Monday, November 12, 2007


In observance of Veteran's Day, regardless of your politics, please support our active troops. And while you're at it, give pause to thank all the servicemen and women...past, present and future who have risked their lives for our great country.

Also, as with any holiday, take a minute to remind the youngsters in your household why today is so special.


The American Film Institute (AFI), to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its 100 greatest American movies list, has made revisions. In conjunction with the BRAVO Network, AFI produced a TV special which I enjoyed, that included a montage of each movie that made the 2007 list.

When it comes to movies, we all have our favorites, but because there is such a wide scope of elements that serve as the criteria to what makes art...nobody could possibly agree with all AFI's choices. A perfect example is, "CITIZEN KANE" at #1, I feel the honor of this being the greatest film EVER has been earned but for aesthetic reasons (groundbreaking film-making technology) rather than pure entertainment.

Personally, I liked to be moved. Two of my favorites, "ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE" and "CITY LIGHTS" both brought tears to my eyes just in the two or so minutes that AFI spent on it. They were deservedly placed prominently on the list but only the most avid movie nuts know them.

I'd rather talk about favorites that didn't make the list like the "EXORCIST" which is probably my all-time #1. But again, we are all too familiar with it. That's why I want to enlighten many of you and turn you onto "THE THIRD MAN."
"THE THIRD MAN" (1949) was based on the novel by Graham Greene. It was filmed on location in what was left of bombed-out Vienna Austria. This classic film noir features one of, if not the greatest movie villains of all time Harry Lime (Orson Welles). Lime is an American black-marketeer specializing in medical drugs (penicillin). But in the opening scene we find out that Lime was killed in an auto accident, (or was he).
With 1950 Vienna pulled in many directions due to Cold War tension, an Englishman spear-heads the investigation of Lime's death. At the funeral, we meet Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) who came from the U. S. to accept a job working for Lime. Using liquor to loosen his tongue, the police chat (interrogate) him and are convinced that he knows nothing about Lime's illicit practices. Later, they inform Martins of their suspicions about Harry. Martins, in disbelief begins a crusade to clear his friend's name. His investigation leads to Harry's Russian girlfriend.
Together the two innocents stumble onto a witness (the superintendent of Harry's building) who was afraid to speak with the authorities. This man contradicts Harry's two friends who were apparently the only eye-witnesses by saying..."the dead man had THREE men help him to the curb...the third man then vanished." Could Lime be the third man? Did he fake his own death to throw the police off his trail?

Soon thereafter, the superintendent is murdered and off we go! We are led through the dark rubble piles of the city to the accompaniment of haunting (almost to the point of annoying) zither solos. Towards the end, Harry Lime finally steps out of the shadows and we hear his sentiments from atop a Ferris Wheel, about his greed and the insignificance of the average ant-like people below.

To catch a rat like Harry Lime, it was apropos that the movie ends with a chase scene through the sewers.

This is truly a great movie worthy of being in AFI's top 100. However, another agency, the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) does rate the "THIRD MAN" as #48 in their top 250 movies of all time.
For immediate gratification, you can go to and find the trailer for the "THIRD MAN." When you do, I can guarantee that you'll find the zither music at least interesting. More importantly, I think it'll whet your appetite to see the actual movie.
Turner Classic Movies (TCM) frequently broadcasts it, or you should be able to rent it. Also, remember your local library lends movies...that means FREE! Even if they don't have what you want on the premises, they can computer search the whole country for a library that has the book, music CD or movie you want...FREE!

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