Friday, January 01, 2010
The Third Man
The dapper fellow above is one Carol Reed born December 30th, 1905 (this is the 30th of December's post), in London, England. Born as one of six illegitimate children to an actor father, and his mistress with whom Reed's father had established a "second household." Reed rose to fame as a director of some talent, and a great deal of skill, he was the second British director to be knighted for his work in film, but it is for one film that he has become my hero of the day. That film, "The Third Man" is a classic, and one of the best films I have ever seen. There has been a lot of stuff, both good and bad, written about the film. Things like Orson Welles was really doing the directing, or that it is too cynical, but for my money it is a perfect storm of great acting, a great story, and a great director making it all into cinema perfection. Its perfection is enhanced, for me at least, by the fact that I just "did" Vienna in Third Man style. I went to the Cafe Mozart, Graham Greene's favourite cafe (he wrote the novella and the screen play), I saw the square on which Harry Lime's house looks out upon. I went up in the famous red car Ferris wheel where the "little dots" speech is delivered with such force by Welles. I saw Hotel Sacher (home of the tasty Sacher torte), Hotel Bristol, and Hotel Imperial where the United States, the British, and the Russians each centered their own spying circles in post-World War II Vienna. These things, so expertly shown in the film, I have seen with my own two little eyes, and I have to tell you it was awesome. With the directing talent of Reed, and the acting talent of Welles and Joseph Cotten it all makes for a wonderful film. Even though he was now proclaimed one of the world's finest directors, "The Third Man" was followed by a decline in Reed's career. I guess we all have that one moment where we should just hang up our boots, gloves, director's chair, and retire to the south of France, and "The Third Man" might have been the apex of Reed's output. He did have one other blazing success "Oliver!" for which he won an Oscar, something that he did not manage to achieve with "The Third Man." Fellow British movie maker, Michael Powell probably said it best when he said of Reed "could put a film together like a watchmaker puts together a watch." It was that watch/film (especially the cuckoo clock speech) of the Third Man, that cements Reed's hero status. So for that film classic that I got a "one in a life time chance" to relive this week that, Carol Reed (December 30th, 1905- April 25th, 1976, at the age of 69), you are my hero of the day (December 30th edition).