Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Joseph Cotten’

The Third Man-1949
Here I shall give three scenes which stay on mind.

The American pulp writer Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) has come to bombed-out, post-war Vienna on the invitation of his friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) but is told of his death under most mysterious circumstances. One night, Martins becomes aware of a figure in a doorway on the opposite side of the apartment of Lime’s girlfriend Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli). He spots her cat meow loudly. The animal rubs itself at the feet of the silent, motionless figure in the shadows of a doorway. Harry can see the big shoes of the figure picked out by slanting light. A mystery figure and he defiantly calls out to the figure to come out and reveal himself. Then, Holly momentarily and suddenly sees Harry, the ‘third man’ himself.
A light from an upstairs window briefly illuminates the figure’s face, shining straight across the street. The sight of the teasing, smiling face of his friend staring back at him packs a punch in the somber mood of the film. It lights up briefly Holly’s confused mind at a loss to explain the sudden demise of his friend. Amazed to see Harry still alive the viewer is given jab into sides hinting he being alive could only mean there is something evil in the air. Holly is startled and then the light is extinguished. Before Holly can reach his friend, a car approaches and blocks his path. The figure makes off and vanishes to the sound of retreating footsteps in the dark. Holly finds the doorway empty by the time he crosses the street.
Another scene that stays in my mind is the meeting of Lime and Holly atop a Ferris wheel above the Russian sector. In the light of the day, Lime emerges and greets Holly with a bemused look: “Hello, old man, how are you?” They both ride high above the ground on the ferris wheel that is still operating in the midst of the dark city – it is the last ride of Holly’s symbolic childhood. As they rise higher in the car which they have all to themselves, Harry shows how uncaring he can be about Anna’s predicament after betraying her to the Russians: “What can I do, old man? I’m dead, aren’t I?” Harry explains how he doesn’t wish to be a hero:

What did you want me to do? Be reasonable. You didn’t expect me to give myself up…’It’s a far, far better thing that I do.’ The old limelight. The fall of the curtain. Oh, Holly, you and I aren’t heroes. The world doesn’t make any heroes outside of your stories.

Holly confronts Harry with his disgust at his racketeering and corruption (the light side exposing the dark side) and how he has already informed the police and Anna about Harry’s charade and disappearance. Harry claims immunity in the neutral zones of Vienna. Knowing of his cynical dealings on the black market, Holly asks if he has ever seen any of his victims – children who populate the hospital wards [in a city and amusement park desolate of playful, happy children]. Harry looks contemptuously down from the ferris wheel at the scuttling mortals below, cheerfully calling the people unrecognizable “dots” from the height of the ride:

Victims? Don’t be melodramatic. (He opens the door to the car.) Look down there. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you 20,000 pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money? Or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man, free of income tax. The only way you can save money nowadays.

They reach the very top of their ride on a child-oriented attraction, and for a few ominous moments [in a very different kind of amusement-thrill ride], Harry threatens Holly. He contemplates executing his uncooperative friend and making him one of the “dots” below because he is the only one with living proof of his existence: “There’s no proof against me, besides you.” Harry suggests that he could easily shoot him – a bullet hole in a corpse that had fallen from so high up in the wheel would not be found. Holly wraps his arm around a door frame and clutches it for protection:

Holly (looking out the window): I should be pretty easy to get rid of.
Harry: Pretty easy.
Holly: I wouldn’t be too sure.
Harry: I carry a gun. You don’t think they’d look for a bullet wound after you hit that ground.

But Holly counters the threat by mentioning that the police are already on his trail – they have dug up the corpse and discovered it wasn’t him but Harbin. Harry is startled that the body of his cohort has been disinterred and his voice suddenly drops. As the car starts its journey downward, Lime closes the door, discards his deadly plan to dispose of Holly, and then compares himself to governments:

Harry: Nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don’t. Why should we? They talk about the people and the proletariat, I talk about the suckers and the mugs – it’s the same thing. They have their five-year plans, so have I.
Holly: You used to believe in God.
Harry: Oh, I still do believe in God, old man. I believe in God and Mercy and all that. But the dead are happier dead. They don’t miss much here, poor devils. (He traces Anna’s name and the image of a heart with an arrow through it on the window of the car.) What do you believe in? Oh if you ever get Anna out of this mess, be kind to her. You’ll find she’s worth it.

When they reach the end of their ride and exit the ferris wheel on the ground, Lime offers his boyhood pal a partnership in his illicit business:

Holly, I’d like to cut you in, old man. There’s nobody left in Vienna I can really trust, and we’ve always done everything together. When you make up your mind, send me a message – I’ll meet you any place, any time, and when we do meet old man, it’s you I want to see, not the police. Remember that, won’t ya? Don’t be so gloomy. After all, it’s not that awful. Remember what the fellow says:

Then, he smugly delivers his famous and cynical monologue ad libbed by Welles and exactly in line with the whole mood of the film. The amoral Lime cynically justifies his black market criminal activities by recognizing that despite appearances, good and evil (black and white, peace and war, up and down, etc.) are complementary concepts. He puts his thesis in historical context:

In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed – but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long, Holly.
The final closing sequence of the film is just as memorable: Holly leans on a cart and waits on the tree-lined cemetery road for Lime’s former lover Anna as she leaves Harry’s second funeral on foot. Off in the distance, she is walking and approaching toward him, first a dot, then a shadow, and then a full figure – in an extremely long-held stationary shot. As he seeks in vain for any response from her, she stoically ignores him and continues by, passing him without paying any attention – without a pause, a look, a word, or a gesture. Holly follows her with his eyes, but she stares impassively ahead, walking out of his life. He lights a cigarette as the film fades to black.
(Ack:filmsite.org-tim dirks)

Read Full Post »

CITIZEN KANE- 1941

Running Time: 119 minutes, USA , Black and white

Citizen Kane was the astounding directorial debut of Orson Welles, made when he was just 25. It tops the AFI 100 best films list and is widely considered to be the greatest movie of all time. More than 60 years after it was first made it is still revered as the classic American film.

Citizen Kane opens with a brooding exterior shot focusing in on the letter ‘K’, wrought into the ironwork atop the gates of Xanadu, a rich man’s castle in Florida. We see, through fog, the grounds of this vast pleasure palace with exotic animals in a private zoo, empty gondolas moored on a private lake, an Egyptian cat statue guarding a raised drawbridge over a moat. There are signs of neglect everywhere. Successive shots draw us into a castle window where a light is extinguished and a figure can be seen on the bed in the dimly lit interior. Snowflakes fill the screen and we zoom out to reveal a snow covered house in a glass ball in the hand of the old man on the bed. His lips pronounce a dying utterance:

Rosebud...

The dead hand releases the globe and it shatters on the marble floor.

Citizen Kane tells the life story of super-rich press baron, Charles Foster Kane. Kane is a fictitious character but bears so many similarities to the real life William Randolph Hearst that his newspapers boycotted the film. In fact, the Kane character was a composite of many arrogant and powerful media magnates and unlike the real Hurst, was born in relative poverty. He was arrogant and not always right.

A reporter (William Alland) is assigned to uncover the mystery of Kane’s dying word. He hears Kane’s story from five different points of view and we also see mock newsreel footage of moments from the great man’s life.
By the end of the film, the Rosebud mystery has not been solved. We return to Xanadu to see a panorama of crates and junk, the debris of the multi-millionaires acquisitive life. A workman selects an old child’s sled and slings it into the furnace. The camera zooms as the flames blister the paint and the word ‘Rosebud’ is burned away. We recognize this as the sled Kane was playing with when his parents sent him away as a child. Kane’s childhood memories curl into the smoke that billows out of the chimney. The camera pulls back and we end with the same wrought iron gates with which we began.
Kane wanted love at his terms and lost. Chalk it to his vanity and ambitions that came with his position in life; With all the wealth and its glory at his reach he lost all that he really cared for: a carefree childhood ( represented by his sled).
Trivia:By the way ‘Rosebud’ as Hollywood gossip would have it referred to the private part of Hearst’s mistress, Marion Davis.

Quotes:
I’ve talked with the responsible leaders of the Great Powers – England, France, Germany and Italy. They’re too intelligent to embark on a project, which would mean the end of civilization as we now know it. You can take my word from it; there’ll be no war!
~Kane (Welles) in newsreel from 1935
“- a picture that was not only more innovative than any since The Battleship Potemkin, but one that matures with age and speaks afresh to each succeeding generation.”
~ Barry Norman, 100 Best Films of the Century
Additional background info:

In 1938, Welles had made a sensational radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, a story by science fiction pioneer and near namesake, H. G. Wells. The broadcast was taken for genuine news by some and people were driven onto the streets in panic. This made him such a hot-property that his contract with RKO allowed him a freedom in production that Hollywood was never to grant him again.

Welles brought his Mercury Theater group to the film but also had the sense to surround himself with some of the industry’s most talented. Notably, he recruited cinematographer Greg Toland, who had worked on The Grapes of Wrath, to his team. Together with co-writer Herman Mankiewicz, Welles created the script – originally to be called “The American”.

Toland’s deep focus photography is legendary in this movie, as were the sets that included real ceilings. Welles had holes dug in the studio floor so that the camera could be mounted low enough to get the low angled point of view, used so effectively in the succession of breakfast scenes that milestone the breakdown of Kane’s first marriage. Orson Welles’ own performance skillfully followed the young Kane into old age. He directed other actors to a splendid ensemble performance. He tore up a few rules, appropriated a few revolutionary screen techniques and created a masterpiece.

benny

CITIZEN KANE (1941)
Director: Orson Welles
Charles Foster Kane: Orson Welles
Jedediah Leland: Joseph Cotten
Susan Alexander: Dorothy Comingore
Mr. Bernstein: Everett Sloane
Mary Kane: Agnes Mooreheaed
Walter Parks Thatcher : George Coulouris
Boss J.W. “Big Jim” Gettys: Ray Collins
Jerry Thompson: William Alland
Raymond: Paul Stewart
Kane aged 8: Buddy Swann
Signor Matiste: Fortunia Bonanova
Academy Awards
Won (1) * Best Original Screenplay (Herman J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles)
Nominated (9)
* Best Picture
* Best Original Screenplay
* Best Director
* Best Actor (Orson Welles)
* Best Cinematography
* Best Art Direction
* Best Music
* Best Sound Recording
* Best Film Editing

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,390 other followers