From the spine-tingling sound of Anton Karas's zither score and the stark photography of Robert Krasker, to the ducking and diving of Orson Welles' "dead man", Harry Lime, this atmospheric film is a rare example of a fully- realised British noir. Based on a story by Graham Greene, the plot plunges straight into the cynical, shell-scarred landscape of partitioned, post- war Vienna, as naive writer Holly Martins arrives in town to find his friend Harry Lime dead. Tension corkscrews as Martins decides to investigate Lime's "accident" and finds himself trawling the seedy black- market underworld of the city. A smart script adapted by Greene, and Carol Reed's economical direction make this a romantic and stylish thriller to cherish.
The Servant (15) Warner Home Video, retail, pounds 9.99, on release.
Despite an late collapse of tension, this allegorical tale of a master and servant is worth watching for its menacing air of repressed homosexuality and domestic claustrophobia. James Fox is the decadent toff, Dirk Bogarde the suavely manipulative man-servant who gains the upper hand. Screenwriter Harold Pinter provides the typically spare dialogue and there's an early role for Wendy Craig as Fox's impotent fiancee.
White Squall (12 ) BMG, retail, pounds 12.99, on release.
Ridley Scott's none-too-latent homoerotic adventure sees Jeff Bridges captaining a school ship (the well-named Albatross) crewed by a teenage team. Cue a big storm and a series of life lessons for the boys, who, while beautiful in a Grecian kind of way, are so bland as to be confusingly interchangeable. Some good pitch 'n' roll sea-sick sequences are scuppered by heavy handed character development, boot-camp bonding and a naff courtroom coda.
Surviving Picasso (15 ) Warner Home Video, rental, 9 May.
Anthony Hopkins plays the 20th-century's greatest artist and most reprehensible lover in Merchant Ivory's soapy, modernist biopic.
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