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Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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I admit I couldn't see anything in the doorway except something oddly moving. It took the cut to the shoes to actually understand someone was standing there. Then, by coincidence (Derrida would take issue with coincidence, but this is not the place for that conversation) a woman turns on a light that brilliantly illuminates Wells's face in key light. I think what makes the entrance so entrancing is that Wells is relatively nonplussed by the woman turning on the light, even though he looks up. Who would have or could have predicted such a spot-on reveal?! (Is this an example of where realism meets formalism?) It gives Wells an omniscient presence that is unnerving and puts you off center, which works well with the noir-ish camera angles and angles created by shadows made more prominent by the off-angles in the music and, of course, Wells's smirky, rakish smile.

 

I have to also admit I don't see anything post-war in terms of setting. It looks exceptionally clean, foreign (European due to the architectural details), but nothing bombed out. It is dark, however, which is perhaps a legacy of destruction of infrastructure, economic strains, and habitual blackouts. What am I missing here? 

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The tilted camera angle, low key lighting and zither music at the beginning of this night scene helps to create a surrealistic element of mystery and confusion. (formalistic) We can't see Lime but we hear Holly Martin calling out to him toward the darkened doorway. The use of the black and white cat as the only discernible object in the darkness is genius!! The viewer is anxious to see Lime, are those his feet? Next, a woman opens a window and complains about the noise. More added suspense Suddenly, we see Lime's face with a cynical smirk in full focus,in substantial key lighting framed in black. he says nothing, he looks out at Martin in a glib manner and runs into the night leaving just a shadow. The long diagonal shot that follows is very effective in giving Harry's elusive character additional intrigue and suspense. All of these elements make this scene a formidable contribution to film noir.

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Love, love, love this scene as well as the film (finally one I've seen!  :lol:) I saw this for the first time a couple of years ago and it has become one of my favorites. Great performances, directing, everything.

 

The scene has lots of noir elements, like it has been mentioned, the tilted angles, diagonal lines, the remarkable use of lights and shadows, the "realism" of the shots of the Vienna streets. Plus there's the great performances of Cotten and Welles. The way Welles is introduced is perfect, in the dark, hidden, and bang! lights on and there he is. His look is great and that little smirk he has, so perfect. Even the way he slightly opens his mouth as Cotten sees him, like a playful "oops! here I am" works perfectly. Add to that the music, which also keeps the scene in a light, playful mode.

 

Plus, it's always great to see a little bit of Trevor Howard's Calloway. Love his character as well.

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I'm adding this one to my "must see" list.  Thanks to the folks who filled in some of the story that occurred before this scene. 

 

I didn't feel like the angled shots were over-done, as some people have posted, although maybe I will feel that way after seeing the entire movie.  They worked because they're interspersed with straight shots, or shots that are straight but have a diagonal feel to them, like the opening wide shot of the street. 

 

I'm wondering if the now-you-see-me, now-you-don't motif shows up throughout the movie, or just in this one scene.  The light goes on, we see him, the light goes out we don't, we know he's there, but the car goes by, and now we don't see him, we see his shadow, then he's gone.  Makes me wonder who this guy is, why he doesn't want to be found, and why he's tailing the guy looking for him instead of staying away.

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What makes Harry Lime's (Orson Welles) entrance so effective in this scene from The Third Man is the use of the key film noir tools, light, shadow and music.   The man in black is more effective by remaining hidden in the shadows keeping the suspense high and the motives unknown.  Is Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) in danger?  Could this be a messenger?  Countless possibilities especially considering the cast of players and suspects the film has introduced up to this point.  It's the cat's meow that alerts Holly to the figure lurking in the shadowed doorway across the dimly lit street.  As Holly finds himself a better lit, safe position he starts shouting taunts.  Only when a light is turned on in an upper story apartment by an upset tenet, is a spotlight effect created over the doorway, illuminating the mystery person to be "the late" Harry Lime. 

 

If you have not seen the entire film, this is a *Spoiler Alert*, please read no further.  We learned earlier from Anna Schmidt (Valli) that her cat was only friendly towards Harry, so if we had taken that clue to heart we would have realized the man in the shadows couldn't be anyone else. Within  the first few minutes of the movie we learn that Harry Lime was killed or murdered so without relying on a flashback we have multiple  characters telling their versions of the story.  Harry's "accidental" discovery shows we were duped as well the other characters in the film and now we have to figure out the rest of the mystery.  Carol Reed does an amazing job using all the tools of noir from the low key lighting and heavy shadows, doomed characters (we start off at a funeral), military police on the prowl searching/investigating, locals living in fear, black market deals, a scarred city framed in odd camera angles, night shots, political uncertainty and all of it underscored with this very unusual and very effective zither music accentuating the pulse of the film.

 

The realism could not be any better than what we are seeing with this burnt and bombed out vision of Vienna.  This would have been next to impossible to replicate on a sound stage.  You know this is the real deal.  And the sewer scenes complete with swarms of rats (you've got to see this on the big screen!) multiple arches, chambers, shadows galore...and you can almost smell it (as Bernard Lee says, "Sweet isn't it?").  I haven't checked lately but I know a number of years ago that was one of Vienna's most popular tourist attractions, and of course, the cemetery!  I believe Carol Reed raised the bar with this one by using tried and true film techniques and inventing many of his own not to mention working so close with his actors and cinematographer Robert Krasker.   

          

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The cat should have been in the credits as it was pivotal in the movie. Harry! meow/purrrrrr. The Third Man is revealed. This movie is one of my favorite film noirs. It incorporates all the elements, especially the music, though not really jazz. Even though it was an English movie, can it be considered an "A"? The star power is certainly there.

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The camera angles were almost surreal and made the whole scene frustrating, in the truest and earliest sense of the word (the uneasiness felt by viewing odd angles like a "frustrated" cone or triangle (a triangle with one end lopped off forming a parallelogram with awkwardly sloping sides)). Coupled with the already-odd angles and slopes of the streets and buildings, it reminded me of a real-life Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

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My vote for the greatest onscreen introduction of all time - this goosebump inducing scene never fails to evoke the shadowy mystery of film noir at its finest. Reed appropriately enough does his Orson Welles impression behind the camera as the actor's menacing charisma brings the acting end of this thing home.

 

Of course, the real story here is the visual expertise of the director and cinematographer Robert Krasker.

Evoking, as someone has already mentioned, the Paul Schrader checklist of noir, this scene has all the shadows and Dutch angles you could hope for. I think that even without the storyline in mind, one can understand the sheer power of the imagery in this scene. A hell of a movie, and one I'm excited to revisit tomorrow.

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i first watch THE THIRD MAN when i was very young, shortly after I was astounded by CITIZEN KANE. I kept thinking, "isn't Orson Welles the star?"

 

Knowing this, I will try to be objective and answer the questions only from viewing this particular clip.

 

Harry Lime's entrance is effective, because he's hiding in the shadows. We understand from Martins' dialogue that he is being followed by the man in the shadows. It is obvious that Martins is inebriated, and dares not try to chase down his follower. It is only his loud, brash voice that awakens the residents of the area who turn on their lights to expose his stalker, Harry Lime. As his face is revealed, we also hear the lighthearted, bouncy theme from Anton Karas. Lime then shoots off that trademark Welles grin that lets us know he's been involved in all the events that have led up to this moment.

 

I've never been to Vienna, nor am I familiar with what the post-war city was like. However, I imagine it's a realistic impression of the city because you see very few people in the streets at night. People were probably still afraid to be caught at night, and the survival skill became a habit. Thus, the streets are empty except for the lone vehicle, and the police that Martins later calls. The formalistic aspects of this scene are obviously the Dutch angles used to create a sense of vertigo and unease, and also perhaps to enhance Martins' drunkeness and put the viewer in his shoes. These same angles also elongate the peaks of the buildings in mammoth, foreboding proportions. We do notice that once Martins recognizes Lime, he sobers up a bit, and the camera straightens itself out for a flat view of the city. The use of shadows and light is also an artistic addition, used to enhance the mood.

 

This has always been one of my favorite noir films. I believe it added to the genre in the way it was able to create mood in such a short amount of time, without leaving a feeling of the film being rushed. It showed other filmmakers how efficient a film can be without sacrificing atmosphere, lighting, and shadows.

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As wonderful as the scene is, as has been pointed out by the many respondents and I add my own appreciation of it, I regret that it was chosen as one of the daily darkness film clips. I remember seeing "The Third Man" as a nine-year-old and being astounded by the fact that Harry Lime was still alive. I have since seen the film many times and screened it for many friends, children and grandchildren who were astounded by Harry's appearance. The clip chosen is a spoiler; a scene that I fear will ruin much of this brilliant film to newcomers. Although few other scenes were as impressive as the chosen clip others would have sufficed for purposes of this  course, e.g., the bouncing ball at the scene of the murder of the janitor, Holly's terrifying cab ride, or the bird in the cage; all would have been reasonable alternates. The only thing worse would have been to choose the Ferris Wheel scene in which all Harry's charisma is on display. I feel sorry for the class members who looked at the assigned clip but haven't seen the whole movie from the beginning.

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-- What makes Lime's "entrance" so effective:

 

Where to begin? Is there a more effective entrance in a film noir? I'm tempted to say it's Orson Welles that makes Lime's entrance so effective, so I will. Lime comes out of the shadows literally and figuratively, and the noir elements in this scene come together perfectly: he is framed in an archway and in the shadows of the window pane; his face is illuminated suddenly as the camera pulls in to a closeup; and best of all, we are reminded of the nefarious car accident as Cotten is himself nearly run over in the same spot Lime was supposedly killed. The zither swells, the woman's angry voice and her light puncture the night and Lime's cover, Welles smirks, and we're hooked.

 

-- How the scene is both deeply realistic and highly formalistic:

 

I'm always impressed with the crispness of the film quality in The Third Man, especially in the night scenes. Every wet cobblestone is visible, every edge of paper; there is an incredible amount of visual and audial detail. The sound is crisp; the scraping and pounding of shoes on pavement is especially (and appropriately) heightened. The on-location shooting and depiction of Vienna as a nearly empty, soulless shell of a city are just two more elements of realism, but I especially like the dialogue and expressiveness of the actors. (This also is true in the rest of the film; the female lead is perfectly soft, sad and burdened; Cotten's character perfectly confused, determined, and crestfallen). Even the woman leaning and scolding out of her window is true to life, and the omission of captions underscores her authenticity (this too adds to the unnerving atmosphere; few things are as disconcerting as hearing German spoken angrily).

 

There is little to add to the curator's evaluation of TTM's "dazzling display of formalist techniques: distorted angles, tilted cameras, zither music, low-key lighting, and one highly noticeable key light." The oft-lauded zither music is virtually a character itself, and lends more strangeness to the mood (it is so loud it can't be ignored, or in any way mistaken for background music; it gets into our heads and under our skin, as though if we were involved in as bizarre a situation as Cotten finds himself, we'd have that crazy music playing over and over in our brains, too). Meanwhile, Welles' character's death to life switch is a compelling twist on the typical noir flashback.

 

-- Ways this scene can be considered an important contribution to the film noir style:

 

I think The Third Man is one of the very best examples of film noir, period, and thus is itself arguably the most important contribution. That a British film made such an impact, and Reed made such good use of resources available to him on both sides of the pond, is both impressive and significant (think here of how TTM exemplifies the "heist" metaphor we've been using throughout the course). The collaborative nature of the project, including but not limited to the use of high profile American actors and producer, a British director, and an Australian cinematographer and filming in both Britain and Vienna underscores the importance of production in the making of a brilliant noir piece.

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 The clip chosen is a spoiler; a scene that I fear will ruin much of this brilliant film to newcomers. 

I don't know. I saw this film when i was rather young and was astounded by the appearance of Lime. Everytime I see a repeat viewing, this scene always gets me, no matter how often i see it. Good movies can't be ruined by spoilers, because there's so much else to see other than just the great reveal.

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This is the only film this week where one character starts out alone and then calls out for someone else. Cotten wanders down the streetcalling for someone who he thinks is following him. We do not know who or why. We see a cut to a pair of shoes and a cat. (I am interpreting this to mean we are playing a game of "cat and mouse". When we finally see Welles' face, it is spotlighted. It is the only thing in the frame that is not dark. There is no pan like with Turner's entrance. It's the complete opposite of Kathi coming in from the sun, as he is shrouded by darkness. He has a smirk on his face, letting me know he already knows Cotten. (Later confirmed by Cotten himself). It is also worth noting this is the only clip this week void of conversation between the two characters but not communication. There is no verbal sparring like we had with Lorre and Greenstreet. But Welles says it all with his face. The game is already afoot -even if Cotten isn't aware he is being played.

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I completely agree with you in how Reed chose to introduce Harry Lime to the audience. Having him lurk in the shadows with a cat and then have a spotlight shine on him, quite literally, is genius. The cat is also a nice touch as well; I can't help but think of that comedic stereotype of "villains" in certain films in that they have cats. But Lime's entrance actually reminds me a bit of Gene Tierney's entrance in Laura in that both characters are supposed to be dead but are, in fact, very much alive. 

 

This really is a fantastic scene in a fantastic movie. I'm a huge Joseph Cotten fan and think this film is his finest performance, other than in Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt.

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Harry Lime is like a cat, a very good analogy to his character. The cat sites there nonchalantly licking his/her paw with no care in the world. This seems to be the personality of Harry, even though we know he is a true villain. The light on his face shows him for the beauty he is, and he seems to relish the discovery that Joseph Cotton catches fleetingly. Once he is back in the darkness, he takes off like a cat in the night.

 

(I must admit, though, Shadow of a Doubt was one of his better roles as was Niagra.)

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I have never heard of this movie before and I am looking forward to seeing it. Lots of stylistic cinematography and the noir shapes and angles that are so regular in the films.

 

Harry's entrance is effective because of the subtlety of it. With earlier comments talking about how the cat only liked him it's a hint for the viewers and then when he's revealed its from a light from the old lady. He doesn't say a word. It allows the viewer the shock and time to collect themselves after. Then as quick as we see him he's gone.

 

The film has very realistic elements with the setting and backdrop but one bit that seemed formalistic to me was the perfect timing of the vehicle to continue the story. The streets are completely abandoned and right as the man is about to confront the 'ghost' as car stops him and allows for the get away of Harry.

 

Mark

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

 

To me, I believe the things that make Orson Welles’ “entrance” as Harry Lime so effective in this sequence is the build up in suspense before his face is revealed from the shadows.

 

The first glimpse we see of his character is just an outline of his legs and his polished black shoes with a cat between them after Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) yells, “Cat got your tongue”.

 

Which I believe adds a comical yet ironic layer to the scene because of Harry Lime’s shoes and the cat that is grooming its paw between his shoes.

 

As Holly Martins continues to yell for the unknown person to reveal himself, a woman upstairs turn on her light revealing an almost side view of only Harry Lime’s face in the shadows. Which seems unexpected to Orson Welles’ character.

 

Harry Lime looks at Holly Martins for a brief second and Holly Martins looks back at him in total shock. They keep this exchange going for a brief moment before the angry woman from upstairs scolds Holly Martins for his yelling.

 

To which, Orson Welles is sheepishly amused with a grin as the camera zooms in on his face. Then he grins a little more like “Yeah… it’s me. You got me!”

 

When Holly Martins realizes that it’s Harry, Orson Welles grins again like “You should the look on your face.” Then the camera cuts back to the angry woman upstairs again as she continues to scold Holly Martins before closing her window.

 

After that, Orson Welles grins again like the Cheshire Cat then his face disappears in the blink of an eye much like the Cheshire Cat only leaving the audience with his iconic grin in mind.

 

To which only Alice in wonderland could remark and agree that she has often seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a cat.

 

As Holly Martins approaches where he saw Harry, he is almost hit by a car. After a few moments, he regains his train of thought and hears someone running away.

 

He follows the sound to see what he believes is Harry’s shadow then gives chase only be left without a clue to Harry’s whereabouts again.

 

He washes his face in a nearby fountain as if to say “was it all a dream”.

 

When he returns with two military officers and they discover where Harry could of disappeared to, one of the officers exclaims “… It wasn’t the German Gin” as if to say “I believe Holly now and it wasn’t his mind playing tricks on him or a drunken mirage."

 

I believe that all of these elements make the “entrance” of Orson Welles and his character for the story very dynamic.

 

  • 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).

 

To me, I believe that this scene is deeply realistic in its depiction of a war-torn Vienna because I felt it illustrates how the area was filled with paranoia and espionage after the war.

 

In addition to this, I also felt that having two military officers investigate Holly’s claims also added a sense of realism to the depiction of a war-torn Vienna.

 

In regard to the scene being highly formalistic, I believe that the music for the sequence also adds another formalistic layer to sequence because it seems to be playing as a musical score to Holly’s thought process as he sees the appearing and disappearing Harry Lime.

 

Aside from all of the various non-realistic camera and lighting techniques in this sequence that I described in the first question, I felt that the music added a deeper meaning to the scene.

 

I believe that this was the director’s attempt at playing with the audience’s perception of the scene and experimenting with psychoacoustics.

 

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

 

To me, I believe that this scene from The Third Man can be considered an important contribution to the film noir style because it not only experiments with various elements found in the film noir style but it also shows that a film can play with the psychological responses of the characters in the film and the audience watching the film as well.

 

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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.

 

Mom of 4 Great Ones - according to an intro to the film done by Peter Bogdanovich on the Criterion issue, Welles said he didn't involve himself too much.  Apparently he wrote the dialogue about the Swiss and cuckoo clocks but otherwise held back believing the Reed knew exactly what he was doing.

 

-Mark

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Harry Lime of The Third Man fame literally pops out of the deep shadows, from a noir-drenched doorway and into our collective consciousness after more than half of this masterpiece is done.  Few entrances are as simple, but the set-up of quick-canted angle shots, the rising zither music, and damp streets are juxtaposed against Joseph Cotton’s sloppy speech and staggered movements,  fusing the realist-formalistic approach of this iconic scene. Orson Welles gives us one faintly cynical smile and dissolves back into the darkness.  This classic moment could - and does - easily top any list of Favorite Film Noir Entrances. 


The introduction of a score composed entirely around zither music, by Anton Karas, immediately indentifies the foreign locale.  A stringed instrument popular in Austian and German folk music, the zither had the additional distinction of being the only muscial instrument used in The Third Man (a distinction that I could live without, thank you).  It’s probably the most effective use of music in establishing a location, as the score alone makes us think of european waltzes without ever realizing it.  If we didn’t pick up on that clue then there’s always the kiosk in the center of a cobblestoned square, something that a European tourist frequently encounters.  


By the time Harry Lime appears I’m ready to take that instrument and knock out Joseph Cotton’s indealistic character, Holly Martins (what a name!).  But Welles souless monologue at the ferris wheel goes a long way in soothing my tortured nerves.  What a noir!


 

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This scene is one of the most compelling and spectacular character entrances in all moviedom. There is no "poetic" in the realism of postwar Vienna but the canted angles and high contrast images make it look like something from a dream. Into this nighttime dreamscape comes an open window and a woman nattering in German (love that the characters speak German in this movie) and light falls to reveal the devil himself hiding in a doorway. He has a cat pausing comfortably at his feet (symbology: cats are evil even little kittens) while he gives us almost an amused sneer. The high contrast light and dark carves out Mr Welles gorgeous face in high relief: the evil exposed; the light from the ordinary world shining right on him. And in an instant, this ephemeral vision is gone. Like the devil himself he disappears to make the witness look a fool. This is a classic instance of formalism: he is a man standing in a doorway, but he is wickedness incarnate in that one instance.

 

 

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The first view of Harry Lime in "The Third Man" is one of my absolute favorite sequences in movies (perhaps second only to the final shots of "City Lights").

 

Where to start with this iconic scene? We are clearly on the actual streets of Vienna, as we are throughout the film, often seeing the massive destruction caused by the war. But in the midst of these realistic settings we are given incredibly skewed camera angles, lighting from impossible sources, throwing increasingly weird shadows. These are noir standbys that we have seen in other pictures, but never pushed as far as they are here, yet they never seem forced. These effects may be patently unrealistic (note how there appears to be a light source from the far side of the archway casting shadows, but once we've passed through the arch there is no such source on the other side) yet they perfectly reflect how the naive American, Holly Martins, finds himself completely unable to understand the complexities of this world. In this starkly black and white world, oddly enough, nothing is black and white.

 

And that reveal! A mysterious stranger in the doorway, a sudden shaft of light, and there's the supposedly dead Harry Lime. As much to the audience as to Holly, he can't resist giving that slightly smirking smile. It's a brilliant piece of acting by Welles.

 

But don't forget the whole setup of this scene, and the masterfulness of the film as a whole has to be credited to its director, the great Carol Reed. He needn't have done anything else to insure his place in film history, but the more of his work I see (especially from this period) the more impressed I am.

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...There is no pan like with Turner's entrance. It's the complete opposite of Kathi coming in from the sun, as he is shrouded by darkness...

Excellent point.  In fact, Harry Lime doesn't enter at all.  He's there, in the shadows, as he has been throughout the film.  

 

In terms of one of the questions, I think the city of Vienna cooperates very nicely in helping to blur the line between realism and formalism.  The geometric patterns in the cobblestoned streets, the angles of the streets, the patterns of the facades.  Add in the stark lighting, and you've got a formalistic look created by a realistic scene.  

 

And speaking of lighting, it's always bothered me that Harry Lime's reveal contravenes the laws of physics — there's just no way light from a window directly above Harry would curve around to illuminate only Harry's face.  Is this the director taking advantage of the audience's suspension of disbelief, or is he directly letting us know that we're in a formalistic, unrealistic world?

 

And I never thought of this as film noir.  No relentless descent into darkness, no femme fatale, etc.  Stylistically, there's a beautiful use of light and shadow, and wonderfully framed angled shots, but is that enough to call The Third Manfilm noir?

 

[i apologize if a substantially similar post duplicates this one.  I had problems with the mechanics of posting.]

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The Third Man is not only one of the best film noirs of all time, but also one of the greatest movies of all time as The Working Dead pointed out. I really need to get the Criterion DVD for this.

Good call!  You'll find some of the Criterion extras includes an introduction by Peter Bogdanovich sharing some of his points of conversations with Orson Welles, abridged recording of Graham Greene's treatment read by Richard Clarke, documentary footage of the real "sewer police of Vienna", trailers and more...you'll love it! 

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The clip from The Third Man first reminds me of the quiet and empty streets late at night of an Edward Hopper painting, juxtaposed against the loudest ever Salvador Dali music imaginable. We have Cotton's character yelling at the top of his lungs for this tailer of his to reveal himself, using all sorts of bullying calls from "Cat got your tongue?" to childhood chants, "Come out come out whoever you are". He is so desperate, he has found himself reduced to this immature yelling, and in the middle of the night no less, which leads to the lady up in the window (who is angry for being woken up with these rants) to investigate this disturbing behavior.

Enter Welles. He has been hiding in the dark shadowy doorway (tilted in the camera angle) this entire time. We see him at a distance at first, much like Greenstreet in Mask of Dimitrios, and Kathie in Out of the Past, yet he is still and stays at the doorway, which is more like Lana Turner's character in The Postman Always Rings Twice. When the lady turns on the light and opens her window, his face is in high key lighting, perfectly illuminated, right on the spot, within the dark night, finally revealing his identity. The camera even pulls in for the closer then closer look just to make sure we know. He smirks. But what do we hear of Welles's character? What does he have to say for himself? His response? Not a SINGLE word. After all this yelling, absolute silence.

We feel as if we have been outsmarted when Cotten chases him through the night only to lose him in the most illuminated spot (back lit) in the middle of this courtyard. Looking at the clip a second time, I can't help but feel, "How did I not know where he went?" The lighting is telling us! The lighting is telling us! It is so beautiful too, with each of the cobble stones catching a kiss of this light from a slightly different spot. It's like a presence of many and a presence of none. All of this is also mirrored in the opposites observed earlier in the quiet within the noise of the night. The out of control loud character balancing the mute elusive one. And the cat, both black and white, is the only softness in this stone-like setting that echoes each and every footstep, still clicking and clacking in our ears.

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Cotton's character is supposed to be looking for Lime (Welles), but instead it is the other way around in this scene and more actually. The effectiveness of Welles' entrance into this scene has more to do with the staging, lighting, and the set-up, rather than just Wells himself. He does little, but that's what is amazing about Welles, he can really act, and so effortlessly. Welles' character doesn't let the fact that the apartment light has given him up phase him a bit. However, I have to say that it really has to do with all the build up. Compared to American film making, there is no shortage of tilt shots, dramatic low key lights strategically placed and shot like a classic John Alton. In fact, if you consider the design of the framing and staging, it truly shows how European Art, be it graphic design, painting, or fine Art really understood the concept of, "the greater the difference the greater the difference will seem" meaning that the extremism in the Direction of Photography lends itself to more than just a nod or testament to the American influences, but that Europeans could do quite well, very well. And I love how the content of these films were so global and included commentary about the political demeanor of many countries as a sort of historical record.    

 

I am more interested in how much Welles had to do with this films direction and photography as a younger actor due to the similarities in his later film, Touch of Evil. The similarities in staging, camera work and set-up are so close in comparison. Was he involved? 

 

I have to say a word about the soundtrack. I love the madness that is created. Welles' movies tend to always include a sort of distracting or slightly annoying noisiness that accompanies certain scenes. Anton Karas' score is quite appropriate. Mildly maddening, almost circus like, but whimsical and not too serious. This fits the atmosphere of the chase as they pursue Lime throughout the movie, and Cotton's character is sort of made a fool of throughout. To compare, you could take a look at the scene in Journey into Fear, in which Cotton first meets Colonel Haki (Welles). Haki sits listening to the morse code coming over the wire while Cotton is trying to speak to Haki's assistant. The chaos of multitasking in both of these films is very much in line with the sense of realism. Real life doesn't work in perfect back and forth dialogue without distraction, and  Welles films always have people overlapping their conversation and interrupting each other. 

 

Speaking of another similarity, in both Journey into Fear and The Third Man, Cotton plays a character that is out of his element, and a potential victim of circumstance; a man somehow caught up in international espionage trying to figure out who the good guys are. I believe a lot of the psychology of the sound use in all the films I have mentioned are a testament to the reality of the non-stop barrage of bombing, gunfire, air raid sirens, etc. that were such a terrifying and scarring experience for both the people in the cities and the soldiers. The realism is also amplified by the curfew that Cotton's character disregards. The city is desolate and he is ridiculed by the awaken woman who ends up uncovering Lime... with a light....

 

There isn't a flashback here, but you get the idea that Cotton is getting pretty frustrated. He seemed drunk at the beginning of the scene as he basically confronts the follower. The madness is amplified as Lime escapes, and Cotton can't imagine where he could have gone. Only the statues in the square would know that as he splashes his face with water to try to sober up or wake up from the dream. 

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