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Friday, March 12, 2010

Shades of Greene

I've just read "Shades of Greene", an anthology of Graham Greene's best short stories. Stories such as "When Greek Meets Greek", "The Invisible Japanese Gentlemen"; "The Over-night Bag", and "Dream of a Strange Land". They were made into separate film episodes by Granada Television many years ago. Unfortunately, they are not available on DVD.

However, I have another Graham Greene story, "The Third Man", on DVD, which I have watched again. What an unforgettable musical score, played hauntingly on a zither!

And what unforgettable quotes, such as when Harry Lime says, "In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed — they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

Interestingly, these lines were never written by Graham Greene but later added to the film. Orson Welles apparently said the lines came from "an old Hungarian play", and added, "When the picture came out, the Swiss very nicely pointed out to me that they've never made any cuckoo clocks." And, of course, during the period of time the Borgia flourished in Italy, Switzerland was "the most powerful and feared military force in Europe," and not the peacefully neutral country it is currently.

They don't make films like this anymore!