Friday, June 17, 2011

Nick James Masterclass on The Third Man

GB 1949. The Cinema Mondo print of the 1999 re-release version with Finnish / Swedish subtitles. Sampled at Cinema Lapinsuu, Sodankylä (Midnight Sun Film Festival), 17 June 2011.

Nick James gave us comprehensive coverage (I missed parts of it) of the many aspects of The Third Man, that "film about a dead man made by spies". We got the historical background of the situation in Vienna and remarks on the anti-romantic urge of the film and Carol Reed's obsession with the theme of the man on the run. Selznick supplied the stars but Korda had the power to say no. Greene disliked all the movies based on his work except this one. Nick James made the connection to the British spirit movies, introduced us to the international cast, reminded us about Graham Greene's lifelong friendship with Kim Philby, and praised the detail, the speed and the constant sense of irony in the picture.

The Third Man is my candidate for the most brilliant black and white cinematography ever (Robert Krasker). This 1999 re-release version is ok but the brilliance is missing. My most memorable experience of it is a nitrate sample screening at the National Film Theatre.

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