In the past decade a common complaint among film fans about the recent crop of movies is they are too flashy. Quick cutting and “fast paced” camera work to cover up banal scripts and dialogue. Impressive visual effects, but no heart. All flash, No substance, so to speak. Many believe this evolution is that most filmmakers today get their start from commercials and music videos and directors from “the golden age of movies” came from documentary, television and (bingo!) theater.
I was mulling this over when I caught Carol Reed’s The Third Man on Turner Classic Movies recently. Written by novelist Graham Greene and starring Joseph Cotten, it is an old school noir thriller with shady characters, double crosses and lots of back lighting and shadows. An old school film, but its old tricks work better than 95% of thrillers released since. My favorite moment is the reveal of the Harry Lime character (Orson Welles), who all of the characters have been discussing and searching for up to this point. It’s about dramatic as it gets.