Cinema Seattle presents…
Graham Greene 100th Anniversary Film Retrospective
Saturday & Sunday, October 2nd & 3rd
Seattle Art Museum
Our Graham Greene Film Retrospective pays homage to one of the most significant influences on the early forms of cinema on the centennial of his birth. His influence has not only shaped modern literature, but the wide-ranging film genres of crime, thrillers and noir, employing his recurring themes of uneasy relationships, passion, betrayal and man’s place in the constantly shifting modern world order.
This small selection of films from Greene’s weighty repertoire is meant merely as a sample of his diverse range, his crucial impact on moments in film, and his rising talent as a writer.
Saturday, October 2nd
Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton & Trevor Howard
6 pm & 10 pm – The Third Man (1949, dir. Carol Reed)
Welles’ Harry Lime rules the day, but it’s Greene’s insightful understanding of a new post-World War II Europe and the ensuing profiteering that drives this labyrinth-like plot of friendships, betrayals and bleak capitalist ethics.
Joseph Cotton’s Holly Martins travels to Vienna to accept a job from ex-classmate Harry Lime only to hear of Lime’s death upon his arrival. Martins soon learns that all is not what it seems as he navigates the police, black marketeers, colliding national forces, Lime’s Czech girlfriend, as well as Lime himself.
Clearly this is director Carol Reed and Greene’s finest moment of collaboration as this is possibly one of the best films (and commentaries) on a new Europe ravaged by war, greed and a subtle yet insidious Americanism.
8 pm – Our Man in Havana (1959, dir. Carol Reed)
Starring: Alec Guinness, Ernie Kovacs, Maureen O’Hara & Burl Ives
This would be Greene’s final collaboration with director Reed, as they reprise their successful spy formula with a comic twist. Greene adapts his own novel for this send-up of the British spy system and its obsession with secrecy over actual intelligence.
James Wormold (Alec Guinness) is an unassuming vacuum cleaner salesman in Havana with an expensive daughter. He is recruited by Hawthorne (Noel Coward), a British spy, to collect information of political or military importance in Havana and pass it along for British intelligence. Kovacs’ cigar-puffing Captain Segura is a masterful performance of both comedy and drama, in possibly his finest film performance.
The film actually shot its exteriors in Havana, right after the fall of the Batista government there in 1959.
Sunday, October 3rd
2 pm & 6 pm – This Gun for Hire (1942, dir. Frank Tuttle)
Starring: Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake & Robert Preston
Greene originally wrote A Gun for Sale in 1936, one of his first popular novels, garnered the attention of Hollywood with the recent popularity of books and films by noted crime writers such as Raymond Chandler and Dashielle Hammett. Greene co-adapted his novel with acclaimed American crime writer WR Burnett (High Sierra, The Asphalt Jungle) for the film that would become This Gun for Hire.
Kind-hearted hit man Philip Raven (Alan Ladd) kills a blackmailer and is paid off by traitor Willard Gates in "hot" money. Meanwhile, entertainer Ellen Graham (Lake), girlfriend of police Lt. Crane (who's after Raven) is enlisted by a Senate committee to help investigate Gates. Raven, seeking Gates for revenge, meets Ellen on the train; their relationship gradually evolves from that of killer and potential victim to an uneasy alliance against a common enemy.
4 pm – Brighton Rock (1947, dir. John Boulting)
Starring: Richard Attenborough
Greene originally patterned the 1938 novel of Brighton Rock on American mob tales which turned into the first major work of his career. It wasn’t until almost 10 years later that the film adaptation finally reached production. By this point Greene was a seasoned screenwriter and was invited to adapt the screenplay himself.
What reached the screen stayed very true to Greene’s vision of a hardened Brighton gangster (Attenborough) grappling with his Catholic faith. This real-life depiction of the perilous, gritty, uncaring life of British gangs was noted for its stark realism which ran afoul of censors. The film—perhaps one of the most important and rare snapshots of the British crime world in the ‘40s—is arguably the greatest British film-noir ever made. The role of Attenborough’s Pinkie is surely a star-making performance noted for its raw and honest portrayal.
The film is rarely seen in the United States and we are extremely privileged to screen a copy of this rare film from the archives of the British Film Institute.
Tickets to individual films are $12 regular price and $10 for Cinema Seattle members. Tickets may be purchased in advance over the phone through the Cinema Seattle Box Office at 206.464.5830, or on the day of show at the Seattle Art Museum.
All films will be screened at the Seattle Art Museum.
Seattle Art Museum
100 University Street
Seattle, WA 98101-2902
Special thanks to Greg Olson and the BFI.