FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Francis Ford Coppola |||
Francis Ford Coppola

Coppola is an amazing talent whose inspiration and influence spans many generations. Virtually the link between the studio system of yesteryear and the independent minded filmmaker of the modern age, Coppola became the first major film director to emerge from a university degree program in filmmaking, thus legitimizing a now common route for many future filmmakers.

This Academy Award winner continues to enjoy an enormous critical and popular success due in large part to Coppola’s ability to break down an epic saga of crime and the struggle for power into the basic story of a father and his sons, punctuating the prevalent theme throughout Coppola’s oeuvre: the importance of family in today’s world. His personal portrait mixed tender moments with harsh brutality and redefined the genre of gangster films.

This intense, yet unassuming thriller has an impact that touches the viewer on a personal level and raises the question of privacy and security in a world of technology – thirty years ago! Coppola’s then virtually unknown cast is a roster of inevitable superstars, including Gene Hackman, Harrison Ford, and Robert Duvall. This Academy Award nominee for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Sound lost out to Coppola’s other great effort of the year, The Godfather: Part II.

Coppola's masterful Vietnam War-updating of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" was the first major motion picture about the infamous “conflict”. This colossal epic was shot on location in the Philippines over the course of more than a year and contains some of the most extraordinary combat footage ever filmed. Unforgettable battle sequences and sterling performances from every cast member (including Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, Scott Glenn, and Martin Sheen) mark this Academy Award-winning drama as a must-see for any true film fanatic.

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Thrillers! Friday Nights in October on TCM

By CarrieSpecht

October 14th, 2009

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!

Thrillers! Friday Nights in October on TCM

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 rebroadcast of 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 one of the most misunderstood genres of the film medium.

With the variety to be had within the , 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.