“In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. “
More so than any other decade in the brief history of film, the 1940’s showed that with great tribulation came great inspiration.
Behold the following cinematic masterpieces created amidst a world at war: Casablanca, Citizen Kane, The Grapes of Wrath, Bicycle Thieves, Double Indemnity, Shadow of a Doubt.
In any given year in any given decade any one of these films could easily top anyone’s list. Some of them are routinely bantered about as the greatest film of all time.
And then there is…THE GREATEST FILM OF ALL TIME.
THE THIRD MAN.
If the 2000’s were emblematic of my generation, and the 1970’s belonged to the generation of my parents…then the 1940’s were where my grandparents’ generation left their indelible mark: the decade of the Greatest Generation that clawed their way out of the Great Depression to rise triumphant out of the calamity of World War II. Film mirrored this struggle with tales that showed the human condition is made up of trouble every day. We saw some of the greatest book to film adaptations ever with David Lean’s Oliver Twist and John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath. Speaking of wrath, Carl Theodor Dreyer delivered his bewitching Day of Wrath, while Hitchcock produced the film closest to his heart and mine, Shadow of a Doubt. Clouzot was going tete-a-tete with Hitch across the pond in his native France with the allegorical Le Corbeau and the wildly entertaining police procedural Quai des Orfevres while the Italians were rising from the ashes with their neo-realism movement marked by De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves and Rossellini’s Rome Open City.
And beyond briefly mentioning, I haven’t even touched on Casablanca and Citizen Kane, two films deserving of their own full write-ups and tributes. Yet even those films don’t hold a candle to Carol Reed’s descent into GreeneLand and ascent into film history. Continue reading