"The Third Man" (1949): B&W. 104 minutes. Directed by Carol Reed. Screenplay by Graham Greene. Music by Anton Karas. Cast: Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard.
Note: This film noir classic is basically a who-dunnit murder mystery set in crumbling post-WWII Vienna. Or, is the real mystery a matter of who was murdered? Since each of the principle characters in the story is hiding something, well, the truth lurking in the shadows isn’t so easy to see ... much less, to grasp.
It seems the legendary film critic Roger Ebert found more than just a measure of perfection in this beloved movie:
- "Has there ever been a film where the music more perfectly suited the action than in Carol Reed's 'The Third Man'?"
- "[It] was made by men who knew the devastation of Europe at first hand. Carol Reed worked for the British Army's wartime documentary unit, and the screenplay was by Graham Greene, who not only wrote about spies but occasionally acted as one. Reed fought with David O. Selznick, his American producer, over every detail of the movie; Selznick wanted to shoot on sets, use an upbeat score and cast Noel Coward as Harry Lime. His film would have been forgotten in a week. Reed defied convention by shooting entirely on location in Vienna, where mountains of rubble stood next to gaping bomb craters, and the ruins of empire supported a desperate black market economy. And he insisted on Karas' zither music."
- "Of all the movies I have seen, this one most completely embodies the romance of going to the movies."
The characters moving through the film's deliciously twisted plot can be seen as representing various shades of gray truths, set before a harsh backlight cast by the bitter reality of the times. Within this story, they, too, are perfect:
Can't reveal the role the cat plays in the story. It would give too much away, but the cat is perfect, too.
On Sun., Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. only, you can watch those characters come alive in the new 4K restoration of "The Third Man." See it on the Byrd Theatre's big screen and hear it through The Byrd's deluxe sound system. Maybe you, too, will call it perfection!
For more information and to see who's already planning to come, visit the Bijou Film Center's Facebook event page.