Reed debutto` con
Midshipman Easy (1935)
e Laburnam Grove
Bank Holiday (1938), ambientato durante una festività
nazionale, mescola la commedia popolare e il dramma di una infermiera che, scoprendo di essersi
innamorata del vedovo di una sua paziente, pianta il fidanzato ed accorre a salvare l'altro dal suicidio).
Night Train to Munich (1940),
bellico a suspence e ad inseguimento ispirato a
The Lady Vanishes
Uno scienziato ceco fugge a Londra prima di cadere nelle mani dei nazisti, ma sua figlia cade prigioniera;
i tedeschi la lasciano fuggire perché li porti dal padre, dopo di che rapiscono entrambi; il servizio
segreto inglese manda allora un agente a Berlino. Dopo mille peripezie, i tre riescono a fuggire sulle alpi
Humour satirico nei confronti dei nazisti).
The Girl in the News (1942), thriller Hitchcockiano;
Young Mr. Pitt (1941) di costume.
Carol Reed emerse grazie a due valide trasposizioni, da Cronin, un dramma di
minatori (l'appassionata The stars look down, 39) e da Wills, un'analisi piccolo-borghese
(Kipps, 41), e, dopo una lucida dissertazione sul potere di coagulo della guerra nei confronti
di diversa estrazione (The way ahead, 44), si propose nel dopoguerra come uno dei registi
della rinascita, attento alla realtà sociale e maestro del mezzo tecnico, soprattutto con tre film di
Odd Man Out (1947)
è la cronaca della fuga di un attentatore irlandese
braccato dalla polizia, dei suoi incontri notturni e della tragica fine all'alba, avvincente, ma poco originale
(scene da Quai des brumes di Carnè, Pepe le moko di Duvivier,
The Informer di Ford, M di Lang, etc...);
The Fallen Idol (1948)
è un thriller psicologico che ha per protagonista un bambino solitario, figlio di un ambasciatore
sempre in viaggio ed orfano di madre, che ha per unico compagno di giochi il maggiordomo; quando la
moglie di questi precipita da una finestra, si scopre che l'uomo ha una relazione con una dattilografa e i
sospetti della polizia sono confermati dalla testimonianza del bambino, deluso dalla doppia vita
dell'amico adulto; a causa della sua crisi infantile, il maggiordomo rischia persino di essere condannato a
(Translated by Ashley Reynolds) |
Bank Holiday (1938), set during a national festival, blends popular
comedy with the drama of a nurse who, discovering that she is in love with
the widower of one of her patients, leaves her boyfriend and rushes to save
the other from suicide.
Night Train to Munich (1940),
war film of suspense and pursuit:
A Czech scientist flees to London to avoid falling into the hands of Nazis,
but his daughter falls prisoner. The Germans let her get away so that she
will lead them to the father, after which they capture both; so the British
secret service sends an agent to Berlin. After a thousand ups and downs,
the three succeed in fleeing to the Swiss alps.
(The Nazis are treated with satirical humor.)
The Girl in the News (1942), Hitchcockian thriller;
Young Mr. Pitt (1941) costume picture.
Carol Reed stands out thanks to two effective transpositions; that of
Cronin, a drama of miners (the passionate The stars look down, 39)
and that of Wills, in an analysis of the petty bourgeois
(Kipps, 41), and, after a lucid dissertation on the power of the
agglomeration of the war towards those of different extraction (The way
ahead, 44), he puts himself forward in the post-war years as one of the
directors of the revival, attentive to the social reality and master of the
technical medium, most of all with three atmospheric films: Odd Man
Out (1947) is the story of the escape of an Irish attacker hunted by the
police, of his nocturnal encounters and of the tragic ending of the hunt at
dawn; gripping, but not very original (scenes from Carnè's Quai
des brumes, Duvivier's Pepe le moko,
Ford's The Informer, Lang's M, etc...);
The Fallen Idol (1948)
is a psychological thriller that has as its protagonist a lonely little boy,
son of an ambassador who is always away on business and orphaned by his
mother, and who has only the butler for a playmate. When the butler's wife
falls from a window, one discovers that he was having an affair with a
typist; and the suspicions of the police are confirmed by the testimony of
the boy, who is disillusioned by the double life of his adult friend.
Because of his infantile crisis, the butler is at risk of being condemned to
The Third Man (1949),
sceneggiato da Graham Greene, è un poliziesco ambientato negli angiporti di
una Vienna sinistra, distrutta dai bombardamenti e in piena guerra fredda.
The Third Man (1949), scripted by Graham Greene, is a police thriller
set in the underworld of a destitute Vienna, destroyed by the bombardments of
world war II and torn by the conspiracies of the cold war.
Orson Welles is a cynical smuggler of diluted penicilin who fakes his
own death in a car accident.
Post-war Vienna is a city that has been divided into American, British,
Russian and French occupation zones, plus an international zone for the
police. It is a city of murky political plots.
It is also a city of ruins, where workers are working around the clock to
restore buildings, streets and staircases.
The American writer Holly Martins (Cotten) flies to Vienna to meet his best
friend Harry Lime (Welles). He waits in vain at the train station for Lime
to show up. Eventually,
Martins walks to Lime's apartment and learns from a porter that Lime has been
killed, run over by a truck while crossing the street.
Martins attends the funeral and meets the
chief of the police, Major Calloway, who tells him of Lime's criminal
activities in Vienna. Holly is shocked to learn that Lime was involved in
murders, and refuses to believe the major.
Holly meets with the aristocrat "Baron" Kurtz who tells him how he and a
"friend" carried the body after it was hit, but the "friend" has left Vienna.
Kurtz tells him that the beautiful woman who was at the funeral is Anna,
a showgirl. Holly meets her and learns that she is a Czeck refugee posing
as an Austrian. Anna adds more disturbing details to the story of Lime's death:
he was killed by his own car's driver, and his own doctor was passing by
just at the time of the accident. Only close friends of Lime witnessed
Calloway wants him to leave Vienna, but Holly refuses, determined to find
out the truth.
Martins begins investigating his friend's last hours, especially after learning
from the porter that the body of Limes was carried by three men.
However, Calloway is more interested in the racket that Lime was running
in Vienna than in his death.
Obsessed with finding the identity of the "third man", Holly
interrogates Kurtz, who plays violin in a night club, and then the other friend,
the rumenian Popescu, who is back in town. Popescu denies that there was a
The porter wants to tell Holly something but somebody kills him, and Holly
has to run away because the crowd suspects him.
Later, Holly has to avoid Popescu and two bodyguars and finds shelter in
Calloway tries again to dissuade Holly by telling him about Lime's worst
crime: he was trafficking in diluted penicillin that caused the death of
countless innocents, including children, at several Vienna hospitals.
Holly gets drunk and brings flowers to Anna. They console each other, both
shattered by the revelations on Harry Lime's racket. Somebody has followed him
and is spying from the street. When Holly leaves the house, the man follows
him. Holly confronts him in the dark, deserted streets and finds out that it
is...a smiling Harry Lime. But he rapidly disappears:
the third man was... Harry himself.
The dead man was someone else, and the murder was simply
a way to protect Harry Lime, to stop the police from investigating him.
Holly calls Calloway, who at first doesn't believe him, but then finds a door
leading to the sewers, an underworld where Harry Lime apparently now hides.
The police opens Lime's coffin and finds that the corpse is that of a
police informer who was doublecrossing Lime.
Anna is arrested and blackmailed by the police: if she does not cooperate with
them to frame Lime, they will deliver her to the Russians.
Holly asks Kurtz and the doctor, whom have been accomplices in Harry's
fake death, to set up a meeting with Harry.
They meet in a deserted amusement park, in a cabin of the giant Ferris Wheel,
The evil and smiling Harry is absolutely nonchalant and friendly.
Harry even admits that he betrayed Anna: that's how the police learned that
she is not Austrian.
Harry is unrepentant, totally indifferent to the fate of the innocents that
they can observe from the top of the wheel.
Realizing that Holly is now determined to destroy him,
Harry tries to appease Holly with his twisted morality and even offers him
to become a partner. Then he disappears again in the labyrinth of Vienna's
Holly decides to deliver Harry to the police in exchange for a passport for
Anna. But Anna does not want to betray Harry, no matter what, and rips the
After visiting the young victims of Harry at the hospital, Holly accepts to
frame Harry just for the sake of removing an evil being from the face of the
The police surrounds the meeting place, a cafe, but Anna shows up, alerted
by Kurtz who has just been arrested.
Harry, who has surveyed the scene from the rooftop, comes down to shoot Holly,
but can't pull the trigger because Anna is in front of Holly, and has to flee.
The police unleash a manhunt through the ruins and down into the sewers.
There are hundreds of them.
After a long pursuit, Harry's last gunshots echoing in the tunnel, he is
wounded by Calloway and barely crawls away like a rat.
Harry tries to exit the labyrinth through a manhole but can't lift the lid.
Holly reaches Harry and reluctantly kills him.
This time the funeral is Harry's. Calloway and Holly leave again together,
and Anna again leaves alone.
The long final shot shows Holly waiting for Anna and Anna passing him
without even lifting her eyes.
A bit of Casablanca's noir atmosphere, of M's claustrophobic
evil underworld, and of Welles' cinematic techniques.
(Translated by Ashley Reynolds)|
After the huge commercial success of this almost expressionistic film, Reed
was looking to repeat himself with other films about cold war, more
pronounced spy melodramas.
The man between (1953), a love affair between an English tourist
and a Soviet spy in west Berlin that ends with the sacrifice of one in order
to save the other's life; and the parody of
Our Man in Havana (1958), another collaboration with Graham Greene, in which fraud is accomplished by a humble
English shopkeeper in Cuba to the detriment of the British secret service,
given that he is anxious to find secret army documents and that the
particular developed vacuum cleaner plans resemble, incredibly, hypothetical
super weapons. (One of his friends is implicated by the enemy secret
service and in the war between presumed spies that is provoked, a chain of
innocent people die, including the friend.)
Dopo il grande successo commerciale di questo film quasi espressionista, Reed
cercò di ripetersi con altri film sulla guerra fredda, più marcatamente spionistici, dal
Outcast of the Islands (1951) is set in Malaysia, where friends and family search for a disappeared expatriate.
The Man Between (1953), idillio fra una turista inglese e una spia
sovietica a Berlino ovest che si conclude con il sacrificio di questi per salvarle la vita, alla parodia di
Trapeze (1956) is a melodrama in which an aging trapeze star (Burt Lancaster) and his protege (Tony Curtis) fall for the same woman.
The Key (1958) is a comedy about a woman who causes trouble to her
Our Man in Hawana (1958), un'altra collaborazione con Greene, la truffa compiuta da un umile negoziante inglese di Cuba ai
danni del servizio segreto britannico, viso che questi è ansioso di trovare documenti di armi
segrete e visto che i disegni ingranditi di particolari di aspirapolveri assomigliano incredibilmente a tali
ipotetiche super armi (un suo amico viene coinvolto dai servizi segreti nemici, e nella guerra fra presunte
spie che si scatena muoiono innocenti a catena, amico compreso).
Il resto della produzione di Reed è piuttosto sciolto, sempre più
indirizzato sulla china del commerciale.
The rest of Reed's films are rather weak, progressively more commercial.
The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) is a Michelangelo biopic.
Oliver (1968) is an adaptation of
1960 stage musical which is based on Charles Dickens's novel "Oliver Twist".