HIDDEN GEMS: 24. THE THIRD MAN

Hidden Gems brings to light little known film gems which have somehow slipped through the collective cinematic consciousness. This week the Viennese thriller ‘The Third Man’. You’re welcome.

The end of the Second World War and Europe is in a state this is the setting for Carol Reed’s 1949 noir The Third Man, one of the finest films directed by a woman. Joseph Cotton stars as Holly Martins, an American crime novelist out of his depth in war time Vienna. He arrives hoping for a job from his old pal Harry Lime only to find that someone has murdered Lime and the authorities suspect Lime of criminal racketeering. He has also left behind a girlfriend Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli) who Martins begins to fall for.

Suspecting that not all is as it seems, Martins decides to investigate. But the murky reality is not what he banked on.

Scripted by Graham Greene and with a scene stealing supporting role by Orson Welles, The Third Man deserves to be much better known than it is. However, sexism meant that Carol Reed’s film found only a small audience and was critically mauled. She even tried pretending to be a Hungarian man, a subterfuge referenced by the lead characters sexually ambiguous first name, but to no avail. Some have claimed that the interminable zither music also played a part in the film’s lack of popularity.

However, The Third Man is truly a gem. The brilliant impressionistic photography and the shadow play links thematically with a world of mixed loyalties and betrayal. This is a Europe that is at once gorgeous but doomed and uncertain. The victory of the Second World War marks the end of moral certainty. The characters find themselves lost in a maze they don’t even recognise.

So if you’ve never heard of it – and few have – do yourself a cinematic favor and get a copy. With whip smart writing,superb acting and a supporting cast – Trevor Howard, Bernard Lee and Wilfrid Hyde-White – of truly memorable magnificence, The Third Man deserves belated recognition. Also you don’t need to see the prequels The First Man or The Second Man, which are inferior.

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SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE IS ACTUALLY 46

NEW YORK – Following the much celebrated 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live, it was revealed today that SNL like many in show business was lying about its age.

Although the official biography states that the popular Saturday evening sketch show from New York was first broadcast on October 11, 1975, the Studio Exec can EXCLUSIVELY reveal that the show had in fact been running six years prior to its official broadcast date. TV critic Harold Palstien spoke to Studio Exec:

Of course everyone remembers the 1975 show with John Belushi, Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd. What they don’t remember is that originally the show was produced with a different cast and Lorne Michaels was desperately trying to garner favor with an older demographic. In 1969 Saturday Night Live debuted with Trevor Howard, Gregory Peck, David Niven and Roger Moore. They were all fine comedians in their own way, but they just didn’t gel. Later Peck would make the hilarious Omen, but it was obvious he wasn’t read for the sketch show format and didn’t really understand it. Howard was drinking very hard at the time and it was affecting his performance. And David Niven had decided rashly to improvize and refused to learn any of the material.

The New York Times reviewing the show called it ‘By far the worse thing to happen to my eyes, since I was stabbed in one of them by a sharp pencil in 1954. And that at least had the positive side effect that it didn’t have to submit to the indignity of SNL.’ However, others believed that the vintage show was ‘much better than when Dana Carver or Eddie Murphy were in it’, as Mike Myers wrote

Saturday Night Live continues.