Fava beans and chianti will never taste the same
THEY are edge-of-the-seat viewing. Nail-biting and hair-raising. Suspenseladen thrillers have been a favourite of films fans since the early days of cinema. To mark a new season of the genre at the BFI this autumn, we look at the best thrillers of all time...
Double Indemnity - 1944
A glorious tale of greed, lust and betrayal, this fiendish film noir set the template for decades ahead. Directed by the legendary Billy Wilder, it was a box office smash and nominated for seven Oscars. Barbara Stanwyck, as the femme fatale, seduces Fred Macmurray’s insurance salesman, pictured, into killing her husband. With Edward G Robinson, the three were paid a third of the film’s £500,000 budget.
Notorious - 1946
A debonair British actor playing a spy, a gorgeous girl, an exotic location and the deadly pursuit for a cache of uranium... Alfred Hitchcock’s classic was a huge influence on the James Bond series. A ticking clock of post-war nuclear paranoia, spook Cary Grant seduces Ingrid Bergman, above, to foil a Nazi plot.
The Asphalt Jungle - 1950
Directed by John Huston, this tale of backstabbing thieves is a pulsequickening look at moral corruption. Marilyn Monroe, at 24, shimmies through a brief appearance on her way to mega-stardom as the moll to a lawyer who finances a jewellery store heist. A big plus is the acting of Sterling Hayden, above.
Night of the Hunter - 1955
Loathed by critics, ignored by audiences and the Brit director Charles Laughton never made another movie. But in the years since, this southern gothic nightmare has been re-evaluated and is now hailed as a masterpiece. An attack on religious hypocrisy, Robert Mitchum, pictured, is an evil, money obsessed preacher pursuing Shelley Winters’ kids.
Point Blank - 1967
A counter-culture critique of the rat race where huge financial rewards are always one promotion away and crime has gone corporate. Angie Dickinson, below, stars with Lee Marvin at his hardboiled best as an ex-con chasing $93k from the mob.
All the President’s Men - 1976
The fall of President Nixon and the breakdown of trust in the political system was the catalyst for Hollywood to create a series of intelligent, gripping, socially aware, critically lauded thrillers. This is the third instalment of director Alan J Pakula’s “paranoia trilogy”. Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford, above, star as the Watergate journalists.
Body Heat - 1981
Kathleen Turner was thrust from TV soap star to sultry big-screen siren in this erotic thriller, purring the line: “You aren’t too smart, are you? I like that in a man.” In this update of Double Indemnity, Turner is the trophy wife who seduces William Hurt, above, into murdering her husband.
The Silence of the Lambs - 1991
Graphic tendencies also infected horror films, which were given a big budget nip and tuck with this all-consuming monster success. Opposite FBI agent Jodie Foster, above, Anthony Hopkins, left, was catapulted into the big time for his portrayal of cannibalistic serial killer Dr Hannibal Lecter. Fava beans and chianti will never taste the same any more.
Basic Instinct - 1992
Over a decade of raunchy fare followed Body Heat – with films such as Fatal Attraction – reaching a crotch-flashing climax here. Starring Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, above, and the appropriately named Jeanne Tripplehorn, it is controversial due to its rape scene and exploitative treatment of lesbian characters.
Get Out - 2017
This year’s minibudget breakout hit is a sharp story of a mixed race couple caught up in a missing persons murder mystery. Starring Brit Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams, above, it offers an honest and uncomfortable view of the world. BFI Thriller, runs from Friday, October 20 to Sunday, December 10 at BFI Southbank, online on BFI Player, and at selected UK venues. firstname.lastname@example.org