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

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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 (153 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005QX9Z
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,573 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

42 of 43 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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Aidan J. McQuade on 20 April 2012
Format: DVD
At the end of the Second World War Holly Martens (Joseph Cotton), a hack Western writer, arrives in Vienna on the promise of a job from his childhood friend Harry Lime. On his arrival in Vienna however he discovers that Harry is dead and being buried that very morning. Dissatisfied by the police explanations of what happened to his friend Holly starts clumsily poking around himself.

The Third Man is based on a Graham Greene story, but Greene was gracious enough to say that the movie is a better version of the story than the subsequent novella. Part of the reason for this was the presence of Orson Welles, adding both his considerable charisma to the film as well as his writing skills, most notably on the famous "cuckoo clock" speech by which his character explains his view of morality to Holly.

The novel is written from the perspective of a military police investigator Calloway (Trevor Howard). The movie, however, takes Holly's perspective and communicates brilliantly his sense of disorientation in an unfamiliar city - every camera angle is slightly off-kilter - and of isolation - just about everyone speaks (unsubtitled) German.

On top of all of this the cinematography of post war Vienna, reaching a climax in the sewers of the city, is exquisite and the zither soundtrack is a stroke of genius.

This is a funny, beautiful, exciting and bleak work of cinema, replete with Greene's trademark concerns of morality, Catholicism and betrayal. It is probably the greatest British movie every made and another contender for my list of greatest final scenes of all time.
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52 of 55 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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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By hillbank68 TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Feb. 2007
Format: DVD
This glorious film is a true classic, and a historic document as well as marvellous cinema, with its footage of post-War Vienna, a divided and unhappy city beginning to come to terms with itself. Everything about it is memorable - the naggingly catchy zither tune by Anton Karas which opens it (the Harry Lime theme), the eerie black and white photography, Graham Greene's excellently mysterious plotline, and in particular the performances, not so much of Joseph Cotten, who is fine and doesn't let the side down, as of Trevor Howard trying to make good British sense of an out-of-control situation, Alida Valli as Lime's doomed, tragic, world-weary, stunning girlfriend and Orson Welles as Harry Lime himelf, one of the most memorably delayed entries in all cinema, seductive and sinister at the same time. It is beautiful to the eye and completely compelling, one of the very great films.
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