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The Third Man (1949)

July 23, 2009

9/10 Cuckoo Clocks

Might sound corny, but it’s too bad they don’t make movies like this anymore.

The Third Man is about a hack novelist that goes to Vienna to meet up with an old friend, only to find out upon his arrival that his friend kicked the bucket the day prior after getting hit by a car outside his apartment. So rather than book it home to the States, the novelist starts up his own investigation to find out what really happened to his friend and why someone would want him dead.

Sounds like trouble’s a-brewin’ in Vienna again.

I’ve had this movie on my Netflix queue for a while now but finally decided to give it a look after hearing it was Jack White’s favorite movie. Is that strange? Nonetheless, it’s an awesome movie.

So I’m just gonna go ahead and get on the soapbox now. Wanted to give you the heads up.

We live in a world where movies are judged by how A.D.D.-friendly they are, where the most financially successful blockbusters are the ones with the most explosions that require the least amount of thought. With that said, it’s damn refreshing and bittersweet to watch a great movie from a time when filmmakers just cared about good storytelling through good filmmaking.

Film noir is unfortunately a dying genre and,  you know what, that really sucks. Some of the best movies of all time are film noir and with the exception of a strong handful that were mostly done by the Cohen brothers, the cream of the crop were all made before 1960. The most film-noir-y movie I can think of in recent memory that tried to reboot the genre was Sin City, and that was more like a snuff film if anything.

I don’t get what’s unappealing about a movie like this. Murder, mystery, romance, a freaking awesome cast that make being cool look like second nature, a great story that requires you to think and keeps you guessing, and an awesome, awesome score that kept reminding me of that great montage scene in Snatch where Boris the Blade gets hit by the car while cheery gypsy music plays in the background (might be overstepping my bounds here, but that’s what came to mind).

This is a dark movie (“dark movie” = “film noir” – good one, Aiden) that’s not really aiming to cheer anyone up in the least, but I couldn’t help but smile the whole time I was watching it. It’s just a fun time and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

Look, there’s something here for everyone, movie buff or not. Just because it’s not in color doesn’t mean that it’s boring.

The Third Man is also a great reminder that Orson Welles was the freakin’ man. This is pre-boozehound/morbidly obese/hobo beard Welles we’re talking about and the screen literally lights up when he first appears. All the actors in this movie are great, but he hands-down steals the show. Come on, it’s Orson Welles. The guy was movies.

I hear this movie gets shown a lot in film classes and I’m not all that surprised. The Third Man is as good as you’ve always heard it was, and if you’ve never heard of it, no better time than the present to take a trip back to a time when movies didn’t the run the risk of giving you epilepsy.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2009 1:10 pm

    Awesome flick … I need to get my noir on again soon. Maybe in the winter when I’m not content with taking advantage of the weather.

    • Aiden R permalink*
      July 27, 2009 10:38 pm

      Yeah man, really good movie. Gotta watch more of these myself. Word to your mother.

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