Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated Thrillers - Aurora (Citizen Screen) ""

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Underrated Thrillers - Aurora (Citizen Screen)

Five Underrated thrillers from Aurora – a classic film fan, enthusiast and blogger at Once Upon a Screen.  By day Aurora teaches Mass Media and by night she watches movies.  
On Twitter, she's  @CitizenScreen.

I start this list by breaking the rules and choosing a film made well after the cut-off year of 2000.  It seems each and every time I watch a Sidney Lumet film, and I love almost every single one of them, I go back and take a look at his last one – one I feel is ignored, but that should stand among his best.  AND SO, a must for me on this list.

BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD starsPhilip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomeiand features Albert Finney in a key, supporting role.  The story is told through parallel individual tales of each of the main characters leading up to, and looking back on, the film’s fateful event and scathing aftermath.  

Hoffman and Hawk play brothers, Andy and Hank,respectively.  Perhaps an odd pair to view as brothers at first glance, but there is never a question of their bond once we get a glimpse into their lives and history.  For very different reasons both men are in dire need of cash.  Andy, the older, stronger and wiser brother, who is also much higher on the economic scale, comes up with the brilliant solution to their cash woes – they should rob a small jewelry store, which he calls a “victimless crime” since the owners would be well recompensed by the insurance on the store.  But, it is not just any jewelry store he plans on robbing.  What makes it “special” is for you to find outin this gripping, deeply emotional thriller.

Sidney Lumet’s FAIL SAFE (1964)
I go for another underappreciated Lumet film as my second entry - from 1964, FAIL SAFE in which the director recreates the cinematic style we saw in his debut film, 12 ANGRY MEN to bring, yet again, high drama on a personal scale.  The story in FAIL SAFE is both personal and grand – up close and broad.  FAIL SAFE is a great thriller that’s still affecting and features one of the most memorable endings in filmdom - the scariest of possibilties.  Then it lingers.

This largely ignored must-see features a great cast including Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, DanO’Herlihy, Larry Hagman and several other actors of note.  

Alfred Hitchcock’s THE 39 STEPS (1935)
A handsome, charming, innocent man who is wrongly accused of a crime runs into a smart, beautiful blonde in a chase thriller that revolves around international espionage.  If this story sounds familiar it’s no wonder since it was told again and again by the same man, Alfred Hitchcock.
THE 39 STEPS is Alfred Hitchcock’s eighteenth film and the second in what has come to be known as his classic, thriller sextet, which is made up of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1934)  THE 39 STEPS SECRET AGENT (1936) - SABOTAGE (1936) YOUGN AND INNOCENT (1937) and THE LADY VANISHES (1938) - films he made at Gaumont-British Picture Corporation before venturing forth toward Hollywood.  THE 39 STEPS is my favorite of that impressive lot and should stand among the best in his career, yet I think it is all too often overlooked.  The cast, which includes Robert Donat and MadeleineCarroll is stellar and the story - a sexy, exciting tale - moves along in a flash.  A terrific thriller!

Terence Young’s WAIT UNTIL DARK (1967)
Audrey Hepburn turns in a great performance as a young, blind woman terrorized by thugs who are after drugs believed to be stashed in her apartment.  WAIT UNTIL DARK never fails to get my heart racing although I know exactly what’s going to happen and when.  Aside from Ms. Hepburn you have RichardCrenna, Alan ArkinEfrem Zimbalist, Jr., Jack Weston and terrific photography by Charles Lang in this highly effective thriller directed by Terence Young.


As my last choice I’m going to go out to left field, as they say, for a movie few know about these days, but one I’ve enjoyed since its release.  That would be Richard Marquand’s JAGGED EDGE (1985) with Jeff Bridges, Glenn Close, Peter Cayote, Robert Loggia and a host of other terrific actors.

JAGGED EDGE is a cat and mouse, sexy thriller that plays as much with the emotions of the audience as it does with those of Glenn Close, the defense attorney defending a man (Bridges) accused of brutallymurdering his wife.  Suffice it to say we’re thrown for a loop throughout until the very end of the movie.  EDGE is highly enjoyable and I can’t wait to take a look at it again.

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