Mon, 1 August 2005
As they discuss "The Third Man," starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten, Shannon and Richard debate whether film noir is a "style" or a "genre." As a style many of its visual features can be adapted to other genres (war films, westerns). If it is a genre such adaptations are problematic, for "noir" has recognizable themes. Richard and Shannon have a lively debate over these definitions, and the question, "is 'The Third Man' a film noir?" Their different answers lead to very different assessments of the film. This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards of www.noircast.net. To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" at outofthepast.libsyn.com/
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Have to agree with everything the above two posters say on this film; also the comments you make about it\'s dim view of the American characters are way off when one considers that both Lime and Martins are British in the original novella and the change in nationality was purely a cosmetic one at the behest of it\'s U.S financiers.
This is not only Film Noir, but Top 5 Film Noir. Martins is living in a Black and White world in America, writing simplistic Westerns with Good Guy Bad Guy Themes. He enters the films world of moral ambiguity and shades of Grey when he is introduced to the characters and enters the world of this film. He is a foreigner like us the viewer. The film has multiple boundary crossings as 4 countries intersect at this area in Vienna. And as we cross boundaries pertaining to morality. Western Culture at it\'s highest in Europe has collapsed and the buildings collapsed reflect this. I think when we try to be purist and attempt to include and exclude and catorgorize everything. The genre itself becomes formulaic. Fringe films of the film noir are still part of the genre, they are just on the fringe. \'The Third Man\' and \'Ace in the Hole\' are prime examples of two of the best. Great Show
Sorry wanted to jot off a quick note. Love your show, keep up the great work. Though I do want to take issue with your third episode that I\\\\\\\'ve just listened to via podcast. The one about THE THIRD MAN. Without a doubt THE THIRD MAN is clearly film noir. And the argument that the movie is not film noir because it is too clearly Black and White, too clearly good and evil, with no gradiations of right and wrong is to miss the bulk of the film, the heart of the film. Which is about the good and evil of Harry Lime, and determining which is the real Harry Lime of the many we are introduced to throughout the Film? His girlfriend explains it best, to an angry Holly Martin, feeling betrayed by the friend he loved... \\\\\\\"He was a man, not a character in your book, and men are both good and bad\\\\\\\".[to badly paraphrase her] So to call the movie Black and White, is to completely have not gotten the movie. It is about that young man of promise, Harry Lime, the young man of Holly\\\\\\\'s memories, who you get to know only through the recollections of his best friend, of the girl who loved him, of the people who knew him, and the police who chase him. Very much via hearsay is the soul of Harry Lime layed bare, examined, fought for. And you get the idea, in that Ferris Wheel, far above a broken city, that it is a war that the glib, always acting, Harry Lime... fights still. An absolute evil character? No. A flawed character? yes. One who is not redeemed... perhaps. But the whole movie is about his redemption, and though it is a redemption fought via proxy, through Martin, it does not change the fact that it is fought. So on that point, the point of the Third Man not fitting into the already manufactured and retrofitted labeling of Film Noir because it is not grey enough; I have to take issue. There has never been a movie more grey. And secondly the point that film noir requires a European director with an American writer to be film noir is again simplistic and wrong. Since the ultimate Film Noir Director, all due praise to the Germans... Siodmak and Lang, was Anthony Mann. A Californian born and bred. So, when people want to place these hard and fast rules on what is and is not Film Noir, you have to remember that none of them really are. That is to say they weren\\\\\\\'t created with this concept of film noir in mind. It\\\\\\\'s necessary to say that any designation of Film Noir, on any movie pre 1950 is very much a hindsight judgement. Since film noir is a Johnny Come lately appelate applied in hindsight to films with a common thematic, but more often stylistic bent. Film Noir as a concept did not exist when films such as Maltese Falcon, Out of the Past, the Third Man were made. These were crime films, thrillers (but definitely not a war film), bottom line. And later writers, the always eloquent French, clumped these disparate films together via certain shared stylistic and thematic tics. Tics we notice. Attention grabbers. But certainly Third Man fits enough of these Attention Grabbers to get invited to the party. Fits enough of them to justly be considered one of the greatest of Film Noirs, and one of the greatest movies... period. My 2cents, keep up the great work. And create a website to go with your podcast. Just a suggestion.
A War Film? Um, how do you figure? I also wanted to chime in and say that though I enjoyed your discussion as always, you both missed the mark on the Third Man. There is plenty of ambiguity, and a femme fatale played provocatively by Alida Valli. (I\\\'m confused as to why she doesn\\\'t qualify - because she turns down Martins, and is loyal to Lime?) The post-war backdrop does not a war genre make! Rather, partitioned Vienna is seething with the kind of corruption, confusion and odd alliances that place the issues of identity and morality under a skewed spotlight. I think of The Third Man as one of the deepest and most resonant of all film noir... and I find it more relevant with each passing year. Harry Lime trapped in the sewers, confused by the multi-lingual shouts of his pursuers, is strangely sympathetic. It\\\'s a film not solely about the identity of Lime, but the identity of Vienna, Europe, and the western world on the cusp of the cold war and the information age. And that has got to be about as grey as it gets. Thanks for an interesting discussion!
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