23Mar21: “The Third Man”

Darn that kitty boy! Blocking the closed captions. “Andy! The Third Man is one of my top all time favorite movies! Brilliant use of close ups and camera angles to built tension and suspense! No end of plot twists. Joseph Cotton, for blinking sake, as Holly Martins! And Orson Wells, what can I say, as Harry Lime, opportunist and black marketeer in penicillin in the morass of post war Vienna…. Oh, you are just a kitty. You can’t understand.” 

Hee!Hee! Andy moved just in time for me to catch a caption error – or was it a caption writer’s joke or way of adding suspense for the caption reading audience?? -where German is translated into… German! Fortunately for me, with my considerably crappy 1st Year College German for help, “passiert” happens to be in the classic line in my Conversational German second lesson: “Wenn es regnet, passiert des meistens”. I get it. Hee! Hee! I get it! So much of the dialogue is in German spoken with a Viennesse accent, I guess, that I have difficulty following most of it. That adds another layer of suspense. Each time I watch the movie, more of it unveils, revealing just a fraction more of the plot that Holly Martins and I don’t yet know – “Don’t go there, Holly Martins! Don’t do that!” As for Andy…

…he moved to the ottoman, where I could use the closed captions but where he missed the kitty cat scene in Anna Schmidt’s apartment. Holly Martins, drunk, reaches down to Anna’s unnamed cat. The cat refuses to react to a string Holly Martins tempts it with. Anna reveals that Harry Lime is the only person other than she that the cat likes, the reason it won’t play with Holly Martins…. Oh! A new detail I’ve missed in past! Shortly after, the cat will reveal Harry Lime’s hiding place in the shadows, letting Holly Martins know his old friend is still alive. Wow! Thanks, Andrew! I think you deserve a chin “scritch” for helping me see new things in the cat scene.


Watching The Third Man again for the umpteenth time was my treat for doing little to nothing for my weekend. I never tire of this brilliant film. As a former US Army motion picture photographer, the camera work is impressive to me in the way it advances the story. It is a very visual film. In past, I was more involved with the German dialogue, trying to follow most of it, even if I got little: “Bitte, langsam sprechen!” That helped in early 1970 in Germany, but actors in this film speak in “24-frame-per-second” Deutsch. Little relief, then, though the little bits and pieces fill in, well, little bits and pieces of the plot I’ve missed before.