Figaro, as an artistic type, has an affinity for older movies, particularly older schlock like the Godzilla series and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. He gets a big kick out of seeing how scary or kerrrrr-azy effects were produced with minimum know-how and money - a huge kick. I sympathize but I don't care all that much unless I'm snaked, until it comes to the film noir, which, thankfully, he also gets a kick out of. Last night we saw The Third Man and I was suitably flabbergasted.
The producers really benefitted from having Vienna right there, in a state of what was for the forties quite artful destruction I suppose. Still a fucking beautiful city with just enough rubble to make the chase scenes scintillating and to illustrate a pre-Cold War tension Americans could only get an echo-y chill of (which was quite enough for them, I'm sure). And I suppose they also really benefitted from the caustic but very human wit of Graham Greene, who did the screenplay as well as the novel it was based on. And they were fortunate to have a really capable cast - a fucking lovely cast - though that was obviously more good management or good directing than good luck.
But damn, those huge advantages aside, the film was so fucking good that I really had to ask myself what the hell happened to mainstream American film. The effects of tension and things equally lovely - big fucking spotlights creating the most incredible shadows - low lights shining on Orson Welles' little white fingers poking through a grille. And the creation of conflicting sympathies for at least four characters with opposing interests - it was art, and it was exciting.
I suppose what I'm driving at is that if the American mainstream was producing films that good in 1949 with lousier cameras and low-tech lighting effects, there's no excuse for the rubbishy crap it produces presently, and now I'm even more determined that studios whining about declining profits and cinema attendance should just shove it up their asses and stop expecting us to pay $12 to watch their awful cocking rubbish.