In this, the final article in my series of blogs about the five films from the 1940s that have influenced my writing I turn to one of the most atmospheric and classic film noirs of all time, The Third Man.
The Third Man (1949)
This film screenplay was written by Graham Greene. Directed by Carol Reed it stars Joseph Cotton, Orson Wells, Alida Valli and Trevor Howard. It has everything: atmospheric cinematography, a scarred location which perfectly imitates the scarred individuals in the film, wonderful editing, echoing background sound effects reflecting the empty despair of some of the characters, and a unique musical score.
American pulp western novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, post-war Vienna, where his old friend Harry Lime has offered him a job only to find Harry dead. Soon Martins is drawn into investigating the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death and in so doing has to face up to the shocking truth about his friend - Limes is a scheming black-market opportunist.
Selecting five films that have influenced me and my style of writing was an almost impossible task because there are so many great films to choose from. I decided, therefore, to focus on one particular era, the 1940s and even then I was spoiled for choice.
So here in summary (and no particular order of preference) are my top five:
The Big Sleep, written by Raymond Chandler, with the film starring the wonderful Humphrey Bogart and lovely Lauren Bacall.
The second is another classic Raymond Chandler crime novel, Farewell my Lovely, which was re titled for the film in the USA as Murder My Sweet, featuring Dick Powell as Marlowe.
Number three features another private eye but this time not based on a Chandler novel. Dark Corner, starring Mark Stevens, Lucille Ball, Clifton Webb and William Bendix..
The fourth is a British film and a more light-hearted one but still crime Green for Danger adapted from one of Christianna Brand’s most successful novels featuring Detective Inspector Cockrill superbly played by Alastair Simm
Number five is one of the classic film noirs of all time, as mentioned above The Third Man..
I could wax lyrically about many more thriller movies that I love, those from the 1940s and 1950s (I haven’t even mentioned Hitchcock - Rear Window, Strangers on a Train, The Lady Vanishes!) and there are many modern day thrillers and suspense movies that I love but it’s time to end the show for now, folks. I’m off to watch a film.
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