Hey, There Aren’t Any Robots in This! #2

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Ok, so a main character did play a planet eating robot later, but get off my back!

A classic noir piece from 1949 directed by Carol Reed, The Third Man stars Joseph Cotton, Orson Welles, Valli, and Trevor Howard, with a smaller role for Bernard Lee, the man most of us remember best as M in the early James Bond movies.

The film is set in post-war Vienna, which has been divided by the allies (USA, France, Great Britain, and USSR) into four individually controlled zones and one under joint control. The black market is the place to go for almost anything, and a smart racketeer can make a killing. Out of work author Holly Martins (Cotton) arrives in Vienna to take a job with old friend Harry Lime (Welles).

Upon arriving at his friend’s apartment, Martins learns that Lime was killed in an accident a few days earlier. Curious about the accident, Martins begins his own investigation, where he meets and falls for Lime’s ex Anna (Valli), and deals with a callous police official Major Calloway (Howard). When the accounts of witnesses and the police don’t match up, Martins’ search for the truth unravels the mystery surrounding Lime’s death and ultimately the truth about his life.

The simplest way I can state how I feel about the film is this: The Third Man was rated one of AFI’s top 10 crime films for a reason. The plot is great. The movie is well paced, never dwelling too long on any one scene. The use of shadows was genius; at times obfuscating, other times completely illuminating. The score was done entirely on the zither, used to give an accurate portrayal of post-war Austrian music. I’ve got to say, the music was different but worked in 90% of the film for me, barring a few tense scenes where it felt out of place to me – it was more like the music from Super Mario Sunshine. Cotton, Valli, and Howard were all very solid performers, but it wasn’t until the man himself took the screen that I decided I really liked the movie. I know he was one of the best actors of the 20th century, but I’d only really experienced Orson Welles as Unicron so I didn’t know what to expect. Let’s just say that everything he touched in is now in my Netflix queue.

Bottom line: it’s streaming on Netflix, so watch it. Welles’ too-short performance is electric. It’s worth seeing solely to hear his “cuckoo clock” line, and the monologue that precedes it.

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