The Third Man (1949, Carol Reed) — BFI #1, Village Voice #30, Rolling Stone “Maverick” #41.
Brent’s note. We’re back after a long hiatus for a deep dive into artistic escapism. Or perhaps simply fuel for depression. Or perhaps a tunnel through to the light. We’ll see. For those in need of a re-introduction:
Connie’s top 100 movies of all time go something like this:
1 — Bull Durham
2 — Hoosiers
3–99 Doesn’t matter
100 — The Wedding Crashers (“the repetitive schedule of Indian cable gave me a simultaneous hatred and love for this movie, as well as a deep knowledge of its plot, characters, and sense of comedic timing”).
In perusing the Village Voice list of the top 100 films of the twentieth century, we were shocked (shocked!) to see that none of her selections had made the cut and decided that we would fill in the blanks between 3 and 99.
Here’s how it works. We’ll randomly select a movie by a process that includes a deck of cards, the fan in the living room (the new process also includes a die), and the unerring mystical properties of gravity. Connie will make a prediction concerning the plot of the movie and the reasons for its greatness. These predictions will be based solely on her own film viewing history, which is to say that in almost every case it will be based only upon the title and the year of release. Then we will watch the movie and she will write a post-movie assessment — a “reflection” let’s call it. We’ll post the prediction, the reflection, and a clip from the movie. We encourage you to make predictions along with us.
Now, back to business…
“It’s really important for me to get this right. Seems like a very important film. It was all filmed at night, a first for a nature film ?
. . . Hey everyone, I just spent some time reminding myself about these films. Spoiler Alert: The birds are NOT saved from extinction. Every last one of them dies, and we must watch — helpless — during excruciatingly slow scenes, so slow we must notice, feel the multiple symbols of loss, loneliness, and beauty artfully incorporated into the silent scenes.
I’m just really hoping for a bird or two to appear in this film. Or a man. I think that’s the best I’m going to do.”
Connie has asked me to live blog her various reactions. We’ll see how long it lasts..
- “Oh. Orson Welles. Whaddya know.”
- “I have to get real comfy”
- Brent’s comment… It’s a little disconcerting looking at 1949 Vienna at our current moment.
- “look at the puppyyyyyyy”
- We’re 30 minutes into the movie. Connie may be asleep.
- “I’m listening,” she says.
- On staying awake (it’s 9:15, 45 minutes into the film) “it’s hard. it’s ah… [sigh]…. pffff…. [snore]….”
8.Suddenly waking… “It’s all these sideways shots.” and then she’s asleep, and then, finally, Orson shows up.
9. 1 hour and 10 minutes into the film and Orson has been in one shot. 4 seconds. He has top billing in the film.
10. [the ferris wheel shot] Connie: “hmmm… it’s a good shot.” It is. It’s fantastic.
11. (Connie is fully asleep. It’s safe to assume that any comments from this point on are Brent’s… Unless otherwise noted). Orson really did master the art of the mutter. “Old man.”
12. Historical question… Did folks thing Orson was handsome? Hot? or just a good actor…. also, Leo D. is definitely going for the Orson look in his middle age. Did his friends call him “Orson?” I think I’d just call him “Welles.” There are no other famous people named “Orson.”
13. True to at least one part of Connie’s prediction. There is exactly one laugh in this film (aside from Orson’s misanthropic ease). And that one laugh is noted as an anomaly and accompanied by tears.
14. The sewer scenes are fantastically well lit.
15. Can we talk about the zither? Is that a zither? I’m going to assume that it is? But seriously, what instrument is it? [It is a zither] And can we talk about it?
16. That last shot! #CarolReed