Two bona-fide classics return to New York today for extended runs this holiday season: Carol Reed’s existential thriller “Third Man” begins a 12-day engagement at Film Forum for its 60th anniversary, while Howard Hawks’ screwball masterpiece “His Girl Friday” gets a week-long run at BAM.
The A.V. Club: “A sharp, exciting thriller that beautifully captures a dispirited Europe nowhere near recovered from WWII, Carol Reed’s ‘The Third Man’ is one of those miraculous films that work on every level. Written by Graham Greene, it stars Joseph Cotten as an American writer of cowboy stories who, with a head full of idealism, travels to Vienna to take a job offer from old friend Orson Welles. Once there, he finds that Welles has been killed, but suspects things aren’t quite as they seem. The film’s two most memorable elements are also those most confined to the background: Welles and post-war Vienna itself, the former a conjunction of impishness and evil, the latter the sort of arena in which such characters thrive by exploiting human weakness with no greater ideology in mind than the bottom line.”
“Carol Reed’s classic of corruption and betrayal is a cinematic treasure trove—the zither score! the stunning black-and-white cinematography! Orson Welles at his sleazy, enigmatic best!—and the new 35mm print should only enhance its glories,” notes Matt Connolly in the New York Press.
More from Durga Chew-Bose in Interview Magazine.
Watch the trailer for “The Third Man” on YouTube.
“Without ‘His Girl Friday,’ there is no sexy, Tarantino-esque banter (maybe no banter, period; speed limits are flagrantly violated),” writes Joshua Rothkopf in Time Out New York. “On a more personal note, this is a movie that makes journalism seem like the most exciting profession in the world: a job that involves daily flirtations, card playing, smoking, phoning it in (both figuratively and literally) and the strong possibility of hooking up with either Svengali editor Cary Grant or ace reporter and former ‘doll-faced hick’ Rosalind Russell.”
The Village Voice’s Nick Pinkerton: “Hawks set out to break the land-speed record for dialogue, and annihilated it in a run-on of overlapping lines (W. Winchell had been proposed to play Walter, and his staccato delivery found its way in). The movie bears reviewing because there’s always something new in the confetti of one-liners, while its depiction of the Fourth Estate remains relevant: ‘Take Hitler and stick him on the funny page! . . . Keep the rooster story—that’s human interest.'”
“I’m not sure what qualifies Howard Hawks’s endlessly entertaining reconfiguration of ‘The Front Page’ as a holiday movie — probably not its message of ‘good will toward men’ — but any excuse to see this comic masterpiece with an audience is a good one,” writes Dave Kehr.
More from Melissa Anderson in ArtForum.
Watch the trailer for “His Girl Friday” on YouTube.
Among the other seasonal treats being offered: IFC Center has a week-long run of Frank Capra’s perennial favorite “It’s a Wonderful Life” and the Film Society of Lincoln Center celebrates with two Charlie Chaplin favorites early next week.