Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Third Man

Posted on Thu, May 31, 2007 at 4:00 AM

The Third Man
Studio: Criterion Collection
WorkNameSort: Third Man, The
'Probably the greatest of the foreign film noirs,â?� is how Peter Bogdanovich describes this suspenseful, witty, dramatically photographed classic. Directed by Carol Reed from Graham Greene's screenplay, it's the story of a naive American (Joseph Cotten) in post'World War II Vienna who attempts to discover the truth about his presumed-dead friend, the charismatic, if infamous, Harry Lime (Orson Welles). Bogdanovich's remark is part of an introduction included in this Criterion release. Also included are a somewhat arty documentary about the making of the film and two audio commentaries. One of these, by NYU professor Dana Polan, is rather academic. (He uses words like 'synopticâ?� and 'hybridity.â?�) The other, by filmmakers Steven Soderbergh and Tony Gilroy, is more engaging, offering informed reflections on the film's tilted camera and brilliant zither score. There's also a booklet of insightful essays, including one by film historian Charles Drazin, who notes that Welles wrote the film's most famous passage (about Italy, the Borgias, Switzerland and the cuckoo clock). Another essay, by novelist Philip Kerr, tellingly points out that lime, as in Harry, is a shade of green, as in Graham.

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