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May 27, 2004



This is one of my all-time favorites (liking a lion's share of Orson's appearances in non-Orson and Orson films alike -- the artistic arrogance is breathtaking!) As I am less inclined and much less trained for serious crit, I think Marc finally revealed to me one of the subtler aspects I've always enjoyed: the political, emotional (ok in some but not all areas) and intellectual richness offered as simply backdrop without tortured relevance or thematic linkage. The analog of finely detailed Perez background art that has no effect so important as moving the viewer from a 'cartoon/movie' mindset to a 'real-life mimesis' mindset. Suspension of disbelief not so much required as minimized. Traded against the artistic abstraction of Citizen Kane and the visually stylized character/plotting of Touch of Evil (and some might say stylized acting of Heston), it's a fresher, cleaner taste. Not better, but different-great.

David Fiore

Great post Marc!

My touchstone scene in The Third Man is the last one--Cotten just leaning there against the car while Valli strolls past him. These two people had nothing in common except for the fact that they each happened to care for the same jerk, and they just don't have any business being in the same movie once Welles is dead. Nihilist that he was, good ol' Harry Lime was the only thing holding the film together...it's magnificent!



Honestly, I never really tried to think of why this was such a great film - one of my all time favorites. However, I think Karas' zither-performed soundtrack is one of the things that stikes me most about the film. At times it sounded like a mad carnival that seemed to fit perfectly the situations. At others it was like a snide, ironic comment that perfectly matched Harry Lime's smile. It goes to show that a uniquely produced soundtrack can do wonders for a movies if done correctly (like the electronic music from Forbidden Planet).

Kan Mattoo

I must agree with Dave about that last lost of Valli walking past Cotten. JUst a great moment.
I like this movie more than Touch of Evil, mainly because I just never could buy Heston as a Mexician.

Wonder if they should remake that movie with Benicio Del Toro in the part. Of course a remake of that movie would probably just bomb.

Jess Nevins

I think one large reason that a remake would bomb is that you wouldn't have post-war Vienna in which to film. So much of the film's atmosphere comes from the scenery, which is real rather than created for the film. You just couldn't duplicate that in any way that would work nearly as effectively.

Kan Mattoo

You would be surprised by how much an art department can do with money.

Jess Nevins

I know, but some things money and sfx can't create, or recreate, as well as the real thing, and post-war Vienna, I think, is one of them.

matthew rossi

Wait, are you talking about a remake of The Third Man or Touch of Evil? Because I don't know how well Benicio Del Toro would work as Harry Lime.


And I don't know how well postwar Vienna would work as Texas (or wherever the hell Touch of Evil is set).

Mike Chary

A remake would have to cast Woody Allen as Harry Lime to get the same impact. Remeber, Orson was the great prankster/bad boy of the American Cinema. Maybe Quentin Tarantino.

Carol Reed is one of the great "forgotten" directors, he finally won the Oscar for Oliver! which put him one up Alfred Hitchcock who never did win. (Bob Wise also won for a musical, West Side Story, after falling short with such classics as The Day the Earth Stood Still, as did Bob Fosse with Cabaret, beating Godfather. Maybe if Hitchcock had directed a musical, he have done it. Too bad "Kiss of the Spiderwoman" and "Evita" didn't come along till he'd died.)

Kan Mattoo

Rock on. I do love Gambling.


Kan is referring to a defunct bit of comment spam.

Actually, Kan, we know you love gambling, and that's why we're all here. I set up this weblog, wrote these fake posts, and gathered this group of people you don't know so we could stage an intervention. You need to admit that you have a problem, Kan...

Kan Mattoo

I have a problem.

Thanks guys.


No, not with gambling - with being a dick.

Kan Mattoo

That's not a problem. That's my greatest attribute.


Yes, and we're all jealous.

Keep on keepin' on.

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