Friday, October 22, 2010
The Third Man
This is a dark, steamy, cynical noire thriller set in post WW2 Vienna. It is based on a novel by Graham Greene. Orson Welles is Harry Grimes an American expatriate who over the years has changed into an inhuman criminal, making his fortune out of spurious drugs. Orson Welles excels at portraying the dark side of human nature and here gives a charismatic portrayal as the leering, indifferent and hardened villain.
It is the extra-ordinary cinematography that remains in the mind. Another is the haunting musical score, comprising nothing beyond the strings of a zither, whose blunt strains perfectly capture and comprise the alienated world of this bizarre film. The camera tilts and veers and the off vertical streets and walls totter in a process of fragmentation. The film is shot on location, largely at night in a city where the scars of the air raids remain like sores on a body. The film climaxes in an iconic drama in the underground sewers which the Welles character has made his habitat and where he gives his pursuants a long run for their money. The last is a stylish scene of bitter separation on a lonely road lined on either side with avenues of decapitated trees.