This Is a Blog: Kris and Adam Discuss AFI's Top 100: The Third Man

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kris and Adam Discuss AFI's Top 100: The Third Man

Kris Jenson, with whom I've had the best discussions of my life, is an old friend of mine from Boston. We are both finishing off the American Film Institute's Top 100 and writing joint reviews and thoughts as we go. Before you read my response, go read his review at The Daily Fanboy.

"The Third Man"

Conventional is probably the perfect word to describe this movie. It's no doubt imbued with the undeniable artistic insight of Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, and Graham Greene, but this movie feels like high end run of the mill, as opposed to the greatness of “Citizen Kane" or “Touch of Evil." I know it's unfair to compare these films when this one wasn't directed by Welles, but it's impossible to see Cotton and Welles on screen and not immediately think of “Kane." It's telling that when AFI updated the list in 2007, this was one of the films removed. It's clearly worth consideration, but its greatness is debatable.

Having said that, I always have fond memories of this movie. Unlike Kris, I've had the benefit of multiple viewings, and the dullness of the first half gets better when you know what's coming. There is a hell of a lot going on, and when you're not staring at your watch, it's easier to focus on all of it. What especially helps is the awesome score. Composer Anton Zaras punctuates the whole thing one, single instrument, a zither. I don't even know what a zither is, but whenever I hear it played in any other context, my thoughts immediately turn to “The Third Man."

Overall, this movie is what I'd imagine a Jackson Pollack's work would look like if he suddenly switched to doing portraits. It would have the mark of a Pollack and the brilliance of a Pollack, but at the end of the day, it's just a portrait. Everyone finds portrait painting as dull as I do, right?

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