(1989) D: Phillip Noyce. Starring Sam Neill, Nicole Kidman and Billy Zane.
This is the kind of thriller I love: quiet, simple human drama. No special effects, no complicated whodunits, just tension, tension, tension. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the setting was at least half of the appeal of this film for me.
BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW: This film was Nicole Kidman’s US film debut.
(1971) D: Steven Spielberg. Starring Dennis Weaver.
Even though I haven’t seen this film since the 70s, my memory of being on the edge of my seat still lingers, so it did something right.
BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW: Made 4 years before Jaws, Duel was the first film to get Spielberg noticed as a director.
(1975) D: Steven Spielberg. Starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss.
“I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.” ‘Nuff said.
BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW: In a biography, Steven Spielberg revealed how Robert Duvall helped to encourage him into making the movie. In return, Spielberg offered the role of Chief Brody (which eventually went to Scheider) to Duvall but he turned it down, fearing that it may make him too famous.
(1990) D: Rob Reiner. Starring Kathy Bates, James Caan.
Kathy Bates was discovered, James Caan made a comeback, and Stephen King became hot again. And I just liked it because it featured possibly my favorite villain of all time.
BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW: According to screenwriter William Goldman’s book “Four Screenplays”, the role of Paul Sheldon was offered to William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Richard Dreyfus, Gene Hackman, Robert Redford and Warren Beatty, all of whom declined. James Caan, who eventually took the part, experienced a career revitalization because of the film’s success.
(1995) D: Irwin Winkler. Starring Sandra Bullock, Jeremy Northam, Dennis Miller.
Sandra Bullock does some good work in an interesting film that, looking back, seems ahead of its time.
BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW: One of only 6 movies directed by legendary Oscar-winning producer Winkler (Rocky, Raging Bull, The Right Stuff, Goodfellas.)
(1990) D: Alan J. Pakula. Starring Harrison Ford, Bonnie Bedelia, Raul Julia, John Spencer.
A solid thriller that keeps you guessing until the final frame.
BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW: The only film version of best-selling novelist Scott Turow book.
(1976) D: Richard Donner. Starring Gregory Peck, Lee Remick.
I don’t believe in any of this stuff…..do I?
BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW: Director Donner had to convince the studio for extra money to hire composer Jerry Goldsmith to do the score. They managed to scrape together $25,000 to hire Goldsmith, who created the iconic score, which went on to win the Academy Award—and cause many nightmares.
THE USUAL SUSPECTS
(1995) D: Bryan Singer. Starring Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Baldwin, Benicio Del Toro, Kevin Pollack, Chazz Palminteri, Pete Postlethwaite.
Interested in studying a film with a brilliant narrative structure? How about a film with powerhouse acting? How about complex and layered storytelling? How about art direction and cinematography of the highest rate? Hell, you want a complete movie, from start to finish? It’s all here.
BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW: The fingers on Kevin Spacey’s left hand were glued together to make his character’s disability more realistic.