The Third Man 1949

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(157) 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

The Third Man

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

44 of 45 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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8 of 8 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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53 of 56 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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3 of 3 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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