History of the Thriller
By researching the history of the thriller genre I will show my awareness of
how it has developed over time. I will look at key directors and films that
have shaped the genre. I will also look at what they have done to the genre by
releasing their films.
1920’s – 1930’s
Alfred Hitchcock promoted the thriller
genre by creating the silent film called ‘The
Lodger’. He was influenced by expressionist
techniques in Germany. He then based the
film on the ‘Jack The Ripper’ murders.
In 1944 George Cukor created a psychological thriller called ‘Gaslight’. This
was when people started making sub genres. The film is about a husband
plotting to make his wife go insane to gain inheritance.
In 1946 Robert Siodmak directed the film ‘The Spiral Staircase’ which is a
psychological film about a serial killer.
In the 1950’s Alfred Hitchcock
added Technicolour to his
thrillers. He then made a film
called ‘Strangers on a Train’ in
In the 1962 J.Lee Thompson directed
Michael Powell directed the tense
‘Peeping Tom’ as a psychopathic
cameraman which was released in 1960
just after Hitchcock’s film ‘Psycho’.
In the 1970’s thriller films started to get
more violent for example Hitchcock's
film ‘Frenzy’ in 1972 was given an R
rating due to it explicit and vicious
Francis Ford Coppola created a study/spy
thriller called ‘The Conversation’ in 1974
about someone being spied on while over
covering a murder.
Phillip Noyce directed the film
‘Dead Calm’ in 1989 which is a film
about a castaway. It contains
elements of obsession – this device
influenced a number of thrillers in
the following years.
Rob Reiner based the film
‘Misery’ which is based on the
book by Stephen King in 1990.
Jonathon Demme’s crime
thriller ‘The Silence of the
Lambs’ in 1991 is a typical
thriller where the
detectives/FBI hunt down a
In conclusion, looking at my research it has
showed me what has changed in the genre and
who changed it. My research concludes that
Alfred Hitchcock played a big part in the genre. At
first films were made on true stories e.g. Jack the
Ripper. Sub genre’s then started to play a part in
the genre, psychological thrillers were popular in
the early period. The genre was then changed into
technicolour. The films were still mainly based on
psychological thrillers. The films then started to
get more violent, sub genre’s were then used
more. More an more films started to use the
typical story of a detective revealing the serial
killer. Thriller films then started to get more
inspired by obsession.