Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated Thrillers - KC (of A Classic Movie Blog) ""

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Underrated Thrillers - KC (of A Classic Movie Blog)

Kendahl "KC" Cruver writes about movies at A Classic Movie Blog and as a regular contributor to ClassicFlix. You can find her all over the web:

The Moon-Spinners (1964)
One of my favorite films. It's got gorgeous Cretan atmosphere, beautiful costumes, a purring and delightfully matronly Joan Greenwood and some surprisingly heart thumping moments. I would never have pegged Hayley Mills for an action heroine, but in a tense scene with a whirling windmill, I wondered how her pink gingham charm could have worked with the genre. It would have been fascinating to see her take up the challenge, but here you at least get an idea of what she could do. Mills goes up against a jewel thief, and you really fear for her because it's Eli Wallach. You wonder if anyone told him he's in a Disney flick, because he's as menacing as in any other crime film he madeIn the end, Pola Negri shows up on a yacht with a cheetah and steals the whole movie.

Dark of the Sun (1968)
Rod Taylor as a mercenary in Africa. This is a mean film, set in a brutal world, but it's so exciting that your sense of social outrage is impossible to separate from the thrills. One of my major problems with modern action films is that you can't see what's going on half the time. Scenes are so often cut into such fast-moving chaos that your eye never really focuses on anything. Here the action is filmed with startling clarity, and with many of the actors semming to do their own stunts, which makes it feel much more immediate. There's a palpable excitement seeing Taylor leap from a balcony onto a pool table and you know it's him (yes, I'd recognize that butt anywhere).

The Liquidator (1966)
In a much sillier role, Rod Taylor is Boysie Oakes, a former soldier who is pressured into killing for the British Secret Service. He is terrified of violence and thus outsources his work so that he has more time for womanizing. Of course, he can't stay out of the action forever. It's all a huge goof on James Bond, with a theme song belted out by Shirley Bassey, Bond girl Jill St. John as an elusive love interest and lots of perfectly-coiffedbeautiful woman gliding around with that blank-faced, soft-voiced passivity that proliferated in 1960s spy flicks. Trevor Howard has fun tangling with Taylor as his contact with the Secret Service.

Inferno (1953)
A prickly millionaire with a broken leg is left for dead in the desert by his wife and her lover. With long scenes of his struggle to survive, and an interior monologue shared with the audience, the set-up doesn't necessarily scream thrills. But the man is played by Robert Ryan, who can generate plenty of excitement by raising an eyebrowThere's so much to love about this movie, the bright, almost feverish color, Rhonda Fleming's anxious tension and blazing green eyes (she's always coiled tight, like a cobra ready to strike) and the way the lovers' story diverges from and then intertwines again with their less-than-hapless victim. But it is Ryan who touched me the most. He gets an ideal showcase for his remarkable ability to communicate with an audience. When he feels relief, you feel it with him;when he's angry, you feel the outrage in your guts. Watching him is a visceral experience.

Jeopardy (1953)
It's been a while since I've seen this Barbara Stanwyck flick, so my memories aren't too clear, but the tension I felt watching it sticks with me. Stanwyck is on a seaside vacation with her husband (Barry Sullivan) when he becomes stuck under a timber by the sea. Babs rushes off to find help, and has the misfortune to run into Ralph Meeker's escaped convict who is making a break for the border. It's a conventional beat-the-clock plot, but Stanwyck is so tough she gives it a punch. Meeker is even better. He's so sleazy that you want to hate him, as does his captive, but he has a weird charisma that is both mesmerizing and repulsive. It's easy to see why Stanwyck is strangely drawn to this man she has also threatened to kill.


dfordoom said...

Dark of the Sun is the best of all the mercenary movies, even better than The Wild Geese.

I'll be adding Inferno to my shopping list.

Laura said...

Great list, KC! THE MOONSPINNERS is such an attractive film -- I loved Hayley's wardrobe. You've got me curious about the movies I haven't seen yet, especially as I'm a Rod Taylor fan. More ideas for my "to watch" list!

Best wishes,