FlixWorthy Tracks Down The Third Man

By David Wharton 2011-05-20 15:26:05 discussion comments
Welcome back to FlixWorthy, your guide to Netflix streaming! Yet again we're bringing you a handful of new or notable selections from Netflix's Instant Watch catalogue. Some will be classics, some will be little-seen gems, some will be shows you might have missed, and some...some will be crap so awful they simply has to be seen to be believed. Here's what's FlixWorthy this week, kids.


The Third Man
(1949, Not Rated, 100 min.)

FlixWorthy isn't just about calling your attention to the latest additions to Netflix's streaming catalogue. We also like to sift through the detritus and find the buried gems that might not have turned up on your "If you like this, you might like this" recommendations. Having spent the past several nights patrolling the mean streets of 1947 Los Angeles in L.A. Noire, the greats of the film noir genre have been on my mind a lot. Naturally, one of the movies near the top of my "Time to Rewatch" list is The Third Man, the classic British noir directed by Carol Reed, written by Graham Greene, and starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Velli, and Orson Freaking Welles. Cotten plays a novelist named Holly Martins who travels to post-WWII Vienna in search of an old friend named Harry Lime (Welles). He's shocked to learn that Lime was killed in an accident, but not entirely satisfied with the explanations he receives. He begins digging into the facts around the so-called accident, and soon learns that his friend Lime was a man of many secrets.

Double-Feature It With:

Double Indemnity
(1944, Not Rated, 107 min.)

I recommend continuing your noir marathon with Double Indemnity, the 1944 thriller directed by Billy Wilder and co-written by Wilder and none less than Raymond Chandler. Fred MacMurray stars as an insurance salesman talked into helping a lovely femme fatale (Barbara Stanwyck) kill her husband in a seemingly accidental fashion.




Blue Velvet
(1986, Rated R, 120 min.)

To this day, I still haven't seen Blue Velvet, despite it being one of the better known of director David Lynch's films. There's a reason for that, however. Back in college, I sat down at a friend's house to watch it one night, alongside my future wife, whom I had been dating only a few weeks at that point. We definitely had a spark going, but we were still in that stage where we weren't entirely comfortable around each other yet, still afraid we might say or do something to jinx the good thing we had going. So, we sat down for Blue Velvet. We made it as far as "the gas mask scene," which I will describe no further to avoid spoilers. But suffice to say, the awkward silence became damn near impenetrable in that room, punctured only by the lecherous gasps of Dennis Hopper, before my friend did us all a favor, sprang to his feet to shut off the DVD, and suggested, "Hey, let's watch something else."

So yeah, I really ought to finish the damn thing. And I take it as a sure sign of the success of my relationship that my wife wouldn't even bat an eye at the scene in question these days. She might roll them, but she certainly wouldn't bat them. Mommy…

Double-Feature It With:

Twin Peaks
(1990, TV-MA, Two Seasons, HD)

Or, if you’re more in the mood for long-form Lynch, why not revisit Twin Peaks, a defining series that AMC’s The Killing, as the same above aforementioned friend likes to point out, has been shamelessly aping/paying tribute to on a weekly basis. Sometimes flawed, often confusing, but never less than hypnotic, Twin Peaks set a bar for televised mysteries that has yet to be rivaled.



WWII in HD
(2009, TV-14, 10 episodes, HD)

It’s always an odd experience to be confronted with vivid, full-color imagery from an era we’ve all grown up seeing only in shades of black, white, and gray. That strange counterpoint is one of the primary selling points of The History Channel’s epic 10-part documentary series entitled, appropriately enough, WWII in HD. Every aspect of the second World War has been examined, fictionalized, sensationalized, and picked over with a fine-toothed comb by this point, but the sheer clarity of these images is enticement enough to lure the historically minded and the curious in once again. It’s not just that the footage is so colorful, but that that simple visual change seems to erase much of the inherent divide modern audiences feel toward older historical footage. Black-and-white is “history,” a time that for many feels as distant as the Paleozoic. With this footage, that comfortable illusion is stripped away, and we see the Greatest Generation as they were: people, just like us. That’s a potent epiphany, not to mention one that should inspire us to try harder to shepherd the world the men and women featured in WWII in HD fought and died to save.

Double-Feature It With:

Ken Burns: The War
(2007, TV-14, Seven episodes, HD)

If you haven’t had your inner armchair general sated by the end of WWII in HD, Netflix also offers a look at the War via the mind and talents of one of the best-known documentarians of our age, Ken Burns. Make sure you’ve got some time set aside, however, because The War spans seven episodes, each clocking in at around two hours.




Family Ties
(1982, TV-G, Seven seasons)

“What would we do, baby…” If you’re of the generation that grew up in the ‘80s, that theme song is now firmly wedged inside your brain, so good luck shaking it loose. For the rest of you out there, here’s your chance to watch one of the definitive ‘80s sit-coms, not to mention the show that introduced many of us to the man who became Marty McFly, Michael J. Fox. It’s the basic sit-com set-up: a family of disparate personalities struggling to get through the day-to-day and not kill each other, but the cast and the writing elevated it to Emmy-winning status. Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter star as left-leaning former hippies Steven and Elyse Keaton. Fox damn near steals every episode as staunch Republican Alex, and Justine Bateman fills in the role as the semi-vacuous teenage daughter who’s primarily concerned with shoes. Oh, and Tina Yothers is also along for the ride as the youngest and least interesting of the clan whose name I had to look up to remember. With so much of the show hinging on political sparring between the parents and Alex, it’s as timely now as ever, even if the wardrobe isn’t. Sha la la la.

Double-Feature It With:

The Secret of My Success
(1987, Rated PG-13, 110 min., HD)

If there’s one thing Netflix Instant has been extremely useful for, it’s catching up with all the ‘80s comedies I was too young for or simply missed out on growing up. I’ve been meaning to see this one since, well, since 1987. Michael J. Fox stars as a Kansas dreamer who moves to NYC and begins pretending to be a high-powered executive in order to woo that girl who played Supergirl in the horrible 1984 movie.








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