** (out of 4)
Extremely disappointing entry in Turner Classic Movies "A Night at the Movies" documentary series. Needless to say, this episode takes a look at the thrillers we've grown to love over the years and we hear thoughts on countless Alfred Hitchcock films, a few Fritz Lang movies plus other thrillers like FATAL ATTRACTION, BASIC INSTINCT, WAIT UNTIL DARK and GASLIGHT. Robert Osborne, Bryan Singer, Diablo Cody, Mel Brooks, Kenneth Branagh, Martin Landau, Ileanna Douglas and Ken Follett are among the talking heads giving their opinions on various films. OK, Turner Classic Movies usually deliver some of the greatest documentaries out there but this thing here is a complete misfire for several reasons. For starters, if someone that doesn't know too much about the genre was to watch this movie, they'd walk away thinking that there weren't any thrillers until Alfred Hitchcock came along. This is so incredibly false as there were thrillers twenty years before Hitchcock. This documentary also gives the impression that Hitchcock made THE LODGER and then set off on a career of thrillers when the truth is that he settled outside the genre for years before going back to it. Another problem with the film is that the movies talked about appear to have been drawn out of a hat because we jump around so much that a history lesson is impossible. We jump from PSYCHO to WAIT UNTIL DARK without any mention of anything made in between. The biggest problem, perhaps, is that the thing runs under an hour so it's impossible for an entire genre to be covered in such a short amount of time. If you've never seen a thriller in your life then you might pick up a few great rentals but I'm willing to bet that the majority of the people watching this thing are going to know far more than is actually taught here. A major disappointment and I hope upcoming entries are better.