Archive for orson welles

Quote of the Day: The Third Man

Posted in Film, Of the Day with tags , , , , , , on 28 October, 2008 by Ally

Anna starts rummaging in her handbag for money — in the process some of the contents tumble out on the counter including a photograph. Martins picks it up.

MARTINS
Harry?

ANNA
Yes. He moved his head, but the rest is good, isn’t it?

Upon watching The Third Man for maybe a third or fourth time, that line affected me as it never had before. It’s just a small moment, but it perfectly mixes humour with sadness. First I laughed, imagining a blurred head on a botched photograph, but then the poignancy of it overcame me. That Anna would keep even a botched photograph of her dead love, and even carry it with her in her handbag, is too sad for words.

So I shall say no more. Except The Third Man is a truly great film on all levels.

Try This, Kids at Home!

Posted in Film, Film Noir, Nothing Really with tags , , , , , , , , , on 20 October, 2008 by Ally

I’m sure we all remember, or at least know of the controversy surrounding colorization. You know, when Orson Welles told Ted Turner to keep his crayons away from Citizen Kane, and film critics dedicated entire shows to preaching about the evils of colorization. As well as it being completely at odds with the artistic vision of the filmmakers, colorization’s biggest crime is somehow managing to look simultaneously garish and washed-out. Especially when it’s done wrong, giving Frank Sinatra brown eyes for example.

In short, it’s shit.

But have you ever considered viewing a colour film in black and white? I believe it was Billy Wilder that claimed black and white photography was best suited to performance-based films, as there are no colours to distract you from the acting. All you need to do is turn the colour down on your television and you have an instant decolorized film.

It’s a mere novelty, but sometimes it can allow you to appreciate certain aspects of a film that were previously hidden to you behind dazzling colours and effects. I tried it last night whilst watching The Big Lebowski, and you know what? It’s actually quite fun. The noir flourishes are more apparent in black and white, highlighting the Chandleresque plot rather nicely. I’m sure the Coen Brothers would be mortified to learn that their film was being viewed improperly, but fuck them. It’s my telly.

The Lady From Shanghai

Posted in Film, Film Noir with tags , , , , , , , , , on 5 September, 2008 by Ally

There is a story that John Lennon, upon hearing that Beatles lyrics were being analysed in University classes, wrote I Am The Walrus just to fuck with the scholars. I can’t help but wonder if Orson Welles made The Lady From Shanghai with similar motivations. The plot of this film noir is notoriously complex and deliberately disjointed, so much so that even Welles himself could not summarize it for a furious studio boss, and iconic Rita Hayworth appears with her trademark red hair cut short and bleached.

"And they all lived happily ever after... The End."

To cut a shaggy-dog story short, Michael O’Hara is an Irishman who freely admits he’s not the fastest ship in the fleet, but he is what you’d call an able-bodied sailor. He is played by Welles with a comically thick Irish brogue and rugged good-looks from particular angles. After a chance meeting with Elsa (Rita Hayworth), he is employed to run her husband’s yacht. The husband is Arthur Bannister (Everett Sloan), an “elaborate cripple” with two canes and a silly walk that would make John Cleese weep. He also happens to be the world’s greatest criminal lawyer. Continue reading

Manhattan Murder Mystery

Posted in Film, Woody Allen with tags , , , , , , , , on 4 September, 2008 by Ally

It’s one of those Ronseal titles, isn’t it? You know, does exactly what it says on the tin. Manhattan Murder Mystery (Woody Allen, 1993) is a murder mystery set in Manhattan. There’s a mystery and a murder. And all this murder and mystery happens… in Manhattan.

Woody Allen in Manhattan Murder Mystery

"My life is passing before my eyes. The worst part about it is that I'm driving a used car."

The setting is Manhattan, the mystery is a murder and the murder is a mystery. Married couple Larry and Carol Lipton (Woody Allen and Diane Keaton) live in a high-rise Manhattan apartment, where it’s easy to suspect but difficult to prove. After their neighbour Lillian House unexpectedly dies, Carol’s imagination is fueled by a screening of Double Indemnity, and she begins to suspect Lillian’s husband Paul of murder. Larry is unenthused by the prospect of spying on nice Mr. House, but recently-divorced Ted (Alan Alda) is keen to investigate with Carol, leaving Larry more suspicious of foreplay than foul play. Continue reading