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The Third Man (1949)
Classic rendition of a tale of murder and mystery seething with deceit in post war Austria,
What makes this movie remarkable and unique apart from its great screenplay and cinematic effects is the musical background performed on an unusual stringed instrument, played by Anton Karas, the zither, which adds a repetitive haunting theme of suspense and intrigue to this well made production.
In post WW11 Vienna, American writer Holly Martins (played by Joseph Cotten) arrives there to seek out work with an old friend Harry Lime only to discover that he has been killed in a motor vehicle traffic accident. Martins investigates.
The plot thickens when he finds inconsistencies in the stories of witnesses to the incident with a hushed up look of fear and non cooperation on the part of those who knew Lime. It appears from the two men who picked him up from the roadway that there was a third man involved.
Martins becomes all the more suspicious after meeting his loyal girlfriend Anna (Alida Valli) already under surveillance by the Allied military powers of the city and eventually the murky world of Lime emerges in the dimly lit streets of Vienna, with his reputation as a racketeer and black market dealer being exposed.
Lime is also pursued by Major Calloway, (played by Trevor Howard), of the British Occupational Forces, who does not at first believe that Lime is still alive after attending his funeral, but then after that was his sighting by Martins in a doorway one dark night.
Eventually, Lime, (now revealed truly, for what he is and acted superbly by Orson Welles), comes into focus with a conclusion well played out in the underground sewers of Vienna where he tries to make a dash for freedom from the authorities and his flight from justice.
Interesting drama, shot perfectly in black and white filmography, backed by good performances from Welles and Cotten.
But who was the third man?
Gallant Bess (1946)
Really great heart warming story of a soldier's love for a horse
I had just finished watching our annual national horse race the Melbourne Cup,(an equivalent to the Kentucky Derby over here), and after losing my bets, decided to switch to another channel on my pay TV for some alternative form of entertainment.
By coincidence I got another horse drama, a film - Gallant Bess - a bond of loving friendship between a WW11 soldier and a mare,who both saved one another at respective intervals during the Pacific conflict.
Although nearly towards the end when I signed in, I got enough interest to watch it again in the evening full time,and recorded it.
For any animal lover like myself I found this tale to be one of a great personal relationship, between a young man having lost his original horse, Bess, on the home farm and then in forthcoming events enlists in the Marines to serve his Country.
On an island in the Pacific he discovers a wounded horse,(calls it Bess),and nurses it back to good health, and is rewarded when that horse comes to his own rescue after a skirmish with the Japanese.
Being shipped out later back home without his pet,in an outstanding finale, Bess breaks her tie rope and swims out to the departing vessel and is eventually taken on board by the crew and goes home to the farm for a happy ending.
I would recommend this film to the young children of today to emphasize the importance of how we need more companion animals like this one featured, who seem to prove more worthy in life than that of our own kind in our present society.
The Sting (1973)
Fabulous 1930's style movie with a flawless script of two con artists seeking revenge on a gangster for the death of a personal friend.
You would never get tired of watching this exciting film with Paul Newman as (Henry Gondorff) and Robert Redford (Johnny Hooker) combining to form a partnership, to set up mean vindictive respectable style gangster Robert Shaw (Doyle Lonergan) with a well planned heist, for ordering the killing of well loved drifter Luther Coleman (played by Robert Jones), who conned one of Lonergan's runners out of several thousand dollars in illegal cash.
Gondorff, getting himself on a train from New York to Chicago gets involved in a cheating game of poker with equally cheating Lonergan and wins his stakes infuriating the latter accordingly, particularly when he finds out that he was staked on his own pick pocketed cash.
Hooker plays up to Lonergan with a ruse of taking over Gondorff's enterprise and citing his basement racing shop as a means of getting control and inducing Lonergan to bet money on past posted races via an elaborate set up on a false con with a Western Union wire relay.
In between there is corrupt Lt. Snyder (Charles Durning) State Police (Bunko Squad) who thinks he has a deal with a fictitious FBI team to get Gondorff (for a promise of reward dollars), for nabbing Hooker and getting him to rat on Gondorff.
Lonergan thinking he has now the perfect means of taking down Gondorff places a huge half million dollar bet on a past posted race.
The fake FBI intervenes just at the end falsely shooting Hooker and Gondorff,who are playing dead , Lonergan exits at Snyders insistence because of two murders having just occurred, raving at his loss of money left in the racing shop.
In the meantime the team cleans up - Gorndorff and Hooker come back to life and they all share in Lonergan's proceeds.
This movie could well be described as acting within acting because that what it is - a perfectly rehearsed tale of deception by a host of characters who played their parts splendidly -great cast and one of the best productions I have seen.
The musical piano ragtime tunes of Scott Joplin interposed therein throughout the sequences add a special flavor to one of my favorite best films.
On the Beach (1959)
Compelling heart breaking story of the end of the world as the result of nuclear war.
I first saw this movie at a suburban picture theater as a teenager in Brisbane, Queensland after its release in 1959. It is a sobering view of how the world could have ended if the two post super WW11 powers had actually clashed in a nuclear war.
I never imagined in my life that such an event could ever happen, (but it nearly did in reality as the result of the Cuba crisis three years later), which is the inspirational substance of this great movie. I noted the calender shown within this movie as 1964. What a great close forecast at the time of such an impending event.
I watched it again last night on Pay TV and my appreciation of its message of over 50 years ago conveys to me the great fragility of which our own mortal kind, exists in this uncertain world of today, and seems to be bent on descending into an eternal disaster of terrorism and destruction.
Set in my own home country Australia, it features the ever capable magnificent Gregory Peck as American submarine commander Towers arriving with his ship No. 623 in Melbourne, before the worldwide cataclysm of descending lethal radiation from a nuclear war, which has already engulfed the northern hemisphere will finally reach the shores of our down under happy go lucky continent and all oblivious to our citizens of this unavoidable maelstrom.
Enter Anthony Perkins as Australian Naval Lieutenant Peter Holmes with his devoted wife, Mary (played lovingly by Donna Anderson ) with their daughter Jennifer, and then the appearance of the lovely Ava Gardner (Moira), as an Aussie liaison officer who ultimately indulges in a passionate affair with Peck in a doomed but magical relationship in the beginning of the end for the time they have left. Ava was outstanding in her role in this movie.
And also the unusual part of Fred Astaire as Julian, more known for his outstanding song and dance man roles on American stage scenes, playing in this instance the off beat down trodden racing car scientist aboard the submarine, delegated to provide an assessment of the remainder of the time to come, before it becomes necessary for those left to end their lives with prescription pills.
Great emotional drama of an event which shows how our own race can be so destructive to the point where leaders can display their selfish principles in pursuit of power, decide the worth of their personal living, and ultimately those of the fate of their own kind.
Very tear jerking scene towards the end in which Lt. Holmes and wife Mary confront the final plight of their lives together and re-affirm their vows of genuine love for each other.
This movie was derived from the talents of absolutely brilliant novelist Nevil Shute who wrote the original book, translated into a magnificent production and direction by Stanley Kramer with the added musical tune of our proud now alternative national theme "Waltzing Matilda" played at those important intervals to such effect, which just makes this movie click perfectly.
P.S. I have a minor connection to this film through my brother in law who is Spanish by birth and was a very young refugee of the Civil War in his country in 1936. Twice he tried to stowaway on board a ship to the U.S. but was discovered and returned home. He later stowed to Australia, and accepted as an immigrant refugee, got a job as a dishwasher in a high class Melbourne Restaurant in the early 1950's. Through hard work he was eventually promoted to head drink table waiter and was personally assigned to serving Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Anthony Perkins who regularly dined there after their daily filming roles for this movie.
Ava Gardner made it quite clear to the management of the restaurant that she would only dine there if my brother in law (Tony) would be her personal waiter. He did well in salary and tips for that recommendation.
I believe she had a great attraction for Spanish gentlemen, well reflected in some of the movies she made during her time.
There is a street in the Melbourne suburb of Berwick where a lot of this filming took place, and under development at that time, and had her name - Gardner Street - placed up in the honor of her contribution to the role she played in this local production. Even Stanley Kramer got his last name on a street there for his contribution.
Great movie, well done in black and white - watch it and see for yourself. You wont be disappointed.
Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)
Magnificent WW2 story of a dedicated nun caught up with a rough and tumble marine.
I never thought I would ever see a movie where the lovely gracious actress Deborah Kerr (and wasn't she), playing Sister Angela, would team up with the crude outspoken hard drinking U.S. marine soldier Allison (played by Mitchum) in this epic story of two persons, finding themselves stranded together on a lonely Pacific Island during WW2. Despite their in differences in social values, both combine to make a great team in the wake of possible impending Japanese discovery and find great moral ideals to their lives.
The end is just absorbing with Allison defeating an enemy attempt to bombard an invasion fleet by removing the breech blocks of their guns and neutralizing any move on the attacking warships.
Getting wounded in the process and ferried to a hospital berth aboard ship followed by Sister Angela gives this movie a very special distinction.
As the title ended,appropriately, under the directorship of the great John Huston - "Heaven knows Mr. Allison"
The Dam Busters (1955)
Fantastic true WW2 movie of the raid by the RAF on the dams of the Ruhr Valley in Germany - May 1943..
This is a splendid well cast movie which features two important identities - the first - Barnes Wallis (played well by Michael Redgrave) a somewhat eccentric off beat scientist with an imaginative idea of defeating the Germans by breaching their dams, the source of their hydro electrical power generation necessary for their war production, and in doing so, bringing a quick end to the Second World War.
The other is British Wing Commnander Guy Gibson (played superbly by Richard Todd) who leads his newly formed Lancaster bomber squadron (No. 617) on the attack with precision low flying tactics and brave judgment and charged with the duty of care and welfare of his well chosen loyal crew from all sides of the Allied cause.
Despite their difficult confronting obstacles, they complete their designated assignment with understandable casualties. Wallis is appalled by the loss of so many men on this mission and he regrets his decision to have even advocated the plan in the first place.
Gibson assures him differently and says his men would have gone anyway regardless of their outcome. The loss of his beloved black Labrador dog, hit by a car on the eve of his mission adds a very personal touch to this story.
Great musical score so thoroughly and magically composed for this WW2 drama by Eric Coates gives this film the thumbs up.
Just watch it and see. Absolutely outstanding viewing.
Too Late the Hero (1970)
Extremely interesting WW11 drama of a clash between two very different Allied cultures.
Cliff Robertson playing a somewhat reticent U.S. Naval Lieutenant (Lawson) hoping for a long due leave posting, is unexpectedly assigned to a command with a British base on an island in the New Hebrides off the South West Pacific in 1942. Because of his Japanese language skills and directed to penetrate to the north of the island with a British commando force he is given a directive to take control of an enemy radio station and deliver deceptive messages to their adversary in order to confuse Japanese naval intelligence.
On arriving at the British base and expecting some form of settling relaxation beforehand, is informed by Commanding Officer Thompson (Played by Harry Andrews), that he will be leaving for his duties in "half an hour".
The stunned look on Lawson's face, and at a subsequent pr-briefing put him into a state of disbelief as to what is happening with his association with his British colleagues who are already demonstrating precision control over their already come to attention to duties.
Enter British "Limey" Michael Caine (Tosh) an equally disconcerted medical orderly soldier with a totally disloyal uninterested squad of men, led on this patrol by bungling Captain Hornsby (played superbly by Denholm Elliot) who takes his troops to complete disaster with poor judgment of jungle fighting skills.
A shootout between them and an unanticipated Japanese Patrol leads to casualties on both sides - with the sarcastic remark of a Corporal describing the affray as though it was the outcome of a Soccer match -
"It's been a great day at Hampden Park folks - Hornsby's Hotspurs 5 - Japanese United 3". - all of them scored by Hornsby.
Tosh after attending to the dead and wounded replies - "Fairy Feet Hornsby deployed his forces with such a masterful grasp of tactics one half of ourselves got shot by the other half".
Another replies - I don't believe it.
Tosh again interjects referring to his fallen comrades - go dig out the bullets - you won't find "Made in Japan" written on them.
The rest of the patrol in their mission ends in absolute disaster with the loss of Hornsby on his disastrous assault of the radio station. A subsequent discovery of a major Jap naval airstrip there by the remainder of the patrol leads to a chase and run by the enemy in an endeavor to stop them reporting this find.
The remainder of the force retreat in a shambles with some of the party becoming victims of the Japanese,either killed or surrendering beforehand, leaving Lawson and Tosh to try to make it back to base.
Both eventually leave the jungle perimeter under enemy fire over an exposed field with only one survivor returning.
Really great movie full of comedy quips, combined with interesting American - British off beat well quoted differences, and a conclusion deserved of the movie title.
The Night of the Generals (1967)
O'Toole and Sharif are just perfect in this unusual WW11 drama of death beyond the battlefield.
While WW11 rages in Europe, German intelligence officer Major Grau (played splendidly by Omar Sharif) is involved in the investigation of the grisly murder of a prostitute in Warsaw in December 1942. A German General is seen leaving her room beforehand and Grau proceeds to try to discover the perpetrator, targeting three likely suspects - General Tanz played by Peter O'Toole, General Kahelenberge played by the ever dependable Donald Pleasance and Charles Gray as General Von Seiditz - Gabler. His actions are seen as somewhat eccentric by his superiors but he has a devotion to duty to see justice done for unfortunate abused females already aided by Inspector Morand (Phillipe Noriet) of the French Police when another prostitute is brutally murdered in Paris nearly two years later in July 1944. All three suspected Generals happened to be there at that time. Grau with his polished conduct and charm plus Morand form a close bond to solve the murders and carry out their duties with gentlemen conduct though being on opposing sides in the war
Even though Grau is aware of the upcoming plot on Hitler's life he remains obsessed with solving his current crimes. He discovers the true identity of the killer but is himself shot dead by the real culprit in the wake of the unsuccessful assassination attempt on the Fuhrer.
The scene then shifts to post WW11, some 20 years later with the murder of another prostitute in Hamburg. The killings all have the same striking similarity in clues.
The final act is played out at an anniversary rally for an SS reunion, in which Inspector Morand confronts the accused and leads him to his demise.
Great backup cast by John Gregson as Colonel Sandauer (Tanz's loyal assistant) and Tom Courtenay with Joanna Pettet who provide a sensual romantic interlude to the horror of war and feature prominently in the closing of this good drama.
Peter O'Toole gives a magnificent performance as the destructive, arrogant hard drinking, demanding General, with strange personal qualities (like exact bathwater temperature and unclean hands of his subordinates), amounting into somewhat of an obsessive compulsive disorder.
Something definitely different from your standard WW11 movie and really well worth watching.
PT 109 (1963)
Based on the true story of JFK and his experiences in the Solomon Islands during WW11.
This movie has always been a great favorite of mine because I always regarded President John F. Kennedy to be one of the most influential politicians of the 20th century who championed the cause of Democracy throughout the world, particularly during the Cold War.
His service as a Naval Lieutenant in the Pacific during WW 11, in charge of a PT boat,(No. 109) which was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer during a night sortie in the Solomon Islands in August 1943 is one of heroic performance in which he paid vigilance to the safety of his disbanded crew, getting them to dry surroundings on a nearby island.
Their future looked bleak after being written off as dead by their own command,
But Australian Coast Watcher Lt. Reginald Evans (played by Michael Pate) and his loyal band of native Solomon Islanders refused to give up hope of their survival and after extensive searching discovered their whereabouts.
Kennedy sent a message to Evans carved on a coconut to confirm his presence and that of his men and they were subsequently rescued.
Kennedy's actions were very gallant on his part indeed, in order to keep his crew intact, and he did it with magnificent conduct in a role played superbly by Cliff Robertson.
Excellent supporting cast with James Gregory as local district Naval Commander Ritchie, and Ty Hardin, Robert Culp and Robert Blake making up as members of the crew.
A great well made movie of a true future leader - no wonder he became a U.S. President.
P.S. When President Kennedy paid a visit to Australia in 1962 he asked to meet once again with Lt. Evans and that was a bond of friendship renewed. I will never forget that terrible day one year later when he was assassinated in Dallas Texas on November 22nd 1963. I was 19 years old at the time.
Great story of two mates seeking their fortune by fossicking for gems in Central Queensland., my home State.
I am surprised and very disappointed to find out from the remarks of previous IMDb reviewers, particularly my fellow Australians, that they cannot obtain a commercially published copy of this movie.
Well I have one and for good reason, because I played a minor role in the making of this film and was given a copy by my late Uncle, Jack McCafferty, whose bus company which I worked for at the time, was featured in several cameo shots. My Uncle was overseas at the time and, left in charge as a Company Executive, was approached by the Producer on a tightly fixed budget,for a deal where we would provide free transport of equipment and personnel to the filming sites at Emerald and Rubyvale where we ran regular bus services. In exchange we would get a small featured role in the film as set off advertising. My Uncle who I contacted approved the deal and we went ahead. Anyway, apart from all this, and the business association involved, it is really a great film of two "Buddies", played superbly by Colin Friels (Mike) and Harold Hopkins (Johnny), (ex my home town Toowoomba), just trying to make a living and seeking to strike it rich, fossicking for gemstones in their humble outback habitats of central Queensland.
Despite the intervention of their nemesis Andy a menacing identity, who tries to dominate the local scene and cook the market on the real worth of sapphires he is outwitted by the two buddies in the end.
Joined by a host of other great supporting cast members like Kris Mc Quade, Bruce Spence as co-fossickers, and city slicker tourist caravan folk from down South, - George, Merle, Jennifer and Pete they combine to make this a great adventurous movie.
Simon Chilvers as the personable dapper chappy aircraft salesman, and great aerobatic stunts by Barry Hempel, who I knew personally, and died only recently in a light plane crash off the Queensland Coast, gives extra blood pumping spirit to this great Aussie classic.
The final clashing scene between Mike and Andy on their respective big mechanical earthmoving machines brings this film to a great conclusion.
See it for yourself and decide - if you can get a copy.
P.S. I was invited to attend the premiere of this film, which screened in Rockhampton in 1983, and met all the cast, including late local Mayor Rex Pilbeam who played the part of the chap riding his horse into the bar of the hotel in the latter part of the movie. The film did make viewing on Channel 10 several years ago courtesy of movie host Bill Collins, and I was fortunate to dub a second copy.I have not seen it since.