Tag Archives: Joseph Cotton

The Set of 400: #40 – My Favorite Piece of the Puzzle

Today! Because if I hadn’t been very rich, I might have been a really great man –

Citizen Kane (1941)

Directed by Orson Welles

Starring Orson Welles (x4), Joseph Cotton (x2), Everett Sloane, George Coulouris (x2), Agnes Moorehead (x2), Dorothy Comingore, Ruth Warrick, Erskine Sanford, Harry Shannon, Ray Collins

In the ballsiest decision since including Casablanca back at #74, today we find ourselves face-to-face with the greatest movie ever made, by loud acclaim, for the past eight decades. And while many all-time greats were omitted from this list and I would venture some are far too boring (e.g. Lawrence of Arabia), grim (Schindler’s List), or generally overrated (Psycho) to make any respectable favorites countdown, Citizen Kane nonetheless lands in this very strong position thanks to the sheer entertainment value of the undeniable masterpiece.

“But,” I can hear you asking, “where the hell do you get off?” Which is fair. I weirdly feel that to see Kane is to love it and recognize its brilliance, but that alone doesn’t immediately propel it to the top of a Favorites list. However, there’s nothing wrong with this movie – nothing whatsoever – plus I’ll contend it doesn’t even really have slow, dull, only-mildly-interesting parts. The direction and general visual construction of the piece negates that as a possibility. Say you don’t really give a damn about Charles Foster Kane – maybe he’s just too much a Trumpian asshole to really invest your emotion with – you still have to marvel at the gorgeous cinematography, the thoroughly inventive editing and use of sound, the borderline amazing scene transitions, and the wonderful acting across the board. Maybe all the flashing back and forth in time gives you cinematic whiplash – the driving documentary style narrative still manages to lay the plot out neatly and steadily march us through his life story. Maybe you can’t see Agnes Moorehead without thinking of Bewitched – that’s fair, there’s no work around for that.

I would argue there’s nothing wrong with being reminded of Bewitched, lustily and often

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The Set of 400: #79 – My Favorite Zither Soundtrack

Today! Because in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance –

The Third Man (1949)

Directed by Carol Reed

Starring Joseph Cotton, Orson Welles (x3), Alida Valli, Trevor Howard (x2), Bernard Lee (x3), Siegfried Breuer, Erich Ponto, Paul Horbiger, Ernst Deutsch

Not coincidentally the basis for my favorite Pinky and the Brain episode, The Third Man is the classic film-noir mystery of Vienna, supposed murders, tense philosophical Ferris Wheel conversations, perpetually wet streets, and yes, a soundtrack dominated by a zither. I imagine this is an instrument with some manner of pedigree and respect, but I’ve always thought of it as a child’s toy, not unlike a kazoo. This is certainly because I had the small kid’s version back in the day, where you’d place the sheet music (shaped like the instrument) behind the strings. Let’s Google that quick:

This was it! Still couldn’t play it worth a damn!

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