“The Third Man”*

Pictured: 21-22 Grosvenor Street, London W1

*1949 British film noir

When Hungarian émigré Alexander Korda arrived in London in the early 1930s, he transformed the fortunes of British cinema. He established his production company, London Films, built a huge studio complex at Denham in Buckinghamshire, and made some of the most ambitious and visionary feature films Britain had ever seen.

On 24th January 2019, John Fleet’s documentary Churchill and the Movie Mogul, which explored the relationship between Korda and Winston Churchill, was given its UK premiere at BFI South Bank. Before the war, Churchill was employed by Korda as a screenwriter, and papers held at Cambridge University contain his screenplays and his correspondence with Korda.

From BFI screenonline:

“Sometime in 1947 the prolific producer Alexander Korda, a Hungarian émigré and head of London Films, had the idea to make a film set in Vienna, which at the time was divided into zones and occupied by American, British and French forces. It would make a good backdrop, but this wasn’t the only reason for Korda’s interest.

London Films had certain reserves of currency in Austria and this was a time when currency exchange was difficult, requiring permission from government and central banks. Korda scouted out various writers but soon settled on Graham Greene, whom he greatly admired. Greene, Korda and director Carol Reed had collaborated on The Fallen Idol (1948), adapted by Greene from his own short story (and at the time in the process of being shot), and Korda wanted to do it again.

He pestered Greene and the writer eventually presented him with a fledgling idea in the form of a single sentence:

“I had paid my last farewell to Harry a week ago, when his coffin was lowered into the frozen February ground, so that it was with incredulity I saw him pass by, without a sign of recognition, among the host of strangers in the Strand.”

Korda was hooked and The Third Man was conceived.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s