The Third Man (1949)

Not Rated   |    |  Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller


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.

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8.2/10
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  • "Thrid Man, The" Orson Welles 1949 Selznick Releasing Organization **I.V.
  • Joseph Cotten and Alida Valli in The Third Man (1949)
  • Joseph Cotten in The Third Man (1949)
  • Orson Welles and Carol Reed in The Third Man (1949)
  • Orson Welles in The Third Man (1949)
  • Joseph Cotten in The Third Man (1949)

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29 March 2002 | uds3
The real mccoy when you want to talk serious screen legends!
What IS it makes THE THIRD MAN the classic most everyone agrees it is? (And lets face it, voted no 35 in the top all-time films gives it MORE than just some passing credibility!) Is it Orson Welles' menace? The whiff of corruption in occupied post-war Vienna? the cuckoo-clock speech atop the big wheel? even Anton Karras' zither? Perhaps ALL these things? If however, you had to nominate just a single influence within the whole production that elevates it to greatness I suggest that would be Robert Krasker's cinematography.

The finished product innovatively, was years ahead of its birthright. Time and time again the viewer is bailed up by stunning camera angles and back-lighting. The eerie shadows around the deserted streets and of course the unforgettable first glimpse of Harry Lime (Welles) himself as he skulks like the rat he is, in the corner of the building, lit in close-up suddenly from the light in an adjacent apartment. Offhand I cannot think of a character's more dramatic entrance to a film.

Welles in fact has minimal screen time, though his dark presence and influence infiltrate proceedings like an insidious disease. Yet somehow his ultimate demise in the sewers brings into play an incredible sadness and compassion that has absolutely no right being there. It remains for me one of my top five film favorites. I have always given it a "10" personally but hey, to be voted an "8.6" universally is a pretty fair vindication of my words here.

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Film-Noir | Mystery | Thriller

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