Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Movie Cities I Love: Vienna in The Third Man (1949)

After a showing of Wolverine on Saturday (no great shakes -- Hugh Jackman is charismatic as always, but the plot made very little sense), my girlfriend had to run an errand, so she left me at Barnes and Noble to wait. It probably wouldn't have been her first choice, since I have a tendency to tarry excessively in any shop with a DVD section, but there's not much she could do about it. By the time she came to pick me up, I had worked myself into a properly self-righteous froth about the store's ghettoization of the horror genre -- stuck in an out-of-the-way corner next to the bargain discs. Such tyranny would not stand!

Well, okay, it would stand, but I would shove it lightly in hopes that it had a severe inner ear condition.

Anyway, as we walked out, my chagrin turned to joy when I spied the Criterion Collection Blu-ray of The Third Man. Now, ask me what my favorite film of all time is and the answer will vary from day to day, but lately it's been a pretty solid 50/50 split between Carol Reed's mystery-thriller and His Girl Friday (1940).

Of course, I've been on a "DVD diet" lately, curtailing my propensity to add to my gargantuan movie collection. Plus, I already owned the older Criterion disc. There had to be a way around this, of course. "It's okay to buy the Blu-ray of a movie I already own if it's my favorite movie of all time right?" I asked my girlfriend. My girlfriend, in her infinite wisdom, shrugged, knowing full well that if I was set on talking myself into this, I would do it no matter what she said.

Which brings us to the body of this post. I did, in fact, buy the Blu-ray and while it's not as impressive an upgrade as I'd hoped, I still fell in love with post-war Vienna, the real "third man", all over again. The beautiful architecture, the cobblestone streets, the very climbable piles of rubble, the narrow passages just perfect for the manipulation of shadows and light -- all of these make the Vienna of The Third Man one of my favorite movie cities.

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