Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Third Man

Staring: Joseph Cotton, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard, Bernard Lee, Orson Welles.
Directed By: Carol Reed.

The Third Man is one of the best, and most classic of all film noir films ever made.

Of course you always get the people out of the woodwork hating on films such as this or Citizen Kane for no legitimate reason, but that’s okay, they’re morons. In my usual attempt for some inspiration, I perused the IMDb’s user comments – looking at bad reviews, the most absurd ones at that, which generally give me the best fodder for writing why the film is actually good. The internet is a wonderful place, but it sure does bring some odd ones out of the wood work, like the man who’s only 10 star review was “Sicko” – one wonders how he navigated off of the HuffingtonPost or DailyKos and had enough time to watch anything but second rate commentaries by “Countdown to no Ratings”'s very own Keith Olbermann on Youtube. But I digress… Now something has to be said about being a critic, we have to deal with the Washington Post’s Stephen Hunter’s almost weekly negative reviews so I’m used to it, but he’s paid to do these sort of things, bloggers, and even lower still – internet movie site reviewers shouldn’t be pretentious jerks about film.

Now on to the review.

Sometimes the best film situations come from coincidences.

Holly Martins, an American dime novelist, has arrived in post WW2 Vienna based on the word of his old friend Harry Lime – who has guaranteed him work. Holly quickly learns that there has been a terrible accident and that Lime has been killed in a road accident. In a sequence of fortunate events Holly has found a way to stick around the town a few days to wrap up the Lime’s affairs and figure out what he was up to – and what job he potentially had coming to him.

His detective side of his personality starts to take over as he starts to realize that not a lot of what he’s found out about the death of his friend adds up. There are conflicting accounts of the people who saw the death. Some claim there were only two people at the death – and a few others claim Three men were there. Those people don’t last long on this plane of existence to continue their tales of the mysterious third man.

His deceased friend, Lime, was mixed up in some illegal racketeering schemes and black market business, and it seems that someone is trying to pull Holly off the tracks of investigating this any further.

The setup is fantastic, and while the first half hour is a little slow, the film is like the snowflake which starts the avalanche. The climax of the film is one of the more gripping sequences in film history. The film made it on the original AFI “100 Years... 100 Movies” listing coming in at 57, but was dropped for the 10th anniversary. What were they thinking?



Matt Ramone said...

I like to think of Stephen Hunter as the angry old man shaking his cane at children playing three yards over. He's seen "The Seventh Seal," goddammit, and nothing else will ever satisfy him EVER.

This sounds rad. Movie night fodder, yes?

I got two more 50 Movie schlockfests, and Manos was one of them. Dare you watch it without the snarking?

Chris said...

I think it's been rumored that you die if you don't watch it with the MST3k commentary running...