Reed. A second viewing of Odd Man Out could change Reed’s placement here and push him closer to the top 100 (or even in it). The visual evidence here below with the images below is pretty compelling—these are gorgeous photographes and look like The Third Man. For now though, Reed’s strength here for the purposes of this list is The Third Man. The film ranks as the #42 of all-time and #4 of the 1940’s. Get this- all 41 films ranked ahead of The Third Man have their director already mentioned as directors 1 thru 117 on this list of the best directors of all-time. So clearly, I think the rest of Reed’s credentials are the weaknesses here. I don’t know the full story of what happened after The Third Man. He didn’t stop working.– but it seems impossible that the director of that film would never make a top 100 film of its respective decade from that point forward.

Best film:  The Third Man. The cuckoo-clock speech by Welles and the zither score by Anton Karas may be happy accidents (at where Reed was simply standing in the right spot at the right time). But there’s no denying the greatest here in the use of shadow, the tunnel chases, and the final scene composition. These are due to Reed and Reed deserves authorship credit for this colossal masterpiece.

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foreground and background detail with set pieces 10+ years before L’Avventura here in The Third Man

total archiveable films: 8

top 100 films:  1 (The Third Man)

a sumptuous composition here in The Third Man– one of the greatest final shots in cinema history. Reed creates symmetry and a frame within a frame that is downright Kubrickian (years before Kubrick’s debut)

top 500 films:  1 (The Third Man)

top 100 films of the decade: 3 (The Third Man, Odd Man Out, The Fallen Idol)

most overrated:  Nothing here. Reed has two films on the TSPDT top 1000. The consensus has The Third Man at #49 (I’m at #42) and Odd Man Out at #931 and that would be about right for me.

most underrated:   Nothing officially- see the note above on “overrated” but I do think Oliver is now underrated in some circles. It is an abomination that this film won the Best Picture Academy Award in 1968 over 2001—but it’s not a bad film. It isn’t in the TSPDT top 1000 and it wouldn’t make my top 1000 either though so I have a hard time calling it underrated.

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perfection in framing an image in Oliver

gem I want to spotlight:    The Third Man is where everybody should start but how can you argue with these images here for Odd Man Out and the great James Mason.

brilliant use of shadow in the mise-en-scene to connect to character and narrative
a mastery of silhouette work and no– this isn’t from The Third Man
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Wellesian angles to showcase disorientation with expressionistic lighting in Odd Man Out

stylistic innovations/traits: Reed has an impeccable talent for frame composition and mise-en-scene. Some of the symmetry and use of surrounding objects (most notably the tunnels in Third Man) to create a frame is the best in cinema this side of Kubrick. There’s a German expressionism as well in his use of shadows and light. Odd Man Out has too much in common with The Third Man for The Third Man to be an accident. The use of miniatures in Night Train to Munich is impressiveand even in Oliver, the composition and Reed’s dedication to what happens in the background, as well as the foreground, is impressive.

from The Third Man– I think one of cinema’s finest wall art that belongs in a museum images
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superior miniature work in Night Train to Munich

top 10

  1. The Third Man
  2. Odd Man Out
  3. The Fallen Idol
  4. Night Train to Munich
  5. Oliver
  6. Our Man in Havana
  7. The Agony and the Ecstasy
  8. Outcast of the Islands

By year and grades

1940- Night Train to Munich R/HR
1947- Odd Man Out HR
1948- The Fallen Idol HR
1949- The Third Man MP
1951- Outcast of the Islands R
1959- Our Man In Havana R
1965- The Agony and the Ecstasy R
1968- Oliver R

*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives