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ClassicsOnline Home » CLASSICS AT THE MOVIES - SUSPENSE
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Morgan Freeman (William Somerset), Brad Pitt (David Mills), Gwyneth Paltrow (Tracy Mills), Kevin Spacey (John Doe), Richard Roundtree (Talbot), John C. McGinley (California), R. Lee Ermey (Police Captain), Julie Araskog (Mrs Gould)
In a depressingly sombre New York a psychopathic serial killer sees himself as an emissary of God, justified in meting out horrible punishment to people who have transgressed one of the Seven Deadly Sins. In a desperate hunt to stop him before he strikes again are two cops, one a seasoned campaigner due to retire, the other an ambitious newcomer.
In a scene where Somerset visits a public library to read up on the Seven Deadly Sins, the music heard is the peaceful Air from Bachs Orchestral Suite No. 3.
THE USUAL SUSPECTS 1995
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: Gabriel Byrne (Dean Keaton), Stephen Baldwin (Spencer Mc Manus), Benicio del Toro (Fred Fenster), Kevin Pollak (Todd Hockney), Kevin Spacey (Verbal Kint), Chazz Palminteri (Dave Kujan), Pete Postlethwaite (Kobayashi), Suzy Amis (Edie Fineran)
"Five criminals. One line-up. No coincidence" read the tagline for this film, and it is soon obvious that there is careful planning to everything that happens. Increasingly the dark presence of somebody called Keyser Soze is felt. The question is: does he really exist or is he just the figment of someones imagination? This film which had no big stars in the cast, but was exceedingly well played (because of that?), was one of the years happiest surprises and certainly takes some beating when it comes to the final twist. "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didnt exist", is a quote nobody who has seen the film will forget.
On the soundtrack is Debussys atmospheric Les sons et les parfums tournent dans lair du soir from Préludes, Book 1.
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS 1991
Director: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Jodie Foster (Clarice Starling), Anthony Hopkins (Dr. Hannibal Lecter), Kasi Lemmons (Ardelia Mapp), Lawrence T. Wrentz (Agent Burroughs), Scott Glenn (Jack Crawford), Anthony Heald (Dr. Frederick Chilton), Frankie Faison (Barney), Stuart Rudin (Miggs)
A young woman is abducted by "Buffalo Bill", a psychopath so nicknamed from his habit of skinning his victims. Young FBI trainee Clarice Starling is assigned to find her by enlisting the help of another dangerous psychopath, erstwhile psychiatrist Hannibal ("The Cannibal") Lecter, who is already incarcerated with an extraordinary range of safeguards. In a series of interviews, he gives her insights into the mind of "Buffalo Bill" in exchange for being allowed to amuse himself by probing her innermost secrets. Clarice eventually succeeds in tracking down the woman and her captor, but not before Lecter manages to escape in spectacularly grisly fashion.
The Silence of the Lambs won all five most coveted Academy Awards for 1992 Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay.
Director: Jon Amiel
Cast: Sigourney Weaver (Helen Hudson), Holly Hudson (M. J. Monahan), Dermot Mulroney (Ruben Goetz), William McNamara (Peter Foley), Harry Connick Jr (Darryl Lee Cullum), John Rothman (Andy), J. E. Freeman (Lt. Quinn), Will Patton (Nicoletti)
Psychiatrist Helen Hudson specializes in serial killers. Suffering from agoraphobia, a morbid dread of public places, her only contact with the outside world is through her computer. She joins forces with cops Monahan and Goetz to track down the killer, who copies the methods of famous serial killers hence the title before he strikes again.
Two famous opera arias, that of Figaro in The Barber of Seville and that of Tosca in the opera of that name make a striking contrast to the chilling goings-on, even more so the beautiful In paradisum movement from Faurés Requiem.
Director: John Woo
Cast: John Travolta (Sean Archer), Nicholas Cage (Castor Troy), Joan Allen (Eve Archer), Gina Gershon (Sasha Hassler), Alessandro Nivola (Pollux Troy), Dominique Swain (Jamie Archer), Nick Cassavetes (Dietrich Hassler)
FBI agent Sean Archer must go undercover to find a lethal biological weapon planted by his arch-rival, the sadistic terrorist-for-hire Castor Troy, who brutally killed his little son six years earlier. To do so he has to gain the confidence of Troys brother, Pollux, who is in prison. He undergoes a radical surgical procedure, "borrowing" Troys face and identity. But things go awry when Troy, emerging from a coma, transforms into Archer and wreaks havoc upon his life, both at work and at home. Archer has trouble convincing everyone of his true identity including his wife, a doctor, until she types a sample of his blood. After a hectic speedboat chase the real Archer kills his enemy. Back in his own body, he returns home to his wife and children.
When the face of Archer is transplanted onto him, Paminas aria Ach, ich fühls from Mozarts Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) is heard. For the candle-light dinner he puts on for Archers wife, the Chopin Raindrop Prelude is the music. Later on, when Archers boss tries to put a stop to Castors activities, he kills him, saying he has had a heart attack. At the bosss funeral Allegris beautiful Miserere is heard.
Director: Rob Reiner
Cast: James Caan (Paul Sheldon), Kathy Bates (Annie Wilkes), Richard Farnsworth (Buster), Frances Sternhagen (Virginia), Lauren Bacall (Marcia Sindell)
One of the best of innumerable Stephen King story adaptations. Successful novelist Paul Sheldon is injured when he crashes his car on a remote snow-covered New England road. The woman who rescues him just happens to be his "Number One Fan" and seriously disturbed into the bargain. She nurses him back to health but is strangely loath to let him go or communicate with the outside world, eventually smashing his legs to make sure he stays put.
Kathy Bates won the Academy Award for Best Actress as Annie Wilkes.
SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY 1991
Director: Joseph Ruben
Cast: Julia Roberts (Laura Burney / Sara Waters), Patrick Bergin (Martin Burney), Kevin Anderson (Ben Woodward), Elizabeth Lawrence (Chloe), Kyle Secor (Fleishman), Claudette Nevins (Dr. Rissner)
On the surface Laura and Martin Burney are happily married, with no financial worries, but Martin gradually grows more and more demanding and gives way to his sadistic impulses. Laura decides to escape, and during a stormy sailing expedition she jumps overboard, hoping Martin will think she has drowned. She changes her name to Sara Waters and moves to a small town, trying to build up a new existence. She also finds new love, but of course Martin eventually tracks her down .....
The music is DreamsPassions from the Symphonie fantastique of Hector Berlioz.
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE 1971
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Malcolm McDowell (Alex), Patrick Magee (Mr. Alexander), Michael Bates (Chief Guard), Warren Clarke (Dim), John Clive (Stage Actor), Adrienne Corri (Mrs. Alexander)
Alex is the leader of a gang of violent young thugs who beat up and rape defenceless people. In between he relaxes with his favourite classical music, the last movement of Beethovens Choral Symphony in particular. In the end he is caught and sent to prison. He hates that so much that when offered the chance of a new psychological treatment, he eagerly accepts. It turns out to be aversion therapy and the end result is a completely non-aggressive creature, totally unable to stand up for himself. The moot point is which is worse, the way Alex treats his victims or the way the state legally destroys his personality.
Apart from music by Beethoven there is also Elgars Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1, the one that is sung by Prommers every year at the Last Night of the London Proms, to the text of Land of Hope and Glory. But most of the requests for music from this film were for the sombre March from Purcells Music on the Death of Queen Mary played at her funeral in Westminster Abbey and, later that year, at Purcells own.
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CLASSICS AT THE MOVIES - SUSPENSE