Sunday, July 26, 2015
Blind Spot #5: The Third Man
Yes, I know, I have slacked terribly on this project. I've just been busier than I thought I would be and found myself wanting to do other things with my free time than watching movies (WHAT?!?!? BLASPHEMY!!!!). But then I saw that Carol Reed's The Third Man was playing at Film Forum, and I pretty much had to go. And I'm so glad I did, since the film was completely surprising in that it was not what I expected at all.
I've always heard The Third Man talked about as one of the greatest noir films. It may be, but it's a far far funnier film than I ever associated with the genre, which is defined by pitch-black films like Double Indemnity or The Postman Always Rings Twice. The Third Man, while it has the necessary canted angles and deep shadows, simply doesn't FEEL like a noir. It's not even black comedy. Instead, it's practically satire.
But, as the reviews have said, the real star of the show is that climactic chase through the sewers, which boasts some of the greatest noir cinematography ever. It's not surprising that the film is labeled as noir when it includes shots like the one of Welles above, or like this one:
I thoroughly enjoyed The Third Man. It is a film full of unexpected pleasures, from Trevor Howard's perfectly dry British colonel, to the hilariously sharp script by Graham Greene, to the great performances by Cotten and Welles, to that justly famed cinematography. It's rare that a film with such a reputation as this one has can actually surprise you, but that's exactly what this great film did.
...although it did take me a whole week to get that damn zither score out of my head!
The Third Man
Directed by: Carol Reed
Screenplay by: Graham Greene
Starring: Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, (Alida) Valli
Oscar: 1 WIN - Best Cinematography (Black & White). Nominations for Director (Reed lost to Joseph L. Mankiewicz for All About Eve) and Editing (lost to King Solomon's Mines)