The Third Man 1949

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(161) IMDb 8.3/10

This classic noir is set in post WW2 Vienna during the Cold War. Pulp novelist Holly has been promised a job by his old mate Harry Lime, but learns he's been killed in a car accident. Told that Harry was a murderer, a shocked Holly investigates his demise and the stage is set for the famous end piece.

Starring:
Orson Welles,Joseph Cotten
Runtime:
1 hour, 40 minutes

Product Details

Genres Thriller, Indie & Arthouse
Director Carol Reed
Starring Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten
Supporting actors Trevor Howard, Wilfrid Hyde White, Alida Valli, Geoffrey Keen, Bernard Lee, Martin Miller
Studio Studiocanal
BBFC rating Parental Guidance

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 47 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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54 of 57 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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54 of 59 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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