Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Third Man

My World Traveler has been out for the last few weeks, so I have
had plenty of time for a long movie fest. Last night, I watched
The Third Man. Made in 1949, it is a fascinating British thriller,
based on the book by Graham Greene, set in, and actually filmed on,
the wet cobblestone streets and war rubble of occupied Vienna. Its
outstanding cast includes Joseph Cotten (Holly Martins), Alida Valli
(Anna Schmidt), Orson Welles (Harry Lime) and one of my personal
favorites, the dashing Trevor Howard (Major Calloway). This film is
masterfully directed by Carol Reed, who is definitely in top form, with
artistic angled camera shots, harsh street lights and dark shadows.
There is plenty of mystery and paranoia offset by quirky, gypsy like
zither music repeating the theme throughout. I won't give away the
plot, but there is a fabulous scene, between Cotten and Welles that
takes place in the carriage car on top of a huge ferris wheel and a
superb chase scene through the vast sewer system of old Vienna.
The ending scene is one of my very favorites. I won't spoil it by
telling you, but it is powerful, understated and absolutely perfect!
This is a film I can watch over and over and never tire of. This is a
luminous, restored black and white DVD, part of The Criterion


  1. This is a great film... the soundtrack, the cinematography, the acting... flawless!. I love seeing Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles together after their earlier work in Citizen Kane, etc. Isn't it wonderfully atmospheric?

    A very dear friend was helping me revision my career recently and had me name 10 companies right off the top of my head I would love to work for. Criterion was right up there. I love what they do and the high quality with which they do it. I have Brief Encounter and I Know Where I'm Going on Criterion and I think that's it. But I intend to add to my collection as time goes on. :)

    Enjoy your single-girl film fest!

  2. Love the movie poster - what fantastic typography.

    I do LOVE to cook and love to eat I guess that's why my blog makes you hungry. My yoga is feeling fantastic and ... never miss a PBS broadcast again, they are always repeated. I tape many programs on my VCR because I go to sleep fairly early - I'm an early bird and drinking coffee at 5am.

    here's a link to find the next broadcast of Nova -Titan

  3. Wouldn't you love working for Criterion? You would be perfect. They need you. :)

    I have the same two Criterion that you do, plus The Third Man and Pygmalion with Leslie Howard and the wonderful Wendy Hiller...would like to add more also. They do a fabulous job in remastering the old films.

  4. Thanks Susan, I'll have to make PBS one of the regular links I visit. I also enjoy their American Experience programs.

    You are an early bird...I was up at 4:30 yesterday (odd hormones or something) and noticed that you were up and posting with the chickens!

  5. Ah, one of the professor's favorites!

  6. The Third Man, one of those remarkable films that are like nothing else. I recently acquired a copy and now get my Third Man fix whenever I want. But if you are like me, you may feel that there is just not enough of Orson Welles in the film. If so, you can take solace in the best old-time radio series (in my humble opinion) called "The Lives of Harry Lime". Wonderfully written, and each one starring Orson Welles as Harry Lime as he flits across Europe and the world getting into various capers, heists, rackets, smuggling schemes, etc. The series is written in a somewhat lighter vein than The Third Man, and Harry is less menacing and more likeable, in the sense that he is not doing anything as awful as poisoning children with bad penicillin... but he is still his rascally scoundrel self. The episodes are about a half hour each, and downloadable online. I put them on a cd-mp3 player and listen to them on my commute. The dialogue is so witty, and some of the best radio actors of the time are featured. Some episodes are rumoured to feature the voice of Rita Hayworth, but so far I haven't been able to figure out which voice is hers. I am going to do a post on the radio series soon. Doesn't Orson Welles have a simply fabulous voice---it really comes through on this series.

  7. By the way, on the website youtube there is a video posted of Anton Karras, the composer and musician who plays the zither music in The Third Man, playing the movie theme on the zither. I believe he actually went on to make an entire career from that theme song, and opened a cafe somewhere in Europe.

  8. LL, very interesting! This old radio series is new to me. Thanks so much for sharing! :)

  9. I'm going to pull up Anton right now on youtube! Thanks! :)

  10. Willow...fascinating. It quite amazes me that others are out there that enjoy the same things that I have for years...Love the scene with Anton Karas...the whole night club scene ...Orson Welles, Joseph can you go wrong.. I suppose I'm due to watch The Third Man once again...
    Good post...Dee Dee

  11. Willow, I just noticed that you have listed my blog on your "Blogs I visit list". Wow, what a compliment, my first link!
    Thanks for all the encouragement.


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)