Jumat, 02 Januari 2009

The Third Man [Blu-ray]

The Third Man [Blu-ray]Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, black-market opportunist Harry Lime and thus begins this legendary tale of love, deception, and murder. Thanks to brilliant performances by Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, and Orson Welles; Anton Karas s evocative zither score; Graham Greene s razor-sharp dialogue; and Robert Krasker s dramatic use of light and shadow, The Third Man, directed by the inimitable Carol Reed, just continues to grow in stature as the years pass.

Restored high-definition digital transfer
Uncompressed mono soundtrack
Video introduction by writer-director Peter Bogdanovich
Two audio commentaries: one by filmmaker Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Tony Gilroy, and one by by film scholar Dana Polan
Shadowing The Third Man (2005), a ninety-minute feature documentary on the making of the film
Abridged recording of Graham Greene s treatment, read by actor Richard Clarke
Graham Greene: The Hunted Man, an hour-long, 1968 episode of the BBC s Omnibus series, featuring a rare interview with the novelist
Who Was the Third Man? (2000), a thirty-minute Austrian documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew
The Third Man on the radio: the 1951 A Ticket to Tangiers episode of The Lives of Harry Lime series, written and performed by Orson Welles, and the 1951 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of The Third Man
Illustrated production history with rare behind-the-scenes photos, original UK press book, and U.S. trailer
Actor Joseph Cotten s alternate opening voice-over narration for the U.S. version
Archival footage of postwar Vienna
A look at the untranslated foreign dialogue in the film
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by Luc Sante

Customer Review: Overbearing and Underwhelming.

For me, a film like "The Third Man" is the kind of experience that makes me deride the techniques of so-called "film noir". It is loaded with melodramatic camera angles, stark lighting, blaring music, and needlessly vague characterizations. It is so assured of its mysterious, bewitching power that scenes just kind of limp about the screen with no real emotion. And worse still are the flat to annoying performances of Cotten, Welles, Howard, and whomever played the female lead.

Yes, it was shot in Vienna in the 40s and as such has a lot of eye-candy to gawk at. The incessant zither music and odd characters are mildly amusing for the first hour -- but where things take a turn for the worse is when the sleuthing and romance fail to ignite any flames in the second half. And once Welles finally arrives the film descends into contrived set pieces and a hollow, pompous conclusion.

Carol Reed spends the majority of his time on a multitude of awkward, unsatisfying encounters -- but then never delivers on their promise. The creepy violinist never gets a decent scene. Neither does the doctor. And when Holly Martin finally gets his big chance to have a very human, comedic interplay in front of a nascent culture club, the director cuts away only to then conclude the episode with a fizzle. Compare it to Robert Donat's similar scene in The 39 steps!

But as I mentioned before, the real irritant is Lime himself, acted by Orson Welles with his usual scene-chewing and hamminess. That combined with the loser of a romance story and a dull mystery makes The Third Man one of the most overrated entries in all of "classic cinema". #1 on the BFI list of best British films of all time? I'll take Brief Encounter any day over this.

Also, the Blu-Ray does not look much if any better than a standard-def DVD. I enjoyed watching the gorgeous new release of Casablanca much more on every level.

Customer Review: Is Blu-ray always better?

Is Blu-Ray always better? Maybe not. I enjoyed the DVD version more. On the Blu-ray version I was constantly distracted by the tremendous amount of film grain in the picture. The movie was hard to watch because of that. The high definition became a drawback since every fault in the film became exagerated. The DVD version provided a better viewing experience.
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