene is played for humor, but it might bother some viewers.

And there you have it!  Five chilling, thrilling, spine tingling movies to jazz up anybody’s January.

Do you have any favorite suspense movies?  Do you not even like suspense movies?  I would love to hear about it in the comments!




19 thoughts on “Thrills and Chills

    1. Take My Life! And we don’t have to make popcorn – I’ve got that lovely pre-made cheesy bagged popcorn!

  1. Ooo….this sound like some very interesting movies! I’ve never watched them before…and to be honest, I think I would prefer reading book versions of the movie instead xD Just personal opinion 😉

    1. Thanks, Blessing! Haha, hey sure! Thrillers aren’t everybody’s favorite thing.
      I think book versions sound like a good idea too! 🙂

  2. I know that it’s a little late to be commenting on this, but have you seen Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent? It’s amazing! I love that movie!!

    1. AAAHHH! Yes! WE love that movie! A classic. ‘falls over in surprise’ – can’t believe you’ve seen it! I really liked the leads – Joel McCrea, Herbert Marshall, Laraine Day . . . and George Sanders (the friend / sidekick) is the BEST! I wish he had played more good guys in his career!

  3. George Sanders character is my favorite in that whole movie! He’s amazing! Afte all, who doesn’t like ffolliot? (Not said with a stutter!)

    And don’t be surprised. Until about two years ago when I started watching more modern movies, movies from the 70-80s were “modern”. And we have watched a lot of movies, so … a LOT of old ones!

    Have you seen The Thin Man movies? From the descriptions of these movies I think that you would really enjoy them. The humor is the Best!!

    1. I can not believe this!! ‘high fives’ ALL RIGHT – yes, indeed – he is the BEST part. LOL – that line – he was so funny.

      Haha – that sounds a lot like us! – SO much like us….we usually watch old movies and we PREFER THEM TOO. Wow – we must discuss this! ‘rubs hands together’

      THIN MAN!! Those are classics in our house – we have the DVDs and watch them over and over – the humor IS the best and we all kind of have that fast-talking humor amongst ourselves anyway. 😀

      William Powell (muttering): “Old battle ax.”
      Myrna Loy (on phone): “Shut up!”
      (phone squawks)
      Myrna Loy: “Oh no…not YOU, Aunt Catherine I was…talking to the dog.”

      Hilarious! 😀

      1. Oh goodness! We should totally get together via phone or something and talk about this!!

        How about westerns? Do you enjoy any of them?

        Have you seen Its a Wonderful Life, or The Jackpot, or … any Jimmy Stewart films? He is my FAVORITE actor of all time! His expressions are too hilarious!!

        1. Yes!! Phone or video chat! That would be awesome!

          I practically grew up on Westerns, but I’m pretty picky…I like unusual westerns, not really formulaic ones. I LOVE John Wayne’s Chisum, my favorite western of all time. I also like Big Jake, True Grit and War Wagon… I’m sure there are others.

          I’ve seen it’s a wonderful life many times!! And I saw the first part of the Jackpot (HILARIOUS) and really want to see the rest.

          Umm… oops… Jimmy Stewart is definitely not my favorite actor…. nope. “apologetic smile”

          1. Yes for John Wayne!! Hmmmm. Unusual westerns. Have you seen The Big Country, Westward the Women, or The Proud Ones? They’re amazing!

            I’m afraid that I didn’t like Chisum all that much. But I am very picky about women actresses, and 1960’s – 70’s ones drive me Nuts! Still, I remember that Ben Johnson was a really funny character, and I like him a Lot.

            Oh bother! Jimmy Stewart is great! Still, if you don’t like him I won’t try to convince you. However, have you seen The Shop Around the Corner? It’s one of our all time favorite Christmas movies.

            What about British/BBC movies and TV Shows? Are there any that you like?

            And now I really need to stop asking a busy authoress questions!

          2. I didn’t use to like John Wayne very much; but I really liked him in roles where he was being more humorous – he was great in Big Jake, Chisum and, of course, True Grit. 😀

            I’ve seen Big Country! I love Gregory Peck and Jean Simmons, and it was an interesting story idea, but I didn’t care for a lot of execution (and I really didn’t like the editing; which is a pet peeve because I’m an amateur editor). I haven’t heard of the other two westerns; I need to check those out!

            EEK; you have seen Chisum? Oooooo….’sniffs’….that’s sad. 😀 It’s my favorite. HAHA! I actually thought that the two actresses were okay; but I know what you means about 60s and 70s actress; I can think of quite a few off the top of my head whom are AWFUL. I do like Susan Saint James, have you seen her? Ben Johhnson’s “Pepper” character was hilarious! <3 I always really loved Billy the Kid - he was awesome.

            Hehehee - um...sorry! But thanks. 😀 Yes! We've seen The Shop Around The Corner; it's not a favorite but a cute concept. 'hides' I did think Jimmy Stewart looked pretty funny in the Jackpot (I only the first fifteen minute but want to watch the rest).

            OLD BRITISH BBC MOVIES AND TV SHOWS???? WHERE DO I START??? Goodness, let's see....All Creatures Great and Small (except for some swearing and stuff) 39 Steps! All the versions (3). Horatio Hornblower? That wasn't BBC but it was British. Gosh, there are so many I'm drawing a blank! How about you?

            HAHA - I love answering questions and I love asking questions and I love chatting! 'whispers' I haven't forgotten your email, hopefully August!! 'clapping'

  4. Yes! John Wayne’s humorous roles are his best!
    Please check the others out. Especially The Proud Ones!!

    No, I haven’t seen Susan Saint James. Which movie have you seen her in?

    It’s fine! I’m don’t lose friends over actors/characters!

    I haven’t seen All Creatures Great and Small but I’ve read all the books. The humor is great! Sadly there is a lot of crude words and swearing, so we children were only allowed to read it after we got older.

    I’ve seen Alfred Hitchcock’s version of The 39 Steps, and again, I’ve read the book.

    I really enjoyed the first few seasons of Poldark, but I stopped when I realized it wasn’t going to end well.

    Pride and Prejudice 1995 is my FAVORITE British movie! It is so incredibly close to the book and so period accurate while being very interesting!
    Wives and Daughters is also done so very well, and is really, really enjoyable!

    Yes!! I was wondering if you had forgotten. It’ll be amazing!

    1. Yes, so good! I can see why JW won a Academy Award for Big Grit; he was great in that! Have you seen the sequel, Rooster Cogburn?

      I looked up these two westerns; Westward the Women looks a little heavy for me, but The proud Ones looks interesting and I’ll bet I can find a copy! I’ve really been on a Western kick lately.

      Susan St. James has been in several things but my favorite role of her is in the TV show, It Takes A Thief, she guest stared as a sly, cute cat burglar and had some great snappy dialogue.

      Haha, good! #relieved. I don’t loses friends over that either and I’m glad you don’t because…’ coughs’. Jane Austen is one of my least favorite things ever…’ coughing’… though I will admit, I saw a clip of P&P with Colin Firth and was intrigued despite myself, looked like some good acting.

      The All Creatures Great and Small books are so funny! Loved the humor and I think it was one of the books that influences my own writing. Yeah, we were a certain age before we read it too. “nods”

      Ooh! I want to read the 39 steps, and I highly recommend the 70s version of the movie… it is so good! And free on YouTube. It’s my favorite version of the movie.

      Oh no, I haven’t forgotten! ‘puts on the cone of shame’. I’m sorry to leave you hanging; July has turned out to be the busiest month of the year for us.

      “flailing”. Can’t wait for things to calm down so we can arrange a time to chat, hopefully in a week or two! ‘crosses fingers’

      1. Yes! In fact, I like Rooster Cogburn better than True Grit, though I like them both.

        Maybe. I don’t know you all that well, so I don’t know what all you deem ‘heavy’. Personally I don’t mind heavy stuff, so I have a hard time judging it for others. I don’t believe The Proud Ones is any heavier than The Big Country, but I’m not sure about Westward the Women. It is definitely interesting historically, though.

        Do you enjoy B westerns at all?

        I’ll have to check it out! I rather like cat burglars in stories.

        Oh my!!! I’m so sorry that you don’t enjoy the amazingness of Jane Austen! Still, even if you never read the book, WATCH P&P! You don’t have to like it, you just have to make sure that you Don’t like it before you throw it out! Because it. Is. Amazing. And for goodness sake DO NOT watch the new one with Kiera Knightly first!

        Beware, The 39 Steps book is not much like movie, but it’s definitely worth reading if you like light spy fiction.

        Ohhh! It will be so much fun!! I can’t wait to actually talk to you (instead of writing these ridiculously long comments) ;P!

        1. I actually haven’t seen RC all the way thru, but I loved what I saw. Hepburn’s character was great and I really liked Rooster’s mentality, how he dealt with the bad guys…. hehehe!

          I’m pretty sensitive, ‘nods’, and I wasn’t really comfortable with some of the jerks and their doings in Big Country, particularly that one cowardly louse.

          Um… no, mot really. Though, I saw an Audie Murphy western the other day and it had a side character in it that I loved, if that helps.

          It Takes a Thief needed to be edited on some places, but some of the episodes were really fun and exciting and great characters.

          Eeeh, yeah, sorry to disappoint you. But I have been meaning to watch P&P, and definitely the Colin Firth version. “nods and raises hand”. Haha! Okay, that’s a deal.

          I looove spy fiction so “m sure it will at least be interesting!

          Eep! I KNOW!!! Haha!! We’ll be able to cover a lot more ground that way! ‘flails’

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