Thrillers! Friday Nights in October on TCM
Turner Classic Movies has launched a new series of one-hour specials focusing on film genres starting off with The Suspenseful World of Thrillers – Just in time for Halloween!
The new series from Dream Works Television kicked off early this month with the original documentary, “A Night at the Movies: The Suspenseful world of Thrillers”. Following that premier there has been a festival featuring classic thrillers that continues until the last Friday in October. Fortunately, there are still three more Fridays left in the month, including the one coming up that will rebroadcast the documentary which features interviews with screenwriter Diablo Cody, actor Kenneth Branagh, director Mel Brooks, screen favorite Martin Landau, and many more.
This new series is an example of TCM’s commitment to offering great insights into the world of classic films. The first installment, “A Night at the Movies: The Suspenseful World of Thrillers”, examines the genre from all sides, including the different types of thrillers and the tools filmmakers use to give their audiences a shot of adrenaline. Topics explored include the origin of thrillers and the development of stylistic conventions, such as the use of a wrongly accused everyman as a protagonist, damsels in distress, femme fatales, and villains. The documentary goes on to assess the impact of the changing times on the genre, such as the push for intrigue during WWII, the increase of violence in the ‘60s, the emergence of the paranoid thriller in the ‘70s, and how the genre maintains popularity by latching onto the defining mood of each passing era.
The special plays out as a basic yet informative tutorial on what is the definition of a thriller, spanning the subtypes as well as the distinctions that separate it from action films. A Night at the Movies is extremely well crafted, with many of the genre’s definitive voices (past and present) speaking about the qualities necessary to any thriller, while clips are utilized to exemplify these points. Overall, this is a fun and entertaining way to finally make clear an often most misunderstood genre of the film medium.
With the variety to be had within the genre, TCM has set aside each Friday in October’s primetime for a different style of thriller. This Friday the 16th the focus is on Crime Thrillers, with the underexposed, but exceptional noir The Narrow Margin starting the night off at 8pm EST (5pm PST). Immediately following this first film is a rebroadcast of “A Night at the Movies: The Suspenseful World of Thrillers”. Then two more thrillers, Lured featuring Lucille Ball and George Sanders, and The Lodger with Merle Oberon, will round out the night’s presentation. I could say it's going to be a thrilling evening, but I think we all know we can expect that from TCM no matter what the programming.