Z is for Zither


Z

Z is for Zither

Well, here we are at the end of the #atozchallenge. I was not sure what aspect of Hollywood I would pick for the letter Z:

Darryl Zanuck, perhaps.

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Or Mai Zetterling.

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Or ZaSu Pitts.

Or even Zuzu’s petals.

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In the end, though, I opted for something musical: the haunting zither score of Carol Reed’s The Third Man.

Okay, so The Third Man isn’t really a Hollywood film. Still, though, it’s a classic. There may be people out there who hate the film – I just don’t know any of them.

And the music is such a crucial part of the film’s mood, I can’t imagine the film without it.

As the story goes, Reed discovered Anton Karas playing the zither in a Vienna bistro during a break in the film’s production. As soon as he heard the music, he knew it would be perfect for the film.

Karas did not speak English; the film was translated to German for him so he could follow the story and compose appropriate music. “When you play in a café, nobody stops to listen,” Karas said. “This tune takes a lot out of your fingers. I prefer playing ‘Wien, Wien‘, the sort of thing one can play all night while eating sausages at the same time.”

According to Indiewire,  “on the film’s release, ‘The Harry Lime Theme’ became an enormous hit with the record selling an unprecedented 500,000 copies by the end of 1949, and on release in the U.S. the following year, it topped the Billboard chart for eleven weeks. Even today, it crops up in unlikely places: it can be heard in a bar in Vin Diesel actioner xXx and The Lonely Island sampled aspects of the score for one of their earliest tracks, ‘Stork Patrol’.”

My thanks to all the bloggers who commented on and shared my April A to Z Challenge posts. Now that I have some time, I’m hoping to visit all the other blogs! It’s been a blast!

Until next time, old man …

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7 thoughts on “Z is for Zither

  1. Congrats on making it to the end! I’ve really enjoyed all of the clips and information this month. I’ve had that title song in my iTunes library for a really long time, and now I know where it came from!

    Liked by 1 person

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