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The Third Man (1949)

HUNTED...By a thousand men! Haunted...By a lovely girl!

Starring:

Alida Valli

Bernard Lee

Erich Ponto

Ernst Deutsch

Hedwig Bleibtreu

Joseph Cotten

Orson Welles

Paul Horbiger

Siegfried Breuer

Trevor Howard

Wilfrid Hyde-White

Directed by:

Carol Reed

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 104 minutes

US Certificate: Approved UK Certificate: PG

On DVD

Country: United Kingdom

Sometimes older movies are no more impressive than their modern counterparts but they gain a cult status thanks to a series of iconic assets. It can be strange when a character’s simple on-screen entrance or a mid-movie monologue become more famous than the film itself and this is certainly the case with Carol Reed’s The Third Man.

The Third Man takes place amidst post-war Vienna a city divided into sectors by the victorious Allies and rife with a booming black market. Out of work novelist, Holly Martins (Cotten), travels to Vienna to meet Harry Lime (Welles), an old school friend who has offered him a job, only to find out that Harry has recently died in a road traffic accident. After making some inquiries, Holly begins to distrust the contradictory stories he has been told and starts to investigate the matter himself. The third man of the title turns out to be a shadowy figure who was at the scene of the accident.

The cinematography in The Third Man was way ahead of its time and impressively builds a tense and mysterious atmosphere as it perfectly uses the light and shadow of Vienna’s many murky locations and the soundtrack also does its bit by mapping out the pace of the story as the film progresses. The storyline is full of twists and turns and remains engrossing throughout as the wonderful performances of Cotten, Welles and Valli (as Anna Schmidt) add another facet to make this a classic film noir that will not let you down.

It's Got: Three excellent performances, iconic bits by the shedload, cinematography ahead of its time

It Needs: To be watched in Vienna

DVD Extras Two-disc Special Edition including "Shadowing The Third Man" documentary that dissects the film in detail, "Who Was the Third Man?" describing the impact of the film in Austria, Graham Greene: The Hunted Man" - a biopic of GG, "The Third Man's Vienna" photogallery of post-war Vienna, archive footage of the composer and newsreels, trailer, stills - a very thorough and intereting collection of extras DVD Extras Rating: 9/10

Alternatives:

M, Marathon Man, Strangers on a Train, The Day of the Jackal

Summary

The Third Man is a classic film noir with iconic lines, scenes and settings galore, and a storyline that will keep you guessing til the end.

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