A Century of Film

 

Suspense Films


The Genre

What is a Suspense film, anyway?  What makes it different from other genres?  I think I first started thinking about that with the release of The Hunt for Red October.  It was still early in my days of being serious about films but I realized it was a bit unclassifiable.  It wasn’t an Action film.  There was too much suspense to be a Drama.  I got a film guide (called the Video Movie Guide – I had the 1990 edition and later gave that to my mother who still has it when I got the 1993 edition which I eventually got rid of, feeling I no longer needed it) not long afterwards that classified films by genre and had Action-Adventure-Thriller as one of them.  I realized that was where Hunt for Red October belonged.  But eventually I would decide that Mysteries really were their own sub-genre.

Almost all Mysteries could be pushed into this Genre which is why Mystery will be the next genre covered in this series (it was originally going to be first but it was easier to find a list of Mysteries and go through that than it was for Suspense, so I am watching a bunch more Mysteries before that post).  But Mysteries are tied up in a specific Mystery and solving that Mystery while Suspense is often more about the feeling in the film.  There is often a Mystery as well and I would not quibble with any person who keeps any of these films in Mystery.  A lot of them could also be classified as Action, but Action films, for the most part, focus more on the actual action and less on the feeling of suspense (for instance, most Spy films are here, but the Bond films are in Action).  Crime films could also be classified here (Crime films are often described as “crime thriller”). (more…)

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A Century of Film
Crime Films

The Genre:

There seems to be an idea that Gangster Films and Crime Films are interchangeable.  But to me, a Crime film is more than just a Gangster Film and the latter is just a sub-genre of the former.  The Rough Guide to Gangster Movies kind of sums up the idea right away even if they are just talking about Gangster films and not Crime films:

“Every book about gangster movies has to have a working definition of what a gangster movie actually is.  And each will disagree with the other.  For the purposes of the Rough Guide to Gangster Movies, it is one in which the gangster is the protagonist, not the supporting player or bête noir of the long-suffering cop hero.” (p 3) (more…)

"The crowd milled indignantly in the small Dayroom, everybody talking excitedly. Stark posted himself huskily in the doorway with Pete and the Chief flanking him. Warden gulped off the rest of the coffee and set the cop on the magazine rack and pushed his way down to the other end and climbed up on the pingpong table." (p 731)

“The crowd milled indignantly in the small Dayroom, everybody talking excitedly. Stark posted himself huskily in the doorway with Pete and the Chief flanking him. Warden gulped off the rest of the coffee and set the cop on the magazine rack and pushed his way down to the other end and climbed up on the pingpong table.” (p 731)

My Top 7:

  1. From Here to Eternity
  2. Stalag 17
  3. The Big Heat
  4. The Moon is Blue
  5. The Actress
  6. Peter Pan
  7. Hondo

Note:  After a few years with more than 10 screenplays on my list, I can’t do more than seven in this year.
Note:  This is the earliest year where significant records exist at oscars.org (there are a few for 1952 and even this year is incomplete in strange waves).  One of the great things about oscars.org is that it lists original sources (you can actually look up everything in a particular year with a source author) and it makes it much easier to distinguish between original and adapted scripts. (more…)

"A-15.  UPPER LANDING OF STAIRCASE (FROM BELOW).  Phyllis Dietrichson stands looking down.  She is in her early thirties.  She holds a large bath-towel around her very appetizing torso, down to about two inches above her knees.  She wears no stockings, no nothing.  On her feet a pair of high-heeled bedroom slippers with pom-poms.  On her left ankle a gold anklet."

“A-15. UPPER LANDING OF STAIRCASE (FROM BELOW). Phyllis Dietrichson stands looking down. She is in her early thirties. She holds a large bath-towel around her very appetizing torso, down to about two inches above her knees. She wears no stockings, no nothing. On her feet a pair of high-heeled bedroom slippers with pom-poms. On her left ankle a gold anklet.”

My Top 5:

  1. Double Indemnity
  2. Gaslight
  3. Arsenic and Old Lace
  4. Laura
  5. Ministry of Fear

Note:  That’s it.  My whole list for the year.  But it’s also a year where only 8 films rank above *** and the other three are original.  Not a good year for film. (more…)

The Penguin Classics edition of the novel that first got me to read it.

The Penguin Classics edition of the novel that first got me to read it.

La Bête humaine

  • Author:  Émile Zola
  • Published:  1890
  • Publisher:  Charpentier
  • Pages:  366
  • First Line:  “Roubaud came into the room and put the pound loaf, pâté and bottle of white wine on the table.”
  • Last Line:  “With no human hand to guide it through the night, it roared on and on, a blind and deaf beast let loose amid death and destruction, laden with cannon-fodder, these soldiers already silly with fatigue, drunk and bawling.”
  • Film Version:  1920 (possibly lost), 1938 (**** – dir. Jean Renoir), 1954 (***.5 – dir. Fritz Lang), 1957
  • First Read:  2010

(more…)

My Best Actor and Actress winner in my Best Picture winner - before things go bad.

My Best Actor and Actress winner in my Best Picture winner – before things go bad.

You can read more about this year in film here.  The Best Picture race is discussed here, with reviews of all the nominees.  First there are the categories, followed by all the films with their nominations, then the Globes, where I split the major awards by Drama and Comedy, followed by a few lists at the very end.  If there’s a film you expected to see and didn’t, check the very bottom – it might be eligible in a different year.  Films in red won the Oscar in that category.  Films in blue were nominated.  This is the last year of two of the strangest categories in Oscar history: Assistant Director and Dance Direction, neither of which do I use.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. A Star is Born
  2. You Only Live Once
  3. The Awful Truth
  4. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  5. The Lower Depths

(more…)

Hey!  You!

Hey! You!

You can read more about this year in film here.  The Best Picture race is discussed here, with reviews of all the nominees.  First there are the categories, followed by all the films with their nominations, then the Globes, where I split the major awards by Drama and Comedy, followed by a few lists at the very end.  If there’s a film you expected to see and didn’t, check the very bottom – it might be eligible in a different year.  Films in red won the Oscar in that category.  Films in blue were nominated.  This year marks the addition of the supporting acting categories; there are 16 categories overall, though two of them (Assistant Director, Dance Direction) aren’t categories I include.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. Modern Times
  2. The Petrified Forest
  3. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
  4. My Man Godfrey
  5. A Tale of Two Cities

(more…)