Blog Archives

The Third Man (1949) | The classic thriller gets a definitive restoration release

The Third Man (1949)

Once voted the ‘Best British film ever made’ in a poll by the BFI, 1949’s The Third Man has been given a stunning 4k restoration and is now available to own on DVD and Blu-ray in a collector’s edition that includes a host of brand new extras, from Studiocanal.

HUNTED…By a thousand men! Haunted…By a lovely girl!
Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten), a writer of pulp Westerns, arrives in post-war Vienna on the invitation of his childhood friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles). But on arrival he finds that Harry has recently been killed by a car whilst crossing the street, leaving a grief-stricken lover, Anna (Alida Valli).

When local British investigating office Calloway (Trevor Howard) claims that Lime was an unsavoury criminal, Martins accepts an offer from a local book club to stay in Vienna in order to clear his friend’s name. As he investigates his friend’s last hours, he grows closer to the doomed Anna, and learns of an unidentified ‘third man’ at the scene of the accident, who may hold the key to the deepening mystery surrounding Harry’s death.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

He’ll have you in a dither with his zither!
Upon its release in 1949, director Carol Reed’s atmospheric thriller The Third Man instantly became a classic, winning the Grand Prix at Cannes, a BAFTA for Best British Film, and the Oscar for Best Cinematography for Robert Krasker. Featuring some of cinema’s most memorable set pieces and quotable lines, the film’s Viennese locations quickly etch themselves in the memory. The city may have been bombed out and strewn with rubble, divided into four sectors by the Allies, but it still stood tall in all its faded grandeur.

The film was also the masterwork of it’s key players – Carol Reed, Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles, as well as Graham Greene, who wrote the script while holed up in the now legendary Hotel Sacher, where Cotten’s Martins stays in the film, and composer Anton Karas, who was then a musician for hire playing in the wine gardens of Vienna when Carol Reed first encountered him. His six week work on the soundtrack resulted in a unique and melancholy zither score that has since become iconic.

The Third Man (1949)The 4-disc Blu-ray collector’s edition includes the Deluxe 4k restored print of the feature, the full soundtrack by Anton Karas, with zither music performed by Gertrud Huber, a set of postcards, and the following extras:
• Audio Commentary with Guy Hamilton, Simon Callow & Angela Allen
Shadowing The Third Man featurette
• Interview & Zither Performance by Cornelia Mayer
The Third Man Interactive Vienna Tour
• Guardian NFT Interview – Joseph Cotten & Graham Greene (Audio Only)
• Joseph Cotten’s Alternate Opening Voiceover Narration
The Third Man: A Filmmaker’s Influence featurette
Restoring The Third Man featurette
Dangerous Edge: Graham Greene Documentary
• Trailer

Falstaff: Chimes At Midnight (1966) | Orson Welles’ personal best gets a 50th anniversary restoration release

Falstaff Chimes at Midnight (1966)

If I wanted to get into heaven on the basis of movie, it would be Falstaff’ Orson Welles

As part of the centenary celebrations of Orson Welles’ birth, 1966’s Falstaff Chimes at Midnight, one of the most radical and groundbreaking of all Shakespeare film adaptations and Welles’ favourite of his features, has been restored and released on DVD and Blu-ray from Mr Bongo Films.

Falstaff Chimes at Midnight (1966)

‘Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown’
On the brink of Civil War, King Henry IV (John Gielgud) attempts to consolidate his reign while fretting with unease over his son’s seeming neglect of his royal duties. Hal (Keith Baxter), the young Prince, openly consorts with Sir John Falstaff (Orson Welles) and his company. Hal’s friendship with the knight substitutes for his estrangement from his father. Both Falstaff and the King are old and tired; both rely on Hal for comfort in their final years, while the young Prince, the future Henry V, nurtures his own ambitions…

Falstaff Chimes at Midnight (1966)

‘A magnificent film, clearly among Welles’ greatest work’ Roger Ebert
A reworking of his 1939 and 1960 play Five Kings, this is, in Welles’ own words, ‘a sombre comedy’ and a ‘lament for Merrie England’. It may have come late in his career, but it remains his masterpiece, containing the true and profound essence of both Shakespeare the dramatist and Welles the actor. His Falstaff was the role he was born to play, the embodiment of the richly human, honest and heroic qualities of medieval England whose openness and loyalty eventually become the very cause of his own destruction.

The talented supporting cast includes John Gielgud, Keith Baxter, Jeanne Moreau, Fernando Rey, Margaret Rutherford and Ralph Richardson as the narrator. The film’s harrowing war scenes have proven especially influential, cited in Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V and Mel Gibson’s Braveheart.

Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles | A moving, masterful montage on the maverick artist

Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson WellesDirected by Oscar-winning filmmaker Chuck Workman, this illuminating documentary explores the life and career of Orson Welles, whose motto was ‘believe in something bigger than yourself’. And that’s exactly what you’ll discover on this crazy Wellesian journey through awesome Orson’s time in the theatre (where he brought theatricality and expressionism back to the stage), on radio (where he sacred the pants off America with War of the Worlds), in film television; as well as his sudden fall from grace in Hollywood to his amazing artistic rebirth in Europe.

Featuring personal anecdotes and insights from the likes of Simon Callow, Peter Bogdanovich, Jeanne Moreau, Peter Brook, Costa-Gavras, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Richard Linklater and illustrated with fantastic archival material and film extracts – from both his best and least-known works, this is a carefully-crafted insight into the pioneering, uncompromising artist who, although misunderstood in his own time, is now rightfully lauded as the master of his art and a true hero to independent cinema.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If ever there was a documentary that will make you want to re-examine Welles’s back catalogue, then this is the one to do so. It will also make you see some of his works in a whole new light, especially Chimes at Midnight, which he regarded as his life’s masterpiece, and I quote: ‘If I wanted to get into heaven on the basis of movie, it would be Falstaff’.

Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles debuts on Sky Arts on Wednesday 16 September at 9pm and is out on DVD in the UK from BFI

The BFI release includes the film trailer; two featurettes: A Conversation with Director Chuck Workman (2014, 9mins) and A Personal Appreciation of Orson Welles by Simon Callow (2015, 31mins); and an illustrated booklet.

Jodorowsky’s Dune gets a VOD release in the UK

Jodorowsky's Dune

The acclaimed 2013 documentary by Frank Pavich traces the history of director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s failed attempt in the 1970s to adapt Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel. Starring Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, Gloria Swanson, Salvador Dali and his own 12-year-old son Brontis, and featuring music by Pink Floyd and the incredible art by HR Giger and Jean ‘Mœbius’ Giraud, Jodorowsky’s 14-hr take on Herbert’s saga was set to change cinema forever.

Jodorowsky's Dune

Over two years, the Chilean film-maker – best known for his surreal western El Topo and his mystical epic The Holy Mountain – and his team of ‘spiritual warriors’ worked furiously on the massive task of imagining Herbert’s universe: making storyboards, paintings, and even costumes. So what happened?

Jodorowsky's Dune

In creating what must be the best not-making-of documentaries ever made, Pavich hunts down the cast and crew of the aborted project from all corners of the globe to tell his tale, but the film’s real magic lies with the incredibly detailed book that Jodorowsky and his team assembled to woo the studios, and it’s the use of these pictures and storyboards that makes this the closest we’ll ever come to seeing Dune as the director intended.

Jodorowsky's Dune

Jodorowsky’s Dune, which premiered at the 2013 London Film Festival and was screened last year at the British Library as part of a special exhibition, with the director in attendance, has now gone straight to digital on pay-per-view VOD platforms, including. iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, blinkbox, and Google Play.

There’s no news of a UK DVD release as yet.

The Immortal Story (1968) | Orson Welles’ mythical love story is a rare beauty

The Immortal Story (1968)

A sumptuous experience Time Out
Orson Welles wrote, starred, directed and narrated this 60-minute period drama on a shoestring for French TV, based on a novel by Isak Dinesen (the pseudonym for Danish author, Karen Blixen), whom he greatly admired, and who is best known for her autobiographical novel Out of Africa.

The Immortal Story (1968)

In Macao, 1860, the wealthy, elderly Mr Clay (Orson Welles) lives out his days by having his loyal Polish clerk Levinsky (Roger Coggio) read out his business exploits from his account books.

One night, Levinsky breaks the monotony by recounting a tale told by sailors about a rich man who paid a poor sailor five guineas to father a child with his young wife. With no heir of his own, and having complete faith in his own omnipotence, Mr Clay then resolves to make the legend fact…

Invited by Levinsky to play the heroine in this ‘comedy with the devil’, the enigmatic Viriginie (Jeanne Moreau) agrees to spend one night in her former family home – but only to get back at Mr Clay whom she blames for her father’s bankruptcy and suicide. ‘Full of the juices of life’, Danish sailor Paul (Norman Eshley), who once spent a year alone on a desert island, is Mr Clay’s intended young stud.

But despite his wealth and power, Mr Clay cannot control the outcome of their union, and this night is set to bring about the final judgement on the wealthy merchant…

The Immortal Story (1968)

Welles’ presence dominates The Immortal Story, which centres on loneliness and regret, but it isn’t as depressing as it sounds. It may be a little too slow-paced and theatrical for some tastes, but this is more than made up for by the poetic script, the exotic setting (Chinchón, near Madrid, stands in for Macao), and the sumptuous camerawork. Every frame looks like a Old Masters painting shot through a dreamlike gauze, and this is courtesy of Willy Kurant, who also worked with Jean-Luc Godard and Alain Robbe-Grillet (so he knows his stuff).

Welles’ brooding performance aside, the film’s other highlight is Jeanne Moreau. At 40, she may not look anywhere near the 17 years that her character is meant to be, but she illicits such a cool sensuality in the role, that it seems perfect for Welles’ bittersweet tale.

And playing the blonde sailor whom Mr Clay picks up at the port, Norman Eshley bears a striking similarity (both in looks and character) to John Phillip Law’s blind angel Pygar in Barbarella, and Terence Stamp’s seductive vistor in Pasolini’s Teorema. Is it a coincidence that all these films came out in 1968, or were scruffy blonde, boyish-looking men just in vogue at the time? Eight years after this film, Eshley pulled on some clerical robes (and some weight) to appear in Pete Walker’s 1976 shocker House of Mortal Sin.

The Immortal Story (1968)

For it’s 1969 US release, The Immortal Story appeared in a double-bill with Luis Buñuel’s satirical modern fable, Simon of the Desert. Now, there’s one deserving of a brand new HD restoration – anyone?

The Immortal Story is available on DVD in the UK from Mr Bongo Films

%d bloggers like this: