Third Man on the Mountain, The (film)

Third Man on the Mountain, The (film) In 1865, as young kitchen helper Rudi Matt climbs the unconquered Citadel, he rescues Captain John Winter, a famous English climber, and discloses that his father was legendary guide Joseph Matt, who, like many others, had tried to reach the top of the mountain, but was killed. Despite his inexperience, he is chosen to scale the mountain with Winter, his Uncle Lerner, and Saxo, a guide from a rival village. Rudi, sure his father had discovered a route to the summit, wins permission to climb a deep cleft, bringing the others behind. He succeeds, and the climb goes on. Near the top Rudi must master his desire to reach the summit in order to save Saxo from death. Winter and Lerner make the top, and plant Joseph Matt’s revered red shirt and alpenstock like a banner atop the now conquered mountain.  Released November 10, 1959. Directed by Ken Annakin. 107 min. Stars James MacArthur (Rudi Matt), Michael Rennie (Capt. John Winter), Janet Munro (Lizbeth Hempel), James Donald (Franz Lerner), Herbert Lom (Emil Saxo). Walt Disney’s interest at the time in Switzerland (he took his family there on summer vacation) not only brought about this ‘Tom Sawyer in the Alps” (Time magazine), but later, the popular Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction at Disneyland. Aired on television in two parts in 1963 as Banner in the Sky, which was the name of the original book by James Ramsey Ullman. (Ullman happened to be vacationing in Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn while the film was being made, and the director gave him a cameo role as an American tourist, as he did with revered actress Helen Hayes, MacArthur’s mother.) Released on video in 1986.