The Third Man (1949)

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The Third Man (1949) Poster

Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime.


8.1/10
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6 February 2016 | blanche-2
10
| fantastic film that takes place in postwar Vienna
Even today in Vienna, one can take the "Third Man Tour" (Der Dritte Man) except, of course, that Orson Welles wouldn't go into the Viennese sewers and those scenes were done in England. There were actual sewer scenes with a double. Never mind, it is still a magnificent black and white film 99% filmed in Vienna. Directed by Carol Reed, it stars Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles, and Alida Valli.

Western novelist Holly Martins (Cotten) comes to Vienna at the behest of his old friend Harry Lime, but when he arrives, he learns that Lime is dead after being hit by a car. He investigates and finds the circumstances very strange indeed, especially when learning there was a third man that helped carry Harry's body to the sidewalk, a man who has since disappeared.

He then meets Harry's girlfriend (Alida Valli). And he also meets a police officer in the British section of Vienna, Inspector Calloway (Trevor Howard), who tells him that Harry was a murderer and a racketeer, and it's better that he's dead. Holly is shocked and demands proof.

One of the most atmospheric films ever made, with its zither music, cinematography, and Vienna at nighttime. Then there's some brilliant dialogue, particularly the "cuckoo clock" speech made by Orson Welles.

The cinematography is particularly striking: odd angles, back lighting, and shadows on empty streets. And who can forget the man hidden in the doorway, when the light from an apartment goes on and shows his face - certainly one of the great appearances of a star in a film.

One feels Lime's presence throughout the film, though he only has five minutes of screen time.

Though none of these actors were the first choice to play their roles, they are all excellent.

There was a Third Man TV series in 1959 that ran for six years and starred Michael Rennie as Lime. In the series, Lime is a hero.

He's no hero in the movie, but it is a powerful story and film, never forgotten once seen.

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Details

Release Date:

12 October 1949

Language

English, German, Russian


Country of Origin

UK

Filming Locations

Prater Park, Prater, Vienna, Austria

Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,576 9 May 1999

Gross USA:

$1,067,364

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,226,098

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