Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. is a freelance writer with Radio Spirits and ClassicFlix. His weblog, Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, wallows in the nostalgia that is classic movies, vintage television and old-time radio.
1.) 10 Rillington Place (1971) – Based on the book by Ludovic Kennedy, Place dramatizes the true tale of the monstrous serial killer John Christie, who committed multiple murders at the titular address and buried the corpses on the property. The late Lord Richard Attenborough gives an amazing performance as Christie, with John Hurt matching him every step of the way as Timothy Evans…a neighbor who ultimately was hung for two murders committed by Christie in one of the most outrageous miscarriages of justice in legal history.
2.) Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting (1969) – Offbeat suspenser stars Carol White as a young woman who breaks off a relationship with an unstable young man (Scott Hylands) despite being pregnant by him. She aborts the pregnancy, which doesn’t set at all well with her ex; he embarks on torturing her mentally as revenge when she marries politician Paul Burke. Directed by Mark Robson, who knew his way around a good thriller (The Seventh Victim, The Prize).
3.) Experiment in Terror (1962) – Sure, we think of director Blake Edwards as the guy behind The Pink Panther movies…but he never gets enough credit for this crackerjack film starring Lee Remick as a bank teller (who’s being blackmailed by a man threatening to kill Remick’s sister, played by Stefanie Powers) who needs the help of Fed Glenn Ford. Character great Ross Martin plays the unforgettable villain of the piece (afflicted with asthma) and there’s a justifiably famous climax at San Francisco’s now-closed Candlestick Park.
4.) The Fallen Sparrow (1943) – One of my favorite John Garfield films; Julie is a Spanish Civil War veteran—who spent two years as a POW—butting heads with a Nazi spy ring headed up by a sinister doctor played by Walter Slezak. Maureen O’Hara is effectively cast against type as the femme fatale who tries to worm out of Garfield valuable secrets that they attempted to obtain during his prison ordeal.
5.) Targets (1968) – Forget The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon; Peter Bogdanovich’s finest film is this impressive first feature that blends two stories: one involving horror movie icon Boris Karloff, who plays an over-the-hill actor retiring from the flickers because he’s convinced he can’t compete with the horrors in real-life. Representing those real-life horrors is Vietnam vet Tim O’Kelly, who snaps one day and kills his wife and mother before going Charles Whitman on innocent folks…first on top of an oil storage facility, where he pops off random drivers—then at a drive-in theater in a tense, sweat-inducing climax that ties his and Karloff’s stories together.