Dr Winkle’s noises


THE THIRD MAN — a very well-known film, very well-documented (Charles Drazin’s In Search of The Third Man is recommended)… or so you would think…

IMG 1692 from David Cairns on Vimeo.

Via Randall William Cook this little iPhone movie, filmed off his TV, showing an old VHS release of Carol Reed’s masterpiece. Note when Dr Winkle is describing the fatal “accident,” the sudden screech of breaks which punctuates his account and creates a frisson of danger just at the tale’s climax.

The tape also is notable for containing five minutes of exit music running over a black screen after the film has ended, something not even Criterion included in their disc.

Well, this sound effect seems to be absent from every DVD of the movie. What happened to it? It’s so effective, one can’t imagine anybody deliberately removing it. And further evidence is given by a later Reed movie, FOLLOW ME (aka THE PUBLIC EYE), which re-uses the device to equally thrilling effect, suggesting that Reed was particularly pleased with it.

Note the whine of the elevator starting bang on cue as Topol is about to refer to the fatal fall — it actually helps motivate the camera movement in on the actors, adds to the intensity of the mood, and echoes in our subconscious when Topol refers to his colleague’s mishap. Note also that the elevator never actually moves: NOT a blunder, but rather proof that the filmmakers were willing to pursue a good idea even though it doesn’t make literal sense. A testimony to their skill. Oh, and the editor of the film is Anne V. Coates, who cut LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (containing the world’s best edit), THE ELEPHANT MAN, OUT OF SIGHT…

I hope next time we see THE THIRD MAN, this crucial little FX flourish has been restored.

Two more semi-random but related points.

Mr. Cook points out that the slightly artificial dog whimper sound dubbed onto Dr Winkle’s chihuahua (or whatever the hell it is) is actually a baby wolf noise previously heard in Alexander Korda’s production of THE JUNGLE BOOK.


I enjoy Topol’s white raincoat with matching cap and briefcase, and am reminded of Eleanor Bron’s all-pink outfit in HELP! with pink turban and pink handgun. Both films were designed by the great Julie Harris. Colour co-ordinated effects in Richard Lester’s films may be discussed again soon…

9 Responses to “Dr Winkle’s noises”

  1. Similarly there seems to be a crucial whole shot missing from modern versions of Mackenderick’s The Ladykillers. When the hoods are rowing Herbert Lom says it sounds like something dreamed up in the booby hatch.There’s a shocked reaction from the others, creepy music and Alec Guinness turns around slowly. Something is going to happen. And then Mrs Wilberforce bursts in and the moment is gone. Except there seems to be a strange cut, something missing.

    Other people claim there was another terrifying shot of Guinness saying “I’m not mad” in a green light, looking like Nosferatu. But it’s not in any version I’ve seen.Why?


  2. I always thought that cut was odd — I could see the idea behind it but didn’t think it quite worked, though Tristram Carey’s integrated music and sound effects do their best to sell it. WHO has seen this “missing shot,” though?

    If it was genuinely disturbing, the obvious inference would be censorship, either from Balcon at Ealing or the BBFC.

  3. david wingrove Says:

    Believe it or not, the great Anne V Coates also edited THE ADVENTURERS – where she made the fatal mistake of leaving parts of the movie in!

  4. I wonder if there’s a difference here between PD and official sources, or American vs. UK releases. My tape from years ago was a PD version which had the Cotten v/o instead of the Reed, so it was the American release. I know some UK films were cut quite a bit for American showings.

  5. Re: The Ladykillers. The same thing bugged me! There were cuts when the Professor was about to do/say something after being questioned on his sanity (more than once) that looked cut out. I thought censoring, but I have no idea really.

  6. re: Who has seen the missing shot? I first noticed people missing the shot on the Ladykillers IMDB message boards. Several people reported that they were used to seeing an extra shot there with the line “….I’m not mad” said in a strange slow voice (Perhaps reflecting Guinness’s original ideas for the role)

    I asked a friend, an older gentleman who once wrote an article about Ladykillers, and he remembered the shot very well, He compared Guinness’s sudden change of appearance to Max Shrek. He had seen the film many times and seemed surprised this part was now missing.

    In a way it’s more nightmarish without the shot. I wasn’t quite sure what was happening, It was *just* unsettling-like a dream.. And it makes Miss Lopsided’s entrance more sudden

  7. “Pink is the Navy Blue of India” — Diana Vrreeland.

  8. I think there are only two incidents where Lom calls Guinness crazy, and I don’t *think* the second is missing anything. And in a way the second incident, when AG’s extreme reaction is NOT interrupted by a sweet old lady carrying tea, makes more sense of the truncated first version.

    But Mackendrick was such a master of film cutting I do suspect that anything smacking of error in one of his films is likely to be the product of tampering.

    The short shot where Guinness starts to turn is deliberately truncated for suspense, I think — but it needs a follow-up shot as pay-off to make that work, or else it has to be longer.

  9. I’m told that according to a Guinness bio, there was a cut shot — probably by the UK censor. Which only leaves the mystery of how anyone saw the deleted scene…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: