Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Third Man

One of classic film noir's undisputed masterpieces has a week long run at the Film Forum. So now through to the 29Th is your chance to see the 1949 British black and white film The Third Man. This is the 60Th anniversary and the Forum has a new 35mm print. This copy is of the British release and begins with the voice of director Carol Reed, describing post-war Vienna from the point of view of a racketeer. Unlike the US release that has eleven minutes cut off and has a different voice over. "I never knew the old Vienna..." starts off the fast paced clips of the city devastated and recovering from the Second World War. This is a city divided, split into five zones. One international zone and four separate zones each representing one of the victorious Allies. This is a city at start of the Cold War where the black market is king and racketeering is a way of life. In comes the American pulp author Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) looking for his old friend that sent him a plain ticket and a job offer. This "friend" is Harry Lime played by the legendary Orson Welles. On arrival Martins discovers that Lime has been recently killed by a truck accident. Martins get in town just in time for the funeral and finds strange things when talking to Harry's friends and enemies. This starts Martins off on a goose chase to find out what happened in Limes last moments. Everyone that was at the scene knew Lime and had the same two man story. This seemed strange so Martins so he takes a offer to stay in town and do a lecture on writing so he can look around. Limes porter that saw more then he should have reviles that there was a third man. Maybe Anna (Alida Valli), Lime's actress girlfriend can be of some help. She is one of the only people that cared for the off the wall Lime. With no subtitle's you understand just as much as Martins does as he searches for the truth. Unusual camera angles, seedy locations, and dark atmosphere make this film unlike any other. Reed used tricks that added to the feel of the film. Water was used to make light reflect off the cobbled streets, dark shadows where used to hide and show plot points and a musical score played by completely on the zither made everything seem suspenseful and strange. Not that some humor was not slipped in. "You know what the fellow said – in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."added in the script by Welles. Then Welles latter said "When the picture came out, the Swiss very nicely pointed out to me that they've never made any cuckoo clocks." This got 100% on the tomatometer on . So get down to the Film Forum on Houston just west of 6th Ave and enjoy one of the best films of all time.

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