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.