Friday, October 8, 2010

The Third Man

This was a very good movie, but I understood why it's considered a legendary classic probably the least of all the movies with that description I've seen lately. The script is very good, with mystery, twists and turns, and tons of clever dialogue. The cinematography and direction are very good, bringing postwar Vienna to life and making innovative use of Dutch angles to sell the strangeness of the main character's situation coming to a foreign country to meet a friend, only to discover he's been killed. The acting is good, although having Orson Welles play a relatively small role might have actually hurt my overall perception of it. The general cast is completely fine, but when Welles comes on for basically one real scene, it overshadows everything else in the film. He gives a completely commanding performance while basically confined to a car on a Ferris wheel, and then is basically limited to running away from that point forward. After that, I was just disappointed he didn't have more to do.

So yeah... I liked pretty much everything about the movie, and probably actually enjoyed it more than some other movies with similar reputations. I just don't quite see where this one's reputation came from. Plenty of brilliantly crafted movies have been forgotten through film history, so I don't get why this one was particularly remembered. I don't want to undersell the non-Welles cast members, really everyone in the movie is right for the part and pulls it off with style. There are good moments of humor, suspense, and excitement. The ending is harsh but appropriately so for the story to that point. But it's a very good film noir coming at the end of a decade filled with them. It deserves praise to be certain, especially for the stylistic elements it added to seemingly every director's repertoire. More than that though, I'm not so sure.

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