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  • The Third Man [DVD] [1949]
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The Third Man [DVD] [1949]

169 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard, Bernard Lee
  • Directors: Carol Reed
  • Writers: Orson Welles, Carol Reed, Alexander Korda, Graham Greene
  • Producers: Carol Reed, Alexander Korda, David O. Selznick
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English, German, Russian
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Warner
  • DVD Release Date: 14 Jan. 2002
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (169 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005QX9Z
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,405 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Classic thriller written by Graham Greene and starring Orson Welles in which a writer sets about investigating the death of a friend in post-World War II Vienna. Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten), a pulp Western writer, arrives in the Austrian capital expecting to take up a job with his old acquaintance, Harry Lime (Welles). When he is informed that Lime died a week previously in a car accident, Martins is intrigued by inconsistencies in the accounts of the death and decides that he can't leave the city without investigating matters further. As a consequence, he finds himself drawn into a web of intrigue and searching for the elusive 'third man' who was at the scene of Lime's death. When the head of the local military police, Major Calloway (Trevor Howard), informs him that Lime was involved in black market drug distribution, the plot thickens even further...


The fractured Europe post-World War II is perfectly captured in Carol Reed's masterpiece thriller, set in a Vienna still shell-shocked from battle. Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) is an alcoholic pulp writer come to visit his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles). But when Cotton first arrives in Vienna, Lime's funeral is under way. From Lime's girlfriend and an occupying British officer, Martins learns of allegations of Lime's involvement in racketeering, which Martins vows to clear from his friend's reputation. As he is drawn deeper into post-war intrigue, Martins finds layer upon layer of deception, which he desperately tries to sort out. Welles' long-delayed entrance in the film has become one of the hallmarks of modern cinematography and it is just one of dozens of cockeyed camera angles that seem to mirror the off-kilter post-war society. Cotten and Welles give career-making performances and the Anton Karas zither theme will haunt you. --Anne Hurley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By D. Milne on 15 Aug. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I see that Amazon have been merging review lists of movies with any similarity in the name, making a complete mess of product identification, so please note that this review applies to the 2-DISK SPECIAL EDITION DVD SET.

Of course I love the movie - it's in my all-time top ten, probably because of the noir visuals, the sly character and dialogue of Harry Lime, plus his famous entrance to the movie, and the unique Anton Karas zither score. I can see why some find the latter annoying: it's the kind of music that can go on and on in your head forever! But hey, I love it anyway.

The quality of this transfer is excellent, the picture is stable and clean, the audio quality is likewise. I see that others have complained about picture quality in a different release, so I just wanted to emphasise that the special edition does not have that problem.

The special edition comes with a retrospective making-of documentary which was certainly quite interesting, though obviously limited in what it can do now that just about everyone involved has since passed away.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By W. Rodick TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Nov. 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Looking through my window at the dead leaves blowing across the road I immediately thought to play The Third Man again tonight. It is by far my favourite film. The next five or six could be in any order. Behind this one.

Even ‘perfect’ seems inadequate to describe the sum of its parts. The acting can’t really be acting can it? The unique movie music pulls at the tensions within the story. The story of moral collapse. The contorted camera angles reflecting the confused time. The dialogue which stays in the mind. The war that made us all Harry Lime.

Amongst the rubble allies compete for power. Order desperately tries to penetrate the chaos. And in the midst of all this male bravado; a woman who thought she had lost her man to death. Resurrection.

The shadows and the glances of guilt-ridden humanity. The city of Strauss reduced to a violin in the corner of a bar room. Immense film-making. Wave your mind good-bye.

UPDATE 19 July 2015: Just received the latest incarnation of this film. Billed as a ‘Stunning New 4K Restoration,’ it is the Studio Canal Blu-ray. Only a forensic analysis of the latest version against the steelbook/lime green disc example could detect a difference in picture quality. The volume is a bit low but it is an okay (not as great as the 4k Casablanca) version and includes English sub-titles unlike the steelbook/Zavvi.

But I am still glad I own it. The package is what you are paying for. Prints, booklet and a great poster which went instantly into a frame I had. DVD plays well though not as sharp as Blu-ray naturally. Ton of extras and a soundtrack cd complete the homage to a Classic movie.
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Blu on 1 Oct. 2010
Format: Blu-ray
This is a review of the first BD release of "The Third Man" not to be Region A locked, coming after Criterion's Region A locked transfer which is now out of print after their rights to the title expired and were subsequently bought up by Studio Canal.

I have not seen Criterion's BD, but having compared still screenshots from the Criterion release, I must admit that thís version does appear inferior, but not vastly so. Generally the image quality is very good for a 61 year old film. Close-ups are often very richly detailed, showing texture, sharpness and well balanced b/w tones. Welles's agonised face seeking a way out in the sewer, Valli lying in bed before her re-arrest and many shots of Cotten digesting new revelations are the stuff of HD dreams. But some mid-range shots are a little disappointing, particularly bright outdoor shots (e.g. some graveyard scenes) where the contrast is a little wonky and there is some unsettling image softness, which occasionally looks as though some DNR might have been applied. That is not to say that the film is grain-free, and the grain that is present is never likely to offend any but the most sensitive.

The best news is that the most iconic scenes seem to have come out of this transfer best: Harry Lime appearing in the doorway, the ferris wheel scenes, and the sewer chase all look really rather splendid. The detail on the stones of the sewer interior is very impressive at times.

The worst news is that more detail clearly was possible. The texture of people's coats looks more detailed and real in Criterion shots. Those who have seen it report better contrasts and richer blacks; although the blacks in this version are actually quite solid, and the screenshots I have seen don't make it clear that contrasts are much better.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Keith M TOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 April 2013
Format: DVD
One of the more curious things about Carol Reed's classic 1949 film The Third Man is that, although rightly touted as a 'British classic' (indeed, it recently came second in Time Out's poll of greatest ever British films), with a co-producer (alongside great 'Brit' Alexander Korda) of Hollywood's David O. Selznick, and starring Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles it has a distinctly international flavour. This feeling is then, of course, reinforced by its rubble-strewn post-WW2 setting of multi-jurisdictional Vienna (each of the UK, US, France and Russia controlling specific sectors of the city), and the film's resulting multi-national casting.

At the core of Reed's film, which is based on the novella by Graham Greene (who also wrote the screenplay), is a story of the black market trafficking of medicinal drugs (in this case, penicillin) as Joseph Cotten's pulp novel author, Holly Martins, arrives in the Austrian capital to meet up with erstwhile friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) who (allegedly) has a job for Martins, only to find Lime now deceased, the victim of a mysterious car accident. What follows is an intriguing (albeit slow-paced) story, as Martins digs to find the truth behind Lime's alleged accident, uncovering more and more disturbing detail about Lime's activities as he goes.

For me, whilst The Third Man's narrative is generally engaging (and, at times, very funny), what converts the film from being merely good into a classic is the 'noir-like' look and feel with which Reed has imbued his film.
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