Lifeboat

  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Producers: Kenneth Macgowan
  • Writers: Novella, John Steinbeck, Screenplay, Jo Swerling, Uncredited, Ben Hecht
  • Genres: Thriller, War
  • Actors: Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, Walter Slezak, Mary Anderson, John Hodiak, Henry Hull, Heather Angel, Hume Cronyn, Canada Lee

Several American and British civilians are stuck in a lifeboat after their ship and a U-boat sink each other in combat. Willi (Walter Slezak), a German survivor, is pulled aboard and denies being an enemy officer. During an animated debate, Kovac (John Hodiak) demands the German be thrown out and allowed to drown. Cooler heads prevail with Garrett (Hume Cronyn) asserting the German’s prisoner of war status and he is allowed to stay.

Kovac takes charge, rationing the little food and water they have; but Willi gradually takes control away from him and is later revealed to be the U-boat captain. One morning, while the others are sleeping, the injured German-American Gus Smith (William Bendix) catches Willi drinking water from a hidden flask. Too delirious and weak to wake anybody up, Gus is pushed overboard by Willi and drowns while the others sleep. Upon waking, the others discover Gus missing and Willi is questioned. When they notice that the Nazi is sweating, the other passengers discover the hoarded flask in his jacket. In a spasm of anger they beat him up and throw him overboard, striking him multiple times to prevent him from reboarding. Musing on Willi’s treachery, Rittenhouse (Henry Hull) asks, “What do you do with people like that?”

The survivors are subsequently spotted by the German supply ship to which Willi had been steering them. Before a launch can pick them up, both are sunk by an Allied warship. A frightened young German seaman is pulled aboard the lifeboat and the passengers argue about keeping him or throwing him overboard to drown. The rescued seaman brandishes a gun and after being disarmed asks, “Aren’t you going to kill me?”. Kovac repeats, “What are you going do with people like that?”

The Innocents

  • Directors: Jack Clayton
  • Producers: Jack Clayton
  • Writers: Novella, Henry James, Screenplay, William Archibald, Truman Capote, John Mortimer
  • Genres: Horror, Thriller
  • Actors: Deborah Kerr, Megs Jenkins, Michael Redgrave

The Innocents tells the story of an inexperienced governess Miss Giddens (20 years old and unnamed in the source novella), the daughter of a country parson (Kerr) who is hired to care for the niece and nephew of an absent and callous socialite (Redgrave) at his country mansion, Bly House, whilst he continues to reside in London. He stipulates that the whole responsibility for looking after the children is with her.

The gothic Bly House proves to have many dark secrets: the governess discovers that her predecessor, Miss Jessel, was having an affair with the valet Quint (Peter Wyngarde), and that both of them died in bizarre circumstances. Thereafter, the governess starts seeing their apparitions in the house and grounds and comes to believe that the ghosts of Quint and his lover are attempting to possess the bodies of the children. The children and the housekeeper deny seeing the apparitions, but she is particularly suspicious of the boy Miles, who has been expelled from school.

Breakfast at Tiffany s

  • Directors: Blake Edwards
  • Producers: Richard Shepherd, Martin Jurow
  • Writers: Novella, Truman Capote, Screenplay, George Axelrod
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen

Early on a fall morning, a lone taxicab deposits Holly Golightly at Tiffany’s jewelry store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Holly eats a breakfast pastry and drinks coffee while admiring the window displays, then strolls away for home. At her brownstone apartment block, Holly successfully fends off her date from the night before, who has been waiting in his car outside her residence all night and is angry that she disappeared during the course of their evening out together. Holly then meets Paul Varjak, a new tenant. After feeding her pet cat (simply named “Cat”), Holly talks with Paul as she hurriedly prepares to visit Sing Sing prison, a weekly routine from which she earns $100 for an hour’s conversation with Sally Tomato, an incarcerated mob boss. Holly does not realize that she is passing coded messages for Sally’s drug ring. Outside the brownstone, Mrs. Failenson (referred to as “2E” throughout the movie) arrives and is introduced as Paul’s “decorator.”

Later that night, Holly visits Paul to escape a drunken date and sees Mrs. Failenson leave money and kiss Paul goodbye. Holly wakes up Paul and they talk. It is revealed that Paul is a writer but hasn’t been published since 1956 and that Holly ran away from home at age 14 with her brother Fred, who is in the army.

The Hays Code of 1930 may have also played a role in the specious interpretation of their shared occupation.

Eyes Wide Shut

  • Directors: Stanley Kubrick
  • Producers: Stanley Kubrick
  • Writers: Novella, Arthur Schnitzler, Screenplay, Stanley Kubrick, Frederic Raphael
  • Genres: Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman

The film begins in the apartment of a wealthy, married couple, Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) and Alice Harford (Nicole Kidman), who are preparing for a Christmas party at the home of Victor Ziegler (Sydney Pollack), a friend and patient of Bill’s. During the party, a Hungarian man (Sky du Mont) tries to seduce Alice, while two younger models try to seduce Bill. Alice and Bill both resist temptations. During the party, Bill is summoned by Ziegler to his bathroom where he finds a naked woman, Mandy (Julienne Davis), over-dosed from a speedball. Bill helps her regain consciousness and promises Victor he will not speak of the event. Bill also meets an old friend, Nick Nightingale (Todd Field), a former fellow student who dropped out of medical school and is now a pianist at the party. Nick informs Bill that he is playing at the Sonata Café.

The day after the party, Alice and Bill smoke marijuana and talk about encounters at the party. Alice confesses her feelings concerning a naval officer she saw while in Cape Cod. Because of Bill’s self-assurance, out of spite she admits she was willing to abandon her future for one night with the officer. Shocked, Bill suddenly receives a telephone call summoning him to a deceased patient’s home. Bill goes to the patient and the daughter, Marion (Marie Richardson), says she wants to give up her life to be with Bill. Bill resists and departs once Marion’s boyfriend Carl (Thomas Gibson) arrives.

Bill returns home to Alice and finds the mask he wore to the party on the pillow next to her. He breaks down crying, waking Alice before confessing about his journey. While Christmas shopping later that morning, Alice shows she has come to terms with Bill’s actions by accepting that one night does not reflect his entire persona.

The Mist

  • Directors: Frank Darabont
  • Producers: Frank Darabont, Martin Shafer, Liz Glotzer
  • Writers: Screenplay, Frank Darabont, Novella, Stephen King
  • Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Thomas Jane, Laurie Holden, Nathan Gamble, Toby Jones, Marcia Gay Harden, Frances Sternhagen, Andre Braugher

The morning after a violent thunderstorm, commercial artist David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his wife Stephanie (Kelly Collins Lintz) witness an unusual mist moving towards their lakeside home. More immediately concerned with cleaning up in the aftermath of the storm, David and neighbor Brent Norton (Andre Braugher), along with David’s five-year-old son Billy (Nathan Gamble), go to the local grocery store, which, like the rest of the community, was left without power. While at the store, an increasing amount of police activity in the streets draws the attention of the patrons, culminating with Dan Miller (Jeffrey DeMunn) running to the store with a bloody nose warning of something dangerous in the oncoming mist. Seeing the mist roll over the parking lot and hearing the scream of a man who ventures outside, the store patrons heed Miller’s advice and seal themselves within the store, which is soon shaken by violent tremors. With visibility reduced to near-zero outside and uncertainty surrounding the fate of the man heard screaming before, a siege mentality takes hold. Unable to convince anyone to escort her back home to her children whom she left alone, a mother of two (Melissa McBride) departs into the mist by herself.

Driving through the mist, David returns home to find his wife has fallen victim to the spider-like creatures. Heartbroken, he drives the group south, witnessing the destruction left in the wake of the mist and encountering a tentacled beast towering hundreds of feet high. Eventually, they run out of gas without finding any other survivors. While Billy is sleeping, the four adults accept their fate, deciding that there is no point in going any further. With four bullets left in the gun and five people in the car, David shoots Amanda, Dan, Irene, and his son, Billy, to spare them a more violent death by the creatures. Sobbing, he attempts to shoot himself with the now-empty gun before exiting the vehicle to let the creatures in the mist take him. He hears what sounds like a creature moving toward him, but it is soon revealed as a Howitzer self-propelled gun, followed by a large contingent of soldiers equipped with NBC suits and flamethrowers. As the mist parts, several trucks filled with survivors pass David; among them the mother whom nobody from the store would escort and her two children. Realizing that the killings were needless and that he had been driving away from help the entire time, David falls to his knees screaming while two soldiers watch him in confusion.

The Thing

  • Directors: John Carpenter
  • Producers: David Foster, Lawrence Turman, Wilbur Stark, Stuart Cohen
  • Writers: Novella, John W Campbell Jr, Screenplay, Bill Lancaster
  • Genres: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, David Clennon, Donald Moffat, Thomas G Waites, Joel Polis, Peter Maloney, Charles Hallahan, T K Carter, Richard Dysart, Richard Masur

In winter 1982, an American Antarctic research station is alerted by gunfire and explosions. Pursued by a Norwegian helicopter, an Alaskan Malamute makes its way into the camp as the science station’s crew looks on in confusion. Through reckless use of a thermal charge, the helicopter is destroyed and its pilot killed shortly after landing. The surviving passenger fires at the dog with a rifle, grazing Bennings (Peter Maloney), one of the American researchers. The passenger is subsequently shot and killed by Garry (Donald Moffat), the station commander. Not knowing what to make of the incident, the station crew adopts the dog.

Unable to contact the outside world via radio, helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Dr. Copper (Richard Dysart) risk a flight to the Norwegian camp to find it destroyed, its personnel missing or dead. Finding evidence that the Norwegians had dug something out of the ice, the pair return to the station with the partially-burned remains of a hideous creature which bears some human features. An autopsy of the cadaver by Dr. Blair (Wilford Brimley) is inconclusive, save to find that the creature had what appeared to be a normal set of internal organs.

At Bennings’ request, the station’s wrangler, Clark (Richard Masur), kennels the stray with the rest of the station’s sled dogs. Noises from the kennel cause Clark to return, finding almost the entire sled team in the process of being messily assimilated by the stray dog, which has transformed into a monster. MacReady summons the rest of the crew to the kennel with the fire alarm and orders Childs (Keith David) to incinerate the creature with a flamethrower. A subsequent autopsy by Blair reveals that the stray dog was an alien capable of absorbing and perfectly imitating other life-forms. Realizing the implications of this, Blair quickly becomes withdrawn and suspicious of the rest of the crew. A second helicopter expedition discovers an alien spacecraft unearthed by the Norwegian research team, revealing that the creature had awakened after being buried within the ice for many thousands of years.

After some time, MacReady is shown wandering alone in the flaming rubble. He encounters Childs, who claims to have seen Blair and gotten lost while chasing him in the snow. With the polar climate closing in around them, they acknowledge the futility of their distrust, sharing a drink as the camp burns.

Double Indemnity

  • Directors: Billy Wilder
  • Producers: Buddy G DeSylva, Joseph Sistrom
  • Writers: Novella, James M Cain, Screenplay, Billy Wilder, Raymond Chandler
  • Genres: Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller
  • Actors: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G Robinson

Walter Neff (MacMurray) is a successful insurance salesman for Pacific All-Risk returning to his office building in downtown Los Angeles late one night. Neff, clearly in pain, sits down at his desk and tells the whole story into a Dictaphone for his colleague Barton Keyes (Robinson), a claims adjuster.

He first meets the sultry Phyllis Dietrichson (Stanwyck) during a routine house call to renew an automobile insurance policy for her husband. A flirtation develops, at least until Neff hears Phyllis wonder how she could take out a policy on her husband’s life without him knowing it. Neff realises she intends to murder her husband and wants no part of it.

Phyllis pursues Neff to his own home, and persuades him that the two of them, together, should kill her husband. Neff knows all the tricks of his trade and comes up with a plan in which Phyllis’s husband will die an unlikely death, in this case falling from a moving train. Pacific All-Risk will therefore be required, by the ‘double indemnity’ clause in the insurance policy, to pay the widow twice the normal amount.

Keyes, a tenacious investigator, does not suspect foul play at first, but eventually concludes that the Dietrichson woman and an unknown accomplice must be behind the husband’s death. He has no reason to be suspicious of Neff, someone he has worked with for quite some time and admires.

Neff drives to his office where he dictates his full confession to Keyes, who arrives and hears enough of the confession to understand everything. Neff tells Keyes he is going to Mexico rather than face a death sentence but collapses to the floor before he can reach the elevator.

The Shawshank Redemption

  • Directors: Frank Darabont
  • Producers: Niki Marvin
  • Writers: Novella, Stephen King, Screenplay, Frank Darabont
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown, Gil Bellows, James Whitmore

In 1947, a banker named Andrew “Andy” Dufresne[1] is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover based on strong circumstantial evidence and is sentenced to two consecutive life sentences at Shawshank State Penitentiary in Maine. At the prison, inmate Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding is rejected for parole after having served twenty years of his life sentence shortly before Andy’s arrival. Andy gradually becomes acquainted with Red’s circle of friends, and Red himself, who is known for cleverly smuggling in contraband. After a month of adjusting to his new life, Andy approaches Red and asks him to get a rock hammer, intending to pursue a hobby of rock collecting. Red supplies the hammer for ten dollars, and later fills Andy’s request for a poster of Rita Hayworth.

One day in 1949, while tarring the roof of Shawshank’s license plate factory, Andy overhears the captain of the prison guards, Captain Hadley, bitterly complaining about the taxes he will have to pay on a forthcoming inheritance. Andy approaches Hadley with a solution that will allow him to keep the entire inheritance tax-free; though Hadley nearly throws Andy off the roof initially, Andy’s willingness to set up the transaction for the cost of beer for the tarring crew wins Hadley’s respect. Prior to this, Andy had frequently been beaten and sexually assaulted by a gang called “The Sisters”, led by inmates Bogs and Rooster. After a particularly vicious beating at the hands of the Sisters lands Andy in the infirmary, Bogs returns to his cell from a week in solitary confinement to find Captain Hadley there. Hadley inflicts a brutal nightstick beating on Bogs, which leaves him paralyzed. Bogs is sent away to a state hospital, and the message to the Sisters is clear; Andy is never bothered again.

The next year, 1967, Red is finally released on parole after serving 40 years at Shawshank. Red is afraid of “the outside”, dreading living in fear, worried that he would end up committing suicide once outside of the prison’s strict regime, as fellow prisoner Brooks Hatlen had done. Ironically, he’s given the same room and the same job Hatlen had. But instead of committing suicide, Red recalls his promise to Andy and heads to the field in Buxton that Andy told him about. He finds a small metal box containing money and instructions from Andy. He violates his parole and travels to Mexico, eventually reuniting with Andy in Zihuatanejo on the Pacific coast. Both of them are elated and hug each other when they meet at the coast.