Crew Member On ‘The Third Man’ Recalls Orson Welles, 65-Year Career
Angela Allen says she can credit director Carol Reed’s 1949 thriller, "The Third Man" for launching her career. "Carol was a wonderful mentor," said the longtime script supervisor, who went on to work on nearly 100 films in a career that spans from the late 1940's to early 2000's. She reflected on her career Thursday night after the film's screening at the 18th Ebertfest.
Allen, who spoke with Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips and Ebertfest director Nate Kohn after the screening, said shooting in post-World War Two Vienna was a challenge.
"It was just a bombed-out city," she said. "The rubble was up to the second story on the main high street."
She says everyone on the film had to stay in one hotel, and very few restaurants. But Allen says another challenge was working with Orson Welles, in his small, but pivotal role – and in the backdrop to the movie’s climactic chase scene.
"The first time he went down the sewer - to do the first shot - and he saw the whole crew eating bacon sandwiches or whatever," she said. "And he was so outraged, and hygienic, that he wouldn’t go down again. And they had to build a sewer (back in London), but they did a lot of shots with doubles in the real sewer. But he would never go down the sewer again.”
Allen said Welles, who she later worked with on two other films, didn't mix with the crew the other way other actors did, like Joseph Cotten and Trevor Howard. Allen also discussed how Reed recruited Anton Karas, who didn't speak English, to perform the well-known zither theme for the film.
Allen was 19 years old when "The Third Man" was made. She's also worked on films with directors like Sidney Lumet, Franco Zeffirelli, Roman Polanski, and John Huston.
Her many collaborations with Huston included "Moulin Rouge" (1952), "The Misfits", "The Man Who Would Be King," and "The African Queen," in which she briefly doubled for Katherine Hepburn.