Kimberly Lindbergs writes regularly for Turner Classic Movies(she's a Movie Morlock!) and her personal blog can be found at Cinebeats.com.
1. DANGER ROUTE (1967; d. Seth Holt)
From an earlier review I wrote: "Nothing is exactly as it seems in this interesting spy drama. Characters continually hide behind false identities and we’re never really sure what their motives are. The spies in DANGER ROUTE don’t carry fancy gadgets and the film’s star never shoots a gun. Richard Johnson’s character is forced to use his wit, cunning and charm to get in and out of tight situations and he disposes of his victims with his bare hands and martial art skills. Johnson’s intimate way of murdering his enemies leads to a disturbing final act of violence at the end of the movie when he’s forced to kill a double agent that's betrayed him."
2. DEAD RINGER (1964; d. Paul Henreid)
Bette Davis gives a tour-de-force performance here in a duel role as twin sisters Edith "Edie" Phillips & Margaret "Maggie" DeLorca. After murdering her sister and stealing her identity, Edie must convince the world that she's really Maggie but that's not going to be easy. She's got Maggie's faithful friends, servants and a sleazy lover (Peter Lawford) to contend with as well as a nosy detective (Karl Malden) hot on her trail. And then there's the dog. A big unpredictable Great Dane with a nasty temper that's hard to control. You just know he's going to be trouble!
3. EXPERIMENT IN TERROR (1962; d. Blake Edwards)
This creepy noir isn't just one of the director's best films. It's also one of the best films shot in San Francisco and if you want to see the city by the bay at its finest, give EXPERIMENT IN TERROR a look. The movie begins with lovely Lee Remick getting attacked in her car garage by a strange man who threatens to kill her and her sister if she doesn't help him rob a bank. She agrees but contacts the FBI for help. The suspense plays out in unexpected ways and ends with a spectacular scene shot at a Giants baseball game in Candlestick Park.
4. FOOTSTEPS IN THE FOG (1955; d. Arthur Lubin)
Murder, madness, greed and obsessive love are played out in the dark alleyways and foggy streets of Victorian London. Jean Simmons and Stewart Granger play two unlikable characters in this unusual suspense drama that left me shaking my head at the end and shouting out loud, "What an ending!" The actors were married in real life and you can sense a genuine emotional bond between them on screen but the film seems eager to manipulate their personal feelings for one another in the most unexpected and eerie way. This is a romance film for people who hate romances.
5. THE IRON ROSE (1973; d. Jean Rollin)
I've had a mixed relationship with the few Jean Rollin's films I've seen over the years but I absolutely loved THE IRON ROSE. This macabre tale of two lost souls trapped in an old cemetery and caught up in a doomed romance plays out like a surrealist poem. Françoise Pascal is particularly charming as the enchanting "girl." Although Rollin is often remembered for his explorations of vampirism, THE IRON ROSE contains no fangs but it sure has a memorable bite.
6. ISABEL (1968; d. Paul Almond)
From an earlier review I wrote: "ISABEL begins with a train journey across a snow-covered landscape. We watch as the film’s star, Geneviève Bujold, sits awkwardly in her seat and squirms uncomfortably in front of the camera’s unrelenting eye. She is biding her time by shuffling through a small stack of books and papers in an effort to fend off unpleasant thoughts and feelings. You see, Isabel is a woman haunted by ghosts. These ghosts have hidden themselves deep within the recesses of her troubled mind but when she’s asked to return to her family’s ancestral home following her mother’s death, Isabel is forced to confront the phantoms that posses her.”
7. LISTEN, LET'S MAKE LOVE (1967; d. Vittorio Caprioli)
From an earlier review I wrote: "The film details Lallo’s (Pierre Clémenti) amorous adventures as he romances his way through Milan’s wealthy jet set. Women and men are equally charmed by his dark good looks and Lallo obviously enjoys the various worldly pleasures that he experiences during his meteoric rise to notoriety. Whether you become as enchanted with this provocative European sex romp as I did depends on one thing, your response to the presence of Pierre Clémenti. The film relies on Clémenti’s unconventional beauty and androgynous sex appeal to carry it through to its weighty conclusion." P.S. Batman makes an appearance!
8. THE STRAWBERRY STATEMENT (1970: d. Stuart Hagmann)
This creative 1970 political drama is particularly poignant today and makes great use of popular music from the period. From an earlier review I wrote: "The film disregards linear storytelling methods and uses rapid edits to interweave the ensuing drama with news footage of important political figures of the time such as President Richard Nixon playing the piano and Black Panther leader H. Rap Brown giving his memorable 'violence is as American as cherry pie' speech. The film also includes references to the Paris Commune and the posters of Che Guevara that cover the campus walls continually come into focus."
9. THE UNKNOWN (1927; d. Tod Browning)
This silent film starring Lon Chaney and a very young Joan Crawford was Browning's first attempt at a circus themed horror movie. He would later go on to make FREAKS (1932) but you can see the early spark for that classic film here. Chaney gives one of his most moving and powerful performances as an armless knife thrower deeply in love with Crawford and like a lot of the films on my list, the ending is one you'll never forget.
10. UNMAN, WITTERING AND ZIGO (1971; d. John Mackenzie)
From an earlier review I wrote: "It’s tempting to compare UNMAN, WITTERING AND ZIGO with Lindsay Anderson’s IF…. (1968) but besides their public school settings and clear desire to question the effectiveness of the British education system, these films have little in common and their approach, as well as their concerns, are very different. UNMAN, WITTERING AND ZIGO is more of a mystery or an unpredictable thriller that has its roots in classic British horror fiction."
11. VOICES (1973; d. Kevin Billington)
From an earlier review I wrote: "VOICES explores the life of a young couple (David Hemmings & Gayle Hunnicutt) whose idyllic existence is turned upside down when their young son accidentally drowns. Through a series of flashbacks we learn that the mother, Claire Williams, was deeply traumatized by the loss of her child and after numerous suicide attempts she was finally hospitalized. Her husband Robert has been trying to cope with the stress but it’s apparent that the situation has become increasingly difficult for them both. After Claire is released from the hospital the couple plans a trip to the country where they can relax but things begin to disintegrate quickly." Largely forgotten but highly influential supernatural horror film that was the basis of Alejandro Amenábar's THE OTHERS (2001).
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