Thursday, August 20, 2015

Press Release: 'The Third Man' screening and after-party

Date: August 18, 2015
To: All media for immediate release
Re: Screening of "The Third Man"
From: The Bijou Film Center

The Bijou Film Center will present the newly restored 4K version of "The Third Man" at the Byrd Theatre in Carytown on Sun., Sept. 6, 2015, at 7 p.m. With The Byrd's new 4K projector and its deluxe sound system the beloved gem of a movie promises to look and sound better than ever.

"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 is hiding something, well, the truth lurking in the shadows isn’t so easy to see ... much less, to grasp.

More about the Film: Here are a couple of excerpts from the late Roger Ebert's review of Reed's masterpiece: 
  • "Has there ever been a film where the music more perfectly suited the action than in Carol Reed's 'The Third Man'?"
  • "Of all the movies I have seen, this one most completely embodies the romance of going to the movies." 
Click here to read Ebert's entire review. A second review of the movie is here. To see the new trailer go here.

Admission: Tickets at the box office will be $10.00. Advance tickets are now available online at Eventbrite for $7.00 (plus a processing fee of $1.38) each. Paper advance tickets will be available for $7.00 (cash or check) at Bygones Vintage Clothing and Steady Sounds until the day of the show. The proceeds from this one-time-only special screening will be split between the Byrd Theatre Foundation's "Journey to the Seats" and the Bijou Film Center.

The After-Party will unfold at the New York Deli following the screening. Gypsy Roots will perform live on stage. The Deli will offer a special The Third Man menu that night. Admission will be free.

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The Bijou Mission: The goal is to establish the nonprofit Bijou Film Center in Richmond, Virginia. Its centerpiece will be a small independent cinema (100-to-120 seats) that will strive to present the best of the artsy first-run independent and imported films available. They will be sandwiched between short runs of selected classics, perhaps an occasional festival.

Before the Screening, between 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. Happy Hour at the Portrait House will happen. Raffles will be held. Steady Sounds will play movie soundtracks.

Our thanks go out to this event's sponsors: Candela Books + GalleryMichael Harl Graphic Design;  New York Deli; One South Realty Group;  Portrait HouseVCUarts Department of Photography and Film.

More About The Bijou: For background information these two articles reveal more about our quest, go here and here. And, we just won an award from the Theatre Historical Society of America. More background pertaining to the effort to breathe life into the Bijou Film Center can be found on the Bijou's Facebook page and its Bijou Backlight blogzine.

This is the fourth event in the series of fundraisers produced by the Bijou Film Center over the last year. The resounding success of those events has bolstered our confidence that Richmond is ready to support a well-programmed art house, along the lines of the one described above. In discussing our plans we regularly hear encouragement from locals who agree that especially in the last 15 years -- culturally speaking -- Richmond has evolved, considerably. We have to believe that bodes well for the Bijou's future.

Break a leg: The night The Bijou opens, before the first film is presented, we will pause to toast to what we hope will become the hub of all things film in Richmond. We'll raise our glasses in The Bijou's small adjoining cafe/coffeehouse, which will regularly serve sandwiches, soups, salads, bagels, pastries, coffee, tea, beer, wine and so forth.

Beyond the exhibition of our gourmet film fare, we hope to be a friend to Richmonders interested in the preserving of old films and the making of new films. However, for the time being, we are focused on finding the best location for the Bijou Film Center to put down its roots. And, yes, we'll take all the help we can get.

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The Bijou Film Center's temporary studio/office is at 1 E. Broad St. (23219) in Richmond's downtown "arts district." More info: www.bijoufilmcenter.org

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Carol Reed's masterpiece: 'The Third Man'

If you read much about "The Third Man" (1949) you'll run into claims that it's a near-perfect movie. Such assertions seem to flow mostly from the safe notion that no feature film can be "perfect." But whatever flaws nitpickers might see in Carol Reed's film noir masterpiece simply don't play as mistakes to me. So I'm here to say that in my book, it's as close to perfect as it's going to get. 

"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." 
Click here to read Ebert's entire review.

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: 

Joseph Cotten (who was from Petersburg, Virginia) is perfect as Holly Martins, a pulp fiction writer. He's the stubborn, naive American, in way over his head in a strange part of the world. More specifically, in Vienna and down on his luck, Martins is riding for a fall. Atop a Ferris wheel he winces as he asks his once-trusted old friend, Harry Lime, "Have you ever seen any of your victims?
Orson Welles is perfect as Harry Lime, the suave opportunist who answers Martins question with the beginning of a chilling and memorable speech: "Victims? Don't be melodramatic. Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare?"

Trevor Howard is perfect as Major Calloway, the voice of reason and reality. He knows a situation with no good options when he sees one. As a military man, acting as a policeman, he just hopes to prevent more wreckage. Recognizing what a sap Holly is, Calloway says: "Go home Martins, like a sensible chap. You don't know what you're mixing in, get the next plane ...You were born to be murdered."

And, yes, Alida Valli is perfect as Anna Schmidt, the war-weary European. She's loyal to her instincts and passions no matter what comes. Hey, Anna has seen it all. Thanks to Harry's effort to obscure her past, together with her own charm and savvy, she has kept her secret hidden ... so far. Anna says: "A person doesn't change just because you find out more."

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.