Sunday, January 31, 2010

Movie Of The Day - The Third Man

THE THIRD MAN (1949) d: Carol Reed

To say Carol Reed's 'The Third Man' is not one of the best films ever made means you have never seen it or have no clue what defines cinema. Yes, I am being that strict with it. I'm not saying you'll like the film but to have an understanding of what cinema means then you must include this as one of the top films of all time. Which might be an interesting list to compile. Something for me to ponder for a future post.

Released in 1949 'The Third Man' is not just a great film noir but a film which redefined so much in movies. In some ways it also marked the end of the bleaker films as we moved into the 1950's which was filled with Technicolor, cinemascope, and musicals. I do not say that with animosity as so many incredible films came out then. It was time to move on from the bleakness of the 1940's and what a way to go.

A dime novel writer Holly Martins (played perfectly by the always amazing Joseph Cotton) goes to post World War II Vienna for a job opportunity with an old friend Harry Lime (portrayed by Orson Welles). Though he doesn't know what the job is exactly he is excited for the chance. As he arrives he discovers that his childhood friend was killed by a car while crossing the street. Or so it seemed. However, a witness to the accident claims that there were three men that helped carry the body to the side of the road. Two friends of Lime's and a mysterious third man. Different reports abound which makes the whole incident sound suspicious. The police won't help since Lime is accused of being a racketeer of the worst kind so he embarks on his own to discover what happened including tracking down Lime's part time girlfriend Anna (played by the stunning Alida Valli) who he starts to fall for. Martins soon discovers that things are not as they seem and maybe his old friend wasn't who he thought he was.

The film is shot in such stark black and white and its use of shadows and cocked angles redefined many aspects of filmmaking. It's hard to look at it now and realize how fresh and new it was at the time since it has been used so much since. Plus shooting in post war Vienna with actual destroyed buildings gives it an authenticity. While aspects were shot on sound stages there is much that is shot on location which was not done too much at the time. And the bizarre yet amazing score by Anton Karas using his zither has become almost legendary. As the story goes Haras was hired to perform at a production party and when Reed heard the music he wanted it in the film. Originally as just a bit here and there but then decided he wanted Karas to do the entire score. And as anyone who knows me (at least when I get a phone call) the theme song is my ringtone on my iPhone.

Here is a clip of Anton Karas playing his mighty zither.

'The Third Man' is an amazing film and one that can really make you appreciate the art of cinema. I still remember the first time I watched it. I have seen the film numerous times over the years and luckily got to see it on the big screen as well. It was so great seeing a crowd show up for a film that is 50 years old. People of all ages were there. The magic of movies. Even all these years later people came out to see a classic on the big screen that most of them probably have on video at home.That's what great cinema can do.

A few pictures from the screening. Don't let the small image confuse you the screen at The Music Box is huge.

The organist played the theme before the film started. Beyond awesome.

Added bonus:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Update And Meeting Terrance - Graaaaaaaaaaaves!

Sorry about the lack of postings lately. Been busy trying to get my film 'Distortion' 100% completed so I can submit it to a few festivals. That is the main thing taking up a lot of my time right now. A lot of work is needed to get it done and it's only me working on it so it is keeping me very busy.

The remainder of my time has been taken up by an awesome thing I am with. As I mentioned in previous posts I am part of the 90 Day Delinquents which is the Chicago shadowcast for 'Repo The Genetic Opera'. The last two shows I have done Luigi Largo which is played by Bill Moseley in the film. This past weekend was a big show for us where we were able to bring in Terrance Zdunich who is the co-creator of 'Repo' as well as playing Graverobber in the film. Which meant we got to hang out with him all weekend which was such a blast. To say he is a cool guy is an understatement. The show went so well (though for my own sake I screwed up one bit of choreography which my strive for perfection means it will bother me until the day I die) and we had a huge turn out. The crowd was so amazing! I was surprised how many people came in from out of state. It was such an incredible evening. My main regret is not taking a boat load of pictures. I hope the others did.

With the 'Repo' show done (for now) my main concern is getting the film done. I have a deadline as there are a few festivals I want to submit to next month so I may still be light on posts for a few weeks but will try to do a few when I can. Thanks for reading!

Me with Terrance after our show Saturday night. For the record, while he is taller than I am the lobby of the theatre is at  an incline so I look a lot shorter than I am. Needed to point that out. heh

Sunday, January 17, 2010

B Movie Madness 2

I was at the latest event put on by the Horror Society here in Chicago called B Movie Madness and it was a great time.

They showed the original 'Night Of the Demons' (in 35mm) and had director Kevin Tenney there in person. They also showed his new movie 'Brain Dead' along with a couple of short films including 'Thirsty' starring none other than the awesome Joe Lynch and 'Hypochondriac' with writer, producer, and one of the stars Marv Blauvelt in person as well. It ended with a local independent film 'Incest Death Squad' which was made in Wisconsin.

A good time was had as is always the case at the Horror Society events. Can't wait for the next one.

Here's me with director Kevin Tenney. He is super tall. Making me look shorter than I already am.

Here's the 'Night Of The Demons' trailer. Warning: R Rated

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Meeting Fran And Killing Kasztner

As much as living in Chicago is wearing a little thin on me now, especially as we get 20 below wind chill warnings, there are times when I admit some really awesome things happen here. One of them was last night.

At my favorite theatre, The Music Box Theatre, they are showing this week the amazing documentary 'Killing Kasztner' about a Jew who collaborated with the Nazi's during World War II to help rescue 1,700 Jews and possibly saved thousands more from being executed. A controversial figure as some see him as a hero while others view him as a traitor. A fascinating documentary and well worth checking out.

I must admit I went there for different reasons. The fact that the film was so engrossing and educational was an added bonus that I was more than happy to have experienced. But I was there because for a few showings the director was there for a Q&A. The director is none other than Fran herself, Gaylen Ross! One of the leads from one of my all time favorite films 'Dawn of the Dead'. I went with two friends and we weren't sure if she would be ok with us being fans and wanting, hopefully, an autograph. You never know. She is there to promote a very serious film about a very serious subject matter and here are three fan boys with their posters. Luckily, she could not have been nicer and more accommodating. She was very sweet and signed everything we had (myself having my 'Dawn of the Dead' poster and my 'Creepshow' poster). And she posed for pictures.

So while I showed up as a fan boy to get an autograph I left being blown over by the story of a man I had not heard about before but one I will not forget. She made a powerful documentary and is a nice person to boot. And dude ... she was Fran!!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Holy Crap! I Won Awards! - UPDATED

Over at one of my favorite blogs a very happy surprise happened. Andre of The Horror Digest awarded a few blogs the "Zombie Chicken Award" and yours truly was one of the recipients. To say I am touched by this is an understatement. Not just the fact that someone thought my vague ramblings were actually worthy of something but that I was put amongst so many other really talented people. I love her blog a lot so to say the feeling is mutual is an understatement. Thank you Andre!!!


Over at another awesome blog Rhonny Reaper of Dollar Bin Horror awarded me with another award. Talk about having a good day!  She is so super cool! I really appreciate this so much. The "Kreativ Blogger". Ha!! I love it!

Kind of funny. I have been really down lately for personal reasons and this is such a highlight. Thanks you two. This was such a nice surprise and something that truly lifted my spirits.


Not only is this an honor but moreso because I'm receiving these from blogs which are so incredible. Sarah over at the great Scare Sarah blog gave me (along with some really great blogs as well) an award. I like that this one is "One Lovely Blog Award" because while on the surface it may seem odd considering the majority of this blog is horror related but it is about the love of the genre and about the love of film. I could not be happier. Thank you Sarah!!


My friend Nicki over at Hey! Look Behind You! surprised me with yet one more "One Lovely Blog" award. And you better be following her blog or your life just sucks. Thanks Nicki!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Movie Of The Day - Behind The Mask The Rise Of Leslie Vernon


As mentioned on my top films of the decade post (which you can read here) this is just a great horror/comedy. And a clever one to boot. Using the pseudo-documentary take on following a serial killer in a world where killers are like they are in movies in how they pick their victims and virginal heroine to how they set up traps to creep out the unsuspecting. I had heard about this film but missed it in its short theatrical run. A friend saw it and raved about it (his blog you can read here by the way) so I knew I had to see it. I eventually saw it in the next best possible way at a convention with friends and a lot of other people including none other than Troma's Lloyd Kaufman as well. I was completely impressed and kicked myself for not seeing it in theatres. However I was grateful seeing it with a bunch of horror fans and the head of Troma made it an experience almost as good as the movie itself.