Harry Lime at the UN

Speaking of entertainment, tonight TNT is running Carol Reed’s The Third Man repeatedly. Probably those who love it have seen it – and those who haven’t, wouldn’t. But it is wonderful film noir; the lighting and drama of shadows and angles show that something may have been gained but something was lost when directors went to – mainly – color. (It was one of the first British movies shot primarily on location.) And Orson Welles, shadowed in doors, appearing from and disappearing in the sewers of Vienna, draws us to him as we are at once repelled. The book is thinner than the movie; the Joseph Cotton character as well as the Orson Welles one are more complex on the screen than in Graham Greene’s words.

This year has kept that movie at the front of my mind, anyway. The Oil-for-Food program reminds us that the Harry Limes of the world continue in the dark places (the “gap” perhaps?) of the world where life is cheap and chaos reigns – and in the corridors of power that live on that chaos; ensconced in the great marble of the United Nations, away from the suffering of their own peoples as well, the bribe-takers must have viewed the Iraqis (and how many others) as if from that ferris wheel – ah, what is one more person thrown in Saddam’s prison or one more woman at the mercy of a rape squad? Nothing to me; ah, with this I shall buy (and live) the life of the Medici.

3 thoughts on “Harry Lime at the UN”

  1. I’m nursing a cracked rib, so I was at Barnard House last night, rather than hanging out down at the pub shooting pool. I scanned the channels and saw that T3M was coming on. The zither music, a drunken Joseph Cotten, the trapped rat that Orson Welle’s character becomes…I’d forgotten how great that movie was. One thing I noticed for the first time, this time ’round, was how gay (and I don’t mean that perjoratively) the doctor and violinist were. But, Welles, in this film, has one of the greatest entrances of any character in movie history, save that of John Wayne in The Searchers.

    Fans of this film who haven’t seen or read Our Man in Havana are missing out. Read it, rent it today.


Comments are closed.