The Third Man

Hunted by men ... Sought by WOMEN!

Thriller Mystery
104 min     7.987     1949     United Kingdom

Overview

In postwar Vienna, Austria, Holly Martins, a writer of pulp Westerns, arrives penniless as a guest of his childhood chum Harry Lime, only to learn he has died. Martins develops a conspiracy theory after learning of a "third man" present at the time of Harry's death, running into interference from British officer Major Calloway, and falling head-over-heels for Harry's grief-stricken lover, Anna.

Reviews

CharlesTheBold wrote:
Holly Martens (Joseph Cotten) receives a job offer from his friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) in postwar occupied Vienna. He arrives there only to find that Lime is dead and every witness has a different story. Being a pulp writer, Holly thinks he can solve the mystery. But this is a Graham Greene story, and the mystery is not just a whodunit but an exploration of evil. Tangling with a nihilistic band of black marketers exploiting the corruption and ruin of a great city after the war, Holly is told that he is in way over his head. The movie has many unusual touches. Expressionist camerawork increases the feeling of dread. The traditional orchestral accompaniment is eliminated, replaced by a single folk musician playing an eerie tune on a zither. Several scenes of the movie are in un-subtitled Austrian-German, leaving the audience feeling as bewildered as Holly as he tries to communicate with the locals. Holly's amateur sleuthing is frequently comic, in a story that is deadly serious. One of the masterpieces of noir cinema.
John Chard wrote:
Nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don't. Why should we? The Third Man is directed by Carol Reed and written by Graham Greene. It stars Joseph Cotton, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard and Orson Welles. Music is by Anton Karas and cinematography by Robert Krasker. When writer Holly Martins (Cotton) travels to Vienna to hook up with his childhood friend Harry Lime (Welles), he is distressed to find that Harry has been killed in a road accident. After attending the funeral, Holly comes to believe that Harry's death was no accident and begins to try and clear his friend's name. But nothing is as it first seems..... It's well over 60 years since it was released and Carol Reed's film noir thriller continues to feel fresh and hold up under the closest of critical scrutiny. A haunting tale as it is anyway, the black market racketeers and penicillin tampering bastards leaving an unsavoury taste in the mouth, but the film is still further boosted by the director's ability to craft unnerving atmosphere by way of style and clinically paced passages of play. Performances are superlative across the board, with the film producing equal amounts of iconography and mischievous myth-making. It stuns with the narrative structure unfolding amongst a post war ravaged Vienna that dovetails with the fractured nature of the human characters. A maze of moist cobbled streets host chases involving man and long shadows, there's a fairground scene that is now steeped in folklore, which in turn is a witness to the banality of evil, and of course those cavernous sewers, home to such sullen tones. Reed brings the canted angles, with moral decay the order of the day and a side order of confusion to finally fill your noir hungry bellies. Krasker deals in expressionistic chiaroscuro as Karas plucks away at his Zither to land in your ears for eternity. A murder mystery, a pained romance and a suspense laden film noir, The Third Man is enduring in its qualities. Cuckoo clock and cat, shadowed doorway and the lone sombre walk of a female, it's still today entertaining the film purist masses and still being pored over by film makers home and abroad. The Third Man, it's a masterpiece by jove. 10/10
John Chard wrote:
Nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don't. Why should we? The Third Man is directed by Carol Reed and written by Graham Greene. It stars Joseph Cotton, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard and Orson Welles. Music is by Anton Karas and cinematography by Robert Krasker. When writer Holly Martins (Cotton) travels to Vienna to hook up with his childhood friend Harry Lime (Welles), he is distressed to find that Harry has been killed in a road accident. After attending the funeral, Holly comes to believe that Harry's death was no accident and begins to try and clear his friend's name. But nothing is as it first seems... It's well over 60 years since it was released and Carol Reed's film noir thriller continues to feel fresh and hold up under the closest of critical scrutiny. A haunting tale as it is anyway, the black market racketeers and penicillin tampering bastards leaving an unsavoury taste in the mouth, but the film is still further boosted by the director's ability to craft unnerving atmosphere by way of style and clinically paced passages of play. Performances are superlative across the board, with the film producing equal amounts of iconography and mischievous myth-making. It stuns with the narrative structure unfolding amongst a post war ravaged Vienna that dovetails with the fractured nature of the human characters. A maze of moist cobbled streets do host foot chases involving man and long shadows, there's a fairground scene that is now steeped in folklore, which in turn is a witness to the banality of evil, and of course those cavernous sewers, home to such sullen tones. Reed brings the canted angles, with moral decay the order of the day and a side order of confusion to finally fill your noir hungry bellies. Krasker deals in expressionistic chiaroscuro as Karas plucks away at his Zither to land in your ears for eternity. A murder mystery, a pained romance and a suspense laden film noir, The Third Man is enduring in its qualities. Cuckoo clock and cat, shadowed doorway and the lone sombre walk of a female, it's still today entertaining the film purist masses and still being pored over by film makers home and abroad. The Third Man, it's a masterpiece by jove. 10/10
CinemaSerf wrote:
Joseph Cotton ("Holly") arrives in post war Vienna to meet up with his former school friend "Harry Lime" - only to discover that he was recently killed in an automobile accident. Without his promised job, he starts to chat with the friends of the dead man and swiftly spots some inconsistencies that lead him to become suspicious. He determines to try and find out just quite what happened. It becomes harder and harder for "Holly" to get straight answers - even from those whom he ought to be able to rely upon - "Maj. Calloway" (Trevor Howard) nor even "Anna" (Alida Valli), the dead man's lover - seem to be able (or willing to help). Gradually, also, he begins to suspect that he is being followed. Pinpricks of light from cigarettes in the shadows, shifting bodies hugging the dimly lit doorways - and he begins to realise that maybe his friend was not quite as scrupulous and honourable as he might have wished or appeared. Right from Anton Karas playing the distinctive zither theme at the top of the film we are treated to a wonderfully evocative adaptation of Graham Greene's mystery thriller and Carol Reed really does well with the pace of this too. We do make progress, but "Holly" has to work hard - as do we - for it, and his shady protagonists remain in the shadows, really effectively. This is a super story of trust, loyalty and greed that really is still as good now as it was 70 years ago.

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