8 October 2004 | philipdavies
Too much deference to the author?
'Sr Moreno' dismisses the Preminger film adaptation of 'The human factor' very intemperately: The clincher of his argument - which consists largely in being rude to Iman (she was perfectly adequate in her role, and certainly believably a beauty whom a career diplomat might have risked his career for) - is Graham Greene's own declared dislike of Preminger's version.
While obviously his own direct collaboration with Carol Reed made 'The Third Man' into the definitive Greene adaptation for the screen, and a classic sans pareil, there is still no need to be unduly respectful of his impatience with this version of his 'The human factor.'
After all, Greene had a well-known falling-out with Mankiewicz during the filming of the 1959 version of 'The quiet American,' but no-one else thinks that was a bad movie!
Few filmed adaptations are entirely successful - probably without the original author's close collaboration they will inevitably be more-or-less diminished versions of the literary form. And while Grahame Greene was perfectly entitled, with the status of 'onelie true begetter' to be hyper-critical of any lesser recensions, that is not a sensible reason for the rest of us not to enjoy and appreciate what is a perfectly intelligent and involving film in its own right.
There are few enough thrillers around on the TV today which do not involve various forms of adolescent excitability and excess that I should have thought the BBC were perfectly justified in giving it an airing recently on their 'thoughtful' channel.
This is no 'The third man' to be sure - but then, what is? This remains a film with, clearly, much in it to admire.
Surely, if every film has to achieve the status of 'masterpiece' before it can be accepted at all - as 'Moreno' appears to believe - then would there not be a certain danger of an unbridgeable culture-gap developing between the extremes of 'art-house film' and 'teen-flick'? Fortunately, audiences - and film-makers - are still quite willing to 'give it a go,' even if the results are 'merely' intelligent, rather than the absolutely brilliant - and still quite rare - product of genius!
Really, I feel most strongly that 'Moreno''s strictures represent exactly the kind of intellectual snobbery which can only tend to alienate cinema audiences even further from any more sober and challenging films.
There really are enough points of worthwhile discussion raised by this film of 'The human factor' for it to be impossible to dismiss in a single paragraph of supercilious contempt: 'Terrible' does not amount to a review, but only to intemperate spleen, I'm afraid.