Friday, January 21, 2011
The Third Man
For tonight's movie, I'm dropping back to one from 1949, "The Third Man."
I saw clips of this in "Heavenly Creatures" (a great movie) but never saw "The Third Man" until I streamed it Tuesday.
Joseph Cotten plays Holly, he writes western novels like Zane Gray (an author he name checks at one point in the film). He goes to Vienna to meet up with his friend Harry. But Harry is dead. The British army -- the film is set after WWII -- tells him to go home. And worse. But he wants to find out why Harry is dead. The British have a section they control of Vienna and the Russians have a portion and who else I don't know.
But Holly meets up with Alida Valli who plays Harry's girlfriend. He also agrees to give a lecture on writing to the local cultural society (because they'll pick up his hotel bill for his stay if he does). He finds out Harry was not supposed to be a nice man. He tries not to believe that.
Turns out Harry was stealing and selling penacilin on the black market -- but watering it down to have more to sale. And, as a result, some children died and other children were mortally wounded. At one point, he visits a children's ward and realizes just how much damage was done. Holly realizes finally that Harry is watching him.
And he's evil. Ready to throw away his girlfriend and anyone else.
Holly ends up helping the British catch Harry (Orson Welles) after they promise to get Alida Valli (who plays a Russian with a fake passport to escape the Soviet Union and its agents) out of Vienna. But she gets off the train when she sees him. She goes to tell him off and realizes he made a deal to rescue her (her fake passport had caught the attention of the Russians and she was being detained). She refuses to get back on it. So she ends up staying. After Harry is killed, Holly is leaving town. He sees her and decides to stay. She blows him off but he follows her with the hope that she's going to change her opinion of him.
It was a really great movie and the atmosphere in it is great. The whole movie really is. I highly recommend it. Especially pay attention to the last third when they go underground.
Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"