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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Third Man Movie v. Book


I recently finished reading Graham Greene's novella The Third Man. Greene wrote this books as a sort of a "first draft" for the screenplay he wrote for the movie directed by Carol Reed. As noted by Screen Online ,
The Third Man was never intended to be more than the raw material for a picture. The reader will notice many differences between the story and the film, and he should not imagine these changes were forced on an unwilling author: as likely as not they were suggested by the author. The film in fact, is better than the story because it is in this case the finished state of the story.

I agree that this is one of those rare cases where the film tops the novel. (Another example, IMHO, is the novel Forrest Gump by Winston Groom.) However, the book isn't a bad read at all. The novel is told from the point of view of the military officer/detective who has been dealing with Harry Lime, the blackmarketeer of bad penicillin and friend of the film's protagonist, Rollo Martin, (Holly Martin in the film). This gives the reader a much more sympathetic view of the plot's foil, and helps to show the changes that take place in Martin's opinion of Lime. I like books written from a minor character's viewpoint like The Great Gatsby, because they give a reader one more factor to consider when interpreting the plot and characters.

This book will probably be the last of my "summer reading" or reading for personal pleasure. It's now time to turn toward preparing for the next school term. So my next book will be When Kids Can't Read—What Teachers Can Do by Kylene Beers.

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