|Title:||The Third Man|
|08.20.07||Paramount|| So this movie... for whatever reason... causes me dismay. Over repeated viewings I've grown to really admire it (although the first time I saw it I wasn't too into it. I wanted it to be more Hitchcockian than it is), but part of me still refuses to dive into the "i LOVE IT!" pool. I'm not sure I know exactly why that is but I have a few guesses. Anyway, the net effect is that tonight I liked Fallen Idol more, but it was good to see this on the big screen anyway.|
I think the main reason why I can't get 100% into this movie is also the reason why so many people do, namely the anti-protagonist nature of Holly Martins. He spends the entire movie one step behind, one clue short, and one motivation shy of taking any active part in the story at all. I watch it and still kind of wonder why he's even there, why he stays at all when all of this stuff clearly has nothing to do with him. I suppose it's a noir equivalent of the family staying in the haunted house after the walls bleed or a demon voice tells them to GET OUT.
And you know, as I type it out, it sounds like a cool angle! Because you get to follow along and see just the edges of this unfolding story that's clearly between someone else... That's really how I experience most of the drama in my life... I'm almost never directly involved but I'll hear about a fight or some tension or whatever between two other people from all of their friends talking to me or you get different nuggets from different people across time and even though it has nothing to do with me, it's still interesting. Kind of like gossip but with murder. Sounds pretty cool, so why doesn't it work for me?
Perhaps another reason is the sheer density of the plot. To me, there are a lot of characters that pop in and out throughout the film and everybody talks about everybody else so it's a lot of names to keep track of faces and then there's the whole penicillin thing and Harry Lime's reputation and this semi-mystery of how he died which ultimately proves meaningless. It's really a relief for me when Orson Welles appears on the screen because it means we'll FINALLY get some progression to the story. I do really like Welles' performance here. He always appears like a superhero or something, confident look on his face coming out of nowhere, in complete control of his surroundings. And yet he plays so you can see his mind working. In the ferris wheel scene and later when he meets with Holly and the girl tells him there are cops everywhere, he flashes on murdering his childhood friend in a sociopathic instant until circumstances make that unwise and he pops back to friendly "old man" chums. It's really only those few moments where you really buy him as the bad guy in the movie, and they're really all in Welles' performance.
So I don't know. This is a clear case of the movie being undeniably great and me just not loving it as much as I feel I should. I certainly don't dislike it (hey, I own the DVD)... who knows.