Knocked two more movies off my list of "Famous Movies I've Never Seen and Should" this weekend: "The Defiant Ones" and "The Third Man." The first I loved, the second bored me.
What surprised me most about "The Defiant Ones" was the people/problems the two escapees encountered on their run for freedom. Not one was what I expected. Like that town? Aiiiieeee! Wasn't anticipating that at all, but Lon Chaney Jr. sure made me grin and cheer. He was my favorite part of the entire film, in a film where everything was well-done. It cuts right to the chase (literally) and stays there until the end.
"The Third Man," on the other hand... Sigh. On the surface, this movie should be everything I like. Noir, shifty ambiguous characters, cover-ups, very cool shadow visuals. Only it wasn't, or it wasn't enough. For a movie with a lot of character... it lacked character. For me, there wasn't enough to latch onto to get involved with these people. The movie didn't particularly give me any reasons to care what happened to any of them, and as none of the actors make any of my favorite lists, I didn't have an inate investment in them to carry me through where the film failed. On the other hand, those sewers? Awesome. Reminded me a lot of "He Walked by Night" which was filmed a year earlier, only those European sewers are cooler. I liked Trevor Howard too.
However, watching "The Third Man" had lots of other good repercussions. I had to lie there on the couch after it ended analysizing exactly why it didn't work for me and a movie like "Kiss Me Deadly" does. The film also brought me back to the post-war Vienna of "Four in a Jeep". Didn't realize how much that situation intrigued me until I saw it again, and it also helped me realize why the setting in my POW novel has remained so vague and unformed. A lot of stuff for the novel clicked into place after watching this movie.
It's interesting that the stuff we don't like is often more useful than the stuff we do.