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The Third Man (1949)

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NOTE: These commentaries are only available on the 2007 2-disc Criterion Collection edition.

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Tony Gilroy Rating:7.6/10 (10 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by The Cubist on June 13th, 2007:Find all reviews by The Cubist
Not surprisingly, they talk about the nuts and bolts mechanics of the story and the filmís style. They just donít talk about the film as fans but from the point-of-view of filmmakers as well. Soderbergh dishes plenty of fascinating anecdotes about the film (taken from Charles Drazinís book), including how Carol Reed had three units filming at once and slept two three-hour shifts every day. This commentary is like watching the film with these two guys in your living room Ė very casual and conversational but never dull.
Reviewed by reidca on July 20th, 2010:Find all reviews by reidca
Very, very good, but also very slightly disappointing - maybe because Sodebergh appears to often simply detail what is in the making of book. But there is golden material - he talks about how movies should have periods of no talking otherwise it's not a movie. Some movies you could just listen to on the radio and that shouldn't be the case. Some of the screenwriting comments are excellent - recalling events and when to do it like it's a mathematical formula.
Reviewed by markmarz on July 5th, 2015:Find all reviews by markmarz
The commentary by Soderbergh and Gilroy is difficult to stomach. They're smarmy and superior and disrespectful of Joseph Cotten, at one point disdainfully calling him a 'slug'. Another example of their smug disdain is when they derided the US version opening voice-over read by Cotten. They make the point that the narration is 'absurd' because he talks as though he weren't one of the main characters. That's just not so; the narrative in this case is first person.
Reviewed by grimjack on July 27th, 2021:Find all reviews by grimjack
It is always great hearing too established artistic directors talk about a great film. So you get some talk about the tilting cameras, and how they would shoot, which is interesting. And other technical talk about cameras, lenses, lighting, and more, and what the research tells about how the director approached various things in this film.

There is even some brief but interesting discussion about what makes a great film, or even a really good one. And some talk about things they did not have to make a film back then that feel essential to these two today. They talk about how directors often double the hands of their stars. And how long some shots are held, and point out that back then, people did not do some of what they did here.

They mention how no one was happy working on it, and wonders if people are only happy working on films that turn out to be bad. And how
the casting is just right, and the script serves them each just the right amount so it does not feel episodic.

How unusual it is for a lead character in that he gets everything wrong for the whole film, has no great skill set, and he comes into the story feeling off-balance, with no abilities, in trouble - and how unusual that all is... especially for a thriller!

They talk about how important the score is, and say if they had put an orchestral score on it, it would have been a million dollar film that no one remembers.

At the end, they say, you still think it could end differently, as we are not used to movies not ending where the girl and guy gets together. And how this is one of those rare films that is even better than what everyone says it is.
Commentary 2: Film scholar Dana Polan Rating:7.0/10 (6 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by The Cubist on June 13th, 2007:Find all reviews by The Cubist
He argues that The Third Man is a hybrid film with various identities and moralities. He also says that it looks back to the past and ahead to the future of cinema. Polan cites plenty of examples within the film to support his thesis while also exploring its themes. This track is a nice contrast to the first as it is more scholarly in nature.
Reviewed by reidca on August 18th, 2010:Find all reviews by reidca
Excellent commentary, maybe better than the Sodebergh one because Polan concentrates more on themes and analysis rather than production fact. He's very interested in Holly, the anti-hero, allusions to Hitchcock and Welles even. I was outstanding after all of Selznick's meddling that he wanted that ending!!