Just came from this morning’s presentation of The Third Man at the Egpytian Theatre in Hollywood. Introduced by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz (who made the most charming gaffe– don’t worry Ben, anyone could’ve mixed up the American and British versions… well, not really, but we positively adore you regardless!) the film was screened to a packed audience– given the 9AM start time and the deep nature of the material, I was absolutely thrilled to be surrounded by such ardent cinema enthusiasts.
Script Supervisor Angela Allen joined Mankiewicz for a post-screening Q&A. She worked on the 2nd unit in Vienna with director Carol Reed and principal cast. Reid apparently worked all three units on this film– highly unusual– and in effect ended up working, quite literally, 24/7. While shooting in the Viennese sewers, said Allen, a waiter would come downstairs with a tray and a silver cup so Reid could have his coffee. “Only the British,” quipped Mankiewicz, would refer to the sewers as ‘going downstairs.'”
Having worked on over 70 films over 6 decades, Allen’s colorful musings went from Reid chasing Orson Welles all over Europe on Third Man, working with Huston in Africa on the African Queen to Michael Powell on Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (for which she doubled for Ava Gardner on the beach so Gardner could dine with a visiting Frank Sinatra) to The Misfits with John Huston— a director with whom she worked with 14 times.
While on The African Queen, Allen swelled with pride when Huston took her side over an altercation with leading lady Katharine Hepburn whom insisted she had indeed worn a different costume for the take. “Kate,” said Huston, “that’s Angie’s job. Put on the other dress.”
“I sweated bullets for five weeks waiting to find out if I was right or not,” said Allen.
The audience waited.
“And?” Mankiewicz asked.
“I was right.”