In a break from the blockbuster summer season, the Bijou Film Center and Byrd Theater presented the 1949 classic noir film “The Third Man” in a new 4K restoration on Sept. 6 to raise money for the “Journey to the Seats Foundation.”
This Oscar-winning film starring Joseph Cotton, Alida Valli and Orson Welles has been critically acclaimed ever since its release more than fifty years ago.
This, and many other films, have been brought to Richmond thanks to the Bijou Film Center, a local organization dedicated to bringing arthouse cinema to the area. Their mission is to establish a theater dedicated to screening independent and foreign films, mixing in classics and film festivals between releases.
The foundation was founded by James Parrish and Terry Rea, two local film enthusiasts who are involved in the Biograph Theater and James River Film Society respectively.
“The Third Man” is just the latest in a line of films shown by the duo. Last summer, they screened “A Hard Day’s Night” on its 50th anniversary, drawing a crowd of 800 people. With screenings of classic films like those, the duo hope to raise enough money to open an art-house theater in the downtown Richmond area.
“We need a place where we can see great little films,” Parrish told Style Weekly in an interview last fall. “A place where we can eat, drink and talk about these films.”
All proceeds not only went towards the Bijou Film Center, but also the “Journey to the Seats” foundation, which provides much needed repairs to the Byrd Theater.
Film critic Roger Ebert praised the movie’s cinematography. The film is full of tilted angles and odd lighting choices which Ebert said “makes the city into an expressionist nightmare.”
“The Third Man” uses its unique cinematography choices to show post World War II Vienna where our film takes place. It follows an out-of-work pulp novelist Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) as he travels to Vienna after being invited by an old friend named Harry Lime (Orson Welles) to pick up a wiring job. Yet, when Martins arrives, he discovers that Lime has died in a bizarre accident. He tries to figure out the details of the death, and he aims to find the truth about his friend’s killing.
Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune called the acting in “The Third Man” “magnificent” and “highly charged.” Both Cotton and Welles started their film careers in “Citizen Kane,” in which they also played estranged old friends.
“The Third Man” screening began at 7 p.m., with a happy hour at the Portrait House before the film. Afterwards, there was an event at the New York Deli which provided “The Third Man” themed foods. Here, there was also a performance by The Gypsy Roots with free admission.