Cynical pulp novelist Holly Martins arrives in shadowy Vienna to investigate the mysterious death of his old friend, black-market opportunist Harry Lime, and thus begins an ever-thickening web of love, deception, and murde... more »r that adds up to one of cinema?s most immortal treats, as well as one of its trickiest. Thanks to brilliant performances by Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, and Orson Welles; Anton Karas?s timeless, evocative zither score; Graham Greene?s razor-sharp dialogue; and Robert Krasker?s haunting deep focus shots, off-kilter angles, and dramatic use of light and shadow, The Third Man, directed by the inimitable Carol Reed, only grows in stature as the years pass.« less
Darwin H. (movienut) from BLOOMINGTON, MN Reviewed on 2/8/2015...
It’s got murder, black market intrigue, shadowy post-war Vienna, and razor sharp dialogue. It’s got a fish out of water protagonist who is in way over his head, the best ad-libbed speech of any movie I've ever watched (ferris wheel scene), and an iconic chase through the elaborate Viennese sewer system. It’s got a signature zither score that at first seems very strange but grows on you more each time you see it. It’s got Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton. It's dripping with atmosphere, bizarre characters, and beautiful black and white cinematography. And it has one of, if not the best movie ending you will ever see.
No wait...there's more. It gets better each time you view it and is in my top three favorite movies of all time. As one famous critic put it “It’s like the exhausted aftermath of Casablanca.” Could there be a better endorsement than that?
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Great surrealist drama of truth and loyalth
Marmez1@aol.com | Los Angeles, CA USA | 02/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It was with great anticipation that I viewed The Third Man recently. I had last seen it nearly 25 years earlier. At the earlier viewing I was impressed with the atmospheric treatment of Vienna and the mystery surrounding Joseph Cotton's search for the truth about his friend Harry (Orson Wells). However, though I then thought of it as a very fine movie, I did not think it would rank in my top 20. Now I see what I missed as a younger person. I can also see why this film would rank as number one on a British list of greatest films of the 20th century.The film is a surreal examination of the tension between loyalty, love, and friendship on the one hand, and truth and justice on the other. The Viennese are suffused with the cynicism of a destroyed continent and damaged culture. The British know only about the truth and justice side of the equation. The American writer of simple westerns still is naïve enough to care about friendship and truth, and follows both wherever they lead. At the same time, Carol Reed scarcely shoots a scene in which there are right angles. Nearly everything is tilted. Close-ups of faces exaggerate their features. The black and white of the film emphasizes the shadowy nature of the story and its moral underpinnings. At first Holly Martins (Cotton) thinks he is helping his best friend, Harry Lime (Wells). At the same time he becomes Harry's rival for the woman, Anna. When Harry realizes that Holly has discovered his true evil scheme, Harry has a chance to murder Holly and make it look like an accident. What stops him? Friendship? And why does Harry accept Holly's invitation to meet? In the penultimate scene in the underground sewer tunnels, does Holly fire the final and fatal shot, or does Harry kill himself? This magnificently filmed and wonderfully acted masterpiece has remained in my mind for days after seeing it. If you are a lover of cinema and not merely of movies, please get this classic. It richly deserves its reputation. Highly recommended."
New Release of the Greatest British Film (BFI)
Ardeal | Atlanta, GA United States | 04/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"According to Criterion, this 2 disc release should contain: - All-new, restored high-definition digital transfer - Video introduction by writer-director Peter Bogdanovich - Two audio commentaries: one by filmmaker Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Tony Gilroy, and one by film scholar Dana Polan - Shadowing "The Third Man" (2005), a ninety-minute feature documentary on the making of the film - Abridged recording of Graham Greene's treatment, read by actor Richard Clarke - "Graham Greene: The Hunted Man," an hour-long, 1968 episode of the BBC's Omnibus series, featuring a rare interview with the novelist - Who Was the Third Man? (2000), a thirty-minute Austrian documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew - The Third Man on the radio: the 1951 "A Ticket to Tangiers" episode of The Lives of Harry Lime series, written and performed by Orson Welles; and the 1951 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of The Third Man - Illustrated production history with rare behind-the-scenes photos, original UK press book, and U.S. trailer - Actor Joseph Cotten's alternate opening voice-over narration for the U.S. version - Archival footage of postwar Vienna - A look at the untranslated foreign dialogue in the film - Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by Luc Sante, Charles Drazin, and Philip Kerr -- Also: a web-exclusive essay on Anton Karas by musician John Doe
AUDIO: Dolby Digital 1.0 signal on 5.1-channel sound systems / two-channel playback."
Time for Lime
Galina | Virginia, USA | 04/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
Who was Harry Lime (Orson Welles)? An evil man, devil in the flesh who was responsible for the unspeakable crimes, yet brilliant, cheerful and charismatic. His most famous words, a short speech written by Welles himself, say a lot about his character and motivations:
"In Italy for 30 years under the Borgies they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."
No wonder, we like him, even though we know what he'd done...
It has been said thousands of times about the greatest movie entrance ever - but what about his 'exit' - the fingers on the street? I think it is one of the greatest, too...
A beautiful mysterious girl with tragic past was in love with him and the unforgettable ending, so anti-Hollywood, so true to the film - was about her love that goes beyond the grave. I read that both Selznick (the producer) and author Graham Greene had initially argued for something more upbeat (Holly and Anna walking off arm-in-arm), but Reed disagreed. I am so happy that Reed won (I am sure millions of fans are, too). That was the way to finish the movie and make it much more than just typical noir. Makes the viewer think about love, friendship, betrayal, loyalty, the price one pays for them.
Amazing film - perfectly shot; almost flawless. It looks and feels like Welles himself could've made it. The influence of Citizen Kane is undeniable. The only problem I had - the music. I like it but it was very strange to hear it in the film like The Third Man. Maybe that was a purpose - instead of somber, moody, and ominous music that would be expected for the noir film, something completely different and out of place - cheerful but melancholy in the same time...
Criterion DVD is wonderful - the restored version of the film shines. There are two openings of the film available - British and American, and a lot of extras.
A must have DVD for film noir fans!
W. Oliver | Alabama | 07/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have always seen inferior prints of this film until I found this Criterion DVD and I must say, it was like watching a completely different film. The crisp b&w photography has been restored to the original pristine quality and one can easily see why this film took home the Oscar for best cinematography. The sound is also superb. The DVD is loaded with extra features such as the original opening monologue to the British release (voiced by director Carol Reed), a reading of the novel by author Graham Greene, archival footage of the sewer system "police" in Vienna (which plays a significant part in the film), and numerous stills with tantalizing behind the scenes information (like the fact that Orson Welles was so put off by working in the actual sewers that he refused to return and the crew had to build a sewer set at Shepperton Studios). There are many other extras as well, actually too many to remember. Bravo to Criterion for their amazing work on this classic film!"
As good as ever
Nigel M Bailey | Florida | 12/03/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is a personal favorite, the DVD version is better than the Laser Disk, and some 22,000 'clean ups' were done on the source material. Quality is very good, Criterion have done an excellent job, there are also many extras, all of which are very interesting. For those of you who like a mystery, this is the tops. From the begining scenes you are engrossed in this dark story. The acting is simply superb, conveying this sense of foreboding. Camera work, again, superb. Joseph Cotton plays Holly Martins, an out of work western author, who arrives in Vienna to work for his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles). But Lime is dead, under slightly strange conditions, conditions which get more confusing as the movie progresses. Martins follows the clues, not helped by Major Calloway (Trevor Howard), the Britsh Military Policeman for the British sector of Vienna. Martins struggles on, meets Harry Limes girl friend Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli). After a time Martins begins to trust Major Calloway, and vice-versa, and so the story continues. You may even recognise Sergeant Paine (Bernard Lee) who was later to become 'M' in the James Bond movies. Throughout this movie the music is played by Anton Karas on the Zither. The music is hypnotic and forceful. Karas had a major hit with 'The Harry Lime' theme, and there is a clip of him playing it. This movie is great, everything went well, wonderfully directed, acted, photographed. If you haven't seen it please do."