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Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose of Darkness #16: Postwar British Noir (Scene from The Third Man)

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This is one of the most famous character entrances in all of film.  It had to be dramatic.  The whole story is about this character but we don't see him until almost the end of the picture.  To heighten the moment, the viewer is given a clue to who it is before the light even hits his face because of the cat.  Anna's cat loved Harry Lime (Orson Wells).  And when the key light illuminates his face and we see who it is, the music swells louder, he forms that little half smile, and we are completely taken in!

 

The formalistic techniques of dreamy music, tilted camera angles and unrealistic lighting all create a sense of a surreal world, out of balance and out of control for Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) and so for us too.  The most important thing he's been led to believe since his arrival in Vienna is not true!  What can he believe now?  Who can he trust?  What can we believe?  There's a sense that normal rules don't apply anymore.  We see Harry Lime's shadow running down the alley but we do not see Holly Martins shadow when he follows down the same alley.  A sense of some normalcy is not restored until the policemen discover the hidden underground stairway, a possible escape route for the "ghost."  We're back on firmer ground again.

 

This is one of my favorite movies and part of a sub-group of films noir made in post World War II Europe showing actual war damage called "rubble noir."

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Another thing to emphasize is that The Third Man is a truly international Noir, besides English we also have German and Russian spoken without subtitles in some sequences. We also have no Hayes Code, you actually see a topless dancer in another sequence. ;)

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OK I love this film and think it rivals Citizen Kane in its mastery of film as a medium..

 

Welles entrance is very effective. We get hints of German Expressionalism in the use of light and the woman at the window overlooking the events on the ground. We get Welles completely hidden and then revealed which is like raising the curtain to show the antagonist. Welles clearly is in a position of control whereas cotton is bewildered and frustrated.

 

It is realizing in that the location itself illustrates that postwar Vienna would be deserted at night. it's also painfully quiet which it would be after years of fighting as well. It's formalistic in the way the angled streets are shot and the use of fountains, the town square and the entrance to the sewers below.

 

With the camera's we do not see Cotton as the main character in the frame until a few minutes in. when the car speeds by he is rendered as almost a shadow himself, evading injury form the speeding auto. The darkness itself works as a way to drape the entire film in mystery. It is al way to show that the viewer is literally in the dark.

 

The use of music in this film is groundbreaking. it's a style of music particular to that region and time. It's also a departure form the high spirited jazz we've gotten a lot of by this time. by this time the film score has established itself as an artistic component for storytelling, particularly in noir. By using a different type of music in the film Reed makes a directorial statement doubt changing up the style of noir without delineating from its core.

 

The scenes in the sewers use shadows and lighting in a very classic noir way. also the dialogue is very much a noir element and there's a connection to a novel as well.

 

Welles is terrific as being mysterious and deceitful and rather unsavory. cotton is again in top form as the every man trying to sort out what is going on. The Third Man is very much a film with a lot of shades of grey to it with the lead characters.

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I'm struck by how dreamlike/nightmarish this scene is. Almost everything seems unreal, despite the very real location. Like a dream, things seem so very real while you're in the dream-state, yet in the waking world, you realize just how preposterous they actually are.

 

The first composition of the walls, street and buildings almost look like a Cubist painting -- your eye has trouble making sense of the perspective in that shot. That wonderful, crazy zither music plays, contrasting so fully with the angular, shadowed world. The Dutch angle on the doorway where a cat casually grooms itself while a barely seen figure lurks tells us something is askew. When the light comes on in the window as the woman protests -- there's no way that that window would illuminate the doorway that way -- NO WAY. But, as in a dream, it does anyway. And there's Harry, looking preternaturally unconcerned about discovery. He even smiles as his friend recognizes him with the shock of viewing the impossible. How many of us have dreamed of lost loved ones and in the dream, they feel so alive? And, as in a dream, the light goes off and Harry disappears. Then comes that car -- the ONE car in all Vienna, it seems! -- that happens to cut across Holly's path and allows the formerly nonchalant Harry to escape in a running frenzy. Yet Harry's escape seems unreal. How was it possible? Holly next hears running footsteps -- still very dreamlike -- drawing him in search of Harry. Holly sees the retreating shadow on the wall -- Harry has become a shadow! When Holly appears to approach the same area of the alley where he should be throwing his own shadow against the wall, he doesn't. And then Harry is gone. Was he ever really there? And like we've seen in dozens of movies and TV shows, how does Holly wake up from his nightmare? He splashes cold water on his face, only to "wake" to see the fountain putto mocking him for believing this crazy dream.

 

When Callaway and Paine join Holly later to discuss Harry's return from the dead, the camera is no longer low or angled, but rather at eye height. We're back in reality now.

 

It's a brilliant sequence in a brilliant film.

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Whenever I think of this movie, my mind goes to the plaza with its shadows and light, both on the buildings, the street and the people.  Orson Welle's entrance can be contrasted with Lana Turner's in that the camera starts at the feet, but where it moves slowly over Lana, it jumps suddenly to Orson Welle's face and then that's all that is illuminated.  Very effective and memorable.

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Two days ago, Martin Scorsese discussed The Third Man, which is scheduled to be re-released tomorrow. He mentioned something which preceded what we see in the Daily Dose clip, and which really adds to the impact of the reveal of the character played by Orson Welles:

"About four months ago, I screened a beautiful 35mm print of the picture for my daughter and her friends. "Why do we keep watching this?" I suppose it's [Joseph] Cotten and [Alida] Valli – that's the emotional core of the picture. For instance, the scene where Holly Martins (Cotten) finally goes to her apartment. He's a little drunk, and he tells her he loves her and he knows he doesn't have a chance. That's when she says, "The cat only liked Harry." So that leads right into the great revelation of Harry Lime in the doorway with the cat – which is iconic. But it's more than that – it's one of the great epiphanies in movies: the cat turning the corner and nestling itself on those wing-tip shoes, and then Harry Lime being revealed when the light is turned on in the doorway and it shines in his face."
source: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/martin-scorsese-on-the-third-man-the-best-revelation-in-all-cinema-10340553.html

As for the prompts:
 

-- What makes Harry Lime's (Orson Welles) "entrance" in this film so effective?

See Martin Scorsese's comment above. Is this the best revelation in all cinema?
 

-- Discuss how this scene is both deeply realistic (in its depiction of a war-torn Vienna) and highly formalistic (in its use of a variety of non-realistic camera, lighting and musical techniques).

The realism is based on the scene being shot on location in Vienna. The formalism is in the low camera angles, the unnatural manipulation of the lighting (especially when Orson's face is suddenly so highly illuminated when the woman upstairs opens her window to yell at Joseph Cotten), and the use of mood-enhancing zither music.
 

-- In what ways can this scene from The Third Man be considered an important contribution to the film noir style?

Having "the greatest greatest revelation in all cinema" doesn't hurt, but I think the mixed use of realism and formalism in this on location scene also make an important contribution, as does the fact that this is a European film influenced by Hollywood films noir.

- Tom Shawcross 

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SPOILERS


 


-- What makes Harry Lime's (Orson Welles) "entrance" in this film so effective?


This hands down is the best film noir entrance out of all the film noirs. When I first viewed it, I thought this was a movie where Joseph Cotten was solving a mystery. And it was so still, i was looking for orson welles to show up, but not like that


-- Discuss how this scene is both deeply realistic (in its depiction of a war-torn Vienna) and highly formalistic (in its use of a variety of non-realistic camera, lighting and musical techniques).


The back ground settings are authenitc, he rooms, how orsen come out the shadows, formalistic


-- In what ways can this scene from The Third Man be considered an important contribution to the film noir style?


lighting, this scene is film school 101 on how to make an entrance


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At the beginning of the scene, Cotten sees a cat in a darkened doorway. Something about it makes him makes him think something is off, and he realizes he's being spied on. Confidently he yells out for the other person to show himself. His yelling awakens one of the people leaving nearby turns on her light and opens her window. She starts shouting down into the street, presumably for them to shut up. The light falls on Lime's face, and Cotten is frozen in shock. Neither of them notice the woman yelling at them. Their eyes are locked in an electric moment.

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The lighting on the opening shot is incredible.  The play of shadow and light – especially with the front of the building being in half-shadow but the side being well-lit - is very noir.  If you showed me a picture from 0:03, I would have guessed it was a noir film.  And if the lightening isn’t enough to give you a sense of other-worldliness, the music does certainly. The architecture of the buildings seems to be made for noir.  If you light one angle, you have wonderful shadows in doorways but not stoops.

 

The sudden flash of light brings Larry to life.  It’s a shock for both the audience and Reed.  The only one who doesn’t care is the cat!

 

And as realistic as the street of Vienna is, the appearance and disappearance of Larry is very formalistic.  It creates a dream-like state.  Did he see him?  Did he not?  Now, the audience has to watch to find out.  Plus, the empty streets and square, all lit with key light, add to the growing formalism of the movie.

 

Now, my questions is:  was the cat part of the dream?

 

The music queue when the British officer realizes where Larry may have hid is jarring.  It’s heavy on the strings, which compliments the streets of Vienna.  And I think that’s its biggest contribution to noir film.  Not only is it set in an old city in Europe, the cinematographer and director took careful steps to give this foreign land and even more ethereal feel with noir lighting and camera angles.  

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The numerous angles in this scene seem to jump out at me implying something's off kilter here but what exactly? Joseph Cotten's character obviously knows "Harry" but in what context? And who is the man that Cotten thought Harry was? The single light on Harry's face works so well and seems to give us a quick glimpse of Harry's character- a bit devilish and perhaps amused by all of this? And then he's gone but why? Cotten's comment was interesting and telling- "I followed his shadow." I think that phrase could be generalized to many film noir characters! I agree with at least one other poster- I find the zither music really annoying and it's the reason I haven't seen this movie more frequently!

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A favorite film, great in any list, not just film noir, It touches on many of my personal likes, including Graham Greene as an author and Vienna as a city. Let me echo other comments on the cinematography which plays the expressionistic tricks of film noir like diagonal framing and dramatic light and shade contrasts in an environment that is already jagged bricolage. Is the camera tilted? or is it just that the street itself is not perpendicular to the old house fronts? And also as people noted, this revelation of Harry Lime is a big build-up in the story, since he's been a central character throughout the story, hugely present in his absence. The camera can really linger on Harry lighted so beautifully because it is such a shock to see him. Does the audience even know who he is, at first? We get a lingering few seconds on Welles' lighted face, and then a smile from him, and only then does Joseph Cotton say "Harry." The film's entire focus is finally revealed, only to be dramatically pulled away. 

 

As for the zither music? Yes, I know. I have come to find it one of the most effective parts of the movie, partly because it is so distinctive, so East European in feel, so evocative of the lilt of musical Vienna, and ultimately ambiguous in mood, so you're never quite sure if you're supposed to feel melancholy at post-War immorality or admiring of Harry Lime's embodiment of the good life despite the desperation of the times. 

 

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Okay, I know I'm setting myself up for a beheading, however, I've never been a "fan" of Orson Welles.  I think he's pompous, very overrated, talented, yes, however, so full of himself.  Perhaps everyone or most in Hollywood were/are but some didn't shove it in your face.

 

His appearance into this movie was not surprising with that "little boy misbehaving face".  He's saying, yes, here I am again, I'm wonderful and now I'll dazzle you more in this movie.  Sorry, but this movie never did anything for me.

 

I know he and Joseph Cotton had a long friendship and working relationship over the years as both being The Mercury Players; sometimes I think The Mercury Players were overrated...hmmm!

 

 

This breaks my heart, but is not unexpected. Welles seems to have ups and downs in the public eye. Every few years he seems to dip in popularity and popular concensus seems to be that he's overrated. He's definitely in one of those periods now, with Citizen Kane dropping off the top spot on the Sight and Sound poll, and the difficulties the restoration team is having getting funding to finish editing his final film. 

 

It's easy to take hype too seriously, to get too overwhelmed by the wave of praise a movie gets. But it's important to realize it isn't a hive mind saying something is 'the best ever', it's a multitude of individuals saying 'i like it!' One critic gives something a positive review, then a few more critics, and then a bunch of critics, and then almost every critic. If you read what they actually say, some of them may say 'its not perfect, but it's OK.' But instead of seeing the nuance we just see that everyone seems to like it. So when we watch it and it's 'just OK,' well, we start to think it's been overhyped, when actually popular opinion might be the exact same as yours.

That said, there is no way that Orson Welles is overrated. Another common reaction is that when you grow up hearing that something is the best, it's easy to take it for granted and dismiss it. Like the Beatles; as a kid I never listened much to the Beatles, beyond what was on the radio. I never gave them much time because they just seemed like one of those bands that everyone had to like. But then I listened to the albums all the way through, I put them in a historical context, and it hit me how great they really were. The work of Welles is like that, even though he only made one movie on his own terms. Citizen Kane is easy to dismiss as dated or as cliched at times, but try to view it as an audience at the time would have. Place it in the continuum of film as a medium and notice how it takes a bunch of disparate camera tricks and styles and unifies them to one vision. It didn't invent so much as it took everything people had learned about storytelling through film and then codified it into what amounts to an encyclopedia on film techniques. It is a masterpiece.

 

Welles is a tragic figure in film, because he never had that opportunity again. He saw project after project ripped out of his hands and butchered by the studios. He took more and more jobs for hire, saw more and more projects fall apart after filming had begun. He had the talent, he had the skill, but he just couldn't fit into the studio system. He came around at the right time and place to change filmmaking forever, but was too far ahead of the curve to be appreciated by the audiences.

 

And if you doubt the Mercury Theatre, you should be able to track down some of the many radio plays they did. There's some really good stuff in there.

 

(also, don't take this as an attack. I'm worried this might read as if I'm being harsher than intended)

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Side note: Carol Reed and Graham Greene worked on three movies together, and they are all stellar. The Fallen Idol, The Third Man, and Our Man In Havana.

 

A big "yes!" to The Fallen Idol. I love how it turns a lot of tropes of the classic murder mysteries (and especially the forensic detective character) on its head. My favorite moment?  I do love it when the boy is at the police station and the prostitute finds out who he is, and in the cheeriest voice she announces "Oh, I know your daddy!".

 

I think other posters have pretty well covered the answers to this day's prompts. I'll only add that I really like how relaxed the cat is--washing itself and just generally chilling out on that stoop. It's a nice contrast to all of the other tensions in the scene.

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I'm glad you said that-- the cat is part of the movie too.. and i like that they cat is like whatever...

 

The sudden flash of light brings Larry to life.  It’s a shock for both the audience and Reed.  The only one who doesn’t care is the cat!

 

 

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What makes Orson's entrance so effective is that he doesn't do an entrance. He just stands there in the shadows, lurking ominously and making Joseph Cotten uneasy. We see his face only because an annoyed Austrian turns on the light. Thus Orson's entrance is that of a rat when we open the manhole cover to the sewer. And then he runs away back into the sewers.

 

Joseph Cotten discovers the man's presence and takes him for a spy. Why would someone spy on him, he doesn't know, but nothing will surprise him after what he already had seen during his brief visit to Vienna. He calls the spy out, but he's cautious. He's comfortable with calling him names from a safe distance, but won't make an attack himself, bluffing to scare the man away. But it doesn't work. The ominous shadow doesn't move at all, doesn't show any signs of nervousness at being so suddenly discovered. He's obviously very sure of himself, so why attack and risk a bump on the head?

 

And then suddenly Joseph discovers that the man is his [spoilers] lost friend that he was told was dead. His world suddenly falls apart. The streets tilt and the parked cars roll down. But he doesn't care. He has to get to the black doorway to make sure it really is Harry. But the shadow runs away. He plays a trick on him but won't get caught to reveal the mystery.

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This film is iconic in all of the elements of noir that we've been discussing...contrasting light and shadow, diagonal lines, the realism of a worn out European city... However, my favorite part of the scene is the Harry smile. Love it. These noir figures don't smile. They sulk, estrange and evade. He was three seconds of that scene. To come right out and smile, that was different and, yet, so in character. It's the hook to the scene along with the cat. What also makes that smile so engaging and germane is that it is accompanied by the ever-increasing zither music. It's a pointer. The cat, the smile and the zither are drawing us down the nefarious path.

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I so agree with your comment. Orson Welles in a genius, and an innovator. Now there are some Orson films that are hard to watch for me or I can only watch when I'm a certain mood. But that is due to my personal tastes. I'm like you I don't think he is over -rated. He was the "modern technology" of his time

This breaks my heart, but is not unexpected. Welles seems to have ups and downs in the public eye. Every few years he seems to dip in popularity and popular concensus seems to be that he's overrated. He's definitely in one of those periods now, with Citizen Kane dropping off the top spot on the Sight and Sound poll, and the difficulties the restoration team is having getting funding to finish editing his final film. 

 

It's easy to take hype too seriously, to get too overwhelmed by the wave of praise a movie gets. But it's important to realize it isn't a hive mind saying something is 'the best ever', it's a multitude of individuals saying 'i like it!' One critic gives something a positive review, then a few more critics, and then a bunch of critics, and then almost every critic. If you read what they actually say, some of them may say 'its not perfect, but it's OK.' But instead of seeing the nuance we just see that everyone seems to like it. So when we watch it and it's 'just OK,' well, we start to think it's been overhyped, when actually popular opinion might be the exact same as yours.

That said, there is no way that Orson Welles is overrated. Another common reaction is that when you grow up hearing that something is the best, it's easy to take it for granted and dismiss it. Like the Beatles; as a kid I never listened much to the Beatles, beyond what was on the radio. I never gave them much time because they just seemed like one of those bands that everyone had to like. But then I listened to the albums all the way through, I put them in a historical context, and it hit me how great they really were. The work of Welles is like that, even though he only made one movie on his own terms. Citizen Kane is easy to dismiss as dated or as cliched at times, but try to view it as an audience at the time would have. Place it in the continuum of film as a medium and notice how it takes a bunch of disparate camera tricks and styles and unifies them to one vision. It didn't invent so much as it took everything people had learned about storytelling through film and then codified it into what amounts to an encyclopedia on film techniques. It is a masterpiece.

 

Welles is a tragic figure in film, because he never had that opportunity again. He saw project after project ripped out of his hands and butchered by the studios. He took more and more jobs for hire, saw more and more projects fall apart after filming had begun. He had the talent, he had the skill, but he just couldn't fit into the studio system. He came around at the right time and place to change filmmaking forever, but was too far ahead of the curve to be appreciated by the audiences.

 

And if you doubt the Mercury Theatre, you should be able to track down some of the many radio plays they did. There's some really good stuff in there.

 

(also, don't take this as an attack. I'm worried this might read as if I'm being harsher than intended)

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I'm a fan of Orson Welles and I think Harry7 Lime's "entrance" was brilliant. It was an effective entrance because the camera angle showed his shoes and suddenly shot up to his face. The close up shot with the High key lighting to show his face was superb.

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One interesting thing I noticed was the personality of the inanimate objects/cupid statues.  First one is looking at main character in a thoughtful, scrutinizing way, it appears, and then he splashes it.  The second one is looking towards the clue of where Orson Welles' character disappeared to.  The man looks at the statue and where the statue is looking, then pointedly looks in that direction to the Kiosk.  Formalism perhaps?  The history of the city helping with the search?  God and angels?  Hmmm...

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Harry Lime's "entrance" was actually kinda funny to me. First of all, that jokester-like smile on his face was comical, and the music, which didn't seem to be appropriate for the scene. All this goes on while a woman shouts in a foreign language. It really seems to be disorganized, but is meant to be that way. As for the lighting, I loved the shot of Lime's shadow running away from Joseph Cotten's character, as well as the show of the entrance to the sewers. The desolation of the town throughout the whole scene works to show the war-time situation in Vienna. I think the musical number was a contribution to noir, because it demonstrated that the tense, usual music that was paired with these scenes wasn't necessary, as this particular scene works well with it's own unique noir music. 

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Two days ago, Martin Scorsese discussed The Third Man, which is scheduled to be re-released tomorrow. He mentioned something which preceded what we see in the Daily Dose clip, and which really adds to the impact of the reveal of the character played by Orson Welles:

 

"About four months ago, I screened a beautiful 35mm print of the picture for my daughter and her friends. "Why do we keep watching this?" I suppose it's [Joseph] Cotten and [Alida] Valli – that's the emotional core of the picture. For instance, the scene where Holly Martins (Cotten) finally goes to her apartment. He's a little drunk, and he tells her he loves her and he knows he doesn't have a chance. That's when she says, "The cat only liked Harry." So that leads right into the great revelation of Harry Lime in the doorway with the cat – which is iconic. But it's more than that – it's one of the great epiphanies in movies: the cat turning the corner and nestling itself on those wing-tip shoes, and then Harry Lime being revealed when the light is turned on in the doorway and it shines in his face."

source: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/martin-scorsese-on-the-third-man-the-best-revelation-in-all-cinema-10340553.html

 

As for the prompts:

 

-- What makes Harry Lime's (Orson Welles) "entrance" in this film so effective?

See Martin Scorsese's comment above. Is this the best revelation in all cinema?

 

-- Discuss how this scene is both deeply realistic (in its depiction of a war-torn Vienna) and highly formalistic (in its use of a variety of non-realistic camera, lighting and musical techniques).

The realism is based on the scene being shot on location in Vienna. The formalism is in the low camera angles, the unnatural manipulation of the lighting (especially when Orson's face is suddenly so highly illuminated when the woman upstairs opens her window to yell at Joseph Cotten), and the use of mood-enhancing zither music.

 

-- In what ways can this scene from The Third Man be considered an important contribution to the film noir style?

Having "the greatest greatest revelation in all cinema" doesn't hurt, but I think the mixed use of realism and formalism in this on location scene also make an important contribution, as does the fact that this is a European film influenced by Hollywood films noir.

 

- Tom Shawcross 

Thanks for sharing the Scorsese insight and you can tell from his films he appreciates the Noir style. I love this entrance as even though it is obviously over the top like hitting the spot on the face of an actor on a dark stage, his reactions are priceless. It has a childlike feel ranging from "rats you see me, yep it's me, and bet you can't catch me" and all delivering the message that this is a game and he is having a wonderful time playing. If it were not for the blast of realism and those wonderful shadows, angled shots and desolate streets, that entrance would have seemed silly instead of intriguing. Well done folks. I can't wait to watch it again.

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I know Reed is the director of this film, but I have to wonder if Welles had some creative input.  Hard to imagine the great Welles being part of the cast and staying silent while someone else had complete creative control.  Who else would use an exit for an entrance?


 


The POV of this scene includes us, the audience, as an extension of Holly Martins.  We experience all that he experiences.  We look for a stranger, calling out to him in the dark, quiet, foreign streets.  We see a cat and someone's feet in a doorway.  A light comes on in an upper window, illuminating the doorway and the stranger - it's our friend Harry!  He smiles, as if he knows something we don't (and he certainly does), and looks as if he might speak.  But the distracting lady in the window finishes her complaining, and the upper light goes out, plunging him into darkness, leaving only the sounds of footsteps - then nothing.  Harry is a mystery.


 


The scene mixes the realism of Viennese buildings, cobblestone streets, and a complaining neighbor with film noir techniques.  The zither music adds to our impression of being in a foreign place (although I found the music irritating when I watched the film a few months ago).  The sudden, brief closeup on Welles's face helps us focus on him, even though we don't see him during the ensuing chase; we keep expecting that face to reappear.  The extremely diagonal shots and shadowing add to the illusion that we don't know to where we're running.  The lighting makes every buildling, every cobblestone, as important to the scene as Joseph Cotten.  This technique is effective in drawing our attention to our surroundings, leaving no stone unturned in our search for Harry.


 


What impresses me the most about this scene:  It states the obvious so well, we completely miss it.  Harry disappears, and Holly looks for him, but there are no other routes out of the street.  Holly runs to the plaza, looks all around, runs around the solitary column in the middle.  He even looks at the column itself, stopping on one side (opposite the door), looking at it, putting his hands on it.  He stops at the fountain, completely befuddled as to what could've happened to Harry.  I fully expected that face to appear again behind the cherub figure (Harry's closeup becomes a red herring of sorts).  In the shot of Holly at the fountain, directly behind him in the background is that column.  He even turns around suddenly and looks right at it, but no - no Harry.  Yet in the last scene of this clip, Holly and we find that the column is exactly where Harry went.


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Harry Lime is fingered by a cat! What a clever way to introduce Harry. Cats are wiley and opportunistic; I think there might be some symbolic connection to Harry. The cat must have known a good opportunity when he saw it!! Lime has been so elusive up until now and remains elusive after escaping into the sewers. So, with this entrance, the audience is teased and left to wait again until Lime reappears. At least we can associate a face with the character. Great close-up shot there. Problem is, we don't see Lime running away. Only hear footsteps. Maybe that adds to the mystique of the scene.

The entrances of Lana Turner and Jane Greer in the previous Daily Doses are not as "closed". They were filmed during the day (so more light) ....and the characters stick around longer so we get a better idea of who they really are. We see Lime at night and his appearance is fleeting.

 

As for reality, war-torn Vienna was not quite as war-torn as I would have envisioned it. After viewing documentaries of Europe after WW ll, I would have expected more ruins and streets that were not as clean and paved so well. The post-war reconstruction was years in the making. I am struck by how deserted everything was.

However, the canted angles of the buildings and low-key lighting of the passages and streets lent themselves to the dark, lonely and empty feeling Europeans may have felt during the post-war years. The zither was effective in creating a tense atmosphere, albeit rather annoying (to me, anyhow). 

 

The photography and music contributed to the film noir style. Most noteably the angle shots and lighting. I liked the on-location shoot. Adds so much more to the realism of the story.

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This has been on my to-watch list ever since one of my undergrad history profs praised it in his lecture on post-war Austria.  The street setting is very realistic, but there is so much contrast and darkness that it almost looks like a black and white Caravaggio painting.  The distorted diagonal angles highlight Holly’s unbalanced state.  There’s some suspense when he realizes that he’s being followed, but Holly isn’t going to let that stand.  With drunken bravado, he yells, “Cat got your tongue!”  Not literally, but the cat does help reveal that Harry Lime is alive.  I love the way Orson Welles is shot in this moment.  As the others have said, there’s a bit of a trickster in the way he glances up at the light and Holly.  There are some subtle diagonals in that shot which further emphasize that something is not right.  Then, as suddenly as Lime appears, he’s gone, but he’s not a ghost.  We hear his footsteps fleeing.  The music in this scene is very interesting.  Instead of jazz or a classical film score, we hear a zither, which is a traditional European instrument.  The cheerfulness of the music provides a nice contrast to the dark setting of the film, and it helps set the film firmly in Vienna.

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