Carol Reed and James Mason...it's Odd Man Out, isn't it? Wrong! Reed
and Mason also teamed up for the rarely-seen, relatively inferior, yet
quite valuable The Man Between six years later. While the film is
nowhere near the masterpiece that Odd Man Out is, it has a number of
redeeming virtues and is a must-see for James Mason fans.
Reed again focused his plot on his events that occur in city in turmoil. Last time it was Belfast and Vienna (The Third Man. Now it's post-war Berlin, and Germany divided into two. Reed liked these atmospheric, shadowy, morally bleak settings (they become almost a "character" in the film), and the physical (the East-West divide in Berlin, the zones of Austria) and emotional (the attitudes of the citizens of Belfast)barriers that engulf and separate people.
The Man Between was filmed in both Berlin and London, as Odd Man Out was also in Belfast and London and The Third Man in Vienna and England. Yet it doesn't have the visual pull of the other two films- perhaps because Robert Krasker is missing, but probably more so due to a smaller budget. The photography is nowhere near as inspired as in the other two films, and the filming in the first half of The Man Between is rather flat and ordinary. Once we get to the "love-on-the-run" scenes however, it picks up markedly and we start getting the trademark Reed camera tilts, shadowy streets and inspired visual flair.
Claire Bloom, that lovely, intelligent, graceful and ethereal actress, gives a wonderful performance as Sussan Mallison, a young English girl who travels to Berlin to visit her brother and his wife Bettina (the excellent German actress Hildegaarde Neff, looking strikingly like Ginger Rogers!). The film is really about Susan's personal journey, as she goes from seeing things in black-and-white at the beginning of the film to falling in love with Ivo Kern (James Mason), a criminal.
Ivo Kern immediately draws comparisons to Harry Lime in The Third Man and many have referred to Mason's performance (and the overall film) as a pale imitation of the earlier film, and a desperate attempt by Reed to repeat the success of The Third Man. Well, I have to disagree. Of course Reed wanted to make another film as successful, but he doesn't tell the same story in this film, no. The narrative is much more focused around the romance between Sussan and Ivo, whereas Lime is callous in his treatment of Anna (Valli), telling Holly Martin "to be good to Anna, you'll find that she's worth it". He only really sees her as a person that he can use; Kern wants to protect Sussan. And Kern, even though he is delved into post-war crime activities, still maintains his moral core...he seems tired, an unwilling accomplice in the attempt to get hold of Kestner.
Perhaps the film falters in that's it's themes and concerns are not as powerful as Odd Man Out or The Third Man, Reed seems to be lacking inspiration at times here. But the performances are excellent- Mason and Bloom are a joy to watch.Apparently Mason fell deeply in love with the young actress at the time of filming. And the chemistry shows. They seem so intuitive together in their acting-its the quiet moments, the glances and the touch of a hand, that almost give it away. They only kiss once, but it's still probably Mason's hottest screen kiss. It is lovely to watch these two work together, and so poignant (when you know about the off-screen stuff) to watch their final scenes together ("Will we ever meet again, Ivo?").
Perhaps the film's main flaw is that the first half is much too plot-driven, you really have to pay close attention to the film to know what is going on with the Kestner plot, otherwise you'll be confused (the heavily accented English from the German actors makes it even harder, though Neff is a clear and wonderful speaker). Mason too affects a German accent, similar to what he did with Rommel in The Desert Rats (he sounds a lot like one of my Uni lecturers who is German, so he must have been doing something right).
See it for the wonderful Mason and Bloom performances, chemistry and their scenes together. It's a good little film.
The Man Between
Drama / Film-Noir / Thriller
The Man Between
Drama / Film-Noir / Thriller
In the Post-World War II, the British Susanne Mallison travels to Berlin to visit her older brother Martin Mallison, a military that has married the German Bettina Mallison. The naive Susanne snoops on Bettina and suspects that she is hiding a secret from her brother. When Susanne meets Bettina with her friend Ivo Kern, he offers to show Berlin to her and they date. But Ivo meets the strange Halendar from the East Germany and Susanne takes a cab and return to her home alone. Then she dates Ivo again and he meets Olaf Kastner, who is a friend of Martin and Bettina. But soon Susanne, who has fallen in love with Ivo, learns that he was a former attorney married to Bettina but with a criminal past during the war. Now he is blackmailed by Halendar to kidnap Kastner and bring him back to the other side of the border. The plan fails and Halender asks his men to abduct Bettina to get Kastner. However, Susanne is kidnapped by mistake and is imprisoned in the basement of a house in East Berlin....
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January 10, 2017 at 10:57 AM