Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Third Man


The Third Man (The Criterion Collection)

#57 on the 1998 AFI Best 100 Movies List

The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir, directed by Carol Reed and starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles and Trevor Howard. Some critics rank it as a masterpiece, particularly remembered for its atmospheric cinematography, performances, and unique musical score. The screenplay was written by novelist Graham Greene, who subsequently published the novella of the same name (which he had originally written as a preparation for the screenplay). Anton Karas wrote and performed the score, which used only the zither; its title cut "The Third Man Theme" topped the international music charts in 1950.

* Joseph Cotten as Holly Martins
* Alida Valli as Anna Schmidt
* Orson Welles as Harry Lime
* Trevor Howard as Major Calloway
* Bernard Lee as Sgt. Paine
* Wilfrid Hyde-White as Crabbin
* Erich Ponto as Dr. Winkel
* Ernst Deutsch as 'Baron' Kurtz
* Siegfried Breuer as Popescu
* Paul Hörbiger as Karl, Harry's Porter
* Hedwig Bleibtreu as Anna's Landlady
* Robert Brown as British Military Policeman in Sewer Chase
* Alexis Chesnakov as Brodsky
* Herbert Halbik as Hansl
* Paul Hardtmuth as the Hall Porter at Sacher's
* Geoffrey Keen as British Military Policeman
* Eric Pohlmann as Waiter at Smolka's
* Annie Rosar as the Porter's Wife
* Joseph Cotten as the Narrator (pre-1999 US version)
* Carol Reed as the Narrator (pre-1999 UK, and all post-'99 versions)

In a famous scene, Lime meets with Martins on the Wiener Riesenrad, the large Ferris wheel in the Prater amusement park. Looking down on the people below from his vantage point, Lime compares them to dots. Back on the ground, he notes:

"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."

This remark was added by Welles – in the published script, it is in a footnote. Greene wrote in a letter "What happened was that during the shooting of The Third Man it was found necessary for the timing to insert another sentence." Welles apparently said the lines came from "an old Hungarian play"; the painter Whistler, in a lecture on art from 1885 (published in Mr Whistler's 'Ten O'Clock' [1888]), had said, "The Swiss in their mountains ... What more worthy people! ... yet, the perverse and scornful [goddess, Art] will have none of it, and the sons of patriots are left with the clock that turns the mill, and the sudden cuckoo, with difficulty restrained in its box! For this was Tell a hero! For this did Gessler die!" In This is Orson Welles (1993), Welles is quoted as saying "When the picture came out, the Swiss very nicely pointed out to me that they've never made any cuckoo clocks",[30] as they are in fact German, native to the Black Forest. Writer John McPhee also points out that during the period of time the Borgia flourished in Italy, Switzerland was "the most powerful and feared military force in Europe", and not the peacefully neutral country it is currently

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