The Top Mystery/Suspense/Thriller Movies

By Tom Titus

Before we get into the greatest movies of all time, let’s examine another genre – those pictures that gripped you by the throat and kept you on the edge of your seat.

Here are, in this blogger’s opinion, the top 10 mystery-suspense-thrillers starting at the bottom and working up:

10. “Ransom.” Kudos to Gary Sinese as the bad cop who kidnapped Mel Gibson’s son, then squared off with him in a tense city streets climax. Ron Howard directed.

9. “Wait Until Dark.” Audrey Hepburn should have won the Oscar instead of that other Hepburn, who already had three. She’s terrific as a blind woman terrorized by heroin-hunting baddies.

8. “The Thing.:” The original from 1950, not the lame remake. James Arness launched his career in the rose of the nasty E.T. who threatens a group of Arctic researchers.

7. “Them.” Arness again, this time with James Whitmore battling giant ants in the subterranean regions of Los Angeles with Edmund Gwenn on hand to supervise.

6. “Rosemary’s Baby.” Mia Farrow and Satan combine to create a little devil in this thriller from director Roman Polanski, who had troubles of his own.

5. “Psycho.” From the master, Alfred Hitchcock, who directed this classic that rubbed out Janet Leigh early in the picture. Anthony Perkins should have won best actress.

4. “The Omen.” Gregory Peck and Lee Remick raise a little hellion in this creepy tale that inspired two sequels headlined by William Holden and Sam Neill. All three are eminentlywatchable.

3. “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” The original, not the so-so remake. Kevin McCarthy watches his neighbors replaced by pods which then come after him. Dana Wynter’s transformation is chilling.

2. “Cape Fear.” This time it’s the remake, not the splendid original. Martin Scorcese helmed this high-voltage thriller pitting a vengeful Robert DiNiro against the lawyer (Nick Nolte) who betrayed him. Watch for a young, scene-stealing Juliette Lewis.

1. “The Exorcist.” The scariest movie of all time. Jason Miller (Pulitzer Prize winning playwright for “That Championship Season”) and Max Von Sydow battle Satan in the body of young Linda Blair as mom Ellen Burstyn and cop Lee J. Cobb try to assist them. Mercedes McCambridge provided Blair’s devilish voice.

Had enough theme lists? Next time out, we’ll examine the top 10 movies of all time, at least in this writer’s opinion.

– tt —

The 10 Best Romantic Movies

By Tom Titus

Ah, romance. It’s what makes the world go around. And it’s also great subject matter for motion pictures. Here are this corner’s choices for the top 10 romantic movies of all time.

10. “An Affair to Remember.” Hollywood remembered it so well that it spun out several similar movies, such as the next one on the list.

9. “Sleepless in Seattle” Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, from opposite sides of the country, finally hook up – guess where? Following in Cary’s and Deborah’s footsteps.

8. “Somewhere in Time.” Christopher Reeve time-traveling, and not as Superman, to fall in love with Jane Seymour from the distant past. One of my personal faves.

7. “Love Story.” Love means never having to say you’re sorry, or so says Ryan O’Neal as he connects with Ali MacGraw in this three-hankie weeper. Check out “What’s Up, Doc?” for O’Neal’s later take on that classic line.

6. “The Last Time I Saw Paris.” Van Johnson’s best flick, romancing Elizabeth Taylor in a post-World War II drama with a sad ending much like the previous story.

5. “The Bridges of Madison County.” Clint Eastwood directs and stars in this movie version of the popular novel, playing a photographer catching itchy housewife Meryl Streep on a conveniently “available” weekend (husband and family away).

4. “Ghost.” Who can ever hear “Unchained Melody” again without thinking of Demi Moore at her pottery wheel with dead hubby Patrick Swayze at her side? A movie with plenty of spirit.

3. “Titanic.” Leonardo DiCaprio picked an inconvenient time to fall for Kate Winslet. They’re both passengers on the doomed luxury liner. A third star is Celine Dion’s voice warbling “My Heart Will Go On.”

2. “Casablanca.” Of all the gin joints in all the world, Ingrid Bergman walks into Humphrey Bogart’s in a classic best picture winner that was written while it was being filmed. More catch phrases than any other movie.

1. “Dr. Zhivago.” Omar Sharif and Julie Christie enjoy forbidden romance as the Russian revolution plays out around them. A soaring epic with terrific support from Geraldine Chaplin, Alec Guinness and especially Rod Steiger. The music isn’t bad, either.

That’s the list and I probably left out some goodies, but that’s show biz. One of these weeks I’ll compile my choices for best movies of all time, so stay tuned.

– tt

The 10 Best at Playing Politics on the Screen

By Tom Titus

Before we lift the curtain on this blogger’s choice for the best movies of all time, let’s turn to a subject most of us have had enough of this year – politics.

Herewith, the top 10 political movies, as chosen by yours truly, starting at number 10 and working our way up.

10. “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Jimmy Stewart should have gotten his Oscar for this one rather than for “The Philadelphia Story.” This oldie from director Frank Capra pits a green congressman against the system and he filibusters his way to victory.

9. “The Candidate.” Can outsider Robert Redford campaign his way into Congress? Sure he can in this watchable exercise in political stumping.

8. “Dave.” Could a look-alike citizen replace the president temporarily? Kevin Kline gives us the answer in this light-hearted political comedy.

7. “Nixon.” Anthony Hopkins “cannibalizes” the script of Oliver Stone’s searing account of political bloodshed in the top ranks of government. If Meryl Streep can play Margaret Thatcher, then why not a Brit as Tricky Dick?

6. “The Best Man.” Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson vie for their party’s presidential nomination in Gore Vidal’s literate look at politics. Lee Tracy as the former prez and Shelley Berman as a wild card spice up the roiling brew.

5. “The American President.” Can POTUS (Michael Douglas) enjoy a romantic life while in office with journalist Annette Bening? Martin Sheen is his chief of staff, getting his feet wet in the Oval Office before his own turn comes on TV.

4. “Advise and Consent.” Henry Fonda, Walter Pidgeon, Don Murray and a show-stealing Charles Laughton play politicos at the crossroads over a controversial secretary of State appointment. Watch for George Grizzard’s dogged dissenting voice.

3. “Seven Days in May.” Burt Lancaster is a power-mad general aiming to run the president (Frederic March) out of office by force and Kirk Douglas is his top aide and strong opponent. Of the many pictures Burt and Kirk made together, this is the finest, with a terrific script from Rod Serling.

2. “Lincoln.” Daniel Day-Lewis earned his second Oscar as the 16th president, pushing his Emancipation Proclamation through Congress as the Civil War rages. Another feather in director Steven Spielberg’s war bonnet.

1. “1776.” The founding fathers fight over independence, musically, with John Adams (a great performance by William Daniels) leading the way. This cinematic version of the Broadway hit is first in war, first in peace and first in Intermission’s political poll.

Next up, a look at the top romantic movies before the best flicks of all time are revealed.

– tt