As you know we love hearing from our readers. Everyone likes letters. And in our cyber world emails are the next best things.
Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, dipping into our mailbag for the latest batch of reader goodies, and they are indeed good.
Our Sept. 18 blog (Best Movie Ending – Ever?) floated the idea that the top prize could well go to the marvelous, unforgettable concluding scene in 1949’s The Third Man.
You remember the ending. It’s set in an enormous Vienna cemetery on a raw, bitingly cold day. Joseph Cotten as “honest, upright” Holly Martins, stands near a cart full of logs in the foreground while a woman in the distance strides purposefully toward the camera.
She is Italian actress Alida Valli (pictured above) portraying the mistress of villain Harry Lime (Orson Welles), who has just been buried. The impression is conveyed that the woman and Martins will somehow connect in a romantic final scene. They don’t. She keeps on walking towards the camera, past him without even a nod and then out of the shot.
Absolutely it belongs in the discussion. My favorite film. I disagree with Cotten, though. I don’t think the entire audience would be expecting Valli to stay with his character. Wouldn’t make sense given the rest of the film. (Director Carol) Reed’s end is perfect.
Other favorite endings for me are John Ford’s ‘The Searchers’ and (director Yasujiro) Ozu’s ‘Tokyo Story’.
Richard Hegedorn didn’t comment on The Third Man, but put foward an impressive list of classics with great endings.
How about the endings of: “Doddsworth,’ ‘Gone With the Wind,’ ‘ ShowBoat’ (1952), ‘Citizen Kane,’ ‘Random Harvest,’ ‘Sunset Blvd?’
Wow, Richard. Some set of choices. Are the finales of, say, Kane or Sunset Boulevard better than the conclusion of The Third Man? Tough question.
In response to our Sept. 14 blog about the last and rather sad days of MGM’s Louis B. Mayer, regular reader Mike Sheridan emailed the following:
Regardless of what people thought of the old studio ways, the studios owning the players was the best way to go for the movie-going public. America was guaranteed a bounty of top films, and a large amount too.
The studios owning the theatres was the best way to go for the product. Actors still got paid gross amounts and it was our royalty. Today with “free agent” there is not a star around under age 50 that’s worth a damn.
When your BIGGEST stars are really tv or reality-tv stars, we are one starving bunch for real acting talent.
We agree with your general conclusion, Mike, although the government believed that the studios owning theaters gave them too much market clout, and actors under studio contracts often felt exploited and forced to do lousy pictures. But your point of view has been espoused by French critics for decades, and they — and you — certainly have a point.
Our Mystery Monday photo series — challenging you to identify various stars — was especially tricky on Sept. 10 when we asked you to attach a name to a “third woman” that even Frank at first glance didn’t know.
Taci writes in to identify Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball and Harriet Hilliard on set of ‘Follow the Fleet’. Ginger and Lucille were easy; for Harriet the tag on your picture helped. (Oops. Forgot about that blasted tag.)
Ellen came in with: I’m with Taci. It is most definitely Harriet Hilliard, during a break from ‘Follow the Fleet.’ (It should be mentioned that Harriet Hilliard later married Ozzie Nelson and became the ‘Harriet’ of the Ozzie and Harriet tv series.)
Finally, Patricia Nolan-Hall (Caftan Woman) confesses to having had trouble identifying the subjects (Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift) of our Sept. 3 Mystery Monday blog. She writes: I wouldn’t have gotten Liz and Monty Clift without your clues.
Always glad to help, Patricia. And, thanks to all our correspondents.