4 Shots From 4 Films: In Tribute To Joseph Cotten

The Third Man (1949, directed by Carol Reed)

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

As you can probably guess from my pen name and my profile pic, Joseph Cotten is one of my favorite actors.  Born 115 years ago on this day, Cotten may be best known for his association with Orson Welles but he worked with several great directors over the years.  Along with playing Jedediah Leland in Welles’s Citizen Kane, he starred in Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt and Carol Reed’s The Third Man.  Even while his film career was flourishing, Cotten continued to appear on the Broadway stage and, during the early days of television, he frequently appeared on anthology series, the majority of which were broadcast live.  Cotten even had a memorable cameo in Michael Cimino’s infamous film, Heaven’s Gate.

In honor of Cotten’s birthday, here are four shots from four of his best films.

4 Shots From 4 Films

Citizen Kane (1941, directed by Orson Welles)

Journey Into Fear (1943, directed by Norman Foster and Orson Welles)

Shadow of a Doubt (1943, directed by Alfred Hitchcock)

Portrait of Jennie (1948, directed by William Dieterle)


Goodnight, Vienna: THE THIRD MAN (British Lion 1949)

cracked rear viewer

I’m just gonna come right out and say it: THE THIRD MAN is one of the greatest movies ever made. How could it not be, with all that talent, from producers Alexander Korda and David O. Selznick, director Carol Reed , screenwriter Graham Green, and cinematographer Robert Krasker, to actors Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli , and Trevor Howard. It’s striking visuals, taut direction, and masterful acting transcend the film noir genre and make THE THIRD MAN one of the must-see films of 20th Century cinema.

The story starts simply enough, as American pulp novelist Holly Martins arrives in post-war Vienna to meet up with his old pal Harry Lime, only to learn that Harry was recently killed in a car accident. He attends the graveside service, meeting Harry’s mysterious actress girlfriend Anna Schmidt, and is quickly pulled down a rabbit hole of intrigue and deception involving the British…

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6 Good Films That Were Not Nominated For Best Pictures: The 1950s

The Governor’s Ball, 1958

Continuing our look at good films that were not nominated for best picture, here are 6 films from the 1950s.

The Third Man (1950, dir by Carol Reed)

Now, it should be noted that The Third Man was not ignored by the Academy.  It won the Oscar for Best Cinematography and it was nominated for both editing and Carol Reed’s direction.  But, even with that in mind, it’s somewhat amazing to consider all of the nominations that it didn’t get.  The screenplay went unnominated.  So did the famous zither score.  No nominations for Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard, or even Orson Welles!  And finally, no Best Picture nomination.  1950 was a good year for the movies so competition was tight but still, it’s hard to believe that the Academy found room to nominate King Solomon’s Mines but not The Third Man.

Rear Window (1954, dir by Alfred Hitchcock)

Alfred Hitchcock directed some of his best films in the 50s, though few of them really got the recognition that they deserved upon their initial release.  Vertigo is often described as being Hitchcock’s masterpiece but, to be honest, I actually prefer Rear Window.  This film finds the master of suspense at his most playful and, at the same time, at his most subversive.  Casting Jimmy Stewart as a voyeur was a brilliant decision.  This film features one of my favorite Grace Kelly performances.  Meanwhile, Raymond Burr is the perfect schlubby murderer.  Like The Third Man, Rear Window was not ignored by the academy.  Hitchcock was nominated and the film also picked up nods for its screenplay, cinematography, and sound design.  However, it was not nominated for best picture.

Rebel Without A Cause (1955, dir by Nicholas Ray)

Nicholas Ray’s classic film changed the way that teenagers were portrayed on film and it still remains influential today.  James Dean is still pretty much the standard to which most young, male actors are held.  Dean was not nominated for his performance here.  (He was, however, nominated for East of Eden that same year.)  Instead, nominations went to Sal Mineo, Natalie Wood, and the film’s screenplay.  Amazingly, in the same year that the forgettable Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing was nominated for best picture, this popular and influential film was not.

Kiss Me Deadly (1955, dir by Robert Aldrich)

It’s unfortunate but not surprising that Kiss Me Deadly was totally ignored by the Academy.  In the mid-to-late 50s, the Academy tended to embrace big productions.  There was no way they were going to nominate a satirical film noir that featured a psychotic hero and ended with the end of the world.  That’s a shame, of course, because Kiss Me Deadly has proven itself to be more memorable and influential than many of the films that were nominated in its place.

Touch of Evil (1958, dir by Orson Welles)

Speaking of underappreciated film noirs, Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil is one of the craftiest and most brilliant films ever made.  So, of course, no one appreciated it when it was originally released.  This cheerfully sordid film features Welles at his best.  Starting with a memorable (and oft-imitated) tracking shot, the film proceeds to take the audience into the darkest and most eccentric corners of a small border town.  Everyone in the cast, from the stars to the bit players, is memorably odd.  Even the much mocked casting of Charlton Heston as a Mexican pays off wonderfully in the end.

The 400 Blows (1959, dir by Francois Truffaut)

Francois Truffaut’s autobiographical directorial debut was released in the United States in 1959 and it was Oscar-eligible.  Unfortunately, it only picked up a screenplay nomination.  Of course, in the late 50s, the last thing that the Academy was going to embrace was a French art film from a leftist director.  However, The 400 Blows didn’t need a best picture nomination to inspire a generation of new filmmakers.

Up next, in an hour or so, we continue on to the 60s!


Scenes That I Love: The Cuckoo Clock Speech From The Third Man


Some movies are merely good.  Some movies are undeniably great.  And then, a handful movies are so amazingly brilliant that, every time you watch, you’re reminded why you fell in love with cinema in the first place.

The Third Man is one of those brilliant films.

Directed by Carol Reed and scripted by novelist Graham Greene, The Third Man takes place in the years immediately following the end of World War II.  Pulp novelist Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) comes to Vienna to search for his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles).  Upon arriving, Holly is shocked to learn that Harry makes his living selling diluted penicillin on the black market.

In the classic scene below, Harry and Holly have a clandestine meeting in a Ferris wheel and Harry justifies both his actions and the lives that have been lost as a result of them.

While Orson Welles’ performance is (rightfully) celebrated, I’ve always felt that Joseph Cotten’s work was even more important to the film’s success.  While Welles made Harry Lime into a charismatic and compelling villain, it was  Cotten who provided the film with a heart.

6 Trailers That Make Lisa Marie Go Yay!

Hi everyone! 

I will be the first to admit that I can occasionally be a little moody but tonight, as I sit here typing, I am in such a good, extremely hyper mood.  Maybe it’s because I’m wearing my beloved black Pirates shirt.  Or it could be because, for once, this house is neither too cold nor too warm.  Then again, it could just be because it’s time for me to bring you another edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Trailers!

1) I Dismember Mama/The Blood-Splattered Bride (1974)

This is a trailer for a “double feature of horror,” featuring I Dismember Mama and The Blood-Splattered Bride.  When I’ve spoken with other grindhouse movie fans on the web, this trailer is often cited as being a favorite.  Personally, I think it goes along for about a minute too long but I can understand why it’s so popular.  For one thing, it’s nothing like the trailers that are currently playing in theaters across America in that it’s a short film in itself.  By the way, the trailer for Blood-Splattered bride sans I Dismember Mamma can be viewed here.

2) Killer Nun (1978)

From the wonderful nation of Italy comes this example of the odd little grindhouse genre known as nunsploitation.  I can probably count the number of good nunsploitation films on one hand.  And yet when confronted with a film like this, I cannot look away.  Maybe it’s because I was raised in the Catholic church.  Or it could just be because the totally hot and lickable Joe Dallesandro is in so many of them.  Along with Dallesandro, Killer Nun features Anita Ekberg of La Dolce Vita fame and Alida Valli of Third Man, Suspiria, and Inferno fame.

(Sidenote: Once when I was going to Catholic school, this really mean, fat girl was jealous of me because I was prettier than her so she whacked me in the face with a ruler so hard that it actually broke the skin right over my right eye and I had to get 3 stitches to close the cut and I’ve still got this little scar and sometimes, when I wink or seductively arch my right eyebrow, it still hurts a little.  I hope somebody eventually went all Killer Nun on that girl…)

3) Lady Kung Fu (1972)

When I showed my sister Erin this trailer, she said, “You’re not going to jump up and start trying to do any of that stuff yourself, are you?”  “Uhmmm…no,” I replied but, to be honest, I was totally about to do it.  I don’t know much about Angela Mao but just, on the basis of this trailer, she’s my hero.  This trailer is just infectious and, as I watched, I wondered, “How difficult can it be?”  Well, apparently, it’s very difficult but that’s a story for a different time.

4) The Bullet Machine (1969)

“He can hack it!”  Uhmmm….well, yes, okay then.  At first, I thought I had actually found a trailer that was more violent than the trailer for Massacre Mafia Style but, upon careful reflection, I have to say that Massacre Mafia Style is still the king.  The two hitmen in Massacre Mafia Style may not fire as many bullets but they still manage to kill everyone else in the trailer.  Whereas The Bullet Machine is constantly shooting his gun but doesn’t really seem to accomplish much as a result.  Plus, the mafia hitmen had style whereas the Bullet Machine just seems to be kind of a prick.  If ever I have to prove the thesis that most men use guns as a substitute for their own limp penis, this trailer will be exhibit one.

5) Alien 2 (1980)

I don’t know much about this film other than it’s obviously an Italian attempt to capitalize on the success of the original Alien and it is not — as I originally assumed — the same film as Luigi Cozzi’s Alien Contamination.  One of the things that I love about Italian exploitation cinema is just the pure shamelessness of it all.  I imagine there had to have been about a thousand remakes of Alien in the early 80s but only the Italians would have the balls to actually name a film Alien 2.

As for this trailer, it has its slow spots but seriously, stick with it for the final shot.  And remember — you could be next!

(On the plus side, a young Michele Soavi is in this film.  YAY!)

6) Fascination (1978)

I’m in such a good mood right now that I’m just going to have to end this latest entry with a little Jean Rollin.  Now, just in case anyone out there is unfamiliar with the unique cinematic vision of Jean Rollin, you should understand that this trailer is far more explicit than any of the other trailers featured in this post.  In fact, I’m surprised that Youtube hasn’t taken it down yet.  So, if you’re easily offended, I don’t know why you would be visiting this site in the first place.  But anyways, if you’re easily offended, consider yourself warned.

As for Fascination, it’s actually one of the more accessible of Jean Rollin’s vampire films.  The image — seen towards the end of this trailer — of Brigittie LaHaie with a scythe has become iconic.